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The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 292 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312326999
ISBN-10: 0312326998
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This "call for reform" reads like an open letter to the Muslim world. Irshad Manji, a Toronto-based television journalist, was born to Muslim parents in South Africa. Her family eventually fled to Canada when she was two years old. Manji shares her life experiences growing up in a Western Muslim household and ask some compelling questions from her feminist-lesbian-journalist perspective. It is interesting to note that Manji has been lambasted for being too personal and not scholarly enough to have a worthwhile opinion. Yet her lack of pretense and her intimate narrative are the strengths of this book. For Muslims to dismiss her opinions as not worthy to bring to the table is not only elitist; it underscores why she feels compelled to speak out critically. Intolerance for dissent, especially women's dissent, is one of her main complaints about Islam. Clearly, her goal was not to write a scholarly critique, but rather to speak from her heartfelt concern about Islam. To her fellow Muslims she writes:
I hear from a Saudi friend that his country's religious police arrest women for wearing red on Valentines Day, and I think, Since when does a merciful God outlaw joy—or fun? I read about victims of rape being stoned for "adultery" and I wonder how a critical mass of us can stay stone silent.

She asks tough questions: "What's with the stubborn streak of anti-Semitism in Islam? Who is the real colonizer of the Muslims—-America or Arabia? Why are we squandering the talents of women, fully half of God's creation?" This is not an anti-Muslim rant. Manji also speaks with passionate love and hope for Islam, believing that democracy is compatible with its purest doctrine. Sure, she's biased and opinionated. But all religions, from Christianity to Buddhism to Islam should be accountable for how their leadership and national allegiances personally affect their followers. One would hope that this honest voice be met with a little more self-scrutiny and a little less anti-personal, anti-feminine, and anti-Western rhetoric. --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

Islam is "on very thin ice" with one follower, Canadian broadcaster Manji. Her book will be an unsettling read for most of her fellow Muslims, although they may find themselves agreeing with many points. She describes how childhood days spent at her local mosque left her perplexed and irritated; she complains that the Middle East conflict has consumed Muslim minds. She highlights several grievances many Muslims probably share: what she casts as Saudi Arabia's disproportional and destructive influence on Islam, how the hijab, or veil, has become a litmus test for a Muslim woman's faithfulness, and the need to question the accuracy of hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad). The exclusion of women from Muslim leadership is criticized as well. However, Manji's arguments would be better taken-and easier to follow-if not accompanied by an unceasing list of Islam's misdeeds. Manji often chooses the most controversial Koranic passages (rarely providing current scholarship for a more accurate reading of key verses), and her treatment of Islamic history is selective. She mistakes the negative fan mail she receives from Muslims who have seen her on television for the views of all Muslims, and lambastes those who present a sympathetic view of Islam, including the late scholar Edward Said. The writing, though energetic, is unfocused, with personal stories that are sometimes confusing. Although the book raises important points, Manji's angry tone and disjointed writing may obscure some of the valid questions she asks of Islam and Muslims.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (January 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312326998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312326999
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (292 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
By Bill Marsano. Is there a campaign against Irshad Manji's book? Certainly it seems something odd is afoot. Impartial readers should examine the reviews posted (52 as of April 10) and decide for themselves. I have; here are my conclusions:
Thirty reviews are positive--3 to five stars--and 14 (nearly 50%) are by people who have reviewed for Amazon before. Only 7 (less than 25%) are anonymous, signed "A Reader"). In general, the reviewers discuss the merits of the <book>.
Twenty-two reviews are hostile--almost all only 1 star--and only 5 (about 23%) are by previous Amazon reviewers. (One claims a children's game caused repeated vomiting by her child; reviews a $2.79 screwdriver; and attacks a book she admits not having read. In short, she doesn't review--she rants.) Nine (about 40%) are anonymous. Many are merely ad hominem attacks on the author, who is described as dishonest, ignorant, money-hungry, publicity-seeking (even fatwa-seeking) and fostering a "craze for Islamophobia." One calls Manji "simply not a Muslim" because of her "inability to read Arabic, absence from active Mulim worship, embrace of the West and its secular values, not to mention her identity as a Lesbian feminist."
I believe Amazon's reader-reviews are important and should not be distorted by partisan attacks. Readers should be alert to possible unfairness in this case. Now (at last) to the book itself.
Manji addresses her fellow Muslims thus: "I have to be honest with you. Islam is on pretty thin ice with me. I'm hanging on by my fingernails . . . ." What sounds like a nifty, snappy, wise-ass opener is, it soon becomes clear, really an expression of pain.
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By A Customer on January 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
[...] A liberal woman raised in a strict Islamic family, Manji offers readers an interesting insiders view of Islamic life. Questions regarding the narrowness of her experience may be legitimate, but they still offer a telling look at the trouble modern Muslims face trying to integrate their faith into their modern life style.
Many can question how Islam reached its current position, but despite its position as one of the world's fastest growing religion, Manji is correct that it faces a crisis. The largest funders of Islamic proselytizing and scholarship -- Persian gulf petrol dollars -- also represent the faiths most conservative elements. Not surprisingly, they often conflate ancient Arabian social custom with articles of Islamic faith causing substantial regression towards misogynist and anti-democratic principles. Here she offers ample evidence such as books donated by Saudi Arabian charities to Islamic primary schools, which contain blanket vitriolic attacks on America, the West, and Jews.
This analysis dovetails well with the question she raises about what effect the large number of repressive authoritarian governments in Islamic countries has on the faith. Here argument that changes in Islam will have to come from Western Muslims is interesting, though she does not do enough to ask how they can gain sufficient legitimacy to bring about such change.

Manji's most frightening observations and probably the most often attacked are her observations regarding the current Middle East crisis. In current charged times these are hot button issues, but her analysis adds a much needed element to the current debate.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Organized religion has a tendency to invite disaster due to the inherent flaws of the human condition that predicate judgment, mistrust, hatred, and disdain for those who adhere to a faith and dogma different from our own. In particular, the monotheistic Semitic religions over the course of history have proven to be the most rigid and intolerant of other faiths; this 'my way or the highway' approach has resulted in warfare, conquests, and carnage that--unfortunately--carries through to today.

In the post-9/11 world, Islam has occupied center stage of our global lexicon. In the name of this religion, international networks of terrorism have been spawned to attack, kill, and terrify. And Islam, like any other faith, has its problems--the totalitarian intolerance of dissent being one of its ugliest thorns. Under such a foreboding environment, Canadian TV journalist Irshad Manji dares to speak out via an open letter to all Muslims in her compelling and riveting book, THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM.

Granted, the author openly admits she is grappling with her faith; one day, she laments, she may leave Islam for good. Yet Manji has the courage and fortitude to shed light on the myriad of problems inflicting her faith: the oppression of women in the Arab and Muslim world; the unwavering intolerance of other religions in Arab and Muslim nations; the rampant anti-Semitism festering and infecting mosques around the world. The author presents a convincing case that Islam has been captured by zealots who espouse a malignant, narrow interpretation of the Koran: an interpretation that portrays Islam as an antiquated relic looking backward--instead of a peaceful vehicle for adaptation and change in an ever-changing world.
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