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May 16 , 2010

The Trouble with Islam Today

A Wake-Up Call for Honesty and Change


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 today: tribal insularity, deep-seated anti-Semitism and an uncritical acceptance of the Quran as the final, and therefore superior, manifesto of God.

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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 Quran 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.

The recipient of death threats as well as heartfelt support from her co-religionists, Manji travels throughout the world with her challenge for both Muslims and non-Muslims: dare to ask questions - out loud.

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