The Trouble With Irshad Manji

FIFTEEN MINUTES AD NAUSEAM

Suppose you’re an inconsequential (even untalented or hideously awful) writer, broadcaster or artist and have nothing of interest to say about anything. How to become famous? Andy Warhol had an answer. Postmodernist philosophers are in a league of their own: occasionally it is the banal masquerading as wisdom; in general, it is incomprehensible nonsense as Platonic truth. If, however, you’re from an Islamic background and are willing to spill the carefully selected beans, generously seasoned with the most bitter of herbs, on what a wicked and repressive religion Islam is, fifteen minutes is the least you’ll get from the rightwing, rapacious, feeble-minded Western media. Meanwhile, the liberal media will make you a saint.

Advertised as Islam’s reformers and saviours, the more famous “refuseniks” are barely off our screens or newspapers. The likes of Kanan Makiya, Fouad Ajami and Ayaan Hirsi Ali can be encountered at any time discussing the need for a “reformation” or invasion of anywhere with a population of dusky faces. These otherwise regular folk, not especially talented, have seen the bandwagon and leapt on, incurring brain damage, even complete cerebral devastation, on the way.

And so it is no surprise to see the delightfully batty Irshad Manji, who some time ago joined the above stellar roll call of world class liars by making a name for herself with the self-explanatory book “The Trouble With Islam Today” (previously, and importantly, entitled “The Trouble With Islam”), misinterpreting the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words on accommodating some aspects of Sharia law. By the way, is it not rather strange that one of the few people to come to the Archbishop’s aid is the awesomely ignorant bigot Martin Amis, who simply stated the inconvertible fact that the Archbishop did not say what has been attributed to him. So brace yourselves for a lot more of Manji in the UK media. After all, if one of them says so, well…

To appreciate Manji’s arguments, reach no further than her magnum opus, “The Trouble With Islam Today”. From what I knew of Manji, even before delving into page one, I ventured the following wild guess as to Manji’s possible conclusion: is Islam the trouble with Islam? Well, almost, and indeed it is that almost quality that has made her and Kanan Makiya Solzhenitsyn-like figures. Guffaw if you must, for it is your right.

Manji is a celebrity: feminist (apparently unique in Islamic society), a “here and proud” lesbian (go girl!), bin Laden’s worst enemy (something he is happily unaware of), reformer and saviour of Islam (a new Averroes?), fan of Israel (lobotomy?). She makes great play of being denounced by unknown heavily-bearded men (some achievement). The new Averroes is soon discovered to be someone with very little knowledge about anything except how to get feted by a Western media which wants to blame the victims. Her book reminds me of the put-down the brilliant Swiss physicist Wolfgang Pauli would humiliate the idiots of his day with. Pauli would mutter that what he was witnessing was “not even wrong” – the arguments were so ill-thought that they could not be classed in the same category as those that were just wrong.

Sub-titled “A Wake-up Call For Honesty and Change”, Manji’s book is, for various reasons, neither a “wake-up call”, “honest” nor likely to precipitate “change”. First, because it does not address intelligently any issue of interest. Second, important questions are not asked. Third, knee-jerk and entirely wrong conclusions are made. Fourth, the source for any and all conclusions rests on the fact that the participants are Muslim and that their religious book has some rather unfavourable things to say about things Manji favours. Political, social, economic and imperial factors and objectives are irrelevant. Manji shows that the effects of European imperialism can’t be blamed for anything because Muslims were being nasty to one another before Europeans were nasty to Muslims. Powerful stuff, this. In similar vein, since Jews were being nasty to one another long before Europeans made them into furniture, Jews better look in the mirror first before pointing fingers at Europeans. Indeed, black people sold one another into slavery before the Europeans did, so there! This is Manji’s standard of argument – and it doesn’t get any better.

“SAMPLING OF FACTS”

Like “From Time Immemorial”, this is a book I had gone out of my way to avoid because of what I call the “Woody Allen guide to books”: Allen was once asked what he would do differently if he could live his life again. He replied that he wouldn’t read Moby Dick. I stumbled across Manji’s book while in my public library. I could be wrong about her, I thought. Though I’ve endured her imbecilic mutterings and writings on television and in articles, perhaps in book form she can make a better case, I thought. No one can be that stupid, I thought. What can you lose, I thought. That’s too much thinking, I now think.

Manji’s routine has the usual following staple of lines: Muslims apparently have “no clue on how to reform or debate” and are prone to “screaming self-pity”. Note: not regular self-pity but the “screaming” kind. Given that the name Akbar Ganji will probably be new to her, the names of the millions of other brave Muslims who have fought for freedom will also be unknown to her. Moreover, Muslims blame everyone but themselves for their self-inflicted woes: “neither Israel nor America lies at the heart of Muslim problems”, “the cancer begins within us” and “we need to depose our own victim mentality”. This eccentric analysis is something occupied, let alone ethnically cleansed, Palestinians may wish to learn more about. As for Afghans and Iraqis? In book form she’s no better, just more tiresome and exasperating.

Politically, Manji is not only completely ignorant but retarded. “Tunisia,” writes Manji, “is giving secular democracy a less-than-democratic name”. And how, pray, can it do that when it is a dictatorship? Let us not unduly concern ourselves with this terribly important and elementary fact. They are a distraction if one wants to read Manji. For Manji, unsurprisingly, the world changed with 9/11. But then she is not alone. So many liberals got “mugged by reality”, to quote the tragicomic line they instinctively trot out. The “reality” was not evident when these “freedom fighters” devastated Afghanistan, helped Suharto turn Indonesia into a bloodbath, and murdered hundreds of thousands of liberal and secular Muslims and millions of peasants across the Islamic world. No, the “reality” hit home when these previously heroic “freedom fighters” turned their sights not on commies, alleged commies, commies in all but name, anti-communist nationalists who are deviously trying to mask their comminess, commies who don’t even know they’re commies and liberal, secular Muslims (essentially commies), but on the West, who, except for Harold Wilson, aren’t commies. It is no surprise then that Manji can find no link between Pakistan’s current predicament and, as she herself writes, the “US-backed military coup [which] installed General Zia al-Haq,” a fundamentalist lunatic, and devastated Pakistani democracy. They are isolated events. Cause and effect do not exist in her mind, especially if Muslims have any sort of grievance.

She quotes from the famous Le Nouvel Observateur interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to President Carter, without mentioning the slightly important section where Brzezinski confesses that the US had masterminded a jihad against the Soviet Union, destroying Afghanistan in the process, and thus letting loose a jihadi djinni. That Manji can do this is a tribute to her extraordinary gifts of political and social awareness. As for America, this is no mere country with “interests”, it is “the unrealised hope, not the criminal”.

Manji’s short history of Palestine, including the second intifada and the Camp David talks, which she refers to as “a sampling of facts lost in the present polarisation”, is as bizarre as it is ludicrous. One imagines that the “sampling of facts” were from books by Benjamin Netanyahu and Daniel Pipes. Like a demented Likudnik, she considers Jordan to have been part of Palestine, and so is baffled by Palestinian “self-pity” that Palestine is, er, Palestine. This, along with the imaginative retelling of Palestinian history, will be a revelation for Palestinians. As is her vile pronouncement that Israel brings “compassion to ‘colonisation’” (note the scare quotes) and that Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is “an affirmative action policy. Liberals should love it.” This is tinged with the heartache she feels at the Israeli “government’s consistent refusal to arrest the criminals who erect illegal settlements”. Either Manji believes that only some settlements are illegal or that Israel did not erect the settlements (home to many a chauvinist paramilitary terrorist who is state-sanctioned to murder Arabs at will). Or does she expect the Israeli government to “arrest” itself?

Manji takes us on another “sampling of facts” when it comes to the Holocaust, and it is, to use the medical definition, exquisite: “Let’s be straight about what else happened during the Nazi years: Muslim complicity in the Holocaust”. This essentially amounts to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem making anti-Semitic comments and broadcasts and making the deluded ultra-nationalist judgement that the enemy of the British Empire is a friend. Manji, however, blames the Grand Mufti for denying Jews refuge into Palestine. Manji may be surprised to learn that Palestine was at the time part of the British Empire. That any decision on giving refuge would have been made in Downing Street, Westminster and Whitehall, not by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. That most Jews wanted to leave Europe for the United States but were refused refuge in the land of the free and the home of the brave – “huddled masses” did not include Jews. That Europe had had enough of the so-called “Jewish problem” (that is, their very existence in Europe) and wanted a non-European land to accommodate the “problem”. And that Muslims did not devise the “Final Solution”. Other than these minor qualifications, yes, Muslims have a lot to answer for. Such a shame Raul Hilberg has passed away and can’t be informed of this astonishing find in Holocaust studies. Surely it can’t be long before Manji’s talents are spotted by Talk Sport radio or the Daily Express.

The Armenian genocide, Manji continues, is a “Muslim genocide against Armenian Christians”. When nasty things occur in despotisms it does not cross her mind that this is expected in a despotism. That this is part and parcel of the very definition of a despotism. No, it is because the people carrying out the nastiness are Muslims. That is the reason and no more needs to be said. It has to be accepted as gospel, so to speak: “What else aren’t we Muslims telling ourselves so we can keep surfing on sympathy and subsisting on victimhood.” It’s not entirely unexpected that Manji never uses the same standard for Christians, Jews, Hindus or anyone else with religious leanings. It’s all very much the same way the violent and/or ultra-fundamentalist fringe in any religion but Islam is described as “chauvinist”, but the violent and/or ultra-fundamentalist fringe in Islam is described as “fascist”.

“EXCELLENT” AND “CAMEL SADDLES”

Theologically, Manji has yet to graduate from kindergarten. Manji: “The Quran insists…‘whichever way you turn there is the face of God.’ Why, then, must Muslims bow to Mecca five times a day?” Manji’s topological argument is as zany as her wish to see Jews and Christians go on the hajj. Well, why not a Sikh Archbishop of Canterbury, a Hindu Chief Rabbi, or a Jain butcher? The most obvious points regarding religious belief do not impose themselves on her. Attempting to square her homosexuality with her faith leads her into her difficulties. Her theological ignorance and sexual disposition come together in the most embarrassing analysis I have yet encountered. She searches the Quran to find a passage that will legitimise her sexual disposition. Manji finally finds the sought after passage: Allah “makes excellent everything he creates”. Therefore homosexuality is “excellent”. This is some argument. (Homosexuality ain’t just OK, it is “excellent”.) Though hardly a robust intellectual argument that would convince anyone else, it does, unsurprisingly, convince her. Presumably, Manji would therefore find it “excellent” that the following exist in creation: cancer, Aids, diarrhoea, malaria, dementia, child molesters, rapists, psychopathic serial killers, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etc.

How strange it is then that she is somewhat shocked to be offered a “cheese and ham sandwich”. Surely, using Manji’s own standard, aren’t pigs created by Allah and therefore “excellent”? So why not tuck in? And of course, one hardly need point out that there is no comparison between, say, Manji’s sexuality and Hitler’s cruelty. It is merely another indication that Manji’s analysis does not reach the high standard of stupidity. And so it is all the more expected that Harvard’s “Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values” said the following about the supposed movement Manji is apparently at the heart of “the most important new movement in several decades”. The last movement with as comical a figure at the helm was David Icke’s.

Manji’s internal logic is a wonder. She spends a couple hundred pages blabbing that the Quran is not perfect, that Islam is so horrid that she may up sticks and make do with another religion or none at all, only then to write that the reason she has renamed her book (the “Today” in the title is the addition) is because she realises that Islam itself is as perfect as it can be, and were it not for deranged beardies (cue Louis Armstrong) what a wonderful world it would be.

Just when one supposes that we have reached the zenith of Manji’s awesome stupidity, there comes Manji’s flabbergasting parallels between bin Laden and the Prophet Mohammed. “Is it mere happenstance,” Manji asks, “that bin Laden spends so much time in caves, like the meditating Prophet Mohammed did?” (I may be wrong, but I do not think it is mere happenstance that it never crossed the Prophet Mohammed’s mind that it would be prudent to keep a low profile in a cave, lest the satellite-guided Tomahawk Cruise missiles or Delta Force commandos zero in on him.) Bin Laden, like Mohammed, was a rich man but lived the life of a poor man. Unconvinced? Bin Laden’s attack on the icons of world capitalism, the Twin Towers, is akin to Mohammed’s challenge to the “moral basis” of Arabian society. Still unconvinced? Manji tantalisingly insists that “the parallels continue to proliferate”. Brace yourself for the following clincher. In Mohammed’s day “camel saddles permitted faster travel, more trade, greater greed and deeper social disparities. Camel saddles yesterday, online transactions today.” I see. Camel saddles. Online transactions. Manji has missed the eerie parallel that Mohammed lived on Earth and that bin Laden presently is alive on, yes, Earth! Of all the planets he could live on, why Earth? Or is this mere “happenstance”, to use Manji’s term?

VENEER OF INTELLECTUAL DEPTH

Amazingly, Manji thinks that madressa means religious school. It doesn’t. It merely means school. The fact that many madressas are religious schools does not change its definition. Recalling her madressa, Manji sets up her trademark attempt at humour. At her religious school, she encountered “self-conscious prebuscents struggling with acne…adolescents sprouting moustaches – and that’s just the girls” . Telegraphed, leaden, cringe-inducing and pitiful seventies-style “workingmen’s” club humour. Manji is an Asian lesbian version of Jim Davidson, and unfortunately one can’t escape her awful attempts at being humorous. She even has a “great joke about a priest, a rabbi and a mullah”. It’s so bad that it borders on proof of the existence of Satan.

There are perfunctory references to convivencia, ijtihad (something, incredibly, she had not heard of until quite recently), the great thinker Averroes and anything else that she has tapped into Google (Islam+history of ideas+golden age) and will make her case. These feeble attempts at coating her ignorance with the veneer of intellectual depth are readily apparent – except, naturally enough, to Harvard profs. But then an almost limitless amount of vague references to the past would be required to camouflage Manji’s awesome ignorance and inability to understand the world. These are merely props for Manji to permit herself to foam at the mouth. To complete the horror, however, Manji includes a “sample of readings…This list doesn’t cover all of my research”. Included are Tariq Ali’s The Clash of Fundamentalisms, Albert Hourani’s A History of the Arab Peoples, Edward Said’s Orientalism and Covering Islam. Evidently, she has not read any of these. Referencing Hourani and Said is mere show – and anyone who has read their works will know immediately that Manji is a pretender, an attention seeker, a phoney, a fraud.

You will recall that in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose that a character was killed by being ingeniously poisoned through the pages of the book he handled. I’ve always known that a similar book exists for me, but, in my case, it would be the words, not the pages, that would be toxic. Is this that book? Possibly. But then, to be fair, I’ve yet to read Kissinger’s fantastic tales of heroic statesmanship – or would I merely laugh to death? Just when one thinks Manji’s indescribably shameful careerism, ignorance and stupidity cannot possibly sink any further, she has the audacity to use the courageous title “refusenik” in reference to herself. That Manji has no shame is no longer surprising; that a major publishing house has none and sees fit to inflict this detestable book on the public is worrying.

52 comments on “The Trouble With Irshad Manji

  1. Jeremy Stangroom on said:

    So what you’re basically saying is that you don’t like her book?

    You really should write less. Seriously. Otherwise it’s just self-indulgent.

    Your first line, for example: “Suppose you’re an inconsequential (even untalented or hideously awful) writer, broadcaster or artist”. Too many words. And you keep doing it. Here:

    “These otherwise regular folk, not especially talented, have seen the bandwagon and leapt on, incurring brain damage, even complete cerebral devastation, on the way.”

    Okay, the brain damage thing is just tedious, but you compound it by adding the “cerebral devastation” bit.

    Strange you have this problem given that you’re a journalist. I would have thought any half-decent editor would have sorted you out by now.

    Ah well.

  2. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    Jeremy, I’m not a journalist. And, yes, the book is unbelievably apalling. You should read it. Maybe I was verbose, but there’s quite a lot to be verbose about.

    There are some very fine critiques of Islam – see Maxime Rodinson, Malise Ruthven, Tariq Ali, and others. But Irshad Manji’s will go down as one of the weirdest and stupidest. That she is so high-profile is an indication of the ignorance and stupidity of the media.

    Talking about “half-decent editors”, the Philosophers’ Magazine could do with some. It could do with some half-decent articles too.

    Ah well.

  3. so narrowed down to a few words:
    “How dare this dyke disagree with me!”
    tawfiq appears to be more upset that an asian woman could be a ‘homosexualist’ than that she can have an opinion different to his.
    no rules about homophobic posting on this blog, or are all weapons valid if tawfiq doesn’t like their opinions?

  4. Lobby Ludd on said:

    So, what you’re basically saying, Jeremy, is that there are too many words in Tawfiq’s review?

  5. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    I’m not upset that anyone is a homosexualist (I read too much Gore Vidal and like his argument about the use of the word). It’s the fact that she reads that homosexuality is “excellent” into the Koran, which categorically states that it is a sin. And why should she do this? Could it be because she is gay? Hers is a bizarre reading. She writes that homosexuality is “excellent” since God makes all things excellent. Do you not think that is a bizarre argument?

    Anyone can do the same with their own proclivity. Like dog fighting? So you should – it’s “excellent”. Like Jeffrey Archer? He too is “excellent”. Find Jonathan Ross funny? So you should – he’s “excellent”. What kind of argument is this? Have you been diagnosed with cancer? Nothing to worry about – it’s “excellent”.

    If you think that is a homophobic remark, you should be ashamed of yourself. Homophobia, like anti-Semitism, is as backward a bigotry as you can get. To point out that Manji is a fool to say that the Koran finds homosexuality “excellent” is, according to Darren, my sin!!! That’s the weirdest argument I’ve come across all year, Darren!

    PS. I think the term “dyke” is homophobic.

  6. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    I don’t think he’s hypocritical. But I do think that book reviews would be made a bit pointless if the reviewer simply wrote as a review: “Like it” or “Don’t like it” or “Liked it a bit”. It’d certainly make, say, a subscription to the London Review of Books a bit pricey for a review of two, three or four words. The upside would be the LRB could be read within ten seconds. He may or may not be right about the length of my review (personal taste and all that), but it seems to me that Jeremy Stangroom has not heard of the extended book review.

  7. “PS. I think the term “dyke” is homophobic.”
    its supposed to be you prat!
    what is obvious is that you object to ms. Manji because she has the temerity to critise your reactionary god bullshit.
    If we want to talk about offence than perhaps I could mention that I find your ‘joke’ about turning jews into furniture as offensive.
    or calling ms. manji a retard is offensive

  8. Lobby Ludd on said:

    “what is obvious is that you object to ms. Manji because she has the temerity to critise your reactionary god bullshit.”

    Darren I think you will find that Tawfiq, is criticising Ms Manji’s book and her god bullshit. Easy mistake to make.

    “tawfiq appears to be more upset that an asian woman could be a ‘homosexualist’ than that she can have an opinion different to his.”

    I think you might find that the opinions he criticised were backed up by argument and disputing her grasp of facts. It’s called criticism.

  9. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    This is absolutely extraordinary! My disputing Manji’s claim that the Koran, and by extension Islam, finds homosexuality “excellent”, I’m spreading “reactionary god bullshit”. Which is doubly weird because she believes in God and I don’t!!! So, Darren, you believe that the Koran is friendly to homosexuality, then?

    You would think that anyone who made the arguments Manji has is not to be taken seriously, but no, Darren finds her reading of the Koran to the effect that it is approved of is commendable, even when it says the exact opposite.

    I look forward to seeing Darren defend anti-climate change activists with the argument that they actually believe in human-induced climate change! Or that flat earthers don’t believe the earth is flat. Or that Mein Kampf is not anti-Semitic.

    There was nothing joke-like about my comment that Europeans made Jews into furniture. It happened. What’s your beef?

    I never said Manji was “retarded”. I said that she was “politically…retarded”. A diiferent thing entirely. And I see that your defence for making homophobic comments is that “it’s supposed to be”. Whereas when I did not make any homophobic comments I’m accused of homophobia! And the evidence that I’m a homophobe is to dispute Manji’s claim that the Koran finds homosexuality “excellent”! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!

    Darren, I suggest you reread what it is I actually wrote.

  10. I had the misfortune of reading Manji’s book a few years ago, for a book review. It is not just politically terrible, it is shabbily written, making numerable claims none of which are backed up by a footnote. In fact, there isn’t a single footnote in her book. She also manages the double-standard of quoting Israeli sources regarding the Occupation as fact. But when she quotes Palestinians, even about the most mundane commonplace things these are referred to as “claims”. It should be noted that the info she compiled for the chapter on Palestine/Israel was gotten during a trip paid for by a Canadian Zionist organization. Conflict of interest anyone?
    She also makes the astounding claim that South Asian Muslims in Norway have a higher rate of unemployment because they are Muslim and that these unemployed Muslims (loathe to complain about discrimination, the silly fools) are spending the state’s money plotting terrorism! On what basis can she make these claims? I don’t know, there’s no footnote. (and if anyone wants to be clever and ask me for the reference I’ll drag my ass downstairs and dig the book out of moldy storage to find it).
    This woman has made a career out of spouting the vilest racist garbage and claiming that she is being silenced – though she is internationally syndicated and her mug was for a while everywhere I looked.
    She is an intellectually dishonest quisling (or lap dog, if you prefer).

  11. I am surprised that this issue of Toff’s writing style has reemerged.

    if peopple don’t like the way he writes,, they coudl always, err, not read it.

    Actually, I think Toff’s style is perfect for the this type of debunking review.

  12. You should just hand this blog over to Tawfiq. Anyone who riles these fuckwit Islamophobes like he does deserves some credit, and it’s far better than all the usual pieties and Swup-baiting.

  13. I loved the way Tawfiq was accused of being a fundementalist. ANYONE who dares to disagree with the current crop of heros and heroines of the right is a fundementalist. Its marvelous. Whats most funny though is the idea that the commentators here, incapable of engaging with anyone who disagrees with them, are agents of enlightenment and democracy.

  14. I think Lenin and Johng are jumping the gun a bit here. There has only been one person to criticise the substance of Tawfiq’s post (and one very important professional philosophy gloss writer serialised in the Independent don’t cha know has contributed a rather odd message in which he appears to express irritation at Tawfiq’s writing style – I hope you take note of this important man’s frustrations, Tawfiq). Still at least it gave Lenin a chance to append what he really wanted to say to the end of his post.

  15. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    Thank you, comrades. One of the people criticising didn’t seem to know what he was talking about; the other thinks he’s Nabokov or something.

    Although in no way comparing myself to the following traduced “stylists”, those who disagree with the politics but can’t actually point out any errors in the opponents argument usually say something about the “style”. Christopher Hitchens and Oliver Kamm, for instance, do it all the time with Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman. The arguments are unimportant.

    If I generate this kind of heat with Manji, I’d better review Hirsi Ali’s books!

  16. Not that I give a hoot for Manji, but your drivel is hair-raising! Get a life brother…

    Go to Afghanistan or learn bomb-making in Palistan: do yourself a favor and be gone!

  17. Again the implication: anyone who disagrees with me is a terrorist. That Bigots like the Sheik are her main audience would give rise to some reflection from anyone even remotely serious about anything other then media stardom.

  18. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    I have no idea what anything “Sheik Yer’mani” has written means. And presumably neither does he. His arguments are just too deep to be understood by the human mind. Or could it be that he is incapable of arguing his position?

  19. Well I agree with most of this from Tawfiq…however in practice historically Islam has been the most tolerant and plural religion of the book. For some cool islam have a look at the Sufi traditions

    Also there is a debate about the Koran and homosexuality http://www.well.com/user/aquarius/Qurannotes.htm.

    I did laugh when my press office was upset with my personal blog when I stated ‘God doesn’t care who you fuck’…anyway Islamaphobia is bad news, when Muslims spout reaction they should be criticised but we know in the current climate that Catholics and non-believers get off scott free.

  20. Look up the meaning of the word Irshad and you will know that she should be called Irshadless Manji.

  21. Thank you for this amazing article !!!!

    Irshad herself I find rather irritating. Many of the things she says are quite silly in a superfluous manner. She undermines her own credibility when she asserts that Islam condoned homosexuality simply because the Quran states everything God made is excellent.

    In my own humble opinion she demolished her own credibility by appearing on the comically bigoted Glenn Beck show, a mouthpiece for some of the most vitriolic nonsense the corporate media has seen since the time of McCarthy.

    My opinion is that Muslims ought to distance themselves from her weird ideas and treat her as irrelevant. Remember these characters are out for fame and ignoring them serves the purpose of depriving them of the oxygen on publicity.

  22. Faaiza on said:

    Hello. Salaam alaykum. Just wanted to say (havent read any other comments) that this was a great article – keep up the good work 🙂

  23. ghulam ali fan on said:

    i just chanced upon this blog and damn, it made for good reading. Now, I’m not familiar with manji’s work, living in the states and everything … but I can empathize with the author’s indignance for ignorant, the-world-as-i-see-it, authors who write half-baked non-fiction works just to find favor with the popular school of thought. Sure looks like it’s not long before manji becomes an islamic, Ann Coulter of sorts, just spewing irrational hate through her words.

    oh and i’m hindu. agnostic though. don’t know why I felt the need to mention that. 🙂

    ah well. peace out, everyone.

  24. Joseph from University of Cambridge on said:

    I read Tawfiq Chahboune’s review closely and I can understand why he had to be detailed and wordy. It is a well written review although the language is as strong and angry as that used by Nanji which he criticises. I guess what I am saying is that it is not exactly what you would call ‘academic writing’. Maybe he did not mean it to be. I agree that Irshad Manji could not have read Albert Hourani or Edward Said before writing her book! It is impossible! In her book she cuts and pastes old tested Orientalist arguments which Edward Said and other ‘Western’ (non-Muslim) Scholars successfully invalidated in their criticism of Orientalist scholarship on Islam. This is something every 1st year undergraduate student of English Literature or Religious Studies would know. I am particularly surprised that she managed to get some kind of post at New York University! This demonstrates that American university education is obsessed with and driven more by the cult of celebrity than serious scholarship. No self-respecting European academic Institute would give her a such a post! We take scholarship and research very serious here.

  25. Thanks for telling us about Manji referencing Albert Hourani, something I had suspected but never realized as I don’t intend to read her book, you endured this shit on our behalf and I felt your pain.

  26. mohammed ashfaq on said:

    irshad manji is not even worth considering as someone with any real knowledge of islam, not a true honest scholar of islam at all.for fame yes she can jump on the bandwagon of islam bashing. just fake no substance or truth.Good article exposing fake manji.

  27. Ivan on said:

    Wow, I have never seen so many post-modernist on one blog in my life. Irshad Manji does not need to defend herself amongst such a crew. Well this is typical of relativist thinking not based on the universality of human rights. Irshad makes some great statements on the issues facing Islam today and challenges the assumptions it holds. What is wrong with that!! Last time i checked Christianity criticisms far outweigh Islams and the amount of books you can buy that criticizes Christianity can fill a library. Dare i say that would not be true for Islam. Maybe the fact she is a strong women, lesbian who debates a faith based on patriarchy is the reason she is criticized. At least give her credit for trying to stimulate debate and dissent, that is not a bad thing but a needed thing.

  28. (Ivan, please- a strong woman? She’s merely a petty attention-seeker with verbal diarrhea.)

    Anyway, an extremely entertaining and well-written article Mr. Chahboune. And yes, I agree with afore-mentioned sentiments that for a book/waste of paper like this, one needs to use a lot of words.

  29. Chris

    For some reason the spam filter catches all your comments, and we haven’t been able to restore them.

    Dunno why. Hopefully the problem will sort itself out.

  30. UKBarrister on said:

    Excellent article. The woman is an absolute joke and by treating her as some sort of authoritative voice on Islam, Canadians only make themselves something of a laughing stock for those who know anything about anything to do with Islam and the Middle East. Self promoting, completely and utterly ignorant, God help anyone who relies on her opinions for anything other than amusement.

  31. Tawfiq, your essay is extremely well written. Your arguments are logical and to the point. Kudos to your for a job well done!

  32. aminah on said:

    The fact that Manji writes these books and gives these talks/interviews while calling herself a devout Muslim is probably the most conflicting fact in my opinion. If anyone were to spend any time studying the Qur’an and the sahih hadiths (which she may even reject, I don’t know) would see that her understanding of Islam at its roots is absolutely non-existent (as you have pointed out, Tawfiq). I understand many of you aren’t Muslims and will most likely reject what I have to say because I am writing from a religious point of view, but I trust there are at least some people actually searching for truth and understanding and not following what the media presents. Manji acts as though she is Islam’s last hope when it is those who really strive to follow the Qur’an and sunnah who are the most able to bring Islam back to “it’s glory” per se. And this glory does not consist of killing non-muslims or converting people because all of that is most certainly prohibited. So the word fundamentalist as it is thrown around today means nothing more than that. If people were to read actual authentic Islamic books or maybe even buy a Qur’an with its tafsir (commentary/explanation) so that they may gain contextual knowledge, they could move a lot closer to actually understanding Islam. But of course this does not seem to be the goal right now. By flying (falsely in my opinion) under the banner of human rights, Manji is unknowingly aiding the misunderstanding of Islam and indeed encouraging Muslims and non-Muslims alike to shun very basic Islamic principles to the point where Islam is unrecognizable as a religion of action/practice. I have to look no further than the fact that she does not pray when there are numerous hadiths which state that the Prophet said “Pray as you have seen my pray” and that the only thing that separates a Muslim from a non-Muslim is prayer. Whether or not you believe in so-called conspiracy theories, there is a very real and palpable attempt to completely de-activate Islam and make those of us who pratice Islam feel ashamed or barbaric. Islam started as a strange religion (meaning one truely practiced by the few) and it will once again become a strange religion even as the Muslim population grows. Thanks for reading this.

  33. Anthony James on said:

    Is nobody else dismayed by the amount of time socialists spend debating Judaism, Christianity, or Islam?

  34. Manji is a capitalist who want to make money through her writing against islam and muslims. She dont know much about islam and what she want to do is to make happy the enemies of islam and muslims through critcizing islam and muslims. My advice for her learn more about islam and dont worry about what muslims do.

  35. anonymous on said:

    What a pathetic little tantrum by Tawfiq Chahboune, indulged in his anger at his religion being criticised, and in his pathetic homophobia, by unprincipled wankers who style themselves ‘socialists’.

  36. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    #41,

    Your reading ability is second only to your ability to your coherence and reasoning. You seem to know more about me than I myself know. According to you, apropos of nothing but my name presumably, I share Manji’s religious faith. I don’t. So there’s an own goal, “anonymous”. Here’s a tip: don’t judge people’s religion, or lack of one, by their name. You end up looking an utter fool. But a total fool you are, because the article criticised Islam, Manji’s mendacity regarding Islam, among other things.

    Moving on, there is nothing homophobic in the article, and since I find homophobia a deranged bigotry it’s unlikely I would be so bigoted. I point out that Islam (like all monotheisms) is *not* exactly friendly to homosexuals. Apparently, pointing that out is homophobic. Presumably pointing out Manji’s imbecility, disgusting propaganda and celebrity seeking is also homophobic.

    I wish you all the best in September when you enter secondary school. Or “big boys school”, as you no doubt call it.

  37. Daulat Ram on said:

    If Tawfik is representative of what “socialists” are today, then all I can say is….God help us !

    It’s scary, this alliance between what used to be considered the Left and the most virulent Islamic causes.

  38. Daulat Ram on said:

    I greatly admire Irshad. She seems like a blast of fresh air. She is trying to do something unimaginably hard: opening up the Muslim world to more debate about its religion. The Muslim world has far more than its fair share of despotisms which forbid or severely curtail criticism of Islam. This badly needs challenging, and Irshad is trying. That does not mean everything she says is right. But her intention to have an open society in the Muslim world is a terrifically gutsy.

  39. Curious Observer on said:

    Irshad Manji is a very poor writer and has an equally shallow understanding of Islam. There are plenty of intelligent and well-written critiques of Islam, her’s is not one of them.

    She uses terms like “Ijtihad” but has no real understanding of it. Anyone from an Islamic or Theological Studies background will tell you that every time she opens her mouth to give her cringe-worthy opinion, you feel the sudden urge to cover your face in shame.

    What is greatly worrying is not just her non-existent expertise in Islamic Sciences, it is infact her fabricated upbringing. It has come to surface that a lot of what she has written is not even true, like her time at a “Madrassa”, her “religious” parents. Rather, her parents are completely irreligious and she never had any sort of a “religious” upbringing nor went to a “Madrassa”. Poor Irshad, she will work hard to ignore these questions now.

    Atleast Rushdie is a talented writer and never need to lie to get world attention. Irshad seems only media hungry.

  40. Daulat Ram on said:

    Really, Curious Observer?

    I find her capacity to question Islam very refreshing indeed.

    And she does so bluntly, which is pretty rare.

    We need outspoken critics of Islam, as of other religions.

    Islam people are afraid to question, for simple fear of physical violence.

  41. Daulat Ram on said:

    One does not need to be a great expert in Islamic studies to point out where Islamic practice violates human rights. Any more than one needs to be a Christian theologian to do likewise with Christianity or to know Sanskrit to do ditto with Hinduism.

  42. Curious Observer on said:

    “Daulat Ram” why should we need critics of Islam when we have Hindu extremists worshipping rats and elephants in India? What about the innocent Dalits which are treated like scum due to the Hindu Caste system? What about innocent Widows being burnt alive by Radical Hindu mobs? What about teenage rape by Hindu Pundits?

    Is that enough reasons for you or you need more? Daulat Ram, I think its time you looked abit closer to home first.

  43. Curious Observer on said:

    Oh yes! Let me not forget the racist Sikhs who treat every other religion like scum in India. Or the well-documented Sikh Mobs raping innocent Christian and Muslim women throughout Punjab? Sikhism which is a pure Cult and is more ridiculous than Mormonism. Infact even Scientology stands as more of a credible faith than Sikhism. A completely obvious man-made concoction which is dying to be examined.

    Do you know what Daulat? That is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to write critique of Sikhism and document all the Human Right violation, because we clearly do not have any dissidents from them, do we?

  44. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    After some recent comments on another thread, regarding my quoting of Gore Vidal’s usage of the word “homosexualist” in the piece above, I have edited out the offending word and the sentence in which it appeared.

    It has been replaced by the following sentence: “Attempting to square her homosexuality with her faith leads her into her difficulties”.

    As I have made clear elsewhere, I have never encountered the offending word anywhere other than in Gore Vidal’s collection of essays “United States”. I was unaware that it was indeed an offensive word, and one with a long and unpleasant history. I very much hope all of good will will accept my sincerest apologies and my ignorance on the matter.

  45. Anthony on said:

    Thank you for breaking down this foolish woman. i am not a highly educated man, but I know foolery when I see and hear it. She is an absolute buffoon and I am glad I haven’t heard much of her lately. Nicely done!

  46. You people believe that any critism of non-white people is racism.

    And unlike most of you, Ms. Manji doesn’t devote her life to traveling the world saying that it’s only a “small minority of Jews” who are ruining the world.

    And that Americans don’t like people crashing planes into their tall buildings because a “small minority of Jews” tells them to feel that way.

    Do any of you people earn a living with your hands?