The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith

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"I have to be honest with you. Islam is on very thin ice with me....Through our screaming self-pity and our conspicuous silences, we Muslims are conspiring against ourselves. We're in crisis and we're dragging the rest of the world with us. If ever there was a moment for an Islamic reformation, it's now. For the love of God, what are we doing about it?"

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.

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About the author

Irshad Manji is a journalist, television personality, and writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto.

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St. Martin's Press
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Published on
Apr 1, 2007
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Religion / Islam / General
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A fascinating, accessible introduction to Islam from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer


In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexity. This updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam. Timely and persuasive, No god but God is an elegantly written account that explains this magnificent yet misunderstood faith.

Praise for No god but God
“Grippingly narrated and thoughtfully examined . . . a literate, accessible introduction to Islam.”—The New York Times
“[Reza] Aslan offers an invaluable introduction to the forces that have shaped Islam [in this] eloquent, erudite paean to Islam in all of its complicated glory.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Wise and passionate . . . an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Acutely perceptive . . . For many troubled Muslims, this book will feel like a revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried.”—The Independent (U.K.)
“Thoroughly engaging and excellently written . . . While [Aslan] might claim to be a mere scholar of the Islamic Reformation, he is also one of its most articulate advocates.”—The Oregonian
Despite President George W. Bush's assurances that Islam is a peaceful religion and that all good Muslims hunger for democracy, confusion persists and far too many Westerners remain convinced that Muslims and terrorists are synonymous. In the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the recent bombings in London, an unprecedented amount of attention has been directed toward Islam and the Muslim world. Yet, even with this increased scrutiny, most of the public discourse regarding Islam revolves around the actions of extremist factions such as the Wahhabis and al-Qa'ida. But what of the Islam we don't hear about?

As the second-largest and fastest-growing religion in the world, Islam is deemed by more than a billion Muslims to be a source of serenity and spiritual peace, and a touchstone for moral and ethical guidance. While extremists have an impact upon the religion that is wildly disproportionate to their numbers, moderates constitute the majority of Muslims worldwide. It is this rift between the quiet voice of the moderates and the deafening statements of the extremists that threatens the future of the faith.

In The Great Theft, Khaled Abou El Fadl, one of the world's preeminent Islamic scholars, argues that Islam is currently passing through a transformative period no less dramatic than the movements that swept through Europe during the Reformation. At this critical juncture there are two completely opposed worldviews within Islam competing to define this great world religion. The stakes have never been higher, and the future of the Muslim world hangs in the balance.

Drawing on the rich tradition of Islamic history and law, The Great Theft is an impassioned defense of Islam against the encroaching power of the extremists. As an accomplished Islamic jurist, Abou El Fadl roots his arguments in long-standing historical legal debates and delineates point by point the beliefs and practices of moderate Muslims, distinguishing these tenets from the corrupting influences of the extremists. From the role of women in Islam to the nature of jihad, from democracy and human rights to terrorism and warfare, Abou El Fadl builds a vital vision for a moderate Islam. At long last, the great majority of Muslims who oppose extremism have a desperately needed voice to help reclaim Islam's great moral tradition.

Allah adalah sebutan untuk Tuhan dalam bahasa Arab— Tuhan kebebasan dan cinta yang berlaku universal. Aku sadar, pemahaman ini tidak sama persis dengan persepsi kebanyakan orang tentang Allah. Tapi seperti yang akan aku tunjukkan, Tuhan begitu mencintaiku dengan memberiku pilihan-pilihan dan kebebasan untuk menentukannya. Pada gilirannya, mencintai sesama makhluk Tuhan berarti meyakini akan kemampuan mereka untuk menentukan pilihan sendiri. Dengan demikian, cinta menuntutku melakukan dua hal secara bersamaan: memperjuangkan­ kebebasan, bukan sekadar untuk diriku sendiri, dan melawan penjajah-kekuasaan yang mencuri pilihan-pilihan itu dari kita sebagai manusia merdeka. Di masa-masa yang kacau-balau begini, hubungan antara kebebasan dan cinta harus dieksplorasi secara jernih. Sebagaimana yang akan kuperlihatkan,­ keharmonisanku dengan Allah membantuku untuk­ melakukan itu.

Memang, kejernihan memerlukan nalar yang selalu mengarah pada pertanyaan “Bagaimana kau tahu Tuhan itu ada?” Aku tidak tahu, tapi aku meyakininya. Sejak dini, aku mengakui ini, supaya tidak merendahkan kecerdasan para pembaca yang agnostik dan ateis. Namun, aku juga akan memperlihatkan bahwa cara terbaik untuk menghargai kecerdasan manusia adalah dengan memiliki keyakinan akan potensi kita untuk menjadi agen perubahan dalam kehidupan ini, daripada duduk melamun dengan harapan fatalistik tentang kehidupan setelah kematian. Melalui keyakinanku akan kapasitas kreatif setiap individu, aku berharap dapat berbicara dengan penuh hormat kepada mereka yang beragama maupun yang tak beragama.

Faktanya, individu-individu dari berbagai keyakinanlah yang membentuk pemikiranku. Jadi, izinkan aku bercerita sedikit tentang narasumberku. Selama satu dasawarsa terakhir, di antara guru-guru yang paling mempengaruhiku berasal dari kalangan Muslim dan non-Muslim yang berhubungan langsung denganku—baik di berbagai acara, di facebook, atau melalui email. Sebagai bentuk rasa terima kasih yang mendalam, kujalin kisah mereka menjadi buku ini. Sebagian besar, aku hanya mencantumkan nama depan mereka. Dan ketika menyadari bahaya yang akan menimpa korespondenku, aku pun mengubah nama mereka.


Begitu banyak penelitian tambahan untuk memperkaya buku Allah, Liberty and Love ini, sehingga mencantumkan semua catatan kaki akan menghambur-hamburkan jumlah halaman. Supaya buku ini enak dibaca dan terjangkau, sekaligus untuk menghindari pemangkasan yang terlalu banyak, aku mengunggah semua catatan kaki di situs webku, Aku juga menggunakan catatan kaki untuk menerangkan sejumlah pernyataan. Jika Anda ingin memperdalam tentang segala sesuatu yang telah Anda baca di sini, silakan kunjungi situs webku.


Akhir kata, di halaman belakang buku ini, aku menyajikan daftar rekomendasi bacaan—beberapa di antaranya masih mem­ buatku terkesan. Semoga bacaan itu bisa menjadi inspirasi se­ kaligus sumber informasi bagi Anda.

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