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The Trouble with Islam Today
by Irshad Manji
Mainstream Publishing | August 2005 | ISBN 184018924X
Recommended by Tahir Abbas: Since its initial publication in 2004 this book has been widely received with many a raised eyebrow and a great deal of consternation particularly (and not surprisingly) amongst the international Muslim community. Irshad Manji is not a theologian, social scientist or political analyst, but she is a Muslim and was raised as one. This has certainly not deterred her from asking hard-hitting and challenging questions that go to the heart of many of the dilemmas that Muslims face.
It is interesting how Manji has added the word "today" to this latest edition of the book. It is reflective of the criticisms she has received and how she has now acknowledged that the "trouble" is with Muslims, not Islam. Indeed, the problems with Muslims are to do with a seemingly conservative, simplistic, regressive and closed interpretation and application of Islam rather than the liberal, complex, progressive and open version that had led to the 'Golden Age' of Islam (around 750-1200). Over the last 500 years, Islam has had to contend with imperialism and colonialism as well as its own internal disputes. Today, Muslims have simply not recovered and Manji is careful to point out all the inadequacies that emerge as a result, for example, the loss of itjihad (individual reasoning), the limited role of women, how Muslims relate to non-Muslims and how Muslims relate to modernity.
Taking much of the intellectual leap from the likes of Tariq Ali, and his recent classic, A Clash of Fundamentalisms (2002), most Muslims will not entirely agree with her selected material and her limited scholarly insight. Other Muslims and non-Muslims may well consider this a good thing. But the questions and debates she raises are most pertinent and timely for Islam and Muslims today, which is why this book is exceptionally important and valuable. Read it and make up your own mind.
About the author: Irshad Manji is author of the international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam. It has been published in twenty countries, including Pakistan. She wrote the book while serving as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Torontos Hart House. She now sits on the inter-faith editorial board of Seventeen magazine. In her life beyond the book, Ms. Manji hosts Big Ideas on TVOntario. She frequently writes for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Out, Glamour, and Time.
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