on 20 March 2008
This book should be read by everyone, from conservative Muslims to Western liberals. It should especially be read in the corridors of power. Excellent appraisal of the current crisis that affects Islam. If the message of this book is taken to heart then maybe an Islamic Reformation will happen in the not-too-distant future, which would benefit us all.
The author give a very quick run through the problems as she perceives them with modern Islam. She is both persuasive and concise in her writing and has set out in very convincing terms why it is necessary to recover the stewardship of the ancient and wise Islamic faith from the "desert tribalists".
If you liked this book you'll also like The Islamist, about a Muslim man in London and his journey away from the path that leads ultimately to hatred and terror.
on 2 June 2007
I congratulate Ms Manji on her bravery and her willingness to jeopardize her safety for the sake of expressing her views at a time when the order of the day among muslims is to silence any voice of dissent no matter how reasonable and peacuful that voice is.I agree with a lot of what Ms Manji says in her book about desert Islam and its rise in recent times. Her depiction of the ailments afflicting muslims today is quite accurate and rather disturbing and that probably explains the vitriolic response her book received from the majority of muslims. However, I think she got carried away in the chapter she wrote about the middle east conflict. While Arabs harbor a great deal of hostility towards Israel, I don't think Israel is as innocent and civilized as Ms Manji would lead us to believe in her book. Operation Ijtihad and solving the problems of the muslim world by turning muslim women into entrepreneurs sounds rather simplistic and naive.
Overall, the book is indeed a very good read. It forces those muslims who bothered to actually read it to look in the mirror and see the unflattering picture of their faith as it stands today. It is about time muslims dragged themselves into the 21st century and reconsidered their position on women, gays and lesbians, freedom of speech and freedom of faith among many other things. Good luck to Irshad in her quest to help achieve this.
on 21 August 2005
At first I thought the book was anti-Muslim. I decided this was a good enough label; a few weeks later, when suddenly I bumped into a table holding copies of the book, in a bookshop. After some deliberation, I decided I could not simply label it without, seeing what all the fuss was about. I mean, if I have not read it, then how can I judge it?
So I purchased the book and finished reading it that very day! I received much criticism from my family and friends on how unproductive reading the book was and that there are so many other important books I could have read. My response to them: Really? Have you read it? I may not agree with some of the things it says, but I also welcome the writer point of view.
Thank you, Irshad Manji, for your excellent contribution to both the Western and Muslim cultures.
on 15 November 2005
Irshad Manji covers a broad spectrum of the internal problems faced by large swathes of today's Islam. Some believers will be angry with her for airing these problems in public but as she makes clear there are few, if any, mechanisims for airing them any other way. The book is one long appeal for open-minded questioning with no questions forbidden in advance. She asks why and when it was that the Islamic tradition gave up the practice of such questioning and argues that without that it can only demand that its followers switch their brains off. Not a good idea. The book is written in an engaging style and is a must read for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
on 30 August 2006
I picked this book up in an airport bookshop and after flicking through it decided I had to read it. It is written in a very personal style that will attract a lot of people, never-the-less, the content is both dynamic and brutal. Although I don't agree with everything she explains or advocates (I am not a Muslim either), she does expose in raw terms where she sees Islam as having gone wrong. Manji is not only critical of Islam and honouring of the West, but also praises Islam and criticises the West. I note with interest the first couple of people who expressed their dislike for the book do not live in Muslim countries. I do, so maybe they should give it a try and see how Muslim society is fairly reflected in this book. Irshad deserves all the credit and success she gets.
on 26 October 2009
This is an easy read "as smooth as milk" and equally digestible. Manji prosecutes a fairly rigorous and comprehensive analysis of the problems associated with modern Islam in particular, one that is of tremendous relevance given the hundreds killed by suicide bombers almost on a daily basis. Muslims kill other Muslims in the main in order to defeat their stated enemy, typically Jews or Americans though the ire could equally focus on any group that is seen to threaten Islam, though of course the logic of killing your own kind to avenge your enemy seems to be a bit lost. Manji's catalogue of problems associated with Islam may have applied to Christianity in the past, but I don't think any other modern mainstream religion including Judaism can be compared in the context of violence and treatment of the "other" to Islam (despite claims to the contrary). Tribal religions can vaunt themselves over others arrogating for themselves the God given right to pillage and destroy whomever or whatever they please (in the name of God and self defence). Thus we see the superior Sunnis killing the Shias as infidels and the pacific Sufis marginalised into the periphery, also regarded as infidel material. And that's just intra Islamic violence. Manji's book is quite old now. Since then, we have witnessed Islamic beheadings of innocent people be they Hindus, Buddhists, Christians or Jews as well as burning people alive, proudly placed as videos on the web. "Let me propose this much: equality can't exit in the desert, not if the taxonomy of the tribe is to remain intact" argues Manji in one of the most forceful sentences in the book.
She effectively describes a plethora of problems in general and in particular, teasing out history and examples of her encounters with other cultures including a trip to Israel and the trouble she had seeing Islam's holiest shrines as a woman. As an example, Manji queries the lack of an outcry to the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha's from a Muslim feminist: " `Manji, do you know what's happening to Muslims in Palestine?' .... Somebody return me to earth or transport my butt to a part of the solar system where we distinguish between justice and justification."
I enjoyed Manji's treatment of the Palestinian conflict and her trenchant analysis of freedom and openness in Israel compared to her neighbours. By playing the victim card, Muslims seem to have lost out so far. Each and every time something terrible happens, the finger seems to be pointed at the Jews and Americans. Make no mistake, the Middle East convinced themselves that 9/11 was a Zionist conspiracy in all earnestness. There is nothing new here, the Jews were accused of spreading lies as far back as 1848, the scapegoats of choice for any calamity in the Islamic world. The exploration of anti-Semitism from a relatively short Islamic golden age to the present is telling.
Irshad scorns and chastises the rise of Whabism from Saudi Arabia and highlights the spread of this brand of Islam thanks to petro dollars. More than the West, it is Arab culture that has colonised global Islam. The author exposes hypocrisy on several fronts and scorns the culture of ignorance that Wahabism and what is described as "foundermentalism" in particular has created. We learn about Turkish observatories that were torn down shortly after construction because of complaints from the Mullahs and free thinking philosophers like Ibn Rashd who were assassinated for expressing themselves. Saudi Arabia has been busy obliterating historic Muslim architecture in case it encourages idolatry and Muslims are kept ignorant about the Jewish roots of their faith (or at least, these roots are not emphasised).
Yet Manji remains a Muslim, beloved by many other Muslims sick of the lengths to which hatred is espoused on the basis of the Koran and Hadiths. A different kind of interpretation is possible, toning down the violent rhetoric, begging the question as to what constitutes a Dhimmi or a Believer? A reformed Islam is surely possible and Manji's is probably the first major book exploring reasons for hope within the Islamic diaspora, particularly in the West.
Manji explains that Allahu Akbar does not mean so much "God is great" but that "God is greater", Greater than my petty views and opinions and the potential need to kill and destroy in His name.
I think that the length of her essay does not permit enough room to explore the solutions in bringing about reformation - one topic explored in some detail is women's empowerment. We see that Manji is passionate for the accommodation of Muslims by civilisation at large, and they should at least be grateful (given many don't like this book) that she explains the need for Muslim immigration into the Western or Developed world if they are to maintain their productivity. Manji talks passionately about the need to educate the disenfranchised young in Muslim countries via media programs: "Whoever denies these kids economic and civic participation will incite a degree of chaos capable of convulsing much of the planet". She seeks the participation of anyone with resources to help Muslims to think independently, outside the box. She calls this Itjihad, too long swept under the carpet by theocratic governments.
The author is a powerful communicator and activist and has obviously started something. Having appreciated this book I can only hope it will influence Believers in a positive way but Manji's epistle probably falls largely on deaf ears. At least she may be a Cassandra forewarning her kindred and us poor infidels as to dangers ahead. This surely rates as a document of its time, worthy of dissemination and discussion now and in the future. Its impact if any, remains to be seen.
on 28 May 2015
Having read the Quran and two conflicting biographies of Mohammed, and found very little there to understand why anyone would genuinely want to be a Muslim, I found it refreshing to read thoughts from a Muslim point of view that does question why Islam is so sterile and narrow-minded.
Also , the book is extremely well written and even has quite humorous considering the subject matter. (not something you can ever associate with Islam).
This should be recommended reading in all schools (though unlikely to be in many madrasas).
on 28 July 2013
A courageous muslim who loves Islam but is not preoared to follow blindly. She certainly is not afraid to tackle prickly issues head on and being muslim shows immense bravery.
If more muslims ask questions of their religion then perhaps the fundamentalist will not be able to manipulate the masses and create over a billion victims.
Every religion must be able to accept criticism and discuss its shortcomings openly without the threat of violence. The fact that the author requires body guards says a lot in itself about the intolerance of a minority who are emboldened by the silence of the majority.
on 22 July 2013
What a book, a complete and exhaustive list of everything wrong with Islam today from one of it's very own. irshad is a reformist with a mission, I wish her well in her endeavour. She is a courageous girl who will succeed, I am sure. I particularly enjoyed the comparison she made between muons of North America and Europe. I think Europe has to do a lot of answering for it's treatment of Muslims as second and third class citizens. Well dome Irshad, may God give you strength.
on 23 February 2015
Having watched a short video of an interview with Irshad Manjii and also with Islam and Muslims being topical at present, I purchased her book 'The Trouble with Islam Today'.
She came across as a very courageous lady who, despite being lesbian, doesn't wear a hijab; is outspoken and articulate and is a practising Muslim, I had to read what she had to say.
I wanted to read this, not because I'm racist or anti Muslim or Islam, quite the reverse I take the view that each to their own, whatever faith or belief you follow it should encompass tolerance and acceptance of others.
There is not enough police, soldiers or security personnel in the world to guard against terrorism, the solution has to come from within, our communities and in particular the Muslim communities.
Although my knowledge of Muslims and Islam is limited, such is the concern globally of Islamism we, non-Muslims, have to be proactive to understand what makes people, in the name of religion, kill, maim and torture others of a different persuasion and equally, why others of that religion, at best turn a blind eye or worse promote terrorism by keeping their communities' activities isolated from others so that radicalisation seems an attractive option to peace and harmony.