Islam Revisited, Reinvented, and Remarketed

0 Posted by - April 23, 2007 - Blog

Irshad Manji, the controversial author of “The Trouble with Islam Today” has yet another piece of powerful media to add to her growing arsenal of Manji mania political paraphernalia. A new television documentary aired on PBS and Canada's CBC earlier this month modestly titled “Faith without Fear.” The film chronicles Manji's personal struggle to bring Islam to trial and re-imagine a new muslim community that is intellectual, peaceful, and warm and fuzzy.

Manji is a self-declared Islam historian who has made broad, sweeping claims against her religion that has angered many progressive Muslims and inspired fanatics to send the Canadian writer and speaker death threats. Aside from Manji's incredibly snobbish speaking style, where she carefully articulates every sentence into an ego-bouquet of intonations that should have symphony music playing in the background for even more dramatic effect, the Islam reformist is somewhat of a regressive force despite proclamations replete in her self-made media empire. Don't get me wrong, I'm not merely another jealous commentator who is out to Manji-bash because she's got all the limelight – it's more about what she says while she has the limelight that is worrisome…

Manji has become the darling Islam expert for the West, and even found a friend in sexist/racist “news”caster Bill O'Reilly. Even the Israeli government finds her appealing. But why you may ask, when she is championing a religion that the US and Israeli governments would sooner see eradicated than boosted? The answer is that Manji is in the Western limelight because she is bashing Islam, and the O'Reilly's out there love it. She has even said she is in favour of Israel's illegal apartheid wall if its main purpose is to keep out suicide bombers. She makes claims that strike instant nausea in the world's leading Islam scholars – that the religion has a history of anti-intellectualism and that there needs to be massive reform from progressives like her, who will bring Islam into the soft, cuddly middle ground where Liberals deliberate democracy to death

Manji would do well to read some Chantal Mouffe, and realize that “solving our differences” isn't about building a political climate devoid of difference and antagonisms, but that human diversity thrives on pluralism and agonism. But Manji wants to talk about how “in the last 50 years Muslims have killed more of their own people than any foreign power.” And that's because the majority of Muslims are presumably anti-intellectuals, barbaric, and myopic? Is there a political economy analysis in there that takes into account geopolitical maneuverings (by Western countries for the most part) that fuel civil wars and ethnic conflict, or is this just the reductionist, simplified equation of “the trouble with Islam today”? The thrust of Manji's argumentation is found in her Projet Ijtihad, where she claims critical thinking in Islam all but vanished after the 11th century.

Agree with her or not, Manji has a website called Muslim Refusenik (that she relies on for most of her references in Q & A sessions, apparently it is where curious and bad Muslims can go to be saved of their ill-ways), a best selling book, and now a television documentary (watch a clip here). Read one of many articles that question this new Muslim/anti-Islam darling of the West here.

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