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Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom Hardcover – June 14, 2011
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“Like the uprisings against Middle East dictators, Allah, Liberty and Love is a jolt of adrenalin in the struggle against enemies of humanity -- those who would coerce a people's rights or an individual's conscience. Irshad Manji is a brave woman whose moral courage brings threats against her life. Now, even as she equips her Muslim brothers and sisters to "stay with integrity" in their effort to replace dogma with faith, Manji challenges us who are not Muslims to take on the closed minds of our own religion, party, community, or clan. This is a passionate yet practical guide for the journey of moral courage that each of us must begin if we are to live with dignity on a crowded planet.”
— Bill Moyers
"As a reporter, I have witnessed the impact of Irshad Manji's work on young Muslims in the Middle East. By listening to their ideas about how to use emerging technologies to circumvent state censors, Manji has reached a new generation of Arab activists and helped raise their democratic aspirations."
— Katherine Zoepf, Journalist and Schwartz fellow at the New America foundation
"In the Qur'an, God is not offended when the angels question Him. In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji asks powerful questions of God's self-appointed spokespeople. They will be affronted, but God is greater. Muslims like me cheer Irshad."
— Representative Keith Ellison
“Everyone thinks about courage: we admire it in others; we fear the shallowness of our own. Irshad Manji has earned our admiration; now, in her new book, she calls on the rest of us to summon our “moral courage.” She asks both her fellow Muslims and non-Muslims to overcome the disapproval of family and peers -- and speak truth. Manji writes in her usual vibrant and accessible style, with rich, compelling anecdotes and revealing interviews. This is an important and timely book, written by the master of moral courage.”
— Lesley Stahl, correspondent for 60 Minutes
“Irshad Manji once again shows herself to be a Muslim reformist of outstanding courage. Hers is the unwavering conviction that all religions, including Islam, fulfill their timeless moral precepts through universal love, freedom and reason. To understand how these virtues can be allied with Allah and the Quran -- not in theory, but in our messy real world -- you must read this book.”
— N.J. Dawood, translator of The Koran
“Irshad Manji is the new voice of reform, not only for Islam, but for all religions. When we realize that liberty and love, meaning and purpose are more sacred than ideology and dogma, our religion and spirituality will come of age.”
— Deepak Chopra, author of The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness
"Irshad Manji's Allah, Liberty and Love is a passionate argument for passionate argument -- in all of life and especially within Islam. I leave these pages strengthened by her humor, intelligence, bravery, fairness and faith."
— Gloria Steinem
"Irshad Manji never gives up. In Allah, Liberty and Love, she chronicles her continuing struggle for an authentic Islamic reformation, one that she has rooted deeply in Islam's own traditions... Manji writes about her relations with a community that doesn't quite know what to make of her -- but also of the many Muslims who support her as she keeps her faith. Manji is at the forefront of some crucially important trends that are slowly changing the world of Islam."
About the Author
IRSHAD MANJI teaches moral courage at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. A Globe and Mail columnist, she is also a scholar with the European Foundation for Democracy. Her #1 Canadian bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, earned international recognition and inspired Manji's Emmy-nominated PBS film, Faith Without Fear. The New York Times has called her "bin Laden's worst nightmare" while the Jakarta Post in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, has identified Manji as one of 3 women creating positive change in contemporary Islam.
From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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She reprints some of her hate-mail, and some really Is pretty funny, though Richard Dawkins' hate-mail in "The God Delusion" is a lot funnier,and she reprints testimonials from young Muslims who are suffering under the constraints of their culture, though some of the posts on faithfreedom.org are every bit as heartrending. She lets us in on conversations she's had with Rushdie and Ramadan. Well and good, but throughout I can't help but feel a bit patronized, solely because I'm an infidel.
Clearly, this is directed at her fellow young Muslims, and secondarily the general public. (And the astute reader may have noticed that there are a lot fewer reviews if this, which may mean fewer sales.)
This is in part, I suppose, because she simply takes for granted that the Koran really IS dictation from on high, and I assuredly don't. Also, I get rather bored with all this because there's been a tsunami of "peaceful Islam" books over the last 15 years, and this one isn't that different. While Esposito and Ramadan tell me how peaceful Islam already is and I don't know it because of Western stereotypes, Manji tells me how peaceful it will become when CERTAIN PEOPLE learn manners from their infidel neighbors, validate it all by select readings in the Koran, and stop acting like Western stereotypes. And "select" is the appropriate word here. She basically claims that "the message" of "The Messenger," which is, of course, peace and toleration, shines through the Koran, and all the horrible things that have accrued to the history of Islam are results of the surrounding cultures. She's got her causality backwards. Culture causes religion, because people invent religion. The Gospels were the result of the "Septuagint" Greek-Jewish culture, and they were often a rather cosmopolitan bunch. The men who cobbled the Koran together were semi-literate Bedouin marauders, and it shows. Ibn Warraq waggishly points out, for example, that there are over 100 basic grammatical errors in the Koran. Some "perfect book."
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, in "Infidel," points out that while there surely is good to be found in the Koran, it mostly applies to how Muslims should treat other Muslims. We infidels? Self-explanatory. CLANG! WHOOSH! SPLAT! What the moderates are doing, clearly, is using the "We are all born Muslims" theory (which is hooey) to extend their benevolence to everyone, while presumably re-writing "infidels" to mean "evil-doers." Yet another reason to suspect that even the most moderate Muslim is trying to cover up quite a lot, while trying to patronize his way out of a socially touchy situation.
Admittedly, Manji's quest to proclaim a new reformed Islam is probably necessary -- Islam won't go away, and the younger generation has to find a way to fit in with the infidels somehow. And it certainly requires the moral courage she praises to stand up to reactionary imams and their thuggish acolytes.
But I also think it takes even more courage and honesty to do what Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Sabatina James have done. They're all survivors from the most horrifically damaged sectors of Islam, they've seen what the most primitive parts of "The Book" have done for centuries to their wretched, dysfunctional society, have acknowledged it, and walked away from it all with a resounding "NON SERVIAM!"
They don't whitewash the ugly bits of the Koran, and call it "re-interpretation." They take Mohammed at his word.
I strongly recommend Ibn Warraq's classic "Why I Am Not a Muslim," heavily reviewed here on Amazon, and written in honor of Rushdie. Warraq is under one of the usual death sentences for writing it.
No religion that can require its members to murder dissenters, even if only in theory, can be condoned.
And a BTW to Ms. Manji: please remove the phrase "haters of Islam" from your vocabulary. It's cant, and it stifles discussion by personalizing issues, which is the opposite of what you claim you're trying to do.
Irshad surprises me by her insight and courage. "Our duty to know God overshadows any guilt brought on by the artificial gods of family and nation." This is not an easy task. The great majority of people follow the religion of loudest, crowdest, or the proximate bandwagon. It takes wisdom and bravery to search for truth, without condition. Throughout history, those who questioned dogmas and mythologies were shunned and declared heretics.
I do believe that a substantial reform is impossible without brave reformists who are ready to question everything. Throughout history, reformists have uttered ideas that initially repelled or scared the hypnotized majorities in their "holy bandwagons." There cannot be a slow transformation, but a shock, a radical jump, a paradigm change among Muslim masses.
Such a reform perhaps can be accomplished only by "children" who do not hesitate to scream the reality that "emperor is naked." Yes, Muslim clergymen and politicians are naked!
The title of the book is excellent. By using the word Allah instead of God, Irshad is daring the wormongers who wish to demonize muslims. By using the word Liberty and Love, she also challenges the Sunni and Shiite bigots who betray the many verses of the Quran promoting freedom of expression, tolerance to the choices of others. How islam could be depicted as the "religion of hate," while the most frequent attribute of God is derivatives of the root RaHaMa (compassion, love, care)?
Irshad knows that Allah is not a proper name, but the contraction of "al" (the) and "ilah" (god) meaning, the God. I would like to quote a note from Quran: a Reformist Translation on the first verse of the Quran:
The Arabic word Allah is not a proper name as some might think; it is contraction of AL (the) and ELAH (god). The word Allahumma is a different form and the letter "M" in the end is not an Arabic suffix as a novice might think. The word Allahumma may not be considered a divine attribute since it cannot be used as a subject in a sentence or as an attribute of a divine subject. It is always used in supplication and prayers, meaning "o my lord" or "o our lord." Allah and Rahman are two attributes that are invariably used as names rather than adjectives. Since God sent messengers to all nations (10:47; 16:36; 35:24) in their own language (14:4), they referred to their creator in their own language. See 7:180.
While some tried their hardest, for centuries, to turn the creator of the universe into an Arab God, others too have attempted to transform Him into an Anglo-Saxon male. The former ignored the fact that the languages of many nations who received God's message in their own language did not contain the word Allah. The latter ignored the fact that Jesus or (J)esu(s), never uttered the English word `God,' but referred to his Lord with Hebrew or Aramaic words such as Eli, Eloi, Elahi, or Ellohim (Mark 15:34), which are almost identical to corresponding Arabic words.
The Old Testament contains several verses containing the attributes of `Gracious' and `Merciful' as used in Basmalah: Exodus 34:6; 2 Ch 30:9; Nehemiah 9:17,31; Psalms 103:8; 116:5; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2.
In this book, Irshad informs the reader about degeneration of the peaceful, progressive and liberating message of Islam and supports her arguments through the verses of the Quran and numerous scholars of the past and present. Let me provide brief information about the nature of deformation that took place centuries ago, and the message of modern Islamic Reform movement:
Male chauvinists, hermits, misogynists too took advantage of the deformation movement that started with the gathering of hearsay stories called Hadith, about three centuries after the departure of Prophet Muhammad. Hearsay statements attributing words and deeds to Muhammad and his idolized comrades became the most powerful tool or Trojan horse, for the promotion of diverse political propaganda, cultural assimilation, and even commercial advertisement. As a result, the Quran was deserted and its message was heavily distorted.
Soon after Muhammad's death, thousands of hadiths (words attributed to Muhammad) were fabricated and two centuries later collected, and centuries later compiled and written in the so-called "authentic" hadith books:
* to support the teaching of a particular sect against another (such as, what nullifies ablution; which sea food is prohibited);
* to flatter or justify the authority and practice of a particular king against dissidents (such as, Mahdy and Dajjal);
* to promote the interest of a particular tribe or family (such as, favoring the Quraysh tribe or Muhammad's family);
* to justify sexual abuse and misogyny (such as, Aisha's age; barring women from leading Sala prayers);
* to justify violence, oppression and tyranny (such as, torturing members of Urayna and Uqayla tribes; massacring the Jewish population in Medina; assassinating a female poet for her critical poems);
* to exhort more rituals and righteousness (such as, nawafil prayers);
* to validate superstitions (such as, magic; worshiping the black stone near the Kaba);
* to prohibit certain things and actions (such as, prohibiting drawing animal and human figures; playing musical instruments; chess);
* to import Jewish and Christian beliefs and practices (such as, death by stoning; circumcision; head scarf; hermitism; rosary);
* to resurrect pre-Islamic beliefs and practices common among Meccans (such as, intercession; slavery; tribalism; misogyny);
* to please crowds with stories (such as the story of Miraj (ascension to heaven) and bargaining for prayers);
* to idolize Muhammad and claim his superiority to other messengers (such as, numerous miracles, including splitting the moon);
* to defend hadith fabrications against monotheists (such as, condemning those who find the Quran alone sufficient); and even
* to advertise products of a particular farm (such as, the benefits of dates grown in a town called Ajwa).
In addition to the above mentioned reasons, many hadith were fabricated to explain the meaning of the "difficult" Quranic words or phrases, or to distort the meaning of verses that contradicted the fabricated hadith, or to provide trivial information not mentioned in the Quran (such as, Saqar, 2:187; 8:35...).
I hope that Irshad's book will be adopted as a textbook by colleges and universities that teach courses on religions and Near Eastern or Oriental Studies.