Ahmad was the first to recognize that former ally Osama bin Laden would turn against the United States. He anticipated the rapidly shifting loyalties of terrorists and understood that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would provoke violence and sectarian strife in Iraq. Ahmad had great compassion for the victims of the proxy wars waged by the leading Cold War powers, and he frequently championed unpopular causes, such as the need to extend the rights of Palestinians and protect Bosnians and Kosovars in a disintegrating Yugoslavia. Toward the end of his life, Ahmad worked tirelessly to broker a peace between India and Pakistan and to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the subcontinent. As novel and necessary as ever, Ahmad's remarkable vision is here preserved and extended to reveal the extent to which he was involved in the political and historical conflicts of his time.
Chapters in the book examine the lives of subversives and mavericks, such as Tawhida ben Shaykh, the first Arab woman to receive a medical degree; Mokhtar al-Ayari, a radical Tunisian labor leader; Nazli Hanem, Kmar Bayya, and Khiriya bin Ayyad, three aristocractic women who resisted the patriarchal structures of their societies by organizing and participating in intellectual salons for men and women and advocating social reform; Qaid Najim al-Akhsassi, an ex-slave and military officer, who fought against French and Spanish colonial expansion; and Boubeker al-Ghandjawi, a nearly illiterate trader who succeeded, though his diverse connections, in establishing important relations between the Moroccan sultan and the representative of the British government. Although based on individual and local perspectives, Subversives and Mavericks in the Muslim Mediterranean reveals new and unrecognized trans-local connections across the Muslim world, illuminating our understanding of these societies beyond narrow elite circles.
In blunt, provocative, and deeply personal terms, Irshad Manji unearths the troubling cornerstones of mainstream Islam today: tribal insularity, deep-seated anti-Semitism, and an uncritical acceptance of the Koran as the final, and therefore superior, manifesto of God. In this open letter to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Manji asks arresting questions. "Who is the real colonizer of Muslims - America or Arabia? Why are we all being held hostage by what's happening between the Palestinians and the Israelis? Why are we squandering the talents of women, fully half of God's creation? What's our excuse for reading the Koran literally when it's so contradictory and ambiguous? Is that a heart attack you're having? Make it fast. Because if more of us don't speak out against the imperialists within Islam, these guys will walk away with the show."
Manji offers a practical vision of how the United States and its allies can help Muslims undertake a reformation that empowers women, promotes respect for religious minorities, and fosters a competition of ideas. Her vision revives Islam's lost tradition of independent thinking. This book will inspire struggling Muslims worldwide to revisit the foundations of their faith. It will also compel non-Muslims to start posing the important questions without fear of being deemed "racists." In more ways than one, The Trouble with Islam is a clarion call for a fatwa-free future.