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

by | Oct 3, 2003

“You will sooner or later pay for your pack of lies,” read one threatening message last week to the author of The Trouble with Islam: A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change. In that book, just released in Canada, Irshad Manji, 34, explores such usually taboo themes as anti-Semitism, slavery and the inferior treatment of […]

“You will sooner or later pay for your pack of lies,” read one threatening message last week to the author of The Trouble with Islam: A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change.

In that book, just released in Canada, Irshad Manji, 34, explores such usually taboo themes as anti-Semitism, slavery and the inferior treatment of women with what she calls an “utmost honesty.”

“Grow up!” she scolds Muslims. “And take responsibility for our role in what ails Islam.”

Although a TV journalist and personality, Manji – a practicing Muslim – brings real insight to her subject. “I appreciate that every faith has its share of literalists. Christians have their Evangelicals. Jews have the ultra-Orthodox. For God’s sake, even Buddhists have fundamentalists. But what this book hammers home is that only in Islam is literalism mainstream.”

For her efforts, Manji has been called “self-hating,” “irrelevant,” “a Muslim sellout” and a “blasphemer.” She is accused of both “denigrating Islam” and dehumanizing Muslims.

This outpouring of hostility prompted Manji to hire a guard and install bullet proof glass in her house. The Toronto police acknowledge “a very high level of awareness” about her security.

Manji’s predicament is unfortunately all too typical of what courageous, moderate, modern Muslims face when they speak out against the scourge of militant Islam. Her experience echoes the threats against the lives of such writers as Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen.

And non-Muslims wonder why anti-Islamist Muslims in western Europe and North America are so quiet?

Anti-Islamist Muslims – who wish to live modern lives, unencumbered by burqas, fatwas and violent visions of jihad – are on the defensive and atomized. However eloquent, their individual voices cannot compete with the roar of militant Islam’s determination, money (much of it from overseas) and violence. As a result, militant Islam, with its West-phobia and goal of world hegemony, dominates Islam in the West and appears to many to be the only kind of Islam.

But anti-Islamist Muslims not only exist; in the two years since 9/11, they have increasingly found their voice. They are a varied lot, sharing neither a single approach nor one agenda. Some are pious, some not, and others are freethinkers or atheists. Some are conservative, others liberal. They share only a hostility to the Wahhabi, Khomeini and other forms of militant Islam.

They are starting to produce books that challenge the Islamists’ totalitarian vision. Abdelwahab Meddeb of the Sorbonne wrote the evocatively titled Malady of Islam, in which he compares militant Islam to Nazism. Akbar Ahmed of American University wrote Islam Under Siege, calling for Muslims to respect non-Muslims.

Other outspoken academics include Saadollah Ghaussy formerly of Sophia University in Tokyo, Husain Haqqani of the Brookings Institution, Salim Mansur of the University of Western Ontario and Khaleel Mohammad of San Diego State University.

Journalists such as Tashbih Sayyid of Pakistan Today and Stephen Schwartz (who has written for The Post and The Weekly Standard, among others) are on the front lines against militant Islam in the United States, as is the writer Khalid Dur

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and a columnist for both the New York Post and The Jerusalem Post. His website, DanielPipes.org, offers an archive of his published writings and a si

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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