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The Trouble with Islam: A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change [Hardcover]

Irshad Manji
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 April 2004
Irshad Manji calls herself a Muslim refusenik. "That doesn't mean I refuse to be a Muslim", she writes, "it simply means I refuse to join an army of automatons in the name of Allah". These automatons, Manji argues, include many so-called moderate Muslims in the West. In blunt, provocative and deeply personal terms, she unearths the troubling cornerstones of Islam as it is widely practised: tribal insularity, deep-seated anti-Semitism and an uncritical acceptance of the Koran as the final, and therefore superior, manifesto of God. In this open letter to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Manji breaks the conspicuous silence that surrounds mainstream Islam with a series of pointed questions: "Why are we all being held hostage by what's happening between the Palestinians and the Israelis? Who is the real coloniser of Muslims - America or Arabia? How can we read the Koran literally when it's so contradictory and ambiguous? Why are we squandering the talents of women, fully half of God's creation?" Not one to be satisfied with merely criticising, Manji offers a practical vision of how Islam can undergo a reformation that empowers women, promotes respect for religious minorities and fosters a competition of ideas. Her vision revives Islam's lost tradition of independent thought. This book should inspire Muslims worldwide to revisit the foundations of their faith. It might also compel non-Muslims to start posing the questions we all have about Islam today. In that spirit, "The Trouble with Islam" is a clarion call for a fatwa-free future.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (29 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840188375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840188370
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 13.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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."..feels like a revelation...a raw nerve ending for the West - shocking, raw, but mercifully, joyously, still alive."- Andrew Sullivan, "New York Times Book Review", 1/25/2004 "Irshad Manji is a fresh, new and intriguing voice of Islamic reform. This wonderfully written book will surprise you, educate you, even entertain you."- Alan Dershowitz, author of "The Case for Israel" "[Manji's] ideas have already set off a searching debate."-Clifford Krauss, "The New York Times" "Tightly reasoned and packed with knockout punches."-Pat Donnelly, "Montreal Gazette" "Manji is blazingly articulate."-Margaret Wente, "The Globe" and "Mail" (Canada) ""The Trouble with Islam" is beyond controversial. It may ignite a firestorm of protest...her easy conversational style, addressed to 'my fellow Muslims, ' makes it accessible to a wide range of readers."-Leslie Scrivener, "The Toronto Star"

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An uncompromising critique of our faith 26 July 2004
As a British Muslim I wanted to hate this book. It isn't easy to take criticism of one's own faith, especially if one has been brought into that faith from childhood. Too often our peers describe the extremists as something other than the mainstream; well it's up to us to show the world that this is true.
Manji's book isn't perfectly written, in fact it's rather disjointed in places, but her knowledge and erudition cannot be questioned and I scoff at the one-star ratings given in some reviews; obviously her incisive analyses have raised some heckles.
I advise Muslims to read this book with as open a mind as they can. She advocates a reformation in Islam and makes an excellent case for change. For her courage I commend her, hers is a voice that has been lacking for too long.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The reality of islam 15 July 2004
The book sets out some excellent arguments about islam and supports these arguments with solid evidence.
The writer identifies many of the problems islam faces today and highlights changes needed to bring islam into line with western society.
Through out the book are case studies of how backward islam can become if led my an individual with a poor understanding and incorrect interpretation of the Koran, but the book highlights valuable experiences that the writter has experienced following this faith.
It is a shame to see that many of the people that have rated this book with a low rating fail to draw attention to what the writer is arguing about.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, Open Minded and Courageous 3 Oct 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is refreshing to see a Muslim who can not only view her own faith as outsiders see it, but also have the unmitigated courage to go into print and say what most non-Muslims would love to say but are afraid to in case they incur the wrath of the Mullahs ! (You'll note I use my anonymous mode for writing this !!!). This book should be read, and re-read, by the said Mullahs and perhaps they will then see why there is so little public respect for Islam amongst non-Muslims. I truly wish it were not this way, for Islam, Judaism and Christianity all come from the same roots, worship the same God, and should be partners rather than antagonists. What impresses me about Irshad Manji is the fact that she not only criticises, but gives positive pointers to how the situation can be healed. The reviewers who panned the book clearly are still in the mediaeval period mentally, and are not yet ready to see impartially.

This is a book that only a Muslim could have written with credibility. Anyone else would have been immediately accused of "Racism", "Islamophobia" or worse.
Given past history, it must have taken incredible courage for Irshad Manji to write this book. Not only has she aimed legitimate criticism at Islam, but she is a WOMAN criticising Islam. Even worse ..... she is a LESBIAN WOMAN criticising Islam. In today's Islamic climate it doesn't get much worse than that !
Because of the above, I have to say that this is a book that all Muslims should read, as it gives voice to most of the criticisms that non-Muslims feel should be voiced, but we cannot, as we would be demonised as Islamophobic. Open minded Muslims can see why they are perceived to be insular and anti anybody not of their faith.
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake up call for West and East 26 July 2004
By A Customer
The book's great strength is the author's personal experience as a Muslim. She is a talented observer and is determined to ask the right questions however politically awkward and whatever the circumstances. "Dare to ruin the moment" is her philosophy.
She reports encounters and conversations with fellow Muslims from across the spectrum of Islamic views. She highlights the startling contradictions in the Koran, of which there are many. She points out the ambiguities. The injunction not to kill leaves ample "wiggle room" so extremists can justify murder.
She challenges the Muslim view that what Islam taught in the past is perfect today. Muslims are "routinely taught that the Koran is not to be questioned, analysed, or even interpreted". The same is true of the hadiths, reports of what the Prophet said and did throughout his life. The gates of Ijtihad - an Islamic tradition of independent reasoning that allows Muslims to update their religious practice in light of contemporary circumstances - were closed centuries ago. She wants them opened again.
The prevalent Muslim attitudes to women and religious minorities are unjust and wicked. She quotes examples of the inferior status of women in Islam and of their ill treatment. The Koran is ambiguous and contradictory. "Those who wish to flog women on the flimsiest of charges", she says, "can get the necessary back-up from the Koran. Then again those who seek equality can find succour as well".
The French are expelling an imam who advocated the beating and stoning of adulterous women. He has lived in France for 25 years and has two wives and 16 children. He told a magazine that the Koran permitted the stoning of adulterers and wife beating. He later said he was stating a fact and not giving his opinion.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must-read 10 May 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book brimming with wisdom, constructive ideas, hope and if that isn't enough; accurate information about the history of Israel. It's a book which all people over 12 should read. Indeed, if you want to understand Middle East politics and the hostility of some Muslims towards all things Western, this is simply a must-read.
The text is engaging, often humorous, and the tone is optimistic. It discusses the Golden Age of Islam when Muslims worked alongside 'others' to everyone's benefit and analyses where and how it all went wrong. It provides a number of solutions, and shows us that there is more than a glimmer of light at the end of what has been an extremely depressing post-September 11th tunnel. No, it doesn't have to be this way. There is a choice! Let all of us support those Muslims working for change, justice and peace.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book!
A very self-critical author who has the guts to address the dilemmas faced by the Muslim community and mustering the courage to encourage self-criticism and the spirit to question... Read more
Published on 21 Jun 2012 by Ananth
1.0 out of 5 stars The trouble with, The trouble with Islam
As a british muslim I read the book with an open mind. I wanted to believe that Irshad had a view that i could accept and that she would be able to give muslims in the west a "Wake... Read more
Published on 17 May 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars An uncompromising critique of our faith
As a life-long British Muslim I wanted to hate this book. It isn't easy to take criticism of one's own faith, especially if one has been brought into that faith from childhood. Read more
Published on 26 July 2004 by L. Salisbury
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual perspective
Reviews of this book tend to be extremely polarised: readers either love it or hate it. The reality is (of course) somewhere inbetween, but on the whole the book is well worth... Read more
Published on 1 July 2004 by "jonathanjones10"
1.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Hilarious !!!
Aside from the fact that Manji has no obvious credentials for interpreting Quranic text (yes, it generally does require an educational grounding), I find it difficult to take such... Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2004 by Nat Ball
1.0 out of 5 stars Highly emotional diatribe
To critique a subject adequately a rudimentary knowledge of that subject is a pre-requisite. This highly emotional diatribe shows that Manji has a lot of personal scores to settle... Read more
Published on 17 May 2004 by M A Chaudry
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