Thursday, November 30, 2006

Manji's Op-ed

Irshad Manji is the author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Wake-Up Call for Honesty and Change (Mainstream UK).

In an op-ed, in response to some mail she received about her opinions, she had this to say:-

But there’s something else in their messages that explains why moderation is a concept with which Muslims struggle, even in the 21st century.

Imran says that there’s “no such thing” as reducing the Quran to selected passages. Translation: the Quran must be accepted as the alpha and the omega of God’s will. Likewise with Sonya. When she accuses me of not knowing “how to talk to people”, she’s saying that Muslims don’t want to hear about anything negative in our revelations.

The irony is, my defence of the Pope played up the Quran’s non-violence. I pointed out that Islam’s holy book encourages Muslims to reflect far more than to retaliate. Even if someone is mocking your religion, the Quran advises, walk away. Once tempers have cooled, engage in dialogue.

...All Muslims are taught that because the Quran comes after the Torah and the Bible, we must regard it as the final and perfect manifesto of the Divine. It is, we’re told, free of ambiguities, contradictions and human editing; in other words, free of the corruption that contaminates Jewish and Christian scriptures.

Thus the central conundrum for us Muslims. If it’s an article of our faith that the Quran is the unfiltered declaration of God, then what makes moderate Muslims “moderate”?

Perhaps it’s that they won’t murder to assert their convictions. But is this enough, given that moderates such as Sonya tolerate the murderers? And, as Imran demonstrates, those of us who dare to imply that the Quran can be questioned are not real Muslims. We are Jews.

Fortunately, more and more Muslims are proclaiming that it’s time for a liberal Islamic reformation. Two groups that powerfully attest to this movement are the Democratic Muslims of Denmark and their off-shoot, the Critical Muslims, both of which emerged from the Danish cartoon wars.

It’s revealing that neither group calls itself the “Moderate Muslims”. Their members considered doing so. But in the end, they couldn’t agree on what “moderate” means. Maybe that’s because it means too little. Suppose more of us aimed to be reform-minded instead?

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