Irshad Manji has plenty of enemies

Reza Aslan has been making rounds on the talk show circuit recently to hype his book “No God, but God.”

In No god but God, Aslan challenges the “clash of civilizations” mentality that has distorted our view of Islam and explains this critical faith in all its complexity, beauty, and compassion.

Irshad Manji (born to Indian and Egyptian parents) on the other hand takes a different approach. USA Today reports:

irshadmanji.jpg

Irshad Manji has plenty of enemies among her fellow Muslims. Her critique of Islam is frank and fierce. She defends the invasion of Iraq. She sympathizes with Israel. She’s a lesbian and doesn’t try to hide it.

“Then there is the hair,” she adds, referring to the spiky highlights that sharpen her live-wire manner.

What has brought this Uganda-born Asian-Canadian to prominence is her book, “The Trouble With Islam Today,” just out in paperback in the United States where she has been touring and talking.

As you can imagine, a practicing Muslim with such unique views might be a product of an unusual background.

The events that shaped Manji’s views date to her childhood.

She was born to parents of Indian and Egyptian descent who were among thousands of Asians expelled from Uganda by dictator Idi Amin in 1972, who saw them as outsiders imported by the country’s British colonialists.

Her family landed in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, where her mother first sold Avon products and then worked as a cook for an airline. Her father was a carpenter, then a real estate agent. The parents divorced 19 years ago and she has had no contact with her father since. In her book she describes him as physically abusive.

Manji was 4 when her father put her in a free baby-sitting service at Rose of Sharon Baptist Church. She said her stream of questions about Jesus were met with encouraging smiles by the woman who supervised the Bible study.

“She made me believe my questions were worth asking,” Manji writes. “Maybe that’s what motivated me, at age 8, to win the Most Promising Christian of the Year award.”

Manji often finds herself in the unenviable position of defending herself both against liberals and “mainstream Islam.”

She recently showed off her two-fisted style on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” going up against liberal co-panelists to defend the invasion of Iraq as a human rights issue — the only way Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime could be toppled. To the argument that Iraq was never a threat to the United States she replied that this was the kind of reasoning that ignores the suffering of people living under Middle East dictatorships. “In the last 100 years alone,” she says, “more Muslims have been tortured and murdered at the hands of other Muslims than at the hands of any former imperial power.”

I am sure you are wondering the same thing as me, right? When is the Fatwa coming?

She says that when she met Rushdie in Toronto, he told her: “Whenever a writer puts out a thought, it can be disagreed with — vigorously, vehemently, even violently. But it cannot be un-thought. And that is the great, permanent gift that the writer gives to the world.

A professor of religion at San Diego State University says the following about Manji:

“She threatens my male authority and says things about Islam that I wish were not true. She has a big mouth, and fact upon fact to corroborate her analysis. … She is a lesbian, and my madrassa training has instilled, almost into my DNA, that Allah hates gays and lesbians. I really should hate this woman.

“But then I look into my heart and engage my mind, and I come to a discomfiting conclusion: Irshad is telling the truth.”

81 thoughts on “Irshad Manji has plenty of enemies

  1. Irshad Manji’s views on Israel are more right wing than the most extreme Likudites. Her hysterical defense of colonialism pits her against idiots like Dinesh D’Souza and her work is eminently forgettable. There are plentiful problems with both Islam and Muslims. Manji’s work is however as scholarly as the critique of Islam done on the LGF website. (Little Green Football)

  2. could you elaborate some? i’ve only a read a little bit of manji’s book because i’m not interested in the individualized-islam she seems to promote cuz i don’t think it has much of a chance in the short term, but her opinions on israel seem to be more like what you’d expect from a moderate democrat in the USA, not a “likudite.”

  3. Razib, Her views on Israel are not in line with the views of moderate democrats. Her views are actually more in line with the right wing of the ‘likudites’. For example she talks about widespread ‘muslim’ complicity in the Holocaust. She talks about how the ‘Palestinians’ volunatarily left ‘Palestine’ in 1948 and embarresingly picks up all her arguments and research from a book by Maurice Pearlman and articles from the Jerusalem Post. Such views have been thoroughly discredited (not that they were ever taken seriously to begin with) I started reading her book and went had a hard time following her rendition of Islamic history, jurisprudence and the concept of ijtihaad. Her knowlededge of classical Islam will not muster a passing grade in Classical Islam 101 offered at a Community College. I quickly moved to the chapters on modern islamic politics and Israel.

  4. this woman is fascinating to me. for all that i agree with her about, the net impression that i get from her is that she is a white man’s joke, almost to the point of being a paid shill to push their beliefs and ideas for reform in muslim communities. there is much to be lauded in her book for being frank about, and she often speaks of “literalism being the mainstream only in islam,” while the book she has written is so dramatized and idiotic she winds up literalizing and making mainstream the most extreme stereotypes of muslims and muslim attitudes.

    According to Ms. Manji, more or less every arab/muslim man has deeply held, positive views on wife-beating, suicide bombings, enforcement of “fatwas”, and on and on, but will publicly denounce these views when questioned by a westerner. nevertheless, according to her these are core values that are dear to even the most common muslim.

    this woman has almost no common ground at all with the average, or even liberal muslim(or even non-muslim easterner), to begin dialogues for reform.

    her views on israel and iraq are so far beyond the graph of opinions even an extremely liberal western muslim could seriously have. i have a feeling that if an internment program happened for muslim-americans, this woman would come out in defense of such a program, of course on as many national talk shows and talking-head showcases as possible.

    i’m not one of those people who thinks that reform must be done exclusively quietly and internally, as some of my pakistani friends have offered as their qualm with ms. manji.

    however, when EVERY call for reform from this woman comes from an episode of Oprah or Bill Maher or an editorial in USA Today, you soon only see her as an opportunist and publicity whore. i doubt that any member of the muslim community had ever heard of her efforts until she dropped their weight on top of them from the top of the national press. if she were sincere in her efforts to reach the mosques and community centers, and actually change the attitudes of “average” muslims, i have a feeling her viewpoints wouldn’t be that new and loud.

    Really, the communities are not as monolithic and sword-wielding as she’d like you to believe, and if they were, there would have been many more terror attacks, sleeper cells, and law-breakers in the us, if ms. manji’s images really typify a community of over 5 million here.

    but maybe she’s just talking about canada.

    the above being my views, i think that, in the interest of “going large”, and with the evidence of her views on iraq and israel, which are not even moderate but congratulatory and filled with adulation to the point of being more enthusiastic than the neocons and right-wing pundits, her views are completely malleable to power, and that she is an opportunistic licker of white nuts, an auntie tom of the highest zeal.

    that was nasty.

  5. crazy ideas or not, one should respect the fact that her book has no problem being published here while she probably would’ve been stoned to death for writing this book in the muslim countries of the middle east

    muslim, hindu, sikh….whatever your religion may be you can’t deny the fact that nearly everyone wants to live in a christian dominated country….that alone says something, don’t you think?

  6. I haven’t read her, but, quesitons of her academic merits aside, her website makes it sounds like she’s doing decent work, even if her analysis of contemporary politics is a little shallow. Endorsing and asking for more U.S. “humanitarian” military intervention in the Muslim world betrays a total lack of understanding of what has driven and most likely will continue to drive American foreign policy and how to get to a better foreign policy, even if it’s a nice sentiment.

    But it does seems like she’s doing a lot of decent work in what she views as her community in getting people to talk abot things and putting herself out there as a very public individualist and queer person; it would be much easier for her to reject her faith and the people in her community entirely. Of course, there are groups like “>Al Fatiha and others who do the same, so it would be dumb to buy into the idea that she and her politics define queer Muslim resistance. But I’ll never dis someone who’s asking other people to think.

  7. I dont buy the line that she is a white mans stooge. She is getting death threats all the time. Nobody puts their head on their chopping board like that just to be a ‘publicity whore’. Look at Theo Van Gogh in Holland, this thing is real. She has more balls in this respect than many a Muslim man.

  8. Instapundit has this blurb — which if it really does describe Manji’s views, I’m probably quite supportive -

    “ISLAM HAS NOT CONQUERED ARAB CULTURE — ARAB CULTURE HAS CONQUERED ISLAM:” I’m watching Irshad Manji on Tucker Carlson’s PBS show, plugging her book on the trouble with Islam. She’s quite impressive, and it will be interesting — and, I have to say, an exacting test of the “moderate muslims” we’ve heard about, but not so much from, since 9/11 — to see how she’s received.
  9. to hotlips:

    i’d agree with you if her statements weren’t made from the us or canada. if she were on a tour of pakistan or iran and went about “reforming” islam(excluding her political beliefs) i’d give her much respect.

  10. if she were on a tour of pakistan or iran and went about “reforming” islam(excluding her political beliefs) i’d give her much respect.

    Rushdie had great luck with the Iran and Pakistan strategy.

  11. i’d agree with you if her statements weren’t made from the us or canada. if she were on a tour of pakistan or iran and went about “reforming” islam(excluding her political beliefs) i’d give her much respect.

    christ, that’s a really high standard. basically, you’re saying that she needs to put her life at risk and face imprisonment and likely execution (in iran) for you to respect her. i assume you are as balsy about your own political/social views?

  12. Here’s what happened the last time an Iran critic toured the country:

    Shahram Azam said he examined Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Canadian freelance journalist of Iranian origin, in a military hospital in Tehran on June 26, 2003, and noticed horrific injuries to her entire body that could only have been caused by torture and rape. It was just days after she was arrested for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during student-led protests against the ruling theocracy… She had a skull fracture, two broken fingers, missing fingernails, a crushed big toe and a smashed nose. She also had deep scratches on the neck and evidence of flogging on the legs and back. “As a doctor I could see this was caused by torture,” Azam said through an interpreter… He said as a male doctor in a military hospital, he was banned from examining a woman’s genitals, but the nurse who did so told him of “brutal damage.”
  13. Vinod, Irshad Manji has no credence at all in either Conservative Muslims, Moderate Muslims or hell even non practicing cultural Muslims in North America. I would agree with you, if she had an audience in the moderate muslim community. Her lunatic support for the Israeli occupation and imperialism and her attempts at passing her personal experiences as Islamic practices have damaged her credibility to a point of no return. Her book has provoked no debate whatsoever in the moderate Muslim community. For example the Canadian Muslim Congress ( which happens to support gay marriage and you cant get a more liberal Muslim organization) has lambasted this book. She has provoked as much debate in the moderate Muslim community as the debates provoked by the weekly diatribe of Daniel Pipes. Her book is a joke. She has however brilliantly capitalized on the new market for Islamic books in the West especially books critical of Islam/Muslims by Muslims. I am not a Muslim but my family is Muslim and I have some stake in the modernization of Islam and Muslims. However the vehicle for that change is not Irshad Manji. She hasnt passed the first test of credibility to provoke any debate.

  14. and it was said in response to hotlips.

    this isn’t as ballsy as you think it is, and the rewards that have gone into her pockets from the publicity she has gotten and sales of her book far exceed the cost she is paying by pissing people off, at least in north america. if you think she has opponents in the muslim community, she also has waaaaaayy more supporters amongst white folks who respond to her message, just look at all the awards she’s won.

    post sept 11 she snapped at a chance to speak out as a supposed academic saying all the things that moz-o-phobes want to hear. her career has been made not by making ballsy statements but by appealing to people’s prejudices, and that explains her lack of a single political POV outside the spectrum of pc acceptability of conservative republicans. (except for her being a lesbian)

    maybe when this issue has blown over her life will be in danger, when the money she’s raked in has been blown and no newschannels fly her around and put her up in hotels. but by then im sure no one’ll be hot over her anymore.

  15. to clarify my last comment, it was in reference to razib, who said

    “christ, that’s a really high standard. basically, you’re saying that she needs to put her life at risk and face imprisonment and likely execution (in iran) for you to respect her. i assume you are as balsy about your own political/social views?”

  16. if you think she has opponents in the muslim community, she also has waaaaaayy more supporters amongst white folks who respond to her message, just look at all the awards she’s won.

    yeah, she got awards and $$$, but what’s that if you have to get bodyguards? it’s how much you weight the situation. many people who love money or are not that wealthy would trade circumstances with her anyday.

    but, as a lesbian with a white collar job, i don’t think the trade off is worth it. the gay part is a big deal in my opinion…being north america’s premier gay muslim is not a position i would really want.

  17. …being north america’s premier gay muslim is not a position i would really want.

    i’d say it’s not that bad, i’m certain that she doesn’t chill with many mozzes anymore. i can guarantee you she’s feted and toasted at society events at clubs where there probably isn’t another muslim in the building. you can almost picture the crowd of white folks in a standing ovation for her for her courage “telling the truth about her people”, and these are events filled with plenty who accept gay people.

    i still like some of her message, and i must say i like her hair.

  18. I have exchanged some emails with her mainly commenting on her work. But, recently I am getting doubts about the strength of her message. It is more like she is telling what the conservative americans want to hear. And any attempt to cleanse a religion does’t really work well when you start with a premise that there is a whole lot of trouble with it – though as an agnostic I don’t have a problem listening to anyone ranting about the trouble with religions. For George Bush’s view of the world or for the catholic coverup of pedophiles, isn’t it kind of pointless to write a book called ‘Trouble with Christianity’? Now, you might say the terrorists are using the religion much more than Bush, in that case, I’d rather like an approach of ‘Trouble with muslims’ than ‘Trouble with Islam’, especially if you are looking for results among the believers. (btw, she was on Fareed Zakharia’s show last night on PBS).

  19. you can almost picture the crowd of white folks in a standing ovation for her for her courage “telling the truth about her people”

    what was that someone else was saying about generalizations???

    anyway….

    recently I am getting doubts about the strength of her message. It is more like she is telling what the conservative americans want to hear

    some of the things she says “conservative americans” would probably agree with, but a lot of the things she says they probably don’t agree with.

    i personally find a lot of irshad’s message facile (judging from what i’ve heard her say on the talk show circuit and about 1/3 of her book that i managed to read before getting too bored)-and as a practical proposition i think that islam has a long way to go overall before it will be accepting of homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. hell, the majority of christians don’t accept it, and the christian religion is shifted over a lot in terms of reconciliation with enlightenment values. that being said…i think this idea that she is living off the fat of the land and being feted by white folks is somewhat condescending.

    remember, the leader of the conservative americans invited muslim leaders to the whitehouse after 9-11 and many white americans, some of them probably conservative, stood by muslims and defended their rights as americans after 9-11.

    she believes in islam and she is reconciled to being gay. i think that is going to result in some weird (from the world’s perspective) positions, i don’t think we should assume that the major component in her motivations was monetary self-interest. there are many apostate/discontented ex-muslims out there, if there was a lot of opportunity in it you’d figure people would rush to cash in.

  20. p.s. the easiest way to please the haters btw would be for her to disavow the religion, go apostate and do a ibn warraq with more gen-x hair.

  21. Its interesting that the three people on here who have posted with Arab/Persian names (presumably of muslim origin) are all non practising muslims and are either atheists or agnostics. Maybe thats the future of American Muslims.

  22. Its interesting that the three people on here who have posted with Arab/Persian names (presumably of muslim origin) are all non practising muslims and are either atheists or agnostics. Maybe thats the future of American Muslims.

    i’m not sure religious muslims would be as comfortable in a kufir dominated board like this :) but like some people have said, i think “muslims” who would be attracted or interested in “desi” identity/issues will be less attached to a religious identity. after all, i remember a few weeks ago a muslim (believing) came to this board and basically said the reason that desi muslims are messed up is because of indian (implicitly hindu) culture rather than islam. i have heard evangelical christian indians say similar things.

  23. i’m about to say something that is might anger a lot of people and may be straying into territory that even the regular posters here would sooner avoid, but here goes:

    do you think she’d get any of the press or awards she’s gotten if she did not emphatically speak up for the israeli occupation?

    there are plenty of public muslim reformists, such as aslan, and many groups that have come out many times to denounce terrorism and other evils, but none of them have gotten near the adulation she has in our media. part of her press comes from her image as a woman and a lesbian, but would she be feted as she has with open criticisms of that political issue?

    when i asserted earlier that her views seem to be bent by deference to power, i can’t think of any other issue that better illustrates that.

  24. do you think she’d get any of the press or awards she’s gotten if she did not emphatically speak up for the israeli occupation?

    what awards? i can’t find a list on her website.

  25. when i asserted earlier that her views seem to be bent by deference to power, i can’t think of any other issue that better illustrates that.

    You can make the case that other Muslim writers views are bent by deference to Male Islamic Establishment power.

    Why arent Muslim writers and other ‘refuseniks’ railing against the decade long low-level genocide that has been taking place in Sudan? What power are they deferring to there? If Muslims are going to characterise ‘The West’ as a relentless opressor and you are going to bring in issues of deference to power you cant define the terms of that game alone.

    Whatever her message, anand’s depiction of her having no guts is facile. She receives death threats all the time. Shoot the messenger is the way to go, with the crude Uncle Tom line of argument. I just dont buy it.

    The lady has more guts than most.

  26. anand: she is a white man’s joke and a shill for their beliefs?

    Hmmm, what are the white man’s beliefs again? And how can we find a way to make them the cause of all problems in the world? Can I blame the white man for my bad hair day? And I think it’s interesting that you say her ideas on Israel are beyond what any Western Muslim should ‘seriously have.’ Why? Surely, she is entitled to her beliefs, right or wrong, in a free society? She may very well be the publicity hound you say, but I think it’s interesting that most of the comments have been about what she should or shouldn’t say, as opposed to what she actually has said. If I didn’t read any of the links, I would have no idea of what her beliefs are exactly from this thread, and I find that interesting. Does she support two states, Israel and Palestine? The right of return? I’m sure her views have been discussed elsewhere, so why not the specific views on this thread? Why more interest in her authenticity to hold a view than the actual view itself?

  27. Al Mujahid, I don’t have the link to the program – may be PBS would have it. I caught it towards the tail end of the program, but I don’t think she mentioned any more than what she has mentioned in her web site – http://www.muslimrefusenik.com. There was another lady (who was wearing hijab) who was also a reformer based on canada/U.S. She works more towards reforming muslims compared to Irshad who is interested in reforming Islam itself. But, I personally think the other lady’s messages would work well with practising muslims.

  28. I saw her book tour appearance on C-Span sometime last year. I hadnt made a firm opinion on her work one way or other at the time. (I didnt know she was an Isareli occupation defender … I think I know which way I am leaning now) But one thing that I have noticed over and over… which is that anytime a bit out of the box and reformist view comes out of Islamic write/thinker their background is from India in someways. I think the cultural diversity in India could be a cause of this. I also think that the Indian Muslims will be the force for reason in the entire Islamic world.

  29. RC, Theres another Indian making the rounds. Her name is Asra Nomani (a former Wall Street Journal reporter) and she has come up with a new book called ‘Standing alone in Mecca’. Shes from West Virginia and shes trying to de-segregate masjids all over the US. (Gender Segregation) She also organized the first female led prayer in New York. She actually did start a vigorous debate in both the moderate and conservative North American Muslim community over female imams and gender de-segregation in masjids. India has always had a very strong sufi influence in the Muslim community. That might have something to do with it. Also, Islam in India has obviously developed a new identity seperate from Arabian Islam. Though with the proliferation of the internet and cheap airline tickets, it seems to me that theres a very strong resurgence of Wahabist brand of Islam in North India and Pakistan. Of course in India its called Deobandism. For example, only 5% of Pakistanis are Deobandis while they control 80% of the Islamic schools/madrasas. Likewise in India, the hard line Deobandi thought is gaining popularity. For example, due to centuries of inter mingling with Hindus, Muslims had started celebrating the birthday of Muhammad by putting up lights on their homes ( kinda like Diwali). Now theres a strong movement to detest people from doing that. Fareed Zakaria in his book ‘Illiberal Democracy’ talks about his childhood in India when the faith was more fluid and fun, while lately the Islam is becoming more rigid and puritan and Saudized.

    For MD, You wanted specifics. I did give some specifics in my earlier post. I will post them here again “Her views are actually more in line with the right wing of the ‘likudites’. For example she talks about widespread ‘muslim’ complicity in the Holocaust. She talks about how the ‘Palestinians’ volunatarily left ‘Palestine’ in 1948 and embarresingly picks up all her arguments and research from a book by Maurice Pearlman and articles from the Jerusalem Post. Such views have been thoroughly discredited (not that they were ever taken seriously to begin with)”

  30. I think the cultural diversity in India could be a cause of this. I also think that the Indian Muslims will be the force for reason in the entire Islamic world.

    irshad mentions that arabs call her an “indian peasant” all the time. my personal experience at masjid suggests to me that arabs know who truly are allah’s chosen people. also, some of her critics accuse her of being a dissimulating ismaili.

    all in all, no matter what her beliefs, there is an ugliness in the way people try to see the duplicity in her.

  31. But one thing that I have noticed over and over… which is that anytime a bit out of the box and reformist view comes out of Islamic write/thinker their background is from India in someways.

    Try reading Abdolkarim Soroush. Not a flaming radical, but certainly “a bit out of the box and reformist” and not from India.

  32. “In the last 100 years alone,” she says, “more Muslims have been tortured and murdered at the hands of other Muslims than at the hands of any former imperial power.”

    I have mad respect for someone who decides to be a public Muslim lesbian, but can we agree that regardless of how much courage she might have, her analysis on imperalism is facile at best?

  33. saurav

    Islam is an Imperialistic religion and civilisation. Read Islamic history books, they are proud of it.

  34. I have mad respect for someone who decides to be a public Muslim lesbian, but can we agree that regardless of how much courage she might have, her analysis on imperalism is facile at best?

    well, i agree that there are major problems with that assertion. on the other hand, i find the “colonialist” arguments facile too. so, does facile assertion cancel facile assertion? no, probably not. but what do expect people to do? leave politics at the door and get down the nitty gritty of studying history? dream on.

    look at the comment above mine, about as content-filled as “islam is a religion of peace, all things bad with islam is about the cultures, not the religion.” but these are the two modal antipodes. remember, mean IQ is 100.

  35. Razib, Whats the median IQ in the US ? I know there was an article some time back on Gene Expression about IQ’s around the world. Do you have a link for the racial break up in IQ for Americans ?

  36. Saurav, I dont have mad respect for Muslim lesbians. In fact I have as much respect for Muslim lesbians as I have for Jewish Nazis or a black member of the KKK. The Quran clearly proscribes homosexuality and promises hell fire to the gays. So whats the point in being a member of a club, the founding charter of which promises you hell fire.

  37. Whats the median IQ in the US ? I know there was an article some time back on Gene Expression about IQ’s around the world. Do you have a link for the racial break up in IQ for Americans ?

    IQ tests are normally set so that “100″ is the mean. ie; the flynn effect where the absolute score keeps increasing (remember, the SAT was renormalized to 1000 after 35 years of absolute drops in the mean score).

    for the USA, the mean/median (normal dist., so basically the same) is a little over 100 for whites, 85 for blacks, around 100-105 for asian americans, 107-115 for jewish americans (they tend to do worse at visuo-spatial skewed tests, better at verbal ones, explaining the score variance. most non-ashkenazi jewish groups have a much stronger correlation between overall aptitudes and VS abilities than jews). hispanics and native americans are usually in the 90ish range, give or take. standard deviation is usually about 15 points (so 95% of people are between 70-130, below 70 is “retarded” while above 130 usually qualifies for MENSA).

    the black-white test score gap should have all that info in it from a non-racist perspective (if you google to find data a lot of it is stored at white nationalist sites, and though i’ve double-checked to make sure those are correct, i figure it best not use such a cite for obvious reasons).

    here is steve sailer’s summation of lynn & vanhanen’s iq data by nations. the standard warning labels apply (i tend to trust values from first world nations, more or less, but the rest i’m not sure, and i really don’t believe that some african nations have mean IQs around 60)….

  38. . The Quran clearly proscribes homosexuality and promises hell fire to the gays.

    that presupposes a literal and “orthodox” reading of the koran. i tend to agree with you, but religious people are mighty clever about reinterpreting things, so given enough time it is possible. the seventh day adventists are descended from a group that had nearly a dozen failed predictions of the end of the world, but they keep believing….

    i tend to believe that most people have a “need” for whatever religion offers, so it shouldn’t surprise us that gays are reworking their religious beliefs to fit in with their lifestyle. where i object is the tendency of some gays to simply act is religious beliefs of the whole group must/should conform to their own reading.

    all that being said, i think irshad’s overall point (ie; itjihad and all) is that the status quo of the “ulema” can be broken. two hundred years ago christians would have looked at you weirdly if you told them that many christian denominations would give up missionary activities because they subscribed to de facto universalism, or that gays would become open leaders of the church, or that the roman catholic church would engage in outreach to muslims.

  39. this post of mine that highlights the rise of female imams and religious scholars in china because of isolation from the world-wide islamic community i think illustrates the point that variation outside of “normal” bounds is possible given the proper circumstances.

  40. saurav, From name “Abdolkarim Soroush” appears Iranian. Iranians are the next most likely to come up with what I call “out of the box and reformist” views. My opinion anyways for whatever it is worth.

  41. you should look to SE asia too. indonesia and malaysia both have powerful reformist/liberalizing muslim movements.

  42. 48 posts and surprisingly little information about Irshad Manji or her views. Posts which call dinesh an idiot and irshad a white man’s shill bring nothing to the discussion.

  43. Irshad Manji has no credence at all in either Conservative Muslims, Moderate Muslims or hell even non practicing cultural Muslims in North America.

    For god’s sake, you guys are arguing with a primitive Islamic nutball named “Al Mujahid”.

    Go behead yourself, dude. You clearly don’t belong in a Western civilization.

  44. Saurav, I dont have mad respect for Muslim lesbians. In fact I have as much respect for Muslim lesbians as I have for Jewish Nazis or a black member of the KKK. The Quran clearly proscribes homosexuality and promises hell fire to the gays.

    AM, this hurts me because it inspires such a sense of hopelessness where none need exist (even if it’s understandable). On the one hand, you reduce Islam to a literalist reading of the Quran, but don’t do the same for Christianity or Judaism, which also specifically proscribe at least some forms of queerness (as do the laws of several states and many countries–like India). On the other hand you leave no room for queer people (and other dissidents) to try and stake a claim within their communities, which, imperfect as they are, they would like to remain in because that’s where their family and friends and whole lives have been or because that’s just who they happen to be. Further, let’s be real–without people to think and reform and shape all communities–spiritual and otherwise–those communities would die under the sheer weight of their failure to meet the needs of human beings. That’s the point, for me, in being a member of a community, the founding charter of which–right now–condemns me: to make it better. I’m not Muslim, but being queer in other homophobic communities–like upper caste Hindu Bangali spaces–is oppressive as well.

    I have respect for people who need or want to leave those communities behind as well, but for those of us who try to stay in them and, for instance, try to make sure other people don’t have to go through what we went through, I think we deserve a little respect.

  45. well, i agree that there are major problems with that assertion. on the other hand, i find the “colonialist” arguments facile too. so, does facile assertion cancel facile assertion? no, probably not. but what do expect people to do? leave politics at the door and get down the nitty gritty of studying history? dream on.

    Razib, I respect people who generally are somewhat well-informed, who keep an open mind, who acknowledge internal inconsistencies in their arguments, who are somewhat committed to an empirical (as opposed to dogmatic) understanding of reality, and who recognize and admit when they’re not being for a variety of reasons (including political), particularly when they’re called out on it.

    It’s not so much about leaving politics at the door as it is about acknowledging what part of what your saying comes from a particular political or other perspective and what comes from deferring to a consensus understanding of what’s “fact” generated by methods you trust. I think it’s important to do this at a time when agreed-upon methodologies for figuring out what’s “real” and what’s “not” are heavily under attack (at least in the U.S.)–so wholly unqualified people argue about the fact-base underpinning arguments about evolution and global warming, to name a couple things rather than just admitting that other people with more background have a different opinion from them that they refuse to accept.

    In short, there’s too much bs these days, and my response is not really about me dreaming as much as me fighting.