One of the books that I read this summer was The Trouble With Islam Today; A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith by Irshad Manji. I found Trouble With Islam Today to be a fascinating book. The book provided me with a “look through an open window” view into a religion and culture that I had very little knowledge of prior to reading this book. You can visit Irshad Manji’s website at www.muslim-refusenik.com.
For a long time now, I have had a lingering feeling of discontent with the coverage in the traditional news media (LA Times, CNN, FOX News, NBC, etc.) regarding such important subjects as the Middle-East, Islam, Muslims, terrorism, and the war on terror, just to name a few. I feel that so much of Washington politics and White House policy today is connected or somehow relates to Iraq, Islam, or the Middle East in various ways. Yet, I personally do not have a firm grasp of what is Islam, or the history or cultures of the Middle East, and I have felt for some time now that I personally need to do more to learn about these subjects.
Then one day while channel surfing, Mrs. Taco Sam and I stumbled across a speech being given by Irshad Manji regarding The Trouble With Islam Today that was being televised on CSPAN. Ms. Manji is a very engaging and captivating speaker who captured my attention with her thoughts, arguments and passion about Islam. After watching an hour of her speech on TV, I made it a point to go to Barnes & Noble the very next day to purchase her book because I needed to find out more about what Ms. Manji had to say. All I can say is that its been a long time since I have gone out of my way to immediately purchase a book in that fashion. I was not disappointed.
Ms. Manji’s book offers a hard-hitting analysis of Islam. To me, the book perfectly illustrates the “crisis of faith” that Ms. Manji has with Islam, and her internal struggle to keep believing in her faith. Its my opinion that Ms. Manji wants very badly to believe in her faith, but she has questions that no one is willing to answer, or even ask for that matter. Here is a very brief taste of some of the questions and issues Ms. Manji tackles in her book:
1. “[W]hether there’s something cardinal, something inextricably core, within Islam that makes it more rigid today that its spiritual siblings, Christianity and Judaism.”
2. “Does [the Koran] unequivocally, or even plausibly, support whipping a raped woman despite a multitude of witnesses to the crime against her?”
3. “[D]oes the Koran really prohibit women from leading prayer?”
4. The relationship between the rise of Islamic totalitarianism and intractable politics of the Middle East.
5. “Since the Koran makes room for the exercise of free will, why do the governing geniuses of Islam seem to default into narrowness? Why don’t more of them choose the path of openness?”
6. The relationship between Sunnis and Shia (and a very brief summary of the history of how Sunnis and Shia started out).
Ms. Manji raises a ton of further questions in the book. In fact, Manji’s book is an open letter and call for Islamic reformation.
In short, I found Ms. Manji’s book to be very informative, thought provoking, and most of all, fascinating. It is an effective call for reformation, and a starting point for me to learn more about Islam and the Middle East. It’s a book that is a “must read” even if one disagrees with the conclusion of Manji’s analysis (as you can imagine, many persons disagree and Ms. Manji has received various death threats for writing this book).
In many ways, I think most people have had a similar crisis of faith at some point in their lives, including me. Maybe that is why Ms. Manji’s book resonated with me. The book also reminded me of when I studied how Martin Luther and many others first questioned and then sought to reform Christianity. Hope you check out the book for yourself.