The Trouble With Muslim Pundits Today

Today was an odd turn of events that had the building which houses my office on UPenn’s campus, play host to a talk on Islam by one of today’s most darling Muslim pundits, Irshad Manji. A self-proclaimed Muslim reformist, activist, human rights lobbiest and lesbian, Irshad gave a talk to an attentive audience which was comprised of both Muslim and non-Muslim, old and young alike. Dr. Leonard Swidler, from Temple University, was also on hand to add to the discussion. But, unfortunately, like her book, The Trouble With Islam Today, the talk was filled with nothing more than drivel. And that’s just the good part.

So much of the dialog today regarding Islam is in how it can fit into the master narrative of Western discourse. This encompasses everything from morals, ethics, to aesthetics, such as standards and concepts of beauty. When Islam fails to authenticate a narrative that falls within the margins of the dominant culture, it and vis-a-vie, the Muslims, are condemned as being backwards, barbaric, and even morally, ethically, and intellectually bankrupt. And when a people are deemed barbaric or morally bankrupt, the slippery slope to subjugation, whether it be figuratively, psychologically or physically can never trail far behind. This process of brutalization bears striking resemblance to the types of psychological terror that have been visited upon various minority groups in the West, especially in America, when they failed to meet the criterion of a dominant force that often have a pattern of “moving the goal post” when it suited itself opportune.

A major portion of my critique on Manji’s arguments and positions as well as comments that Dr. Swidler gave, were that neither Manji nor Swidler are scholastically equipped to answer any such questions regarding the intellectual tradition of Islam. Manji is a journalist of questionable objectivity and Swidler’s expertise lies outside the fold of Islam. Manji often relies on crude reductionism coupled with a woefully absent basic familiarity with the Islamic Tradition. Buzz words like ijtihad, fatwah and of course, the crowd-pleaser, jihad, are tossed out to lend to her some Islamic academic credibility. In fact, Swidler’s presence is somewhat questionable as Temple University could have certainly offered up someone who would have been far better suited to the task at hand. In light of access to scholars like Khalid Blankinship, it remained a curiosity as to why Manji chose a non-Muslim religious professor to engage in talks about Muslim reform.

But to take things a step further, Manji’s book, The Trouble With Islam Today, is guilty of the same crime that many of its contemporaries are: making the personal experience an ontological narrative. To help further explain my point, let me offer this explanation: because of the trials and tribulations that Manji faced as a child, because of the personal experiences that Manji had and the choices she’s made, she has taken the sum of those experiences and built the foundation of her argument around them such that they take on a scope that is completely inappropriate. That because they were or are issues for Manji they must be equally important issues for all Muslims in all times and in all places. A great deal of Manji’s contemporaries, such as Ayan Hirsi Ali to name one, frame their arguments in the same manner. But to reiterate, these criticisms of Islam do not simply stop at personal narrative, they apex again at how Islam falls short on a laundry list of items such as equality, human rights, tolerance and progression. In where Islam fails to be equal, tolerant or progressive in the “Western” paradigm that Manji offers up, Islam is deemed to have a problem. So this left me asking some simple but pertinent questions: are any of these issues true? And if so, how, and in what way? And again, if so, what would be the best way of looking for resolutions.

Before tackling any of the issues that Manji tries to speak on the, I have a few questions of my own. Namely, is she, or Professor Swidler capable of addressing these issues from both within and without the Muslim intellectual tradition. What are Manji’s credentials that would allow her to speak authoritatively on issues that Muslims today are facing. Indeed, it seems to be Manji’s modus operandi to completely leap frog the whole of Muslim intellectual thought and just, as she put it to me, bypass dogma.

Much of the holes in Manji’s arguments, and for pundits like her, is that because they are not conversant with that tradition and thus the judgments and rulings that it produces, they marginalize it under the assumption that because it is from the Tradition it is old, outdated, antiquated and has nothing to offer to modern Muslims in modern times. This could not be further from the truth. And aside from this stiff arming they also neglect why it is important and still speaks to Muslims today. This inadequacy is more than simple ignorance of the intellectual tradition of Muslim thought but also woeful negligence in being versed in simple creedal formulations in Muslim theology such as the rightful place of God as an authority, the rightful place of authority of the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad and how these authorities are negotiated.

During the talk, Manji made several quips about God being a “he or she” – the idea that God is neither masculine nor feminine is one of the primary principles in fundamental Islamic creed, yet Manji insists on using a language that is far from the spirit of what Muslim theology is all about. A similar stance is taken towards the sunnah, in that it is something that should be questioned, not in its application (as is how the Tradition does) but yet to question its validity as a whole. The result of which the Sunnah is seen as also a derelict of a by-gone era and thus should be tossed aside in favor of pure, so-called rational thinking.

For many Muslim/anti-Muslim pundits today, authority lies at the crux of their objections. In their arguments, Islam has suffered from an authoritative crisis, namely that the ulama’ — or religious scholars — have put a choke hold on religious interpretation and expression and therefore to avoid the risk of any further entrapment of religious authority, the baby is tossed out with the bath water. But no body or organization can survive much less thrive without an authoritative voice. And the sham to this is that in fact, most of these pundits, and Manji in specific here, seek to simply usurp the currently perceived authority for their own hegemonic voice. It is through this tension that Manji, and pundits like her, have with authority that the agenda of such said pundits becomes clear.

During the talk, the example of the fatwah that was issued against Salman Rushdie was used as a means of demonstrating the backwards, barbaric and even violent tendencies that this authoritative voice could foster. And yet, not once, either of negligence, ignorance or purpose, the fatwah that was issued by the Mufti of Egypt from al-Azhar University denying the validity of any such fatwah was conveniently left out. In light of its absence it would indeed seem that the Muslim world is not only monolithic but monolithic in its barbarity, an image that is often offered up from the hands of Orientalist scholars of Islam. In fact, when Manji’s research is examined a bit more closely, it is laced with Orientalist tendencies of understanding Islam and Muslims. This is far from the “fair and balanced” reporting that Manji would leave us to believe.

Manji’s axe to grind with authority extends even to basic tenants of Islam such as prayer. When asked about prayer she responded that she does not need anyone to tell her how to pray – that she can devise such a way on her own. Such thinking could not be further from the pale of Islamic theology 101. But the main issue with this line of thought is not that Manji wants to “find her own way” but in that she wishes to seek accommodation in the orthodoxy of the religion. Wanting to be homosexual and pray in your own way is completely a matter of personal choice but there is simply no way to justify it with the texts, traditions and methodologies in Islam. Expecting to do so shows not only a lack of intelligence but also immaturity on Manji’s part. This only further demonstrates Manji’s desire to influence and assert her own authority for if her way was sufficient and as she put it to me, “between me and my God”, then gaining an ascendant voice would not be necessary. No, it is indeed this ambition to flip the current and Traditional modules of authority on their respective heads that lies at much of Manji’s argument.

To continue to examine Manji’s theological constructs, one comment she made struck me dead in my tracks. When she spoke to her mother about praying to God in her own way she made a rebuttal that she offered up sincere words of gratitude and that she offered them willingly to God. It is not my focus to deconstruct Manji’s arguments solely on dogmatic grounds but she has completely missed the forest ‘fore the trees. One of the basic underlying principles dictating the relationship between God and Man is that God needs nothing from us. And that anything we offer up in the way of worship, orthodox or heretical, adds nothing to the dominion of God. Manji’s argument is typical of persons who have bones to pick with religion (legitimate or otherwise) and assume a posture of arrogance that is not befitting them. Hence in Islam, only God has the right to Arrogance (al-Mutakabbir) as God needs nothing and only One free from want can be truly arrogant.

A favorite target of these hybrid-Orientalists, as I will call them, is the use of the Middle-East as a criterion for the very possibilities of what Islam can and cannot be and specifically, where it fails to achieve the hurdles set up by the very same judges who also craft the questions, Islam and by proxy, all Muslims, are deemed to be inferior. In her documentary, Manji does extensive filming in Yemen, a country in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, and as Manji put it, the birthplace of Islam (though I’d say her geography is off just a bit but who’s counting). As Manji takes in the sights of Yemen the camera displays for us the manifold women who walk the streets, head scarves covering their heads and veils on many of the faces. The critique is centered around the “sameness” of everything and that there is a stifled individuality. In its essence the whole film is a work of cinematic Orientalism. Two examples are offered to the viewer: an American woman who married a Yemeni man and now wears the hijab and veil and a Yemeni woman who has taken to adopting Western styles of dress. There was no interview done of Yemeni women who do wear hijab and veil and do so out of their own choice and not out of a 7th Century tribal (another argument of Manji’s that I will address in a moment) affiliation. Instead, we are encouraged to see how backwards the society is in how it hasn’t caught up with Modernity – Modernity in how the West has interpreted it. And it’s a steep and slippery slope from being backwards to being brutalized; both physically and psychologically.

Tribalism seems to be one of the central arguing points of Manji. That the entire Muslim world is in reality, a humongous body of worshipers who have been indoctrinated into a 7th Century modality of living. Anything that a Muslim does is not out of his or her understanding but rather in obedience to Arabian tribalism. This myopic vision is again, indicative of Orientalism, which willingly lacked the ability to look at Islam as an idiosyncrasy in the way in which white European Christians were an idiosyncrasy. Muslims were not a body of believers that had tremendous diversity in custom and in interpretation but a monolith – no variation. No individual thought. And more importantly, anything that any Muslim did or thought was inextricably linked and informed by their religion and was therefore part and parcel for Islam itself. This philosophy is still alive and well today and continues to inform a great deal of the scholarship on Islam in the West. Orientalism is not the only misgiving that Manji’s work is guilty of. Reductionist thinking is another characteristic that her work is ripe with. From the way in which she interviews small minorities of Muslims and yet offers what they have to say, think and feel, as capturing the majority spirit. Her critique that Muslim women who wear hijab are simply using fundamentalism as a moral compass is so woefully guilty of reductionist thinking that it is only because Manji offers an articulation of Islam that is appeasing to the dominant culture that it has not been cast out as completely devoid of any substance.

In the end, Manji’s work reveals bare, the bones she has to pick with authority within orthodox Islam. But instead of approaching Islam in a methodical way, she simply side steps the intellectual traditions, branding them as dogmatic, devoid of any life or creativity. And it is here that Manji’s assumptions are the same as the Orientalists: that the endeavor of Muslim history and its Tradition have nothing pertinent to say in the modern context. And it is through this adoption of Western normals and values, without a single shred of scrutiny, reveals Manji’s bias. Indeed, Manji’s critique of Islam is not in how it succeeds or impedes the pleasing of God and attaining a successful life in the Hereafter but in how it does not measure up to Westerness; a goal post that is wholly unachievable and nor should it be proffered as a desired achievement. The opinions and the histories that informed those Muslims and how they reached them are never acknowledged let alone tackled. Simply put, in each and every way that Islam and Muslims do not meet the articulation that Irshad Manji and pundits like her concoct then Islam and the Muslims are open game to be humiliated and brutalized, whether that be psychological or otherwise. And that’s not “tough journalism” – it’s sensationalism and deceit.

Perhaps in the future Manji might be willing to sit and discuss her work with a Muslim scholar or at the very least, a scholar of Islam. I found an intriguing curiosity that with a scholar like Dr. Khalid Blankinship at Temple University was passed over in favor of Dr. Swidler, who, while a professor of religion, is not a scholar of Islam. Until then I think that Manji will continue to loose face in the majority Muslim body, which is precisely where she wants to plant her flag. I for one am available for comment or discussion.

And God knows best.

38 Comments The Trouble With Muslim Pundits Today

  1. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    I’m not sure if Ms. Manji’s “thought” is really worth this much of your intellectual energy, but may Allaah (swt) reward you for putting in the effort

    Ha!! Yeah, well you certainly have a valid point there. One of the points I wanted to get at was to use Manji as a focal point of that kind of argument and not so much delving into her, per se. But given that many of these folks are speaking for us I felt it worthy of a few words in an attempt to not just counter her arguments [for they really are quite weak] but to make it known that if a discourse is really truly wanted, why not tap into scholars of Islam, Muslim or non-Muslim alike [John Esposito or Karen Armstrong come to mind] who not sympethizers but people who are conversant with multiple narratives of the religion. The second was to unveil her agenda for what it really is: anti-authority.

    Many thanks.

  2. dunner99rok@yahoo.com'JDsg

    Great post. What motivates people like Manji et al seems to be their nafs – “it’s all about me.” And a lot of cultures worldwide, Western and Asian in particular, seem to have bought hook, line and sinker into the “it’s all about me” philosophy. Which causes resentment when a religion like Islam says, “No, it’s not ‘all about me’ at all. It’s all about submitting yourself to a higher, external power (Allah).”

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  4. malik_ryan@yahoo.com'Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    As salaamu ‘alaykum,

    Good post Marc. I’m not sure if Ms. Manji’s “thought” is really worth this much of your intellectual energy, but may Allaah (swt) reward you for putting in the effort and perhaps it will be of benefit to some sincere people who are sympathetic to her message.

    The discourse of the “anti-Islam” group of pundits is indeed made more problematic due its orientalist perspective and the current state in which we find ourselves geo-politically in the world today. Putting that to the side, though, my impression is that popular media especially even where it claims to be semi-serious is full of this type of analysis and not just about Muslims. A small percentage of people in the world today are conversant with the intellectual traditions of Islam and Christianity or Judaism and take them seriously. Many of the people who claim to take them seriously are not really conversant with them (this could be just because they do not have access to such material due to their life circumstances or it could raise questions about their sincerity). For example, imagine the average Jewish woman today expressing her opposition to “Orthodox” rulings regarding woemn’s participation in religious services or the average Catholic speaking about Catholic rulings on abortion or female priests, or married priests, etc. etc. The vast majority of people who enter the public dialogue on such issues do not believe it worth their while to truly understand the intellectual tradition which may (or may not) underlie or justify such rulings. They’d rather just tell you why they think they’re “bad” and so therefore they must either not “truly” be from the religion or the religion itself must be “bad.” (depending on whether the person is trying to retain some connection to their faith or not).

    So, the public in general gives both more credence to, and is more interested in analyses that primarily rely on personal stories or narratives. You do a good job pointing out all the ways in which this is intellectually facile and problematic, especially where people attempt in some ways to cross over into the tradition (Manji using words like ijtihad or fatwa).

    Jazzak Allaahu Khayr wa Allaahu Alim.

  5. teachernaeen1@yahoo.com'Mr. K, Naeem

    While reading your blog i came to realize that we are approaching a new era of social and intellectual identity. It saddens me to see the balance of reactionary citizens of the Empire (followers of the Arab and Indo-Pakistani Gods) out weighs those who embrace the intellectual legacy of those like ibn Abbas, Iman Shafi etc.. Dearest brother and those who embrace Allah and his prophet with no connection of a face or a culture to validate their worship, you must restructure your modes of acceptance and strength from your own social construct such that you will need only a validation of worship (embracing the Quran, identifying the sunnah in your everyday life, and seein enough good in a person and a society to recognize the Rahmah from the Lord of the universe where your strength will eventually come from)that will not leave you emotionally and academically crippled. In closing it amazing me that we have conversations with individuals about the glory of Muslim culture always takes place here about over there. Plane and boat tickets are cheap. FORGET THOSE WHO WILL NOT BUILD.

  6. gazelledusahara@gmail.com'gazelle du sahara

    Just wanted to reinforce the sentiments expressed above. Great post.

    Especially since you critiqued her arguments/mindset rather than making it personal (as some people understandably do)

    The sad (or should I say frustrating) part is though, that people like Manji (and dare I say Ayaan Hirsi Ali) are hailed by many as the holders of the “progressive” solution to Islam 🙁

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  8. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Salaams all and thanks for taking time to read the post.

    Gazelle, you are right. Manji et al are indeed hailed by many with the means to hail as the bastion of Muslim reform. But what is so obviously missing from their calls for reformation is a genuine love and well-wishing for their communities. Indeed, I would further it in that they don’t have a community. This significantly weakens their case and reveals them for the cherry pickers and self-loathing agents that they are.

    It is easy to want to take the matter into a personal arena as what she/they strikes at the core of many of our personal beliefs. But I find the rebuttals have more credibility if they are kept more objective [I will make no claims to be completely objective but I think I presented a sound case by analyzing her points].

    As for her reaction, Daud, she was immediately hostile and actually sought to have me removed from the premises. This was some what amusing since my office is housed in the very same building. I found her anger to be a mask – she became enraged at my questions [actually, more at the thought and idea of being questioned in my opinion – as if she expects to not be or is entitled to not be questioned] and sought to stifle me with a handout she brought with her, thrusting it repeatedly in my face, ordering me to “challenge myself”, as she put it. The more disturbing part was that when I also attempted to engage professor Swidler on some of the points he made, he actually yelled at me! Over and over, “Hey! Hey! Hey!”. In some ways, I was more disturbed at his behavior as he is a university professor, one from my own department no less. His actions were embarrassing for me and over all, between the two of them, showed that they could not muster enough intellectual fortitude to engage in a simple dialog. Ironic as she prides herself and asking tough questions. Apparently this is a one-way affair for Manji.

    My behavior towards her was even keeled. I spoke to both Manji and professor Swidler in an even voice. I am large male and my size and demeanor alone can seem intimidating so I took every effort to be as demure as I could be [6’5” and 240lbs. ain’t exactly demure but I try]. And it was precisely my intention to not make it a shouting match, to make it personal but to meet her at the level she propagated her argument – an academic, intellectual endeavor. Either way, the discourse didn’t last too long.

  9. leia905@yahoo.com'Irisblue

    I think you are right when you say that Manji suffers from (what I see as a common ill that has become part and parcel of todays world, the rejection of God’s authority. One only has to converse with the average person to find out that many of them believe in something “greater than” but are unwilling to submit to It. It’s a case of people wanting to have their cake and eat it too. Manji has taken that and made a career out of it.

    It is tempting to try and build a case, any case based on your experiences because as well as being an easy cop-out intellectually, it validates you psychologically and emotionally. We could all do the same- in fact I probably have done it. Arrogance afflicts all of us.

    I don’t know if in some ways I blame more those who should be operating from a more objective base, those who are taking in the information rather than the deliverer. As receptors we should be scrupulous about who we believe, who we put our trust in and who we take our learning from. Many people these days are too lazy to do their own research and combined with their rejection of anything smacking of submission they are too willing to embrace faulty logic. This gives people like Irshad Manji the credibility that she so desires all the while keeping the wheel of hate and bigotry spinning madly.

    You did a good job of breaking down her arguments though – and kudos to you for not getting personal (even though she does make it easy to do!

  10. abdurauf786@yahoo.ca'dawud

    Marc, mashAllah on your writing – should I understand you presented at least part of this statement to her on stage? How did she respond, or did she even listen?

    I have to agree with Noor above, she’s not speaking WITH muslims, she’s speaking AT and OVER them to non-muslims – and as such is not really worth responding to with intellectual fervor, as she’s more interested in sociological problems; and it must be admitted that her dissection of certain sociological problems, apart from her problematic theology and screwed-up political and historical readings of Islamic history – her sociological take on the problems of women and non-Arabs in Arab society are fair game, although she’s doing nothing to help their situation, as she doesn’t seem to understand the real roots of the problems or really want to engage with the muslim community or those within it who also seek to address the real issues and concerns of muslims.

    I would like to know how you dealt with her on a personal level. I remember meeting her while she was on the UofT campus, and doing her reading in one of the libraries – she used to come to the Jumuah prayers at Hart House in 2002-2003 – and when I came up and said ‘Salaam’ she looked at me, startled and frightened.

    Not a capable or intelligent interlocutor, and it seemed to me that she was a better defender of the ‘powers that be’ – and as a Jewish critic of hers noted, someone who lacked ‘the love and desire for the best for her community’ that marks genuine reformers, seeming rather to be ‘filled with hatred and anger’ – a statement to which she had no real response.

  11. kays@hotmail.com'Abdul At-Tawwaab

    AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    May Allah bestow His Blessings and Mercy upon those who seek Truth and Guidance.

    JazakAllahu Khairun akhi for writing such a blog. I found it very interesting and insightful.
    This sister Irshad Manji, is an interesting character to which, based on your argument, as the non-scholar muslim that I am, would ask the following questions:
    Do you believe there is no god or diety but Allah (S.W.T) and Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) as His Messenger?

    If she answers then in the affirmative,my next question not for spite or for jest or criticism but for clarity, would be,

    How are you then deluded?

    Her statements and reactions seem as if she more so seeks understanding in the most hard-headed way, with an arrogant fervor. The shame is, there may be many platforms on which she can speak,and she has the false shield of her non-muslim, anti-Islamic counterparts to protect her from meer questions. That’s how it seems, I wasn’t there. Everything comes from and returns to Allah, so in the case of the sister, I would maybe suggest she enter dialogue as you say on a platform with muslim scholars, or if that or reconciliation is not possible,then wait, we too are waiting.
    Let Allah decide between us.

  12. seekingilm@hotmail.com'Abul Layth

    Salamu ‘Alaykum,

    Thank you Br. Marc for a wonderful and well written critique/commentary of not just Manji, but all those who utilize her modus operandi.

    Jazakum Allahu Khairan

  13. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Abdul at-Tawwaab,

    How are you then deluded?

    That’s an excellent question for which she and her cohorts have no definitive answer on. More than likely she would reply back to you [as she did to me] that you’re full of dogma and that you’re a fascist and an Islamicst. Go figure.

  14. teairra2007@aol.com'Actionable Intelligence

    Marc excellent, these pundit lack any scholarly credibility as their critique are void of any objectiveness, as if being a western lesbian plays no role in her course of actions. Simply put, they take their personal problems and extrapolate that for the Islamic condition.

    .
    Marc, I put Ali Ezterez in the same category, as he think very highly of himself because the Guardian gives him a platform, but most of his post are anti-Islamic and he is a card carrying members of the school of thought, that we fix Islam by making it compatible with contemporary western secularist ideals. His post are featured on Jews blogs, that attack Islam and I feel if he had an ounce of sincerity about his Islamic faith, he would criticize them rather then basking in their attention.

    The extreme irony is the very same critiques these pundits make against Islam could be made against Judaism and even Christianity, but these pundits will never extrapolate their finding to the monotheistic religions because they would automatically lose their credibility amongst their contemporary western fans they try so hard to please, in fact they are apologist for Jews, Christians and all things western.

  15. blogger247@yahoo.com'Abu Abdullah

    Jzk for this interesting write up

    Over here in the UK we have to put up with “Sir” Ed Hussain and his likes, pretty much our equivalent of this type of speaker on your end

    You can check the blog http://www.traditionalislamism.wordpress.com which is currently busy refuting these guys

    It may be worthwhile connecting

    Wasalaam

  16. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Actionable Intelligence – I would try to refrain from saying that about ‘Ali. Not because I don’t think you don’t have room to criticize ‘Ali. Indeed, many of the points you mentioned would seem to have validity. But rather because you should do it in the best way. In other words, send him an e-mail or post your critiques on his blog [personally, I think e-mail would be best as it’s more private]. As I stated before, when people were making remarks much worse than this, I stepped in to defend ‘Ali. Not because I agree with what he writes. I made it very clear, in fact, in my defense of him, that I had truck with much of what he writes. But because I have not had the chance to directly engage him, I would prefer to remain absent on it. Perhaps in the future, I will take the time to analyze one of ‘Ali’s articles and offer a critique.

    Thanks for the input.

  17. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Abu Abdullah – I took a brief look at the site – looks a mess! I will peruse through it some more and let you know what I think. Many thanks. Ma’a salaam.

  18. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    It’s more palatable for these groups to trot out one of these “spokespeople” (and they’re always described as “courageous”, “modern” or “reform minded”)to speak negatively about Islam. Sadly,I think this also explains why Dr. Khaled Blankenship or other Islamic scholars weren’t invited.

    Sadiyazeyn: you couldn’t be more right. *Sigh*

  19. sadiyazeyn@gmail.com'sadiyazeyn

    As salaamu alaykum and jazakh Allah khair for such a great post. It’s ironic (but not surprising) that for someone who advocates for ijtihad, couldn’t even engage in a dialogue with you, let alone the collaboration and academic rigor that ijtihad requires.
    “But instead of approaching Islam in a methodical way, she simply side steps the intellectual traditions, branding them as dogmatic, devoid of any life or creativity. And it is here that Manji’s assumptions are the same as the Orientalists: that the endeavor of Muslim history and its Tradition have nothing pertinent to say in the modern context. And it is through this adoption of Western normals and values, without a single shred of scrutiny, reveals Manji’s bias.” I agree, she and other advocates for Muslim “reform” are just using tempcentric arguments that assume that what is newer is better as if events just unfold in a linear trajectory of progress. Not only is this line of reasoning illogical and simplistic, but it undermines our belief as Muslims that Allah’s swt words are timeless, as is the Sunnah of Rasullulah saw, and that Islam is a comprehensive way of life applicable to any time and place. Lastly, it seems that pundits like Irshad and Ayan Hirsi Ali, don’t seem cognizant (or don’t care) that they are being used by groups and individual with anti-Islam sentiments. It’s more palatable for these groups to trot out one of these “spokespeople” (and they’re always described as “courageous”, “modern” or “reform minded”)to speak negatively about Islam. Sadly,I think this also explains why Dr. Khaled Blankenship or other Islamic scholars weren’t invited.

  20. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Actionable Intelligence – I feel you. I really do. And I actually wrote ‘Ali tonight. We know each other by correspondence. And I also appreciate your input. It’s the reason I wrote the post in the first place. I, like you, am disturbed by this strain of Islam. Hope you didn’t feel I was being preachy towards you.

  21. teairra2007@aol.com'Actionable Intelligence

    Marc I agree with your stance, however, I have posted on his site as a form of Nasiha in a traditional manner, however if you read his post, he cares nothing for the traditionalist stance, he criticizes and speak derogatory about respected sheikhs, ulema, the ummah, the whole gambit, this is why I have come to my personal conclusion

  22. teairra2007@aol.com'Actionable Intelligence

    Marc — Preachy, not at all. Your advice is sound and correct. Jazakallah Khair

    As Salaamu Alaikum

  23. dunner99rok@yahoo.com'JDsg

    While reading the Qur’an last night, I came across these verses and thought of this post:

    “To the Hypocrites give the glad tidings that there is for them (but) a grievous penalty;- Yea, to those who take for friends unbelievers rather than believers: is it honour they seek among them? Nay,- all honour is with God.” (4:138-9)

  24. omar.fosis@gmail.com'Omar

    Wow! What an awesome post! Jazak Allah Khayr for writing this. It’s been a while since I’ve read a good blog post. I’m sharing this with others.

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  28. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Sasha,

    as-Salaamu ‘alaykum and thanks for stoping by to read the blog. I am sure that the challenges that Muslim women face in the work place are daunting – may Allah give you and all the women success in navigating that intersection.

    I would be curious as to how Muslim women in Philadelphia as a whole feel about wearing hijab in public or at work. I see so many Muslim women here in various jobs from public to health care to corporate who do wear it. I pray Allah is able to open up a space for Muslims in America to continue to find a dignified space to live and operate in.

  29. slazarios@comcast.net'Sasha Lazarios

    I am both a practicing Muslim and a Jew by lineage (a maternal grandma who was French and Jewish from Louisiana) in Philadelphia, PA and proud of both heritages and all many the others in me. I like my hijab-but I don’t always wear it because in the corporate world (I do many different things-film production, music production, real estate) it works against you. Also for a woman of my complexion (the complexion many Middle Easterners have)to wear that on trans-continental transportation will invite fitna like nothing else (Before I took SHahadah in 2006, I witnessed such an incident on Amtrak). If the world were ideal, I would wear it everywhere and anywhere. But though Obama claims neither he nor America is and never was at war with Islam (HA!) the truth is that both he and the USA are very much so. Many places it will get you fired to walk in that way; even in Philadelphia. But I am secure enough in who and what I am that I don’t need to prove everything to everybody-and Allah knows who and what we are even when humans don’t themselves. By the way, I just bought 7 hijab in different colors to match clothes-I don’t need to prove things, but I want to get more on my deen insh’allah.

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  35. talharizvi@gmail.com'talharizvi

    Assalaamu Alaikum Marc Saheb,

    Love the article; well needed critique.

    Just one tiny thing; I think al-Mutakabbir is better translated as Prideful or Proud. Arrogant has a more negative connotation and seems to be in the vein of someone who is proud though they do not have due reason to be. Allah (swt) of course has every right to be Proud.

    Wa salaam,
    Talha

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