A few years ago I wrote the following book review for The Glad Tidings. Since then Irshad Manji has reprinted with the title The Trouble With Islam Today.

The Trouble with Islam: a wake-up call for honesty and change by Irshad Manji, Random House, 2003. Paperback. 247 pages.

The Trouble with Islam is an open letter of critique to fellow Muslims. Her journey of discovery into her own inherited Islamic world is so wittily documented and searingly insightful that we can only hope that there will be more writers like her for each of our faith groups. Pulling no punches, she states that totalitarian impulses lurk in mainstream Islam.

Yet in the midst of this acknowledged reality, Irshad persists in exploring her religious culture heritage. Having escaped Uganda at the tender age of four, that cultural heritage includes a deep impact from Canada, specifically Vancouver where her family first settled. From free baby-sitting and Bible stories in a Christian church to currently hosting TVO’s Big Ideas, Irshad has discovered that asking questions is not only tolerated but necessary for the thinking mind. One’s faith can evolve and one’s race doesn’t have to define a person.

Irshad’s efforts to find an English language Koran strikes a chord since it hasn’t been very long in a historical context that most Christians have had free access to Judeo-Christian scripture in their own languages. Then there is the problem of understanding what you are looking at….indeed, the Koran is not chronological and it contradicts itself, a goldmine of “proof-texting” to reinforce one’s already made up mind. Fortunately for us, Irshad still continues to think it all through and hasn’t thrown in the towel on Islam as a whole yet, while she unequivocally rejects what she calls “desert Islam”. Does the virtue of being Muslim make every Muslim virtuous? This is the burning question as Muslims try to comply with charity, one of the five pillars of their faith. To which Muslims does the money go? Does it matter? Irshad says, “Yes, it matters!”

There are many answers to our questions about Islam in this volume but solutions are tentative and in short supply. Hers is a clarion call for all Canadians to accept the birthright of our open society and to ask pointed questions of one another. Tolerance is not segregation and a blind eye. Tolerance does not abdicate us from inter-relationships and responsibility among our citizens. Tolerance is not about keeping our mouth shut when an injustice prevails.

For a heavy subject, Irshad Manji’s  The Trouble with Islam reveals Islam with a Canadian logic and humor that needs no apologies. I recommend it to one and all.

Advertisements