Allah, Liberty and Love – Part 1
The title refers to a book of the same title, Allah, Liberty and Love by Irshad Manji (‘IM’). This will be the first of a multi-part series as to issues raised in her book.
The author lives in Canada. She is Muslim, but most liberal in her approach towards Islam, or if you prefer, moderate in her views. She accepts and prefers a pluralistic society, wants openness in thinking and attitudes towards taboo issues in Islam such as homosexuality, and allows for reason to be used in the study of Islam. Doubts are allowed, encouraged, and she seeks independence among all Muslims, suggesting they are tied to their culture, their families, and bound by doctrines of a religion/ideology that inhibit accepting other faiths and living in a secular world.
Quotes and Comments
Here are quotes (italicized) I have taken from her book (pages are not noted as I used an eBook version). I provide my comments as I go.
“God loves me enough to give me choices and the liberty to make them.”
Her God is Allah, but her application suggests the same attitude as the Christian God. Freedom is important, raising a question I have in the past as to the acceptance of freedom by Islamists who regard freedom as a pagan practice that must be snuffed out to insure the purity of Muslims, all of whom are born without sin. Muslims are weak and can be corrupted. A free society is a corrupting influence best eradicated.
“…the best way to respect every-body’s intelligence is by having faith in our potential to become agents of change in this life rather than sit on our hands in fatalistic anticipation of some hereafter.”
It is the direction of change that becomes important. Is change moving forward towards pluralism and modernity or in reverse towards a 7th Century ideology as Islamist’s proclaim as the world of Muhammad. She seeks pluralism and modernity as the goal, for which I applaud her courage. She refers to “an open society” where all can live in peace.
“According to moderate Muslims, Islam means ‘peace.’”
According to much of what I have learned Islam means “submission.” The cry we hear of Allahu Akbar is the call for a world ‘All for Allah’ with reference to the Quran Sura 2:193 (fight…until religion is only for Allah) or Sura 9:29 (fight those who believe not in Allah…until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and are in a state of subjection).
The approach to change in the Muslim world she suggests uses ijtihad. She refers to that as “Islam’s own tradition of dissenting, reasoning and reinterpreting.” A definition: Ijtihad : To exercise personal judgment based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It is from the term jihad, which we know is oft associated with terrorism and attacks against infidels (non-believers in Islam) in the effort to eradicate them as well as their views which are counter to Islam. The root word means ‘struggle’, but “ijtihad is about struggling to understand our world by using our mind. Which implies exercising the freedom to ask questions – sometimes uncomfortable ones.” It is not the violent approach of jihad.
The concern that arises is the objective, for the Islamist even using ijtihad there is little peace unless the ijtihad has the same goal as jihad, a world All for Allah. Take the case of the Muslim Brotherhood (‘MB’). It has been represented as a non-violent approach to changing the world and making it still ‘All for Allah.” The motto of the MB, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest aspiration. ” The MB looks to destroy the ‘Western world from within. Apply caring, giving and kindness, a means of deception called taqiyya (lying to infidels to advance Islam) and kitman (lying by omission). Infiltrate, live as neighbors of infidels, allowing time to conquer and bring Sharia Law (The Quran as the constitution establishing Islamic Law) into areas where it is not today dominant or enforced.
Faith and Dogma
This is not Irshad Manji’s (‘IM’) objective, as so stated by her. In her book she quoted Alya as saying “Muslims are locked in their rules.” For her the individual matters. This is important. The individual must escape the group mentality when personal feelings and doubts arise as to the ‘rules’ of Islam allowing reason, logic, and the application of thought. Moral courage is needed. A break from cultural, family, tribal, and group norms is needed when believing in Islam feels like it is more out of fear, ideological fear, than faith. As to this point she says,
“The difference between faith and dogma. Faith doesn’t forbid exploration. It’s dogma that does. Dogma, by definition, is threatened by questions, while faith welcomes questions because it trusts that God, being magisterial, can handle them.”
IM lives in a free society. She can say these things. Her encouragement is to other Muslims, the moderates, living in similar Western societies feeling as she does towards peace, desiring the accepting of neighbors of different persuasions, embracing freedom of religion, that would include Christians and Jews, and others, and open to human rights and laws established for the common good, for civil purposes, not a theocratic, Islamic, Sharia compliant nation.
Islamists do not care for her writing and her proclamations. They condemn her as an infidel, even though she remains a Muslim. She wants an ‘open society’ and that is not what the Islamists want. The Sunni, the Shiite, the Wahabbis, the Salafis, and so on desire a theocracy where government, civil laws and religion are wedded and the constitution is the Quran – Sharia Law. A secular nation is not the goal. This is the Arab Muslim worldview.
There are large Muslim populations in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Turkey and elsewhere that are not Arab. Arab Muslims make up about 20% of the Muslim world (as I understand). There are more secular structures in places such as Tunisia,Turkey, and Indonesia, but even there the Islamists continue to pressure for change. They seek to establish model Islamic cities from which to then expand into the broader population, applying the fear tactics of jihad, a world ‘All for Allah’.
In the 8th to 12th centuries there was greater freedom of thought in Muslim Spain. Referring to a scholar Ibn Bajjah as the force behind “active intelligence” she suggests he “postulated that when the rational mind makes contact with the Divine, the individual finds freedom.” That changed starting in the 12th century when Spain was colonized and restrictions on freedom of thought and multiple interpretations of the Quran were applied.
Come Let Us Reason Together
We pray for the freeing of the Islamist’s mind, and the willingness of the more moderate Muslims to either emancipate those trapped thinking they should not think to think, find a scholar for their religion that will allow for the cause of the modern world, to embrace reason, love of neighbor and pluralism, accompanied of course with accepting equality and human rights, or find a new path all together. Maybe Islam is the wrong road to follow, Allah’s heaven is not heaven at all, and the real eternal kingdom lies elsewhere. (You have every right to ask such a question) I believe that is the case. Think about it. Has all been Revealed? “Come now, and let us reason together.” If there is no rational explanation or ability to question, then there must be a rational avenue that allows a voluntary love for God to prevail. Praise be to the Lord.”
Irshad’s heart is in the right place. I agree with her challenge to moderate Muslims not only in the free world, but in the Muslim world too. Show your independence. Speak up. Speak out. I must admit I am a skeptic. Many would call me an Islamaphobe, but to her credit she views me only as one with questions. The obstacle to achieving her noble objective is the entrenched nature of Islam. The ulema that speak for the umma. The strict interpretation of the Quran that has been fostered in the well-funded and growing madrassa schools worldwide; and the percentage of Islamists that are outspoken and have access to the media. In a world of 1.5 billion Muslims if the Islamists are but 10 to 15%, a minority, they are 150,000 to 225,000 in numbers, well-funded, especially with the money of oil rich Arab dynasties, and capable of threats, harassment and enacting Allah’s will.
More on her book and her valiant call for moderate Muslims to embrace a pluralistic, free world in my next blog.
Grace and Peace
 Allah, Liberty and Love, by Irshad Manji, Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY, NY, 2011.
 UI – Part 119 -Liberty A No No! (September 28, 2011)
 UI – Part 97 – Muslim Brotherhood (April 27, 2011)
 UI – Part 28 – Tariq Ramadan and Lying (April 16, 2010)
 UI – Part 100 – No Reason to Believe in Islam (May 17, 2011)
 UI – Part 104 – Revelation & Reason (June 13, 2011)
 Isaiah 1:18 (Bible NIV84)