Home' LOTL : October 2004 Contents ISSUES12
AS A NEW FACE OF ISLAM
IRSHAD MANJI HAS A REASON
TO FEAR FOR HER LIFE.
MONA ATTAMIMI SPOKE TO
THE OUTSPOKEN AUTHOR.
Irshad Manji has received death threats. Not
merely criticism or hate mail but detailed plans
for her assassination. The crime: a public
declaration for reformation within Islam. The
author of The Trouble with Islam is speaking up
against the injustices and intolerance for non-
conformity within the Muslim world. Even as a
citizen of Canada Irshad is not immune to the
severe tactics used to silence and annihilate the
individual's "right of independent thinking".
Many religious strictures were abandoned
and rules bent in our liberal Muslim household.
But like so many children born with Islam
imprinted on our identity it was instilled in me
from an early age that to question the
authenticity, the glory and the credibility of the
Koran would lead to hell on earth. I will remind
you of Salman Rushdie who with the use of his
imagination made a slight mutation to the
meaning of a verse in the Koran and was met with
death threats by reputable authorities of the faith.
Irshad's violation is her straightfor wardness
in going into the heart of a topic that is
unspoken, unthought of and that is examining
the reasons why as Muslims we need to read the
"Koran literally when it's so contradictory and ambiguous". In stating this Irshad
has had to install a bullet proof window in her home where she lives with her female
partner of six years, as well as travel with a bodyguard and heed the advice of the
Canadian police force in strategising the launch of her book. For example when I
asked her if she would go on Al-Jazeera (the independent Arab news) the police
advised her to wait until her books are translated into Arabic out of fear that it may
spark a mass riot in the Muslim world.
As a self-proclaimed Muslim lesbian Irshad refuses to abandon one identity for
the other. She doesn't identify herself in those terms but as first and foremost a
thinker. However she does challenge her Islamic faith in order to accommodate
"diversity of ideas, beliefs and people in our universe". Irshad is most passionate
about exploring fresh and original styles of thinking and fortunately for a Muslim-
born feminist like me she is willing to take this passion to her faith.
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