The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith
by Irshad Manji
This is one of the most different and interesting books I’ve read in a long time. Manji is a gay, practicing muslim who grew up in Vancouver, Canada (my home town) and now lives in Toronto, Canada. She is a journalist and now activist for reform in Islam. Manji describes herself as a muslim refusenik who is fed up with the stuck-in-the-6th-century, refusing to think mainstream muslim culture dominated by “desert Islam” religious despots. The anti-dote? Revive “ijtihad”, Islam’s lost tradition of independent thinking. She encourages both muslims and non-muslims to ask muslims hard questions about Islam rather than shrinking back [in silence] from fear of offending muslims or being culturally insensitive.
Regarding poverty, she calls out the decrease in per capita income in most of the middle east Arab countries including the ones that have oil. She describes the history of how the house of Saud (Saudi Arabia) cut a deal with the super-conservative Wahabi muslim sect which is still in place today creating a very oppressive culture. Many middle east citizens have university degrees (paid for by the government), but they have no jobs. Why? Because for one thing the content of their education is primarily religious around how to be a good muslim. Second, there has been no development of other non-oil industries to diversify the [very controlled] economy. So, Manji boldly calls for reform in Islam as one of the critical requirements for muslims to be true to the heart of the Koran and the historical spirit of freedom in Islam.
This book is a challenge to many of the politically incorrect questions we all need to ask ourselves about our own “fundamentalist” beliefs and tendencies.