Islam Needs an Age of Reason

By Irshad Manji Love and religion do not always mix. No wonder the most common question sent to my website … Continued

By Irshad Manji

Love and religion do not always mix. No wonder the most common question sent to my website these days comes from young Muslims in America and Europe. They desperately want to know if they can marry non-Muslims.

Their parents and imams tell them that Islam forbids marriage outside the faith. But that is not necessarily true. Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, a progressive American imam educated at traditional universities in the Middle East, has written a clear defense of inter-faith marriage from an Islamic perspective. I have posted his “blessing” on my website.

Now, this interfaith blessing is such a popular download that I have had to get it translated into several languages to keep up with demand. Welcome to a hot 21st-Century issue, as more Muslims are born in the West or migrate to it, then meet people of other religions.

What this imam did goes beyond matters of the heart. It reflects the power of using the mind to reinterpret the Qur’an for contemporary times. He has captured the spirit of ijtihad (pronounced ij-tee-had), Islam’s own tradition of creative reasoning. As globalization persists and pluralism spreads, both Muslims and non-Muslims need to know that Islam offers a positive alternative to the tribal mentality.

Ijtihad has a history of achievement. In the early centuries of Islam, 135 schools of interpretation flourished. In Muslim Spain, scholars would teach their students to abandon “expert” opinions about the Qur’an if their conversations with the living, breathing Qur’an produced better evidence for their peaceful ideas. And Cordoba, one of the most sophisticated cities in Muslim Spain, housed 70 libraries. That rivals the number of public libraries in most cosmopolitan cities today!

From the 8th to the 12th centuries, the “gates of ijtihad” — of discussion, debate and dissent — remained wide open. This is also when Islamic civilization led the world in ingenuity. If ever we Muslims needed to renew our commitment to ijtihad, it is now. From the emerging generation, I continually hear this question: “Is there a way to reconcile our faith with freedom of thought?”

Yes, there is. The Qur’an contains three times as many verses calling on us to think than verses that tell us what is forbidden or acceptable. In that sense, re-interpretation – which means re-thinking Qur’anic passages, not re-writing them – is an Islamic responsibility. The Illinois-based Nawawi Foundation even describes it as a “religious duty of the first magnitude”.

That is why I and other young Muslims have launched Project Ijtihad, an effort to revive critical thinking in Islam by sparking honest debates both online and in person. As my story about the American imam shows, Muslims in the West are perfectly positioned to rediscover ijtihad. After all, it is in countries like the United States, Canada and Britain that we already enjoy precious freedoms to think, express, challenge and be challenged on matters of interpretation. What a precious gift.

But even if Project Ijtihad is launched from the West, it cannot stop in the West. People throughout the Islamic world need to know of their God-given right to think for themselves.

In the Islamic world, renewing ijtihad might start with liberating the entrepreneurial talents of Muslim women through micro-business loans. The Qur’an states that women are subject to men’s authority only if men spend money to “maintain” women. So if a woman earns her own assets, as did the Prophet Muhammad’s beloved first wife, Khadija, she can make decisions for herself.

Sound like a fantasy? Then consider this example. A journalist told me about meeting a woman in Kabul who took a tiny loan from a non-governmental organization. She started a candle-making business and, with her earnings, became literate.

For the first time ever, this woman read the Qur’an for herself rather than relying on local imams to select the passages she would see. She learned that the Qur’an gives all women the right to reject marriage. And if women choose marriage, the Qur’an advises them to draft contracts protecting their rights as equal creatures of God.

She recited these passages to her husband, who had been abusing her for years. Since then, he has not laid an unwanted finger on her. Could it be that what the United Nations has identified as key deficits in the Arab Muslim world — the deficits of knowledge, freedom and women’s empowerment — might all benefit from rediscovering ijtihad? The possibility begs for our attention.

Project Ijtihad is strengthened by the voices of others who are encouraging Muslims to change. Consider the words of Dr. Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre at Oxford in the UK. During the recent controversy over whether Muslim women in Britain should veil, he wrote: “In contrast to a blind acceptance of specific 7th-Century tribal Arabian dress and cultural norms, which have no eternal scriptural endorsement (as believers are required only to be modest), modern Muslims should revive the Islamic principle of ijtihad to interpret the faith for themselves.”

Young Muslims in America and Europe are doing exactly that by distributing the interfaith marriage blessing through their formal organizations and informal networks. May they have lovely weddings.

A senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, Irshad Manji is author of the New York Times bestseller “The Trouble with Islam Today,” creator of the PBS documentary, “Faith Without Fear” and founder of Project Ijtihad, an international network of reform-minded Muslims.

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  • yoyo

    Dream on,Irshad.

  • Anonymous

    As religion is usually acquired in childhood,childhood is where any changes should begin.

  • Rory

    An excellent article. I wish you the best of luck, and I believe you have struck at the heart of the challenges and dangers facing us all – a reliance on rote literal Koranic interpretation rather than a reasoned approach to the modern age. Your brief reference to a woman using the Koran to prevent her husband from beating her is perhaps a microcosm for the larger struggle. Indeed, despite my own disgust for militant Islam, I believe this matter is best approached from a human rights perspective, not a liberal/conservative one. By affording each other the same human rights we consider inalienable but that many Muslims unfortunately consider subservient to the literal Koran, humanity might just live to see another century.

  • halozcel

    Dear Irshad Manji,Alice in Wonderland.*Positive alternative**Cordoba,cosmopolition city**Men-women equal creatures of Allah(not God)*Dear Manji,Islam is the Stone Age Mentality,nothing else.

  • JBE

    Bravo!From your lips to god’s ears!TRIBALISM = IGNORANCE AND SERVITUDE

  • Nawawi

    The Trouble with the Trouble: Irshad Manji and the Cost of Progressive Islam By Haroon MoghulIrshad Manji asserts that The Trouble with Islam, her controversial call for reform in Muslim culture and faith, intends to “rediscover Islam’s lost tradition of independent thinking.” By the book’s conclusion, this reader was only upset that the tradition had been so poorly hidden. THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAMManji’s regrettable lack of familiarity with scholastic and spiritual Islam does not suspend her self-propelling contradiction, her arguments that sustain the very illogic and extremism she claims to be in resistance to. The real trouble with the world of Islam is here, in the incoherent audacity of its self-appointed saviors.Manji represents the furthest extreme of the latest intellectual faddishness to strike at the Islamic project—–“progressivism.” It is as all fads an ultimately ephemeral inclination, born of intellectual tepidity, if not inferiority. Here’s why. Progressivism is rooted in the belief that humanity is steadily and irrevocably marching towards a perfect future, a belief that peaked in the late 19th century and then declined, undermined as it was by World Wars I and II and other such evidence that advances in science and technology do not correspond to growth in morality and decency. Progressivism has enjoyed a recent upsurge, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the likes of Francis Fukuyama, who confuse localized, shortterm trends with the overall direction of history. The attempt to fuse progressivism, a myopic materialist philosophy with roots in modern Europe (from Hegel to Marx to Comte and downwards), with the legacy and reality of Islam is both absurd and impossible.Islam proposes submission to the will of God, as this life is a trial, wherein humanity is promised no definite progress except the reward for good actions rooted in appropriate faith. Islam demands that the human being learn to discipline herself to humbly accept God’s will, with the cognizance that His decree cannot be entirely compassed by intellect. Given that Islam means submission, why tack an adjective onto that noun when the two cannot complement one another? Rather, the two worldviews are so fundamentally incompatible that their incongruity will lead either to an amicable divorce or an ideological cold war, one side trying to trump the other. In Irshad Manji’s case, the battle was long ago decided. Her project consists of the rediscovery of Islam with only those tools provided by progressivism; what progressivism does not allow us to find, such as transcendent spirituality, Manji will therefore not (be able to) discuss.Never mind that progressivism is a perspective on history, not a coherent model for finding belonging and establishing behavior. Manji initiates her ijtihad by reminding the reader that, according to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), religion is substantively—–and primarily—–how people deal with and treat one another. In the concluding chapter of the same book, Manji gleefully recounts her passion for upsetting and otherwise irking Imams, as if there is in this immaturity so much to be proud of. She counsels her mother—– upset by her daughter’s rebelliousness—– to tolerate such unripe enthusiasm; and reminds mom that angering Imams is not the same as angering God and is therefore excusable! Other than the amateur generalizations at work, we are forced to accept one of two conclusions: Either that Manji does believe that Imams are really people, and therefore exempt from her idiot’s guide to Islam, or that she has just concluded her entire book with a contradiction.As we Subcontinentalists are so fond of remarking, Masha’ Allah. Throughout The Trouble With Islam, Manji leaves the reader similarly exasperated. When it is so convenient, ayat and hadiths are decisive. When the ayat and hadiths are inconvenient, they are sidelined, ignored or ostensibly undermined. Manji is not alone in this attitude; many of our hottest heads and most frightening fanatics thrive off of the same obtuse illogic. How can we on the one hand argue against the immorality of extremism and fanaticism, and then uphold a system of thought that opens the door to such extremism and fanaticism? Manji, like many other progressives, burbles on and on about the need for rule of law, fairness and democracy, of the construction of an Islam supposedly conducive to these things, yet her own system lacks the rigor that would allow for the realization of a system so dependent on predictability and reason. This is symptomatic of the true nature of her project, which is not the reform of Muslim practices, but the metamorphosis of Islam itself, a hijacking of religion for other and nonsensical ends.While Manji derides the “spiritual infantilism” of the modern Muslim world, not once in her book did I come across any spiritually or scholastically formidable examinations of prayer, piety or purpose. The trouble with The Trouble is its focus on the temporal to the exclusion of the extra-temporal, such that any proposed reform of Islam demands the complete immanentization and secularization of “faith”. Considering as much, why doesn’t Manji simply come out and state what appears to be on her mind? Namely, “I think Islam is stupid, outdated, beastly and ghastly and frankly unnecessary. Let’s renounce our reliance on this hoary hogwash.” Assume one has gone so far from faith that one trembles at the thought of even turning around. Rather than begin the admittedly difficult project of repentance and renewal, why not legitimate one’s illegitimacy by reconstructing Islam? Manji has chosen Islam for her project for reasons pragmatic and personal. Pragmatic, because Muslim societies are defined by their Muslimness—–any appeal that fails to make obeisance to this reality is doomed to deserved failure. Personal, because Manji cannot, for whatever reason, let go of Islam. She is unable to irrevocably cut the cord. This is good; its realization is incorrect. Because Islam cannot or will not leave her be, Manji proposes a jihad to end all jihads, a way by which she can use Islam to end Islam, so that she can produce an Islam that no longer makes any uncomfortable demands, a happy, neutered, anesthetic Islam. As such, she will not have to feel guilty about her attack on Islam, because she will be using Islam to put Islam to sleep. The purpose is to attain her telos, and her telos is the establishment of a thoroughly and extremely liberal society, one that resembles her idealizations of the West in every way, shape and form, with Islam no more than the packaging the gift arrives in, outwardly important though soon discarded to reveal a bottomless hollowness that her progressivism cannot fill.For what meaning can the Muslim ultimately take from her reduction of Islam to childishness? Pleasing God is pleasing other people, but you can displease other people if they displease other people, and in that case, God will be pleased with you, because you are displeased with those who displease you, and of course God is pleased and displeased based on what makes you pleased and displeased, and so God has become the kind of fawning friend who tells you, unnecessarily and repeatedly, what a great job you’re doing. Thank me, because now you don’t have to buy the book. You can learn its lesson instead. God has not been sidelined by the individual. The individual is God. Such is the vacuous bravado that knocks at the walls of Islamic scholarship. Pardon me while I decline to reach for a rebutting reference. So infirm is the presentation that one might step back and let it collapse in on itself, as it is in the nature of paradox to perish. Nevertheless, there remains good cause for concern. Religion is the most potent and compelling aspect of human experience, inspiration and imagination. When one opens the doors of faith to absurd impulse and short-term caprice, without any overarching system that sustains and renders this religion realizable and comprehensible, then one perverts the most significant element of our humanity. Like Nietzsche’s last men, following on the age of those who put futile faith in progress, only to see themselves consumed in chaos and thereafter replaced by mediocrity. It is telling that Manji is so manifestly closed that she does not substantively fathom where her ijtihad, if widely realized, would take the Muslim world, and the wider world of which it is an integral part. But we know what those who do not discipline themselves but blindly pursue their ends are capable of. And as such we reject them, and all those whose efforts would only detain and diminish us at a similar impasse. Islam is the path for the human to rise towards God; if it is only the road backwards into our timid and baser selves, then it is not Islam. It is stagnation. Which is, of course, the opposite of progress.

  • Nawawi

    The Trouble with the Trouble: Irshad Manji and the Cost of Progressive Islam By Haroon MoghulIrshad Manji asserts that The Trouble with Islam, her controversial call for reform in Muslim culture and faith, intends to “rediscover Islam’s lost tradition of independent thinking.” By the book’s conclusion, this reader was only upset that the tradition had been so poorly hidden. THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAMManji’s regrettable lack of familiarity with scholastic and spiritual Islam does not suspend her self-propelling contradiction, her arguments that sustain the very illogic and extremism she claims to be in resistance to. The real trouble with the world of Islam is here, in the incoherent audacity of its self-appointed saviors.Manji represents the furthest extreme of the latest intellectual faddishness to strike at the Islamic project—–“progressivism.” It is as all fads an ultimately ephemeral inclination, born of intellectual tepidity, if not inferiority. Here’s why. Progressivism is rooted in the belief that humanity is steadily and irrevocably marching towards a perfect future, a belief that peaked in the late 19th century and then declined, undermined as it was by World Wars I and II and other such evidence that advances in science and technology do not correspond to growth in morality and decency. Progressivism has enjoyed a recent upsurge, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the likes of Francis Fukuyama, who confuse localized, shortterm trends with the overall direction of history. The attempt to fuse progressivism, a myopic materialist philosophy with roots in modern Europe (from Hegel to Marx to Comte and downwards), with the legacy and reality of Islam is both absurd and impossible.Islam proposes submission to the will of God, as this life is a trial, wherein humanity is promised no definite progress except the reward for good actions rooted in appropriate faith. Islam demands that the human being learn to discipline herself to humbly accept God’s will, with the cognizance that His decree cannot be entirely compassed by intellect. Given that Islam means submission, why tack an adjective onto that noun when the two cannot complement one another? Rather, the two worldviews are so fundamentally incompatible that their incongruity will lead either to an amicable divorce or an ideological cold war, one side trying to trump the other. In Irshad Manji’s case, the battle was long ago decided. Her project consists of the rediscovery of Islam with only those tools provided by progressivism; what progressivism does not allow us to find, such as transcendent spirituality, Manji will therefore not (be able to) discuss.Never mind that progressivism is a perspective on history, not a coherent model for finding belonging and establishing behavior. Manji initiates her ijtihad by reminding the reader that, according to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), religion is substantively—–and primarily—–how people deal with and treat one another. In the concluding chapter of the same book, Manji gleefully recounts her passion for upsetting and otherwise irking Imams, as if there is in this immaturity so much to be proud of. She counsels her mother—– upset by her daughter’s rebelliousness—– to tolerate such unripe enthusiasm; and reminds mom that angering Imams is not the same as angering God and is therefore excusable! Other than the amateur generalizations at work, we are forced to accept one of two conclusions: Either that Manji does believe that Imams are really people, and therefore exempt from her idiot’s guide to Islam, or that she has just concluded her entire book with a contradiction.As we Subcontinentalists are so fond of remarking, Masha’ Allah. Throughout The Trouble With Islam, Manji leaves the reader similarly exasperated. When it is so convenient, ayat and hadiths are decisive. When the ayat and hadiths are inconvenient, they are sidelined, ignored or ostensibly undermined. Manji is not alone in this attitude; many of our hottest heads and most frightening fanatics thrive off of the same obtuse illogic. How can we on the one hand argue against the immorality of extremism and fanaticism, and then uphold a system of thought that opens the door to such extremism and fanaticism? Manji, like many other progressives, burbles on and on about the need for rule of law, fairness and democracy, of the construction of an Islam supposedly conducive to these things, yet her own system lacks the rigor that would allow for the realization of a system so dependent on predictability and reason. This is symptomatic of the true nature of her project, which is not the reform of Muslim practices, but the metamorphosis of Islam itself, a hijacking of religion for other and nonsensical ends.While Manji derides the “spiritual infantilism” of the modern Muslim world, not once in her book did I come across any spiritually or scholastically formidable examinations of prayer, piety or purpose. The trouble with The Trouble is its focus on the temporal to the exclusion of the extra-temporal, such that any proposed reform of Islam demands the complete immanentization and secularization of “faith”. Considering as much, why doesn’t Manji simply come out and state what appears to be on her mind? Namely, “I think Islam is stupid, outdated, beastly and ghastly and frankly unnecessary. Let’s renounce our reliance on this hoary hogwash.” Assume one has gone so far from faith that one trembles at the thought of even turning around. Rather than begin the admittedly difficult project of repentance and renewal, why not legitimate one’s illegitimacy by reconstructing Islam? Manji has chosen Islam for her project for reasons pragmatic and personal. Pragmatic, because Muslim societies are defined by their Muslimness—–any appeal that fails to make obeisance to this reality is doomed to deserved failure. Personal, because Manji cannot, for whatever reason, let go of Islam. She is unable to irrevocably cut the cord. This is good; its realization is incorrect. Because Islam cannot or will not leave her be, Manji proposes a jihad to end all jihads, a way by which she can use Islam to end Islam, so that she can produce an Islam that no longer makes any uncomfortable demands, a happy, neutered, anesthetic Islam. As such, she will not have to feel guilty about her attack on Islam, because she will be using Islam to put Islam to sleep. The purpose is to attain her telos, and her telos is the establishment of a thoroughly and extremely liberal society, one that resembles her idealizations of the West in every way, shape and form, with Islam no more than the packaging the gift arrives in, outwardly important though soon discarded to reveal a bottomless hollowness that her progressivism cannot fill.For what meaning can the Muslim ultimately take from her reduction of Islam to childishness? Pleasing God is pleasing other people, but you can displease other people if they displease other people, and in that case, God will be pleased with you, because you are displeased with those who displease you, and of course God is pleased and displeased based on what makes you pleased and displeased, and so God has become the kind of fawning friend who tells you, unnecessarily and repeatedly, what a great job you’re doing. Thank me, because now you don’t have to buy the book. You can learn its lesson instead. God has not been sidelined by the individual. The individual is God. Such is the vacuous bravado that knocks at the walls of Islamic scholarship. Pardon me while I decline to reach for a rebutting reference. So infirm is the presentation that one might step back and let it collapse in on itself, as it is in the nature of paradox to perish. Nevertheless, there remains good cause for concern. Religion is the most potent and compelling aspect of human experience, inspiration and imagination. When one opens the doors of faith to absurd impulse and short-term caprice, without any overarching system that sustains and renders this religion realizable and comprehensible, then one perverts the most significant element of our humanity. Like Nietzsche’s last men, following on the age of those who put futile faith in progress, only to see themselves consumed in chaos and thereafter replaced by mediocrity. It is telling that Manji is so manifestly closed that she does not substantively fathom where her ijtihad, if widely realized, would take the Muslim world, and the wider world of which it is an integral part. But we know what those who do not discipline themselves but blindly pursue their ends are capable of. And as such we reject them, and all those whose efforts would only detain and diminish us at a similar impasse. Islam is the path for the human to rise towards God; if it is only the road backwards into our timid and baser selves, then it is not Islam. It is stagnation. Which is, of course, the opposite of progress.

  • Michael from Gaithersburg MD

    While I’m not a Muslim, it does give me a great deal of hope to hear that this concept has been given new life. As it had such an important role in the early years of the religion, it’s so unfortunate that it has been lost to the point it’s considered unacceptable for some to even read the Quran beyond what their Imam tells them, let alone to question what’s considered “unquestionable”. I do hope that this takes root and restores to all Muslims world-wide the ability to think for themselves and come to their faith on their own terms rather than on the terms of others…who after all, are merely educated human beings and nothing more.

  • Mr. S D Rodrian

    There is a MASSIVE propaganda effortWe will either let it throw humankind S D Rodrian

  • AduP

    I do not profess to be an expert on Islam but I do know that personal attacks or excessive verbosity almost always indicate lack of substantive counter arguments.I wish you all the success with your efforts

  • fedzeppelin

    I was so glad to see your article about this important matter. We certainly need the media to shed more light on understanding the problems that Muslims face in these troubled times. I agree with your observations. Being a psuedo-Catholic who has some understanding of Catholicism, a religion that has also been tribal in a way, very dogmatic, the problems that Catholics and Muslims face are similar. Scripture has always been open to interpretation, Catholic and Muslim alike. The purpose of religion is to create love, period. Without love there is no understanding or acceptance.

  • Godfrey

    Thank you, Ms. Manji, for trying to introduce critical thinking in… well, in anything. You’ll be surprised how little it takes to make a big difference.I’m not a believer, but I send this by way of good wishes: May your God keep you safe from the enforcers of fundamentalism.To OC:”Carpet munching lesbian?” Is that supposed to be an insult? I don’t know whether Ms. Manji is gay, and don’t care, but I want to tell you: Homosexuality is another verse in the song of love. What are you going to tell your god on judgement day when he asks you why you spoke against love?Incidentally, “carpet munching” is good. It’s a gift of love that gives in both directions. You should try it. “Playing the skin flute” is likewise. Try that, too.

  • fedzeppelin

    I was so glad to see your article about this important matter. We certainly need the media to shed more light on understanding the problems that Muslims face in these troubled times. I agree with your observations. Being a psuedo-Catholic who has some understanding of Catholicism, a religion that has also been tribal in a way, very dogmatic, the problems that Catholics and Muslims face are similar. Scripture has always been open to interpretation, Catholic and Muslim alike. The goal of religion is to create love, period. Without love there is no understanding or acceptance.

  • Daniel

    Despite the many negative comments against her, Irshad Manji makes some very constructive points. Islam is a mirror image of Christianity 700 years ago. But Christian Europe has evolved towards the emergence of a modern Western way of life, with a veneer that covers the entire world. Primitive, medieval ways of life which remain, will, and must, give way to it, inevitably. There is no power or force of man that can change this.I think that Irshad Manji is trying to offer a helping hand, so that the primitive may evolve towards the complex. Many people doing this in many ways in many places will cause the great and inevetiable change in Islam. None of the reactions and fears of Islam, no amount of hostility nor backwards looking, can alter the great change that is to come.

  • Anonymous

    NawawiIrshad makes more sense than Haroon Moghul does,and the anti-Marji attack is predictably irrational and nasty. Its also too long for many,and the double post doesn’t help.

  • Janet

    Hi Irshad,I have read your book and have seen you on You Tube and TV. You have a lot more than just chutzpah, you have balls. How else do you have the guts to say what you do in the face of so much narrowmindedness, cruelty and threats of violence? I, along with so many others, support the work you do.

  • Joey

    How do you reform something whose founder married 9 women including a 6 yr. old? Said women conquered during wars can be raped (marry them first), MO *PBUH* fought in 9 major battles to spread his new found faith…

  • Daniel

    How do you reform? Read books and learn. It will happen. Seven-hundred years ago, who could have ever formseen the clinched fists of Christian priests could be pried open to relinguish their abolute power over Europe?

  • Anonymous

    Islam could not survive an age of reason.

  • Anonymous

    What do you mean by a tribal mentality? You give it a negative connotation. There’s much that is positive about a tribal arrangement.

  • Neel

    I’m attempting to become an informed observer of Islam and Irshad’s article makes me wonder: for someone learning about the faith, how do you square ijtihad with the notion that Islam is about submission to God? How do you submit in a total way if you’re allowed to question and reinterpret? The two notions seem to run counter to each other.By the way, Dear Post: these forums might be valuable (and not simply ugly) if they had a moderator like at the Times.

  • Daniel

    Adrienne Najjar wants them all dead. That is surely a simple wish. They WILL all die. All of us will, eventually; and Adrienne Najjar will, too.

  • Steve Baran

    Reason? What’s reasonable about believing that the make-believe is real? Religion is a mental illness.

  • Al

    Dear Post,You definitely need a moderator for these forums, as done at other media outlets. Thanks.

  • Anthony

    Bismillah Hir Rehman Nir RahimAssalamu ‘Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Personally, I see the use of “submission” and “slave”, etc., to be metaphorical in nature. A means or attempt to show the difference between God and man in terms that Arabs would understand in their lifetime. The interpretation of “Islam” as “submission” is the view of the interpretor. If you pull out a thesaurus and review the other options available a different term can be applied that in context is more accurate: acceptance. Acceptance that God is the one and only.Wa’Alaikum AssalamAnthony

  • Bill

    How is your “new’ approach to interpreting the Qur’an going to interpret Surah II 191?

  • Steve Baran

    Adrienne – Rent the movie “Children of Heaven” then see if you still want to nuke Iran.

  • Shahanawaz

    Your West is allowing you to have “precious freedoms to think, express, challenge and be challenged on matters of interpretation” AND supplying $20 billion to tribal Saudi, $15b to tribal Egypt and another $20b to other tribal dictators to continue in power and suppress these same freedoms.

  • Syed K. Mirza

    Islam and Women

  • aaron

    heck yeah islam would be more fun if they would teach their women to read. for one thing, they wouldn’t have to be muslims anymore. they could read the story of jonestown, waco, navoo, or william farad and see that their used car salesman is just another in a long line of used car salesmen.

  • sursum

    I have looked on Islam as a young religion, similar the Christians in the 14-15th century, not yet having gone through the ages of reason and enlightment as did Western Europe in the 17-18th centuries. I suggest that perhaps Islam is still in the dogmatic stage and not yet contemplative. Christians sent their childeren on crusades where thousands were lost in that Vatican sponsored epic killing and slavery, etc.,etc. I’ve enjoyed and I hope learned from your comments on TVO and the CBC.

  • sursum

    I have looked on Islam as a young religion, similar the Christians in the 14-15th century, not yet having gone through the ages of reason and enlightment as did Western Europe in the 17-18th centuries. I suggest that perhaps Islam is still in the dogmatic stage and not yet contemplative. Christians sent their childeren on crusades where thousands were lost in that Vatican sponsored epic killing and slavery, etc.,etc. I’ve enjoyed and I hope learned from your comments on TVO and the CBC.

  • Paul Etner

    I’m encouraged when I read articles by muslims such as this one. The over whelming impression I have got about the muslim faith is one of unmerciful intolerance toward anyone not a muslim. My impression was/is that even well educated professionals from well to do families turn into terrorist monsters at the command of their Iman. Muslim first, citizens of a country second. I have heard you speak on Fox News and have been encouraged by your words and more so after reading this article. I applaud you and other muslims like you but alas there seems to be very few who think as you do. I hope thats just a media impression and not the truth. Keep up the good work, I look forward to hearing and reading your good words in the future.

  • Paul Etner

    I’m encouraged when I read articles by muslims such as this one. The over whelming impression I have got about the muslim faith is one of unmerciful intolerance toward anyone not a muslim. My impression was/is that even well educated professionals from well to do families turn into terrorist monsters at the command of their Iman. Muslim first, citizens of a country second. I have heard you speak on Fox News and have been encouraged by your words and more so after reading this article. I applaud you and other muslims like you but alas there seems to be very few who think as you do. I hope thats just a media impression and not the truth. Keep up the good work, I look forward to hearing and reading your good words in the future.

  • Adil

    This is indeed a popular topic these days and I think you’ve addressed it very positively. I think that your idea of getting this topic of ijtihad out in open where it can be discussed creatively and positively even further just might bring a new era of enlightment among young muslims as well as older ones who are somewhat stuck and fixated on their own ways of interpretation. Do be careful however on how you present evidence from the Qur’an. Make sure it’s exactly as it is in the book and site it. Thanks 🙂

  • Patrick

    Interesting how fundamentalism works accross many religions. The muslim author offers inter-faith and the American Christian posters indicate the impossibility of anything positive occuring.Perhaps American Christian posters should become better listeners and stop projecting outcomes based on their Christian beliefs.Anythoing is possible when people are determined to create a positive outcome.Muslims have just as much opportunity as other religious groups have in creating positive outcomes. The results are not exclusively Christian in nature.

  • xeon

    Irshad Manji is nothing but a sudo scholar in Islamic theology. Her ‘Lipstic Ijtehad’ do not bring any properity for the Muslims, except it appease her neo-con friends. The concept of ‘Ijtehad’ or Critical Thinking is far broader than just a gimmic. Personal struggle & thinking on any subject matter is not considered as ‘Ijtehad’, its more media-genic and hollow as Manji.Peace

  • Titus

    God is foul. He makes this beautiful world ugly. You know I’m right.

  • joescarbra

    If you listen her you will never understand Islam.I want to learn about Islam but not from her.Better read Wali Naser or others.

  • globo-mojo

    Yoyo writes:Short answer: you outnumber them. Most of the indoctrinated are merely conformists, and will follow the reasonable voices when those voices are strong and in greater numbers. The few “true believers” will run to their caves and sulk. The true believers won’t be entirely silenced, ever, of course, but they will lose their capacity to stir the masses to violence.This was a great article and outlines precisely what is needed in Christianity as well.

  • Arif

    A wise man once told me; “you cannot polish a turd.”; as crass as it may sound but that is what can be said about the Koran. Not much is in that book no matter how you look at it. Manji, I commend you for trying. Its a waste of time though, Islam cannot be reformed it was bad from get go. The Koran has terrible verses and perhaps some good ones, however the good ones are better said by other “prophets” or philosophers.

  • Stephen Main

    A lot of these comments seem to be written by people who have fallen in love with the sound of their own voice. The longer the posted comment, the more this seems to be the case.Sorta depressing.

  • commentator

    dear author

  • Anonymous

    Muslims are programed to believe nonsense about a paradise in the sky,run by a god named Allah,

  • mitch shrader

    jihad works both ways. islamic theocracy is a cancer and deserves a cancer’s cure.

  • Hans B

    Does religion matter? I don’t think so. Being “Christian” doesn’t prevent the US from promoting a culture of selfishness and calling that “good”. Being Buddhist doesn’t prevent Sri Lankan monks from preaching hatred against their Hindu countrymen and women. Being Muslim doesn’t prevent Saudi Arabia from practising racism. The list is endless. People go against their religion all the time. At other times they may use their religion as an excuse to do something, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have done it anyway.

  • Greensleeves

    Much as I find your optimism amusing and youthful … I am a realist and not at all youthful. It is apparent one or many cannot accomplish anything positive where fundamental, fully indoctrinated Muslims are concerned. I don’t care where they live on the planet nor do I remotely believe their assertions of peace and gentleness. There is no peace in Islam. The Medieval East is an ugly and dark place. As Muslims breed and sweep their way around the world they bring with them no light or peaceful resolution … only darkness and death. Small town North America is their new breeding ground. They build communities and compounds where infidels are not welcome … in the countries that welcomed them. That is the global reality.

  • Steve

    LOL. I don’t think I NEED to know anything about Islam, until Islam starts telling me what I NEED to do and think, then Islam will have some NEEDS of it’s own.I’d like to invite all Christian Fundies, Islamists and Jewish Zionists to a party on the moon. Don’t wait for me, I’ll meet you there.

  • Ailison Phillip Bayson

    We have read Ms. Manji’s rhetoric against all things Muslims and against Islam. Now we read this seemingly benign and carefully crafted article written to the Washington Post. Ms. Manji your 15 minutes of fame are over. In this open hunting season Did you run out of funds, or do you need material for anotWe have read Ms. Manji’s rhetoric against all things Muslims and against Islam. Now we read this seemingly benign and carefully crafted article written to the Washington Post. Ms. Manji your 15 minutes of fame are over. Did you run out of funds, or do you need material for another tirade (new book tour) against Islam? Will the real Ms. Manji stand up? In this open hunting season on Muslims, you made a fortune by contacting the profitable “Malign Islam” Industry. Your friends in Toronto have written reams about you. May God Bless you, and hopefully you will realize one day that hate mongering is profitable for a short period of time, but in the end building bridges is what counts. Your writings may have been responsible for more bigotry against the poor and the disenfranchised Muslims all over the world. Lives may have been lost. No amount of sweet talk can soft peddle Ms. Manji’s contempt for her own father, Islam, the prophet Mohammad and the Quran. All one has to do is to read her book. None of the three great Abrahamic religions or even Hinduism or Sikhism allows a free-for-all in the name of “reform.” Living in Canada does not qualify her to impose her version of anything-goes-hedonistic beliefs which will require a Muslim to revoke the Quran, rebel against the parent, renounce the Hadith (sayings of the prophet). What religious training or qualification does Ms. Manji have, except being sponsored by the Abrhamic cousins. Anecdotal evidence does not prove anything. No Muslim organization or mosque has embraced your “religion”. You have been shunned by 1.3 Billion Muslims. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You have heard the words, but unfortunately you have not read Islamic history or even the Quran. Ijtihad has been practiced throughout the centuries in Islam except for brief period of time when Mongol invasions totally destroyed Muslim culture and society. Shah Waliullah, Mujad e Sani, Moudoodi, and even the much maligned Abdul Wahab were essentially reformists. Even today turn on Geo Tv, Q-Tv, ARY TV, or peek in the doors of Al-Azhar or Islamic Universities in Pakistan, India and the Arab world, and one finds new policies and research being done. Some of this is not liked by Ms. Manji for the politics of the world has changed. Former friends (Taalibaan, OBL) have become American enemies and former enemies (USSR-Russia) have become friends. All this in Ms. Manji’s minds requires a re-evaluation of religions. The two people (you and your lesbian lover) in your Ijtihad project may find peace. The rest of the planet has rejected you and your lifestyle. As Sienfeld would say “Not that we have anything against being gay!”her tirade (new book tour) against Islam? Will the real Ms. Manji stand up? No amount of sweet talk can soft peddle Ms. Manji’s contempt for her own father, Islam, the prophet Mohammad and the Quran. All one has to do is to read her book. None of the three great Abrahamic religions or even Hinduism or Sikism allows a free-for-all in the name of “reform.” Living in Canada does not qualify her to impose her version of anything-goes-hedonistic beliefs which will require a Muslim to revoke the Quran, rebel against the parent, renounce the Hadith (sayings of the prophet). What religious training or qualification does Ms. Manji have, except being sponsored by the Abrhamic cousins. Shah Waliullah, Mujad e Sani, Moudoodi, and even the much maligned Abdul Wahab were essentially reformists. Ijtihad has been practiced throughout the centuries in Islam except for brief period of time when Mongol invasions totally destroyed Muslim culture and society. Even today turn on Geo Tv, Q-Tv, ARY TV, or peek in the doors of Al-Azhar or Islamic Universities in Pakistan, India and the Arab world, and one finds new policies and research being done. Some of this is not liked by Ms. Manji for the politics of the world has changed. Former friends (Taalibaan, OBL) have become American enemies and former enemies (USSR-Russia) have become friends. All this in Ms. Manji’s minds requires a re-evaluation of religions. The two people (you and your lesbian lover) in your Ijtihad project may find peace. The rest of the planet has rejected you and your lifestyle. As Sienfeld would say “Not that we have anything against being gay!”

  • Lamb Cannon

    People, regardless of religious stripe, who pretend to understand great cosmic things through superstitious tripe are evil, whether they intermarry and breed new generations of half-truths or not.I have ‘faith’ that none of this matters very much, although it would be helpful for every ‘religion’ on planet Earth to drop their pitiful righteousness and advise their ‘believers’ to stop killing each other.

  • Asim

    Irshad,It is extremely dangerous to let every Tom, Dick and Harry engages in Ijteehad: after all some of the radicalism and violence we see are the result of bending Ijteehad to suit certain agendas; similarly some despots and dictators in the Muslim world-plenty of them-have their own co-opted clerics to lend legitimacy to their totalitarianism. Ijteehad has its own methodology and tools, like any other discipline or specialty but is more critical because it touches all aspects of the life of Muslims and their relations with non-Muslims. All the great Mojtahids in Islam (those who engaged in Ijtihad) were scholars of Islam, with impeccable integrity, independence and piety among other traits. A Mojtahid should intimately know the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet preferably know Arabic to properly interpret the Quran, know Islamic history and just as importantly, know their times, circumstances and societies and the problems to be tackled.My question to you is: are you qualified to engage in Ijteehad? And do you meet the above criteria as prerequisites for engaging in Ijteehad?The Quran and the Sunnah have fewer “yes’s and no’s” but a large and wide gray area in the middle that is deliberately left out as room for Ijteehad because the Al Mighty knows of the ever changing times and circumstances. Methodology and tools are certain to provide coherence and solutions to new circumstances; as Muslims we want to move with the times but we also need to be true to Islam and to our selves. A lawyer can not practice law without being specialized, competent and pass his/her Bar Exam.It’s important to emphasize that the comparisons of the need to reform Islam as was the case with medieval Christianity-are misplaced because of the abuses of the Church: Islam has no religious hierarchy as the church does; rather it has Ulama-Doctors of the Law, Islamic jurisprudence, Shariah. Besides, Islam is a complete way of life and combines the two in one, the spiritual and the temporal where as Christianity goes by “Give to Cesar what is unto him and to God what is unto him.” Presently, there is a robust and dynamic trend in Ijteehad in the Muslim world-let us not under estimate it and think Irshad is the first to call for Ijteehad-in fact Ijteehad is a daily on going daily activity in the Muslim world; I agree thou and sad to say it that there is more freedom in the west for Ijteehad than in the Muslim world because ultimately Mojtahids will have to confront the despots and dictators in the Muslim world which is a red line-too many red lines. But Ijteehad by Muslim scholars in the west must remain true to Islam and produce westernized Islam that is not recognizable form Islam. Of course not even one single Muslim country lives by the true Islamic Shariah-certainly not the often mentioned Saudi Arabia, which is a feudal tribal corrupt oligarchy owned and operated by a tribe-Saudi-like a piece of real estate; and certainly not the primitive Taliban. Both the Saudis and the Talabans are light years away form the good example of the Prophet. However, the emerging liberal democracy in Turkey is the closest to Islam and its ideals and should be emulated by other Muslim states to replace their dictatorships-unfortunately supported and protected by the US and some other western nations. The above criterion is also designed to avoid ant future problems over the faith of the children: Just as importantly is the religion of the children resulting from an interfaith marriage which according to above Islamic marriage criterion, the issue is already solved from before day one and the children would be Muslim-and the above criterion avoids any future complexity of child custody in any case because a marriage is consummated naturally by mutual consensus?I refer you to Mohammad Asad’s book “The Road To Mecca,” who was a young journalist-an Austrian jew-travelling on a train in 1920,s from Egypt to Palestine, when he overheard a conversation between a Muslim cleric and a xtian Priest on the same topic-and where the Muslim cleric outlined the reasoning sanctioning the marriage of a Muslim male to a xtian/jew but not the other way around. This incident was the catalyst behind Mohammad Asad’s conversion to Islam, who became a diplomat-Pakistan’s UN ambassador-and a scholar of Islam with many publications.As to your book The Trouble with Islam, the title is sensational in the negative sense and is misplaced; a more appropriate title could have been The Trouble with Some Muslims. There trouble is not with Islam if Muslims fail to reinterpret it anew and remain true to it and in the words of the noted British historian A.R. Gibb, Muslims can modernize without throwing away the gold mine and rich legacy of the Islamic past including the rich legal experience in jurisprudence

  • Veritas vos Liberabit

    The Qur’an is the problem. When true believers follow it there are big problems because Muhammad commanded jihad on all infidels which includes all Christians, Jews, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. All moderate Muslims are infidels according to the Qur’an and to true Muslims. The Politically Correct anti-American zealots in the media cannot see this though because they are living in a fantasy world of their own making. They bow their knees to the alter of relativism and will not realize how wrong they have been and how they have aided the enemies of the USA until a nuclear bomb is set off in one our cities by authentic Muslims or they are living under Sharia law. True Muslims must embrace and Islamic state for the whole world therefore no age of reason will help. The Muslims could of joined the rest of the world for the first age of reason.

  • Anonymous

    Syed K. Mirza,

  • Ailison Phillip Bayson

    Why does your lipstic ijtihad has no takers? As evidenced by the comments on this page, you are supported by bigots and Islamphobes. Good Luck!

  • Allison Phillip Bayson

    Wow! What a revelation. You finally figured it out that Muslims can marry “people of the book”. Historically “People of the book” has been defined as Jews, Christians, and in many cases Zoratrians, Buddhists and Hindus. Read Karen Armstrong’s “History of God”. The Prophet himself was married to a Christian woman for 20 years.

  • Anonymous

    Ailison Phillip Bayson,How politically correct of you. A Pluralistic Pipe Dream

  • Marcie

    Very interesting posting. What happened after the 12th century that Islam lost its lead in science and independent thinking?

  • Ja Joz

    Like Chicken and Egg, “What Came First” the Word “GOD” or “ALLAH”???

  • Syed K. Mirza

    To: Anonymous,What difference it makes whether I am a Hindu or Muslim, I am at least a human by this name: S.K. Mirza. But unfortunately, you are “anonymous” means nothing or nobody, in true sense! We even don’t know if anonymous is a human or someting else? I am writing or posting from others all the anti-Islamic stuff. But you are roaming endlessly to all the authors and writing anti-islamic or pro-islamic stuff. We don’t know if you are islam lover or islam basher? You are a starnge commentator anonymous!SKM

  • C. Williams

    Christianity needs a IJTIHAD. Christians are

  • Olav Smith

    I want to thank Irshad for writing this, and for doing the work that she is doing. We only hear about the dark side of Islam so much of the time… an Islam driven by fearful and oppressed voices. This was so refreshing. We cannot stand still in our interpretation of texts. Jesus encouraged us to embrace the living law rather than a law written in stone, and this is what Irshad’s ijtihad is doing. Sacred texts speak to the time when they’re addressed most literally. But they speak to later generations through the spirit of the text. Anyway, I liked this post so much, I’ve shared it on my blog at

  • Mark Bernadiner

    From the past, Islam was a source of fascism, islamofascism, and offered Final Solution idea to Hitler. Islam took a significant part in implementation of this idea. Islam offered worldwide terrorism, murder, theft, ethnic cleansing, alteration of history and nothing else. I forgot, islam offered a world caliphate, which, eventually, nust include Europe and America.

  • RAT-The

    Ms. Manji-I only wish that your views were actually shared by the TOP Leaders in Mecca. Unfortunately, Wahabbi’s, Shi’ites, and others are too into Power! They view the Idea of your Western concepts of independant thopught as DANGEROUS to THEIR positions of authority and Control!Somewhat like the Apple from the tree of thought! Free thinking and creativity are viewed as things that threaten “Harmony”. Thinking, that’s their job! Peons and lessors of God’s Family need their divine authority telling them how they can best Shut Up and SERVE!Can you say “Heritic”? Al-Nasrallah, al-Sadr, Khomeinni, and Sistanni can sure say “Morality Police! HANG HER”! Which effectively wins them the aurgument!

  • Anonymous

    There is no god named Allah,and Mohammed was deluded.Sounds like the truth to me.

  • JonBoy

    What strikes me here,among these comments…

  • Janet

    Asim said: “Clearly this shows how tolerant and sensitive Islam is to the beliefs of non-Muslims.”You got to be kidding?

  • StillaScot

    A different thought…Our troubles with religion (and they are usually troubles with people who profess a different religion) arise when we see others deriving their whole moral system from that religion. Then they truly are different because they do not share our common non-religiously derived values. So Islam is like other religions in that it has its share of adherents who derive their morality wholly from their faith. Those Muslims who derive some of their morality from the world around them are with us and are like us and are unlike the absolutists who give any religion a bad name with the rest of us.

  • Raquel Evita Saraswati, Executive Director, Project Ijtihad

    Assalamu aleikum (peace be upon you) and hello to all contributors:First, I want to congratulate all participants on engaging in exactly what the spirit of ijtihad is all about: frank, real conversations about today’s most important issues. I would like to address a specific comment, made by Halozcel, regarding interfaith marriage. Halozcel, you say (among other things):The verse you raise for discussion, 2:221, in the Penguin Classics translation, states that believers should “not wed pagan women unless they embrace the Faith…” and “nor shall you marry idolaters unless they embrace the Faith”. The evolving and multifaceted definition of both groups, particularly today, means that this verse should, in my view, be open to interpretation. This seems particularly necessary considering the historical realities possibly shaping the revelation of these words. One can argue, as I do, that being of another faith is not indicative of idolatry. The Qur’an itself states that Christians who do good deeds have the right to enter heaven. Surely, then, Christians wouldn’t be considered idolaters- and thus would be permissible marriage partners. This isn’t so much interpretation as it is logic.If you direct yourself back to Irshad’s editorial, you will see that she answers your question directly by referencing and linking to a defense of interfaith marriage, written by Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, who is also an imam. Just in case you missed it, here is a link to the defense- in sixteen languages: I am genuinely asking you, Halozcel, to read Dr. Khaleel Mohammed’s defense- rather than simply throwing stones. If you disagree with the defense, tell us why.Dr. Mohammed, a respected Muslim scholar, leader, and a frequently published professor- has used ijtihad to interpret the Qur’an’s stance on interfaith marriage. He goes so far as to say:“In our day, since Qur’anic Islam (as opposed to the Islam of the male jurists) must acknowledge the radical notion that women are equals of men, that women have legal rights, and that those rights include placing conditions on the marriage (what you and I would term a ‘pre-nuptial agreement’), then an inter-faith marriage can take place on condition that neither spouse will be forcibly converted to the other’s religion. As long as that condition is respected, you and she have my blessing.”A question for Halozcel and other contributors, particularly those who doubt the egalitarian nature of Islam with regard to the sexes, and those who believe that even religion itself is a waste: Given the existence of Muslims like Imam Khaleel Mohammed, who embody deep faith and deep reverence- -without sacrificing original and free thought- how do you so easily reject faith, and Islam in particular, as a reasonable- and even positive- choice for many? I’d love to see your responses here- but also on Project Ijtihad’s spirited myspace page at: http://www.myspace.com/projectijtihad.Best to all,Raquel Evita Saraswati

  • Harveyh

    We don’t need the Koran, or any other ancient religious text for that matter, to answer the question if someone can marry outside their religion, faith, tribe or whatever. Common sense and decency tells us that any adult should be able marry any other adult and it’s only their business alone.

  • Mumtaz Khan

    The fact is that one of the tenets of Islam, the propagation of Islam, is valid and pertinent. It’s part of the religious practices. One might justifiably question the methods of the implementation of this practice, but an attempt to divorce it from Islamic practices would be an escape from reality. Once one embraces Islam; one ought to take the package as a whole, the pick and choose of its parts is not an option, else it would lead to confusion and defensiveness. No one is forced to adopt Islam. One must not accept Islam if it does not fully encompass intellectual capacity. However, it is not a liability on Muslims to tailor Islamic faith to meet every other person’s or a group’s or other religions’ objections. For non-Muslims, denial of Islam or God is their free will.All religions are based on some fundamental beliefs of their own. Minus those beliefs, religions become orphans. Of Islam, the first and foremost belief is the holiness of the book; Quran is the word of God. Without this belief, one may freely speak for hours or write volumes to question the existence of anything, including Islam and God, but in essence it would be anything but a debate on the faith of Islam. To debate on the faith of Islam, the concept of the holiness of Quran, the oneness of God and the prophet hood of Muhammad (PBUH) are essential. Under this premises, any debate on the religion of Islam, its deep understanding, its controversial issues, and on its functionalism as a governing guidance becomes valid, and acceptable. I greatly admire your efforts that offer an open forum to search answers to some very intriguing questions. Is Islam capable of governing big and complex communities, societies, and countries? How Islam would govern a society where 37 % of all children born are out of wedlock? Or same sex marriages are on high demand? Or where big business openly dictates terms to elected officials? Or how Islamic laws intend to feed millions of hungry and sick children in Sudan? Or how Islam allows Saudi monarchy to live lavishly and rule over needy and poor? But where is the trade off? In Saudi Arabia, a primitive monarchy, almost every week, some people are lashed to death in public for crimes punishable in the eyes of the government but not a single soul is lost due to AIDS epidemic? What should be the role of government? Should it distribute condoms at government’s expense to mitigate venereal diseases or enforce punishable laws against spread of venereal diseases? And so on and so forth!!!!

  • Mumtaz Khan

    The fact is that one of the tenets of Islam, the propagation of Islam, is valid and pertinent. It’s part of the religious practices. One might justifiably question the methods of the implementation of this practice, but an attempt to divorce it from Islamic practices would be an escape from reality. Once one embraces Islam; one ought to take the package as a whole, the pick and choose of its parts is not an option, else it would lead to confusion and defensiveness. No one is forced to adopt Islam. One must not accept Islam if it does not fully encompass intellectual capacity. However, it is not a liability on Muslims to tailor Islamic faith to meet every other person’s or a group’s or other religions’ objections. For non-Muslims, denial of Islam or God is their free will.All religions are based on some fundamental beliefs of their own. Minus those beliefs, religions become orphans. Of Islam, the first and foremost belief is the holiness of the book; Quran is the word of God. Without this belief, one may freely speak for hours or write volumes to question the existence of anything, including Islam and God, but in essence it would be anything but a debate on the faith of Islam. To debate on the faith of Islam, the concept of the holiness of Quran, the oneness of God and the prophet hood of Muhammad (PBUH) are essential. Under this premises, any debate on the religion of Islam, its deep understanding, its controversial issues, and on its functionalism as a governing guidance becomes valid, and acceptable. I greatly admire your efforts that offer an open forum to search answers to some very intriguing questions. Is Islam capable of governing big and complex communities, societies, and countries? How Islam would govern a society where 37 % of all children born are out of wedlock? Or same sex marriages are on high demand? Or where big business openly dictates terms to elected officials? Or how Islamic laws intend to feed millions of hungry and sick children in Sudan? Or how Islam allows Saudi monarchy to live lavishly and rule over needy and poor? But where is the trade off? In Saudi Arabia, a primitive monarchy, almost every week, some people are lashed to death in public for crimes punishable in the eyes of the government but not a single soul is lost due to AIDS epidemic? What should be the role of government? Should it distribute condoms at government’s expense to mitigate venereal diseases or enforce punishable laws against spread of venereal diseases? And so on and so forth!!!!

  • Pedro R. Silva

    I think itjihad is the key to putting an end to extremism. The Muslim moderate middle class majority has to step up and preach itjihad to its sons and daughters, and in a generation we will see an Islam where extremist minority can’t survive. Project Ijtihad is an excellent way to reach out and raise awareness about Islam’s tradition of self-thinking, and it has my full support!

  • Anonymous

    Fffloyd RongonskiWhen you have nothing to sayConfucious.

  • ham1let

    Great! Only housewives can be beaten and oppressed. Yet if you are not allowed to drive, as in Saudi Arabia, it might be tough to keep a job.Also only men get to have 4 wives. How about that Irshad. Your on a fool’s errand, trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  • ham1let

    Great! Only housewives can be beaten and oppressed. Yet if you are not allowed to drive, as in Saudi Arabia, it might be tough to keep a job.Also only men get to have 4 wives. How about that Irshad. Your on a fool’s errand, trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  • ham1let

    Great! Only housewives can be beaten and oppressed. Yet if you are not allowed to drive, as in Saudi Arabia, it might be tough to keep a job.Also only men get to have 4 wives. How about that Irshad. Your on a fool’s errand, trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  • Herb Stahlke

    I am very pleased to see this discussion of ijtihad on a public forum. The demand for the renewal of ijtihad is a more radical move than most non-Moslems might think. It is widely held that Islamic legal scholars “closed the gate on ijtihad” in the 10th c., requiring that from then on Moslem legal scholars could apply and interpret existing law but could not, in effect, create new law. It is this ban on ijtihad that has held Islamic society and scholarship back politically and intellectually for the past 500 years, and ijtihad must be renewed if Islam is to successfully confront the modern world.

  • Barbara

    I admire Irshad Manji immensely for her intellect and her courage as reflected in her writing and the founding of Project Ijtihad. I pray for her safety from those of blind obedience and blind intolerance. I am a Baha’i and independent “investigation of truth” is the cornerstone of our faith in which we see all humans as one people, all faiths as one faith that worship the same one God. Yet thousands of my fellow Baha’is in the Middle East, especially in Iran, are mercilessly persecuted by intolerant Muslims. Ijtihad is not just for Muslims. It is for people of all faiths who must see God and the blessed manifestation of his most divine qualities in themselves and all of their fellow human beings. We are ALL made in the image of God regardless of race, class, gender or creed.

  • ahmed from bahrain

    Thank you Irshad for your effort to make Muslims aware of their own religion. One must approach all subjects with an open heart otherwise one can easily be ruled by fear from loosing that which we all have been inculcated with since childhood. Any Muslim worth his prayers will never have fear of any other issue or thing except of Allah. Hence The Quran implores a Muslim to fear only God (The Creator)and no other thing (The Created). But then when we understand God, we realise that we need not have feared God either, for HE is The Purest form of LOVE, and that it was through letting go of the fear of this world that brought us to this conclusion.So, yes, it is the fear of the other that stops us from realising our true self.

  • Raquel Evita Saraswati, Executive Director, Project Ijtihad

    Mumtaz, you say:Really? Isn’t the first and foremost belief that there is but one God, and Muhammad the final of the messengers?Floyd: The scriptures don’t “sanction” internet usage. Are we then to assume it is forbidden?

  • Pablo

    C. Williams,On what basis are you “thinking?”

  • Stephen Howell

    I am sorry but we are tired of hearing this kind of thing about Islam. We really don’t care what someone believes or thinks about his religion, but we very much care about what someone does. Your behavior speaks clearly of your beliefs. We are not fooled by these protestations regarding the wonders of Islam. Your actions are so loud we cannot hear what you are saying!

  • Stephen Howell

    I am sorry but we are tired of hearing this kind of thing about Islam. We really don’t care what someone believes or thinks about his religion, but we very much care about what someone does. Your behavior speaks clearly of your beliefs. We are not fooled by these protestations regarding the wonders of Islam. Your actions are so loud we cannot hear what you are saying!

  • Stephen Howell

    I am sorry but we are tired of hearing this kind of thing about Islam. We really don’t care what someone believes or thinks about his religion, but we very much care about what someone does. Your behavior speaks clearly of your beliefs. We are not fooled by these protestations regarding the wonders of Islam. Your actions are so loud we cannot hear what you are saying!

  • Stephen Howell

    I am sorry but we are tired of hearing this kind of thing about Islam. We really don’t care what someone believes or thinks about his religion, but we very much care about what someone does. Your behavior speaks clearly of your beliefs. We are not fooled by these protestations regarding the wonders of Islam. Your actions are so loud we cannot hear what you are saying!

  • Naima Turner

    Peace be upon you,God tells us in the Quran in 2:62 Surely, those who believe, Those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who God forbids us to marry idolators in 2:221 Do not marry idolatresses unless they believe; a believing woman is better than an idolatress, even if you like her. Nor shall you give your daughters in marriage to idolatrous men, unless they believe. A believing man is better than an idolater, even if you like him. These invite to hell, while God invites to Paradise and forgiveness, as He wills. He clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may take heed.A muslim can be an idolator although he or she declares to be monotheist. So a believer can be from the different monotheisic religion. And while studing all the scripture a couple may find the complete submission to God Alone and find their peace.This is a major work done by the group who follow Quran Alone as a source of law. This is liberating and teaching tolerance. Absolute Freedom of ReligionPROCLAIM: “THIS IS THE TRUTH FROM YOUR LORD,” THEN WHOEVER WILLS LET HIM BELIEVE, AND WHOEVER WILLS LET HIM DISBELIEVE…18:29info@submission.org

  • Naima Turner

    Peace be upon you,God tells us in the Quran in 2:62 Surely, those who believe, Those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who God forbids us to marry idolators in 2:221 Do not marry idolatresses unless they believe; a believing woman is better than an idolatress, even if you like her. Nor shall you give your daughters in marriage to idolatrous men, unless they believe. A believing man is better than an idolater, even if you like him. These invite to hell, while God invites to Paradise and forgiveness, as He wills. He clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may take heed.A muslim can be an idolator although he or she declares to be monotheist. So a believer can be from the different monotheisic religion. And while studing all the scripture a couple may find the complete submission to God Alone and find their peace.This is a major work done by the group who follow Quran Alone as a source of law. This is liberating and teaching tolerance. Absolute Freedom of ReligionPROCLAIM: “THIS IS THE TRUTH FROM YOUR LORD,” THEN WHOEVER WILLS LET HIM BELIEVE, AND WHOEVER WILLS LET HIM DISBELIEVE…18:29info@submission.org

  • PeteZ

    Instead of lecturing us how great Islam as a religion is, the author and other Islamic intellectuals must be holding these conversation within Islam. Musilms should quit playing victims all the time.May I pose a question? Why haven’t I seen a single person of Islamic origin who can claim he or she is an atheist? I am not an atheist, but I think it is very unnatural for such a huge group of people not to have individuals who would dare to question the very basis of religion.

  • shadeofchinar

    if one is homosexual,how does one procreate.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Mumtaz et al,You say:Hmmm, not really!!!The book is significantly flawed as is the foundation of Islam. Please comment on the following:Mohammed was an illiterate, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added “angels” aka “pretty wingy flying talking fictional thingies” and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers. This agenda continues as shown by the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers , the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers , the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani koranics, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases and the Filipino koranics. And who funds these acts of terror? Islamic Iran, the Third Axis of Evil and also the “Wannabees” of Saudi Arabia.But then most if not all “Islamics” support the actions of Iran and the “Wannabees”. How sad and how significantly stupid and how supremely dangerous to the citizens of this small globe called Earth.

  • Naima Turner

    Peace be upon you,God tells us in the Quran in 2:62 Surely, those who believe, Those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who God forbids us to marry idolators in 2:221 Do not marry idolatresses unless they believe; a believing woman is better than an idolatress, even if you like her. Nor shall you give your daughters in marriage to idolatrous men, unless they believe. A believing man is better than an idolater, even if you like him. These invite to hell, while God invites to Paradise and forgiveness, as He wills. He clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may take heed.A muslim can be an idolator although he or she declares to be monotheist. So a believer can be from the different monotheisic religion. And while studing all the scripture a couple may find the complete submission to God Alone and find their peace.This is a major work done by the group who follow Quran Alone as a source of law. This is liberating and teaching tolerance. Absolute Freedom of ReligionPROCLAIM: “THIS IS THE TRUTH FROM YOUR LORD,” THEN WHOEVER WILLS LET HIM BELIEVE, AND WHOEVER WILLS LET HIM DISBELIEVE…18:29info@submission.org

  • Pigmerikan Mao

    Irshad is awesome for finally bringing this to light. I hope she continues to actually think for herself. YOU RULE! =]

  • Summer

    Irshad,

  • Raquel Evita Saraswati, Executive Director, Project Ijtihad

    Dear Petez:What you seem to have missed is that what we at Project Ijtihad are doing is EXACTLY what you say we must do. Allow me to share with the community Project Ijtihad’s mission and vision:Project Ijtihad is a charitable initiative to promote the spirit of Ijtihad, Islam’s own tradition of critical thinking, debate and dissent. We support a positive vision of Islam that embraces diversity of choices, expression and spirituality. To achieve this, Project Ijtihad will build the world’s most inclusive network of reform-minded Muslims and Non-Muslim allies.**To address your statement-I’m not clear where you’re getting evidence of victimhood in Irshad’s article. Perhaps you can clarify? Irshad has always called for Muslim accountability- yes, even amongst the nonviolent majority. We especially have a stake in repairing what ails Islam today. At the same time, while we take stock of the problems within Islam- we must also recognize the brilliant history that lends us a promising future. It is that history that has led us to ijtihad—the key to reconciling faith with freedom.Of course you may ask questions, Petez. A small amount of research will answer your question- for those who have left the faith have made major international news in not-so-recent and recent years. Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are particularly prominent examples. If anything, there are far fewer voices from within the faith speaking out against injustice. We exist to bring them out of the shadows. It is possible to dissent and remain faithful- in fact, it is our duty.On a final note, I highly recommend checking out Irshad’s new documentary, “Faith Without Fear”. There are many clips on youtube; and the film is also available at http://www.shoppbs.org – Irshad travels throughout the Arabian peninsula having the very conversations Petez calls for.Peace,Raquel Evita Saraswati

  • Steve Glass

    Bravo!

  • Gwen

    Dear IrshadMy aunt has been married for 16 years to my muslim uncle. I believe that if they can do this and be accepted by both their families it can happen. Many men frm that family have said that they would like to marry women from another religion. My cousins that are muslim have said that they would choose who they want to marry. i believe that inter-religion marriage can be possible. Irshad I admire how you are trying to change peoples points of view. Keep Strong!

  • J.Cormier

    I am so glad to see someone show the enlightenment of such a profound and thought provoking religion. I tire of hearing of how Muslims are not freethinkers. All religions have those whom assume they have all the answers and dread those who question them and their teachings. Muslims are no different then any other religion as far as it goes to Question the so called experts. It is up to those who are practitioners of any religion to always question teachings. Without questioning we place the teachings at the hands of a few rather that of the many. I admire your efforts.

  • Judith Medina

    I am according with: Judith a member of Project Ijtihad

  • tom

    I will always support the person who asks people to question the norms and to think for themselves. There is never anything wrong with defending thinking, and questioning the past and religion can only be a good thing.

  • Matthew Atom

    Excellent.Christianity also needs an age of reason.I’ve read both The Holy Qur’an and The Holy Bible, which are…well..identical(The Qur’an is much more Beautiful and much more believable).I admire your work.Maybe after you get Muslims and Christians to live side by side, we can get democrats and republicans to live side by side.Which in turn will help Muslims and Christians to live side by side.

  • Matthew Atom

    Excellent.Christianity also needs an age of reason.I’ve read both The Holy Qur’an and The Holy Bible, which are…well..identical(The Qur’an is much more Beautiful and much more believable).I admire your work.Maybe after you get Muslims and Christians to live side by side, we can get democrats and republicans to live side by side.Which in turn will help Muslims and Christians to live side by side.

  • Asim

    Irshad,The intersts of the Muslim Ummah has always been the prime catylst of Ijteehad,Nawawi the renouned islamic scholar said :” The intersts of the Muslim community is where you will always find Shariah.”

  • Deb Chatterjee

    Matthew Atom:Christianity had its Age of Reason: Voltaire. But, Age of Reason found itself compatible with the “orthodox” teachings of Jesus Christ. Islam and Age of Reason are incompatible. Those who had dissenting voices, in the past were declared heretics/apostates and killed in Islam. For example, Prophet Muhammad has clearly been quoted in a hadith by Bukhari as stating that whosoever changes his religion, must be killed.That’s the main point.

  • John de Jong

    I am so happy that Irshad is revealing this line of thought to Muslims all over the world. I am a religious reformist myself from Australia, and I think that it is imperative that each and every one of us study our religious text and let the KORAN tell us the answers, rather than those who claim superiority in interpreting the scriptures. As the Koran itself indicates numerous times throughout, no man is able to definitively interpret God’s word. This says to me that every person should strive to interpret it to the best of their ability, every day of their life.John,

  • halozcel

    Dear Raquel Evita Saraswati,According to islam,there are *two* kind of men(women).Dear Raquel,Dear Naima Turner,You couldnt understand what you read.And 18.29.Proclaim,whoever will,let him disbelieve.Lo,*We have prepared for DISBLIEVERS Fire*.Is this *Freedom of Religion* ?

  • Asim

    David Etebari:

  • Asim

    Irshad,Raquel/Project Ijtihad,A Word of Caution. We need to hear the opinion of credible Islamic scholars and institutions in the Muslim wrold: including Al Azahar University, Damascus University, other centers of Islamic learning and main stream Islam scholars such as Dr.Yousef Qaradawi and see what they think of this unknown Khalil Mohammed.I would seriously caution any Muslim to follow Irshad and Dr. Mohammed, without first verifying his opinion with Muslim organizations in North America, the European council on Ifta etc.We are all for Ijteehad which has throughout history been a vital Islamic institution-thou at times slowed down. I personally support the reactivation of Ijteehad wholeheartedly. Again we all need to know what qualifications, credentials and training do Irshad and Raquel, have to qualify them to work on Ijteehad;it is not Publicity and Sensationalism, that Muslims are after, they are after sound authentic solutions and answers to the questions and problems of the times.

  • T Crowe Semler

    Masha’Allah…Irshad Manji and Project Ijtihad have given a clear voice to “Creative Reasoning”… Ijtihad.

  • T Crowe Semler

    Masha’Allah…Irshad Manji and Project Ijtihad have given a clear voice to “Creative Reasoning”… Ijtihad.

  • Erik De Koster

    I shake my head in disbelief when I read this page. I wonder why on earth young people have to ask whether they can marry loved ones who do not share their faith. I have to interpret this as their faith being more important than their love, for if the answer to their question would be ‘no’, they must be willing to give up either their faith or their love (otherwise there is no sense in asking the question). I presume not only the islam suffers from this problem, I guess some fundamentalist jews, christians, and members of other religions face the same problem. I believe not only islam, but the world in general desparately needs some age of reason.

  • Nader F Abdelmaseih

    Hi Sir or Ma’am

  • HoHo

    9:32 “Fain would they extinguish Allah’s light with their mouths, but Allah will not allow but that His light should be perfected, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it). “

  • Nader F Abdelmaseih

    Hi Sir or Ma’am

  • cathie appelman

    I just don’t understand why some people feel that God loves and supports the radical zealot more than quiet, kind believers. As a Christian i get it all the time too. This is a sin, stay away from non-believers, only marry within your own belief etc. I mean as a Baptist marrying a Catholic i got a lot of grief, and those are both Christian religions!! I feel ALL religions should be terribly ashamed of imposing their status quo with iron wills. For myself, i go directly to the source….and God hears my prayers and answers them. I see the hand of God in everything, HE rules my life, not man. I love you Irshad! I know you will continue to effect change for the positive as you have been chosen to do this good work. As you said “Is there a way to reconcile our faith with freedom of thought?” mmmmmm with you on the job….maybe! cathie appel, Toronto, Canada

  • Even Olstad

    Once again, Manji shows us another way. There can be another world, where faith and sensibility go hand in hand. Many thanks to Manji for her efforts to bridge the gap between the west and east, not by empty words, but by well thought-out religious-based reasoning. All the best to her and her continued work on this matter.

  • J. Worthington Edwards, III

    Excellent article

  • ahmed from bahrain

    HalozcelYou seem so adamant to prove your point. Allah is the Arabic word for God as it is referred to in both Torah and NT in their Arabic versions. It comes from the word Ilah which means diety. To an Arab speaking person it is the most beautiful name. To you it probably means a terrorist!So, you can have your belief and others can have theirs and they have every right to interpret their own scripture according to their own intelligence. The times that people had to stick to the so-called experts in their fields have gone. It is the time for people in all walks of life to take on their own interpretations of any sphere of their lives. We all seek other opinions from other doctors relating to physical illnesses. Spirituality is no different except the seed of it is in every heart. Muslims are no different. You do not have to shoot any Muslim who speaks with reason. Belief is a personal thing and if it make a person happy and gives them peace at times of hardship, what is wrong with that? The very beginning of the Quran it states that ‘this is a guide for those who believe’. End of the story. You don’t believe. Kudos to you. No more argument.

  • Sally

    If you can reform this cult, not only should you be called the savior/messiah/prophet of Islam but also for the rest of humanity.I also agree with another poster: Why do educated young people have to ask whether it is ok to marry outside their faith. If you can’t make that decision, perhaps you belong in the stone ages, i.e. 55 Islamic nations on this earth.

  • Anonymous

    VOTE: (((( Peace-love-Rock-n-Roll-n-Rap, Mitt-ROMNEY, For Prez, 2008 YA! ))))))))

  • Veritos

    Naima Turner,Please do not tell us about the wonders of Islam when the words and actions of the so-called prophet contradict what you are saying. The Qur’an contradicts what you are saying. The actions of Muslims around the world contradict what you are saying. Yes there are “peaceful Muslims” but they are not obeying their Qur’an or following the example of the prophet of conquest. I know that no matter what Muslims do the politically correct media and our ignorant politicians will keep reporting that Islam is a religion of peace. On top of that our ridiculous educational institutions continue to teach revisionist history on the glories and the beauty of Islam while at the same time attacking Christianity as the source of all the evils in the world. They are certainly doing a good job of indoctrinating the masses as evidenced by the ignorant dribble on this thread. It is amazing that a religious people is attacking the entire West and that people all over America and the West would call that same religion a religion of peace. Wake up and smell the coffee before it is too late.

  • Pablo

    This is very dangerous article as it is very deceptive. Think about it the author is telling us to reinterpret the Qur’an this idea ignores the murderous history of the prophet, the murderous history of Islam, and the actions of Muslims today. The actions of Muslims from the inception of the Qur’an is a commentary on the true meaning of Islam. Manji’s decontructionism plays to the prevailing trend of Western relativism and so the masses with accept it without thinking. The truth is that Manji’s attempt and others like her to make the Qur’an mean something other than what it really means is deception in the highest degree. It is what it is no matter how much one tries to reinterpret it the meaning is still the same.

  • Pablo

    ahmed from bahrain,You are incorrect the word Allah is not found in the Torah or the New Testament. That is Muhammad’s concoction who took the chief god Allah from pre-Islamic Arab polytheism and made Allah the one god of the Qur’an. The word for God in the Old Testament has no vowels and is YHWH. This is because Jewish scholars reverenced God with such a high respect that they were afraid say or write God’s name.

  • Kelly

    Marriage between muslims and non-muslims might be permissible, but it doesn’t work in reality. Trust me, I know because I have been married to a muslim man for 6 years. I respect Irshad because she is bringing to light inherent rights being denied muslim women throughout the world. There is much work to be done in this area, so why waste time and energy advocating for interfaith marriage? Women are denied the basic right to move about freely (without permission from a male relative, even a male child) in many muslim countries, which is a right inherent to all humans under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Obviously there are many other issues that need to be addressed as well. Marriage between a muslim and non-muslim is a nightmare-I can attest to that, so why advocate for it? Not a good place to dedicate one’s energy.

  • Daniel

    Because Manji is a “free-thinker” who is intelligent and creative, there is a certain element in all religions who would find her to be very threatening. That is to be expected. Based on the many negative comments here towards her and towards the one billion Muslims, I infer that there are basically two kinds of people: those who like people, and those who don’t like people. The people who comment here with a very mean spirit, I might also assume, and infer with a high degree of certainty, that they don’t get along very well with their in-laws, their neighbors, their co-workers, and strangers sitting next to them at the movies.Islam is in a terrible state now. But it is not especially evil or unique in that respect. It is just one more aspect of human culture, which more or less repeats over and over throughout history.

  • Anonymous

    There are two kinds of people in this world.(1) The kind of people who believe there are two kinds of people in this world.

  • Anonymous

    Holozcel & Jozevz et al: u really are boring and empty…u repeat the same B..which no reads..Pablo/Daniel:does name calling and empty polimics make u feel better? it just shows u are mnetally bankrupt…The discussion is really above your heads and u know nothing about Islam except what u get from AIPAC and the Immoral majority…hope u guys catch up with Ariel Sharon the cabbage and Jerry Falwell…

  • Fred Mecklenburg

    I admire Irshad Manji for standing up for reasonable discussion, respect and human dignity. It must be hard to do sometimes, considering the tone this debate can take.There is great precedent for what she is writing about here. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, interfaith marriage was not uncommon. The culture allowed for a co-existence of faiths–you can read about it for instance in Dzevad Karahasan’s “Sarajevo: Exodus of A City.”That’s why the so-called ethnic cleansing there in the 1990s was so ferocious. It was an effort to destroy those civilized human relations, and to render them unthinkable in the future. (Milosevic and Karadjic taught their disciples well, al Qaeda first among them–as seen in the mass murder of Yezidi and Shia in Iraq. The project is pretty much the same.)The Muslim and other defenders of multi-cultural Bosnia were heroes of civilization. They were supported by Muslims, Jews, Christians and non-believers alike, but too many people didn’t grasp the importance of what was happening there. Perhaps if more had realized this at the time we’d be living in a very different world today. Because the implications of that struggle have become the fabric of our daily lives. In this regard, Project Ijtihad seems a great idea. I wish for many more like it. I don’t know what other people think about when they hear the slogan, “A different world is possible.” But this is the first thing that comes to my mind.

  • morryb

    Islam and Reason??? what an oxymoron!!!Religion and Reason…same thing.Religion and Irrationality would be a better title.

  • Pablo

    Anonymous,What part of what I have said is untrue? Your popular tactic ignores the issue at hand.

  • M. A. George

    “Creative reasoning. . . ” Why does this expression give me the wiggins? Reasoning is never ‘creative’.

  • Tom

    I will always support the person who asks one to think. To question religious interpretation does not interfere with one’s faith.

  • Anonymous

    A man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War Two “Very few people were true Nazis “he said,” but many enjoyed the So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we We are told again and again by “experts” and “talking heads” that Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of The average Japanese individual prior to World War 2 was not a And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, Peace-loving Germans, Jews, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until As for us who watch it all unfold; we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life

  • Raquel Evita Saraswati, Executive Director, Project Ijtihad

    Dear spirited debaters-I will address a few of the points raised as succinctly as possible.Halozcel: I can answer your question. There at present is no country in the world- no matter the degree of secularism or religiosity- where there is full equality for men and women. Period. To think (as many do) that the absence of religion will bring gender equity is naïve at best.Asim: Regarding your concerns about Dr. (and imam) Khalil Mohammed- perhaps he is a new name to you, but he is actually quite known, and has studied at institutions in the Muslim world. This is information readily available, but I’ll save you time:“Mohammed completed high school at 15, and has studied in Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Syria, and Yemen, at both traditional Islamic institutions and Western universities. After a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Psychology (Mexico), and a brief stint in the Canadian Army, he received a Saudi government scholarship and studied at the Kulliyat al-Shariah, Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University, in Riyadh. Upon his return to Canada, he received numerous fellowships and awards, completing an M.A. in religion (majoring in Judaism and Islam, Concordia University), and then his Ph.D. (Islamic law) at McGill University, with an FCAR (Fonds pour les chercheurs et aide a la recherché) fellowship from the Government of Quebec.”Now, given that he has been granted a scholarship by the Saudi government AND been a voice of reason on matters like interfaith marriage- it seems there really is something to being a world-educated global citizen. You recommend consultation with the mainstream- yet in mainstream Islam, imams are given an awful lot of leeway- often stepping far beyond what Dr. Mohammed has in his defense of interfaith marriage. I’d even venture to say that many mainstream Muslims would regard a scholarship from the Saudi government as a stamp of Muslim approval. To address your concerns about Irshad and I as qualified practitioners of ijtihad, it is important that I make a distinction for you. We are not calling for the implementation of ijtihad in the legalistic sense. The spirit of ijtihad- critical thinking, debate, dissent- is what led the scholars of Islam’s golden age to encourage students to interpret the Qur’an’s passages for themselves. They recognized that faith is a living, breathing thing- and that there is no value in functioning on dogmatic autopilot. It is this spirit of ijtihad- asking questions, sparking conversations- that we must revive. And as people who have the capacity to think, reason and dialogue- we are certainly qualified. So are you. Moreover, as individuals living in places where we are blessed with the freedom to do these things freely- it would be irresponsible and unethical not to. The good news is that while standing against an ominous majority is certainly not easy, neither God nor conscience require the approval of the ‘mainstream’ to validate ethical choices. In fact, remaining steadfast in the face of mainstream opposition is what has led to some of the world’s greatest social- and religious- change. Peace,Raquel Evita Saraswati

  • Espi

    How right! Unfortunately Muslims, even educated ones are coerced by the Mullahs into conformity with the threat of social boycott if not physical violence. Retrograde peer pressure which one associates in other societies with school going kids taking to drugs or engaging in premarital sex, prevails on Muslims of all ages in all countries. This is what keeps Muslims backward. Critical thinking invariably raises questions about prevailing norms of behaviour and conduct. If some illiterate Mullah decrees such questions as anti Koran, Muslims as a community tend not to support the non conformist. This leads to Mullahs usurping authority to dictate and pronounce on all matters faced by Muslims. The egregious habit of ordinary Muslims asking Mullahs questions about the “Koranic” way of life and Mullahs issuing edicts (fatwas or their interpretation of what the Koran says about the subject matter) show the unprecedented authority ceded to these obscurantists. Many of the fatwas are terribly retrograde – particularly those concerning rights of women.Irshad Manji deserves support from all right thinking people, particularly in the developed world so that Muslims understand the true import of the Koran and lead lives of fulfillment and peaceful coexistence with followers of other faiths or even agnostics. Manji’s message has the possibility of integrating Muslims in developed countries into their societies and hence less likely to be enticed by the propaganda of Al Qaeda.

  • Marci

    Irshad Manji is a voice in the wilderness. Would that such views represented the average Muslim. But they do not.

  • yoyo

    Globo-MojoJust caught your response to my earlier comment,You say “outnumber them”.Out number them,Globo,are you kidding?Stats in Europe show that at some future date,

  • Jeff

    In my view, as a Muslim and with past, very thoughtful experience with Christianity, Ijtihad is a concept and process that those of ALL faiths should value. To submit, without question, to any human interpretation of the Greater Reality is to become passive, mindless sheep. The more open-minded study of the factual histories of even just the Abrahamic religions and their associated dynamics, the more personal responsibility for ones own views becomes important. Tribalistic thinking and practices, current and historical, modifying the core of the relationship with our Creator, are not just Muslim failings; they can also be seen in Christianity and Judaism. Just think about it. Religious ideas have been powerful influences in history. Where there is a power dynamic in life, aren’t there people around (especially men!) who would be delighted to co-opt such power and modify it for their own benefit. It is just too tempting. As was clearly stated after the Nixon presidency, “Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I applaud the initiative of Irshad. It should only be a beginning, however. We must first consider our own personal responsibility for our own soul rather than primarily to others, who cannot be relied upon to reflect consistently our own self-interest.By reading some of the comments in response to Irshad’s article, it strikes me that a feeling of humility is commonly absent. How can any serious exponent of Judaism, Christianity or Islam be taken seriously if humility is missing?

  • yoyo

    To AnonymousThsnks for an excellent and thought provoking post.

  • commentator

    TO KELLY

  • gregor

    This is quite charming and hilarious, as all talk of reason in the context of religion is.Religion is not about reason, which is good only for making inferences on the basis of certain fundamental principles, but about the fundamental principles themselves.So anyone who brings in reason and science in discussion of any religion is at best naive.Just like the believers in astrology who invariable claim that astrological readings are worth trusting because they require so many mathematical calculations for determining the precise locations of stars.

  • Ameena

    I am a young MODERN Muslim woman. I am also in an interfaith marriage. My brother also married a woman outside of our religion. My husband and I were fortunate enough to have an educated and understanding Imam that not only showed us his blessing, but sat and talked with my husband’s parents to show them that our religion is not what the American Media/Government has portrayed it. Islam encourages us to think, to tolerate, and to love. I am sad that many don’t see that and even sadder that other Muslims have forgotten that. I’m glad there is a group that stands for reformation and support in the modern world. Irshad Manji should be applauded for her courage and her intellect; and thanked for opening doors that so many of us knew were there, but were unsure or how to unlock!

  • Hoho

    If your lifestyle doesn’t fit into a religion, change the religion to fit your lifestyle!

  • JP

    I hope Irshad that you are right, and that your side is great enough in number that you will prevail in the Muslim world. But I fear that the tribalists are the ones with the guns and the IEDs, and that all this will be too little, too late.

  • halozcel

    Dear Ameena,You say *Islam encourages us to think,to tolerate and to love*

  • Robert Landry

    I am a 56 Y.O. physician in Tennessee who started adult life as an enlisted sailor in the Viet Nam conflict. I’ve seen and read alot since then and I am quite aware of the violence and hate that has come out of the three monotheistic religions. I am also aware of the commonality of the concept of love for one another as the basic mandate of God in all three of these religions. Ms Manji is risking her life to try to bring her religious tradition closer to this basic concept, and distance it from the dictates of men who have lost contact with God who so loves the world. I’ve read her book, her articles and I’ve listened to her speak. She is a young ball of fire who I admire to the depth of my being! I encourage people of all religions to listen to what she has to say. The omnipotent, omniscient God of this miraculous creation does not want people killing, beating, rapeing, stoneing, or enslaving each other in God’s name. Those who do are missing the mark and are separating them from God; the definition of sin. I would like to nominate Ms Manji to be an advisor to the president for Middle East policies. She is surely that good.

  • sursum

    alison philp bayson: What in sam hill has living in Toronto and being allowed to exist in Canada to do with her writings? Are Canadians in line for some punishment/bombing/stabbing/killings, as other have been for assocation with those who speak their minds? What does sexual orientation have to do with it either? Did she make a pass at your wife or something? I have watched her with other religious folks and found her to be about the only non-dogatic player in the conversation. One of the other Islamic participants even told her to shut up while she was making a point! The local Faith Network broadcasts a show called “Dil Dil Pakistan” that had to apologize for the filth/vile coming from a revered, respected Islamic speaker for denegrating Jews. The network apologized, the programme didn’t. Think of it, an Intra-Faith Network set up as a showcase for religious messaging, and that’s what a learned Islamic “scholar” had to say? Wow! Quoting from a preconceived notion only goes to my point about dogma rather than contemplation being the strong (weak) point of Islam.

  • sursum

    alison philp bayson: What in sam hill has living in Toronto and being allowed to exist in Canada to do with her writings? Are Canadians in line for some punishment/bombing/stabbing/killings, as other have been for assocation with those who speak their minds? What does sexual orientation have to do with it either? Did she make a pass at your wife or something? I have watched her with other religious folks and found her to be about the only non-dogatic player in the conversation. One of the other Islamic participants even told her to shut up while she was making a point! The local Faith Network broadcasts a show called “Dil Dil Pakistan” that had to apologize for the filth/vile coming from a revered, respected Islamic speaker for denegrating Jews. The network apologized, the programme didn’t. Think of it, an Intra-Faith Network set up as a showcase for religious messaging, and that’s what a learned Islamic “scholar” had to say? Wow! Quoting from a preconceived notion only goes to my point about dogma rather than contemplation being the strong (weak) point of Islam.

  • Arif

    Why Allah needed a messenger? Why did he send a dishonest “last messenger”? Why do you believe in a last day? I’m not sure if the dinosaurs died off in one single day or was it over a period of years? Did they have a last day?…the dinos that is. Why is it that so many people find the Koran a very bad book poorly written and confusing the same one Muslims call holy and perfect? Please note, If you (Muslim) quote out of that book (Koran) then it means nothing to us(non-Muslims) so please use other texts scriptures etc. to make a point; for example …this one “…God forbids us to marry idolators in 2:221 Do not marry idolatresses unless they believe; a believing woman is better than an idolatress, even if you like her. Nor shall you give your daughters in marriage to idolatrous men, unless they believe….”Halozcel: To answer your question, I don’t think you will find the word Love in the Koran. If you do please do tell.

  • Pascal Levensohn

    Embracing Ijtihad is, in my view, the only way that Islam will be able to reconcile the conflict between faith and reason that prevents many Muslims from embracing modernity and globalization. As Irshad points out very effectively, this conflict is at the root of what consumes Islam today. I learned about Ijtihad five years ago– first from Professor Akbar Ahmed, then from Hussain Haqqani. I’ve written about Ijtihad as a concept on my blog at http://www.pascalsview.com and about Irshad’s initiative. Philosophers have wrestled with faith and rationality since the dawn of critical thinking and human self-awareness. Maimonides , who lived during the 12th century and is the greatest Jewish philosopher, was a man of both faith and reason, a scientist and a rabbi.As Irshad points out, Ijtihad thrived within Islam during this time– isn’t it time to go reclaim the Golden Age of Islam through critical thinking?

  • Anonymous

    she’s so ignorant she doesn’t even know the requirements of mujtahid* a competence in the Arabic language which allows him to have a correct understanding of the Koran . That is, he must appreciate the subtleties of the language so as to be able to draw accurate deductions from the “clear and un-crooked Arabic” of this infallible source, and that of the sunnah.

  • Raquel Evita Saraswati, Executive Director, Project Ijtihad

    Anonymous at 11:09 pm:Please see my above post, where I addressed the issue of legalistic ijtihad vs. the implementation of the SPIRIT of ijtihad. Thank you,Raquel Evita Saraswati

  • Anonymous

    Thinking is a precious gift, a cause like this is blessed by me!

  • california condor

    Since the problem of overcoming “tribal identity” has come up, would it be impolitic to suggest that Israel’s metamorphosis from a bunch of communitarian-minded Zionists, people of the left, into a crabbed little kettle of right-wing zealots determined to settle more land they think God has ordained for them no matter who the current inhabitants are, may have a “tribal identity” issue –in fact may be just another tribe, whose identity may be incompatible with the more numerous tribes who surround them? Like the Boers before them apartheid may not be enough to save this tribe in the longer term.

  • Stefan

    Dear Mr. Manji,reading your text one comes across the comparison of Cordoba’s libraries centuries ago with todays cosmopolitan cities and their libraries. Why to compare? Isn’t that the whole problem with culture or religion? Compare, compare, compare, who is better?best regards,Stefan

  • Maria C Machado

    Stefan,

  • Ted Baines

    Why Did Mohammed Get So Many Wives?IntroductionMuslims will tell you a Muslim man can have up to four wives at a time, based on Sura 4:3. Strictly speaking that is not the complete truth, as a Muslim can also have unlimited concubines and can have sex with “women their right hands possess”. (Sura 23:5-6; 33:50,52; 4:24; Sura 70:29-30). Regardless, though, Mohammed recited a verse in the Qur’an (Sura 33:50) that made an exception for one individual: himself. Why is that?‘Aisha remarked, “It seems to me that your Lord hastens to satisfy your desire.” Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 8 no.3453-3454 p.748-749.On the other hand, a Muslim told me that every marriage was for humanitarian or alliance purposes. ‘Aisha and some wives were daughters of powerful chiefs Mohammed need the support of. Others such widows, “taken care of” by Mohammed after their previous husband died. I asked, incredulously, was the Muslim really taught that every marriage was for those reasons? When he said “yes”, then I said, “what about Safiyah and Zainab bint Jahsh? Since he was not aware of those, other Muslims (as well as non-Muslims) might not be either. As to the accuracy of the sources of my information, it all comes from either the Qur’an itself or authoritative hadiths of Sunni Islam.Mohammed’s WivesHere is a list of wives of Mohammed by the Muslim scholar Ali Dashti. He probably based much of this on an earlier list in the History of al-Tabari vol.9 p.126-241. It should be mentioned that scholars and Hadiths are not entirely agreed on the wives of Mohammed. For example some hadiths (not Bukhari or Sahih Muslim) mention a couple of wives of Mohammed that he divorced, and these are not shown here. Nonetheless, Ali Dashti’s list, while perhaps not entirely agreed upon as being comprehensive, shows many of the wives. Following this is the evidence from the hadiths, independent of Ali Dashti, for these relationships.9. Safiya/Safiyya bint Huyai/Huyayy bint Akhtab¾ Ali Dashti missed at least nine possible other wives.Mohammed married 15 women and consummated his marriages with 13. (al-Tabari vol.9 p.126-127)Bukhari vol.1 Book 5 ch.25 no.282 p.172-173 said that [at one time] Mohammed had nine wives.Following is a short description of the hadiths and early Muslim historians say about the wives of Mohammed.1. Khadija/Khadijah(pronounced ka-DI-ja) bint Khuwailid/Khuwaylid Sahih Muslim vol.4 book 29 no.5971-5972 p.1297 died three years before ‘A’isha married Mohammed. She is mentioned in Bukhari vol.5 book 58 no.164,165 p.103.The full name of Mohammed’s first wife was Khadijah, daughter of Khuwaylid bin Asad bin. ‘Abd al-‘Uzza bin Qusayy. al-Tabari vol.39 p.3Mohammed was 20-some years old when he married Khadijah, a widow. al-Tabari vol.9 p.127.‘Aisha says that Khadija took Mohammed to a Christian convert who used to read the Gospels in Arabic. Bukhari vol.4 book 55 ch.17 no.605 p.395A’isha was jealous of Khadija. “On that, the Prophet remembered the way Khadija used to ask permission, and that upset him. He said, ‘O Allah! Hala!’ So I [A’isha] became jealous and said, ‘What makes you remember an old woman amongst the old women of Quraish an old woman (with a teethless mouth) of red gums who died long ago, and in whose place Allah has given you somebody better than her?’” Bukhari vol.5 book 58 no.168 p.1052. Sauda/Sawda bint Zam’a/Zam’ahSahih Muslim vol.2 book 8 no.3451 p.747; Bukhari vol.3 book 34 ch.4 no.269 p.154; vol.3 no.853 p.29; Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 7 no.2958 p.651; Sahih Muslim vol.2 footnote 1918 p.748 says that probably ‘Aisha was married to Mohammed before Sauda, but ‘Aisha did not enter Mohammed’s house until after Sauda was married to Mohammed.There is disagreement about whether Mohammed consummated the marriage with Sauda or A’isha next, but al-Tabari vol.9 p.128-129 says it was Sauda.Sauda’s ex-husband, al-Sakran b. ‘Amr b. ‘Abd Shams became a Christian in Abyssinia and died there. al-Tabari vol.9 p.128Physically, ‘Aisha called Sauda “a fat huge lady”. Bukhari vol.6 book 60 ch.241 no.318 p.300When Sauda was old she was afraid Mohammed would divorce her, so she gave her turn to ‘A’isha. Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2130 p.572Sauda is also mentioned in al-Tabari vol.39 p.169.3. ‘A’ishaA’isha was Abu Bakr’s daughter. Her moth was named Umm Ruman according to al-Tabari vol.9 p.129. She married Mohammed when she was (six) 6 years old, went to his house when (nine) 9. Bukhari vol.7 book 62 ch.60 no.88 p.65; Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 8 no.3309,3310,3311 p.715,716Contrary to this marriage being important for political reasons, Abu Bakr was the first convert to Islam.This wife of Mohammed is mentioned in many places, including Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 4 no.1694 p.372; Abu Dawud vol.1 no.1176 p.305; vol.1 no.1268 p.335; vol.1 no.1330 p.350; Abu Dawud vol.1 no.1336 p.351; vol.1 no.1419 p.373; vol.2 no.2382 p.654.‘Aisha played with dolls while Mohammed was present. Sahih Muslim vol.4 book 29 no.5981 p.1299‘Aisha was 6 (or 7) years old when she was married, and the marriage was consummated when she was nine years old. al-Tabari vol.9 p.130,131A’isha was married when she was six years old, and nine when she went to Mohammed’s house. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.1876 p.133A’isha was seven years old when she married, nine years old when she lived with Mohammed, and 18 years old when he died. (not Sahih) Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.1877 p.134A rationale trying to explain why Mohammed married such a young girl is given in Sahih Muslim vol.2 footnote 1859 p.715. It says that “it was some exceptional circumstances that Hadrat ‘A’isha was married to the Prophet… The second point to be noted is that Islam has laid down no age limit for puberty for it varies with countries and races due to the climate, hereditary, physical and social conditions.” They also mention support from the disreputable Kinsey report on Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female.Mohammed himself once deliberately struck ‘Aisha “on the chest which caused me pain”, according to Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 4 ch.352 no.2127 p.462.There was other discord too. One incident, started by A’isha was so bad, Mohammed kept away from his wives for a month 29 days) Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2060 p.241. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2063 p.243. This is the context of Sura 50:1.A’isha’s Slaves‘A’isha had at least one servant who cooked for her during the time of the delegation from Banu’l Muntafiq. Abu Dawud vol.1 no.142 p.34A’isha had a male Muslim slave she later freed named Abu Yunus. Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 no.475 p.340A’isha had a slave girl. Abu Dawud vol.1 no.371 p.96Barirah was a female slave of A’isha’s, whom she later freed. Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2223 and footnote 1548 p.601A’isha was quick-tempered too, striking the hand of a servant and breaking a bowl of food from another wife for Mohammed. Abu Dawud vol.2 no.3560-3561 p.1011‘A’isha had a strong, loud voice. al-Tabari vol.17 p.65‘Aisha reluctantly freed many slaves due to a broken vow. “He [Ibn Az-Subair] sent her [‘Aisha] ten slaves whom she manumitted [freed] as an expiation for (not keeping) her vow. ‘Aisha manumitted more slaves for the same purpose till she manumitted forty slaves. She said, ‘I wish I had specified what I would have done in case of not fulfilling my vow when I made the vow, so that I might have done it easily.’”(1) Footnote (1) says, “‘Aisha did not specify what she would do if she did not keep her promise, this is why she manumitted so many slaves so that she might feel at ease as to the adequacy of her expiation.” Bukhari vol.4 book 56 ch.2 no.708 p.465.Just how many slaves did ‘Aisha have? Or how much money did she have to buy forty slaves? The hadiths do not say. The only two clue I have found are1) Mohammed’s wives could command for tents to be set up. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.1771 p.67.2) One-fifth of the war booty went to the Muslim treasury, and Mohammed could take of that for he and his wives. Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.2347,2348; vol.2 footnote 1463 p.519; Bukhari vol.4 book 51 ch.80 no.153 p.99; vol.6 book 60 ch.297 no.407 p.379A’isha and the Battle of the Camel‘Aisha originally supported those who wanted to kill ‘Uthman. She claimed ‘Uthman became a disbeliever. However, after ‘Uthman’s murder she changed her mind and wanted to avenge ‘Uthman’s killers. Another Muslim called her to task for that. al-Tabari vol.17 p.52-53After this, Mu’awiyah had Mohammed bin Abu Bakr executed for murdering ‘Uthman, then put his body in the carcass of a donkey, and then burned the donkey in 38 A.H.. A’isha mourned her half-brother greatly and made extra prayers for him. al-Tabari vol.17 p.1584. ‘Umm Salama‘Umm Salama bint Abi Umayyah (discussing intimate things with the apostle) Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.2455 p.540Umm Salamah’s real name was Hind bint Abi Umayyah bin al-Mughirah bin ‘Abdallah bin ‘Umar bin Makhzum. al-Tabari vol.9; p.133; vol.39 p.175.Um/Umm Salaim/Salama (not said to be a wife) Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.2992 p.656; vol.2 no.3445 p.746; wife Bukhari vol.4 book 53 ch.4 no.333 p.216; Bukhari vol.7 book 62 ch.34 no.56 p.40. Ibn-i-Majah vol.2 no.1634 p.473; Abu Dawud vol.1 no.383 p.99. Mohammed was married to Umm Salama, widow of Abu Salama (died 4 A.H. in Abyssinia). Al-Tabari vol.39 p.175. Umm Salama died when in 59 H. when she was 84 years old. Sahih Muslim vol.2 footnote 1218 p.435. Umm Salama was pregnant when Mohammed married her, and her daughter was Zainab bint Abu Salama (Sahih Muslim vol.2 no. 3539-3544 p.776-777. (This is the same girl as Zainab bint Umm Salama)This wife of Mohammed is mentioned in Abu Dawud vol.1 no.274 p.68; vol.3 no.4742 p.1332; vol.2 no.2382 p.654; Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 no.240 p.228; Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.1779 p.72; al-Tabari vol.17 p.207; al-Tabari vol.39 p.80‘Umm Salamah had a son before she married Mohammed. Her son went with A’isha, al-Zubayr, and Talhah. al-Tabari vol.17 p.42Clients of Umm Salamah were Nabhan (=Abu Yahya) and Ma’in bin Ujayl(=Abu Qudamah) al-Tabari vol.39 p.3205. Hafsa/HafsahThe daughter of ‘Umar bin Khattab is mentioned in Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.2642 p.576; vol.2 no.2833 p.625; vol.2 no.3497 p.761; Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2448 p.675; vol.3 no.5027 p.1402. She was the daughter of ‘Umar bin al-Khattab. She was the 18-year old widow of Khunais when she married Mohamed in 625 A.D. She was born in 607 A.D., and died either 647/648, 661/662, or 665 A.D. She is also mentioned as a wife in Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2086 p.258After Hafsa’s husband died of wounds received at Uhud, Hafsa’s father thought of her marrying ‘Uthman, but ‘Uthman declined because he knew Mohammed wanted to marry her. They married in 3 A.H. She was four years older than ‘A’isha. Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 #32 p.117. Thus Mohammed did not marry her just to provide for her. Rather he married someone who otherwise would have been married to someone else.‘Umar told his daughter Hafsa not to be misled by ‘Aisha who is proud of her beauty and Mohammed’s love for her. Bukhari vol.7 book 62 ch.106 no.145 p.108. Hafsa said to ‘Aisha “I have never received any good from you!” Bukhari vol.9 book 92 ch.5 no.406 p.299-300‘Umar said Mohammed divorced Hafsah (revocable divorce) and then took her back. Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2276 p.619. According to Ibn Ishaq, Mohammed divorced Hafsa but then took her back. al-Tabari vol.9 footnote 884 p.131.”Yahya … from Malik from Muhammad ibn Abd ar-Rahman …that he heard that Hafsa … killed one of her slave-girls who had used sorcery against her. She was a mudabbara. Hafsa gave the order, and she was killed.” Muwatta Malik 42.19.14Hafsa ordered killed on of her slave girls that had used sorcery against her. Muwatta Malik 43.19.4Hafsa, wife of Mohammed, died when she was 60 years old. al-Tabari vol.39 p.1746. Zainab/Zaynab bint JahshSahih Muslim vol.2 no.2347 p.519; vol.2 no.3330 p.723,724; vol.2 no.3332 p.725; vol.2 no.3494 p.760. Bukhari vol.3 book 33 ch.6 no.249 p.138; vol.3 no.829 p.512; vol.4 no.6883 p.1493; Zainab’s original name was “Barrah”, but Mohammed changed it to Zainab Bukhari vol.8 book 72 ch.108 no.212 p.137; Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4935 p.1377-1378. Abu Dawud vol.1 no.1498 says Juwairyiha’s name used to be Barrah.Sura 33:36-38 in the Qur’an says, “It is not for any believer, man or woman, when God and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have the choice in the affair. Whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has gone astray into manifest error. When you said to him whom Allah had blessed and you had favoured, ‘Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah,’ and you were concealing within yourself what Allah should reveal, fearing other men; and Allah has better right for you to fear him. So when Zaid had accomplished what he would of her, then We gave her in marriage to you, so that there should not be any fault in the believers, touching the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished what they would of them; and Allah’s commandment must be performed. There is no fault in the prophet, touching what Allah had ordained for him.”Zainab bint Jahsh was married to Mohammed’s adopted son, until Mohammed spoke the Sura that she was to divorce his son and marry Mohammed. Zainab “used to boast before the other wives of the Prophet and used to say, ‘Allah married me (to the Prophet) in the Heavens.’” Bukhari vol.9 book 93 ch.22 no.517 p.382. Also vol.9 book 92 ch.22 no.516,518 p.381-383; al-Tabari vol.9 p.133. In other words, in the eternally existing uncreated Qur’an in heaven, Zainab’s marriage was mentioned.Zainab of Jahsh had a brother who died before her. Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2292 p.624Alleged statement that Zaid first divorced his wife Zainab just so that Mohammed might marry her. al-Tabari vol.39 p.180-182Zainab bint Jahsh died when she was 53 years old. al-Tabari vol.39 p.182Zainab (unspecified) Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.2641,2642 p.575,576.Zainab bint Jahsh should not be confused with Zainab who was Abu Sa’id al-Khudri’s wife. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2031 p.223Zainab [verbally] abused A’ishah, so Mohammed told A’ishah to abuse her. “…The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) came upon me [A’ishah] while Zainab daughter of Jahsh was with us. He began to do something with his hand. I signaled to him until I made him understand about her. So he stopped. Zainab came on and began to abuse ‘A’ishah. She prevented her, but she did not stop. So he (the Prophet) said to ‘A’ishah : Abuse her. Then she abused her and dominated her. Zainab then went to ‘Ali and said : ‘A’ishah abused you and did (such and such). Then Fatimah came (to the Prophet) and he said to her : She is favourite of your father, by the Lord of the Ka’bah! She then returned and said to them : I said to him such and such, and he said to me such and such. Then ‘Ali came to the Prophet (may peace be upon him) and spoke to him about that.” Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4880 p.1364-1365In the Bible Malachi vol.2 no.16 says that God hates divorce.7. Juwairiya/yya/yah bint HarethJuwairiya bint Harith/al-Harith was a captive. Bukhari vol.3 book 46 ch.13 no.717 p.431-432. Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.2349 p.520 says that Mohammed attacked the Bani Mustaliq tribe without any warning while they were heedlessly grazing their cattle. Juwairiya was a daughter of the chief. Sahih Muslim vol.3 no.4292 p.942 and Abu Dawud vol.2 no.227 p.728 and al-Tabari vol.39 p.182-183 also say Juwairiya/Juwairiyyah was captured in a raid on the Banu Mustaliq tribe. She had been married to Musafi’ bin Safwan, who was killed in battle.Mohammed’s wife Jawairyiyah used to be named Barrah. Abu Dawud vol.1 no.1498 p.392. However, Bukhari vol.8 book 72 ch.107 no.212 p.137; Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4935 p.1377-1378 say Zainab’s name used to be Barrah.Juwayriyyah bint al-Harith bin Abi Birar bin Habib, great grandson of Jadhimah al-Mustaliq of the Khuza’ah group, was taken as booty when Muslims raided the al-Mustaliq tribe. Her husband, Musafi’ bin Safwan Dhu al-Shuir bin Abi Asrb bin Malik bin Jadhimah was killed in the battle. She was a prisoner of war who agreed to marry Mohammed. al-Tabari vol.39 p.182-183; al-Tabari vol.9 p.133.Juwayriyyah was captured at the Battle of al-Muraysi [against the Banu Mustaliq]. al-Tabari vol.39 p.183Juwayriyya married Mohammed when she was 20 years old. al-Tabari vol.39 p.1848. Omm/Umm HabibaUmm Habiba was the daughter of Abu Sufyan al-Tabari vol.9 p.133; Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.3413 p.739; vol.2 no.2963 p.652; Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.1581 p.352; vol.2 no.3539 p.776 Ibn-i-Majah vol.5 no.3974 p.302; al-Tabari vol.17 p.88Umm Habiba was 23 years younger than Mohammed. Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 #60 p.127Umm Habiba and her first husband ‘Ubaydallah were Muslims who went to Abyssinia. ’Ubaydallah converted to Christianity. al-Tabari vol.39 p.177Mention of Zainab bint Jahsh. al-Tabari vol.39 p.180-182Umm Habiba, wife of Mohammed should not be confused with another woman was also named Umm Habiba. She was the daughter of Jahsh, wife of ‘Abd al-Rahman and sister-in-law of Mohammed, since Zainab of Jahsh was his wife. Abu Dawud vol.1 no.288 p.739. Safiya/Safiyya/SaffiyaSafiya bint Huyai/Huyayy was a captive Mohammed married after slaughtering her father, brother, husband and the men at Khaibar, according to Bukhari vol.2 book 14 ch.5 no.68 p.35; vol.4 book 52 ch.74 no.143 p.92; vol.4 book 52 ch.168 no.280 p.175 and al-Tabari vol.39 p.185.Safiyah’s husband was named Sallam bin Mishkam bin al-Hakam bin Harithah bin al-Khazraj bin Ka’b bin Khazraj. al-Tabari vol.9 p.134-135.Safiyyah was called Safi, for the first share of the booty, which went to Mohammed. Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2988 p.848; Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2985-2989 and footnote 2406 p.846-849Safiyya was purchased by Mohammed for seven slaves. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2272 p.357. She was 17 when Mohammed married her. al-Tabari vol.39 p.184Mohammed felt kindness toward Safiyya. “If Safiyyah were not grieved, I would have left him [her husband whom Mohammed executed] until the birds and beasts of prey would have eaten him, and he would have been resurrected from their bellies.” Abu Dawud vol.2 no.3130-3131 p.893Physically, Safiyyah was short. Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4857 p.1359There was discord between wives. Zainab did not want to loan a camel to Safiyya when Mohammed asked her to. Zainab called Safiyya a “Jewess” Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4588 p.1293Mohammed had nine wives at one time, including Safiyya bint Huyayy, and later he did not give her a “turn”. Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.3455-3456 p.749This wife of Mohammed is also mentioned in Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.3325; vol.2 no.2783 p.605; vol.2 no.3118 p.678; vol.2 no.3497 p.761; Bukhari vol.3 book 33 ch.8-13 no.251-255 p.139-143; vol.2 book 21 ch.22 no.255 p.143; Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.1779 p.72; Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2464 p.681; al-Tabari vol.39 p.169Safiya bint Abi ‘Ubaid Mohammed’s wife in Bukhari vol.4 book 52 ch.136 no.244 p.151 is probably the same person.10. Maimuna/Maymuna bint Harith/HarethSahih Muslim vol.1 no.1671,1674,1675 p.368-369; vol.2 no.1672 p.369.Mohammed married Maymunah bt. Al-Harith in 7 A.H. while Mohammed was in a state of ritual purity on the journey to Mecca. al-Tabari vol.8 p.136; al-Tabari vol.9 p.135Maymuna had been divorced once, and widowed before marrying Mohammed. al-Tabari vol.39 p.185. Maymuna was 80/81 when she died. al-Tabari vol.39 p.186Maimuna was 30 years old when the 53-year old Mohammed married her. Mohammed died four years later. Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 #43 p.120Mainuma bint al-Harith had a slave girl. She asked Mohammed if she could free her, and Mohammed said instead to give her to Maimuna’s sister to take care of her. Muwatta’ Malik 54.4.9Maimuna, Mohammed’s wife, screened Mohammed Bukhari vol.1 book 5 ch.22 no.279 p.170-171. People were screened when they bathed or went to the bathroom. Nothing was wrong with that though, for she was his wife.‘Ata bin Yasar was a man who was a client of Maymunah. al-Tabari vol.39 p.317Slaves: Maimuna’s freed slave girl was given a sheep, which later died. Ibn-i-Majah vol.5 no.3610 p.93This wife of Mohammed is also mentioned in: Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2408 p.435; Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 no.809 p.492; vol.2 no.1124 p.108; Abu Dawud vol.1 no.1351 p.356; vol.1 no.1359,1360,1362 p.357; Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 no.243 p.229.11. Fatima/Fatema/FatimahFatima was mentioned by ‘Ali Dashti. al-Tabari vol.9 p.39 states that Mohammed briefly married Fatimah bint al-Dahhak bin Sufyan (also called al-Kilabiyyah).Mohammed married Fatimah bint Shurayh/Sara’. al-Tabari vol.9 p.139. It is unclear if Shuray and al-Dahhak were two different people, making this two Fatimas, or they were alternate names for the same father.Mention of Fatimah bin al-Dahhabi, Aliya bint Zahyah, Sana bint Sufyan al-Tabari vol.39 p.186Mohammed consummated his marriage with “the Kilabiyyah” (i.e. from the Kilabi tribe). This would be Fatimah bint al-Dahhak bin Sufyan or ‘Aliyah bint Zabyan bin ‘Amr bin ‘Awf or Sana bint Sufyan bin ‘Awf. al-Tabari vol.39 p.187Fatima, Mohammed’s daughter is differentThe following could be Mohammed’s wife, but was probably his daughter. In the year of the conquest of Mecca, Fatima screened Mohammed. Ibn-i-Majah vol.1 no.465 p.255 and Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 no.228 p.224; vol.1 no.417 p.307A Fatima screened Mohammed while he was bathing in Bukhari vol.1 book 5 ch.22 no.278 p.170-171. However, Mohammed was taking a bath and was screened by his daughter Fatima in Bukhari vol.4 book 53 ch.29 no.396 p.263. Fatima was Mohammed’s daughter and the wife of ‘Ali in Bukhari vol.3 book 34 chg.29 no.302 p.171; Bukhari vol.4 book 53 ch.1 no.325 p.208.Mohammed did not want ‘Ali to marry anyone else besides his daughter Fatima. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.1998-1999 p.202-204. However, ‘Ali later had a captive slave girl, the daughter of Rab’iah, who bore him a daughter name Umm Ruqayyah. al-Tabari vol.11 p.66.Wanted a slave: While Mohammed gave many slaves to A’isha, Fatima thought she got a bad deal. Mohammed’s daughter Fatima complained to Mohammed about her using the grinding stone and asked for a slave (prisoner of war). Mohammed did not give her one, but he said he gave her something better. He told her to say glory be to Allah 33 times, Praise be to Allah 34 times, and Allah is most great 34 times. Abu Dawud vol.3 no.5044-5045 p.140512. Hend/HindHend/Hind was formerly married to Abu Sufyan, who was a very stingy man, according to Sahih Muslim vol.3 no.4251-4254 p.928-929.13. Sana bint Asma’ / al-NashatMohammed married al-Nashat bint Rifa’ah of the Banu Kilab bin Rabi’ah, allies of the Qurayzah. Some called her Sana bint Asma’ bin al-Salt al-Sulamiyyah; while others say Sana bint Asma’ bin al-Salt of the Banu Harm. However, she died before the Prophet consummated his marriage with her. She was also called Sana. al-Tabari vol.9 p.135-136. al-Tabari vol.39 p.166 says the same thing about Sana bint al-Salt.14. Zainab/Zaynab bint Khozayma/KhuzaimaThis Zainab belonged to the tribe of Banu Hilal. She was divorced from a Muslim named Tufayl, then married his brother ‘Ubaydah, who was killed at Badr. Then she married Mohammed. She was born 595 A.D. and died in 626 A.D. at 31. See al-Tabari vol.7 p.150 footnotes 215,216 and al-Tabari vol.39 p.163-164 for more info.al-Tabari vol.9 p.138 also says she died while Mohammed was alive.Mohammed married Zainab bint Khuzaima, but she died before he did. Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 #64 p.12915. Habla?Habla is on Ali Dashti’s list, but I have not been able to independently verify this.16. Divorced Asma’ bint NomanAsma bint Noman, or Asma bint al-Nu’man bin Abi Al-Jawn, of the Kindah tribe, was married to Mohammed, but the marriage was never consummated. al-Tabari vol.10 p.185 and footnote 1131 p.185.Daughter of Al-Jaun / Jahal was married very briefly to Mohammed. Bukhari vol.7 book 63 no.181 p.131,132On the other hand, al-Tabari vol.10 p.190 says that Al-Nu’man al-Jawn offered his daughter to Mohammed, but Mohammed declined. Perhaps “declined” means Mohammed divorced her before ever sleeping with her.Mohammed married Asma bint al-Nu’man bin al-Aswad bin Sharahil. However, she had leprosy, so Mohammed gave her money and divorced her. al-Tabari vol.9 p.137. Why would he do that to a woman he loved?‘Asma bint al-Nu’man was a widow Mohammed married Either Hafsa or A’isha tricked ‘Asma by telling her Mohammed would be pleased if she said she took refuge in Allah from Mohammed. al-Tabari vol.39 p.188-190Brief mention of ‘Asma bint Nu’man in al-Tabari vol.39 p.190.Mohammed divorced one woman Mohammed because she took refuge in Allah from Mohammed. He divorced another because she had leprosy. There is some mixup of which name is with which case in al-Tabari vol.39 p.187.17. Mary/Mariya the Copt/ChristianMary was a wife [concubine] of Mohammed’s according to al-Tabari vol.9 p.141; Sahih Muslim vol.4 footnote 2835. p.1351;. Mary the Copt gave birth to Mohammed’s son Ibrahim in al-Tabari vol.9 p.39. He died when he was two years old. The Muslim emissary Hatib b. Abi Balta’ah returned from al-Muqawqis [Egypt] with Mariya [Mary the Copt], her sister Sirin, a female mule, sets of garments, and a eunuch. Hatib invited them to become Muslims, and the two women did so [according to Tabari]. Mariyah was beautiful, and Mohammed sent her sister Sirin to Hassan b. Thabit. Sirin and Hassan were the parents of ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Hassan. al-Tabari vol.8 p.66,131.A Muslim might say Mohammed had to marry her because she was a gift from Egypt, but her sister Sirin was also a gift, and he did not marry Sirin. Mary was a gift from the governor of Alexandria. al-Tabari vol.39 p.193It was claimed that Mary became a Muslim, but Mohammed still kept her as a slave rather than a regular wife. al-Tabari vol.39 p.194Mohammed “had intercourse with her [Mary] by virtue of her being his property.” al-Tabari vol.39 p.194. Footnote 845 explains, “That is, Mariyah was ordered to veil herself as did the Prophet’s wives, but he did not marry her.”Mary the Copt died in 637/638 A.D. al-Tabari vol.39 p.2218. Rayhana/Raihana/Rayhanah bint Zaid/ZaydRayhana was a Jewish captive from the Quraiza tribe. Mohammed offered to make her a wife instead of a slave, but she decline and remained Jewish according to al-Tabari vol.8 p.39. See also al-Tabari vol.9 p.137,141. However, the source in al-Tabari vol.39 p.164-165 says Mohammed set her free and then married her.Mohammed had two concubines: Mariya bint Sham’un the Copt, and Rayhanah bint Zayd al-Quraziyyah of the Banu al-Nadir. al-Tabari vol.9 p.141. Mariya was an um walid of Mohammed according to al-Tabari vol.13 p.58.19. Divorced Omm/Umm Sharik / Ghaziyyah bint JabirOmm/Umm Sharik is the same person as Ghaziyyah bint Jabir in al-Tabari vol.9 p.139. She was called “Umm Sharik” because she was the mother of a son named Sharik by a previous marriage.”When the Prophet went to her he found her to be an old woman, so he divorced her.” al-Tabari vol.9 p.139. However footnote 922 says Ibn Sa’d in Tabaqat, 8 p.110-112 “gives a different account and lists her among the women to whom the Prophet proposed but did not marry. It was she who gave herself to the Prophet and the Qur’anic verse 33:50 refers to her.”20. Maymuna / MaimunaMaimuna was a woman who offered herself to Mohammed according to Sahih Muslim vol.2 footnote 1919. It could be the same Maimuna as 10, or a different one. Married in 7 .H.An unnamed woman said she gave herself to Mohammed as a wife. Mohammed did not accept her, but gave her to a poor Muslim. The only thing the poor Muslim could give as a dowry is his memorization of a sura of the Qur’an. Muwatta’ Malik 28.3.821. Zaynab/Zainab the Third?Ali Dashti lists this wife, but I have not found independent evidence of this.22. Khawla / Khawlah bint al-HudaylIt is said that Mohammed married Khawlah bint al-Hudayl. al-Tabari vol.9 p.139. She was a wife of Mohammed’s according to al-Tabari vol.39 p.166 23. Divorced Mulaykah bint DawudMohammed married (married is the word in the text) Mulaykah bint Dawud al-Laythiyyah, but when she was told that Mohammed was the one who had her father killed, she took refuge in Allah from Mohammed. So Mohammed separated from her. al-Tabari vol.8 p.189. The same thing is told of Mulaykah bint Ka’b (who is likely the same person) in al-Tabari vol.39 p.165Mulaykah bint Ka’b was married very briefly to Mohammed. A’isha asked her if she wanted to marry the man who killed her husband. She “took refuge in God” from Mohammed, so Mohammed divorced her. al-Tabari vol.39 p.16524. Divorced al-Shanba’ bint ‘AmrMohammed married al-Shanba’ bint ‘Amr al-Ghifariyyah; her people were allies of the banu Qurayza. When Ibrahim died, she said that if he were a true prophet his son would not have died. Mohammed divorced her before consummating his marriage with her. al-Tabari vol.9 p.13625. Divorced al-‘AliyyahMohammed stayed a while with ‘Aliyyah bint Zabyan bin ‘Amr bin ‘Awf bin Ka’b, then divorced her. al-Tabari vol.39 p.188Mohammed married al-‘Aliyyah, but then divorced her. She died while Mohammed was still alive al-Tabari vol.9 p.138.26. Divorced ‘Amrah bint YazidMohammed divorced ‘Amrah bint Yazid because she had leprosy. al-Tabari vol.39 p.188Mohammed married ‘Amrah bint Yazid (no mention of divorce) al-Tabari vol.9 p.139.Mohammed divorced ‘Amra. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2054 p.233 vol.3 no.2030 p.226 (daif [weak], not Sahih)Mohammed divorced a woman because she had leprosy. al-Tabari vol.39 p.18727. Divorced an Unnamed WomanMohammed divorced an unnamed woman because she would peek at those leaving the mosque. al-Tabari vol.39 p.18728. Qutaylah bint Qays (died right away)Mohammed married Qutaylah bint Qays but she died before they consummated the marriage. Curiously, it also says he and her brother apostacized form Islam. So she must have apostacized after the marriage and before her death perhaps? al-Tabari vol.9 p.138-139.29. Sana bint SufyanMention of Mohammed’s brief marriage with Sana bint Sufyan. al-Tabari vol.39 p.18830. Sharaf bint KhalifahMohammed married Sharaf bint Khalifah, sister of Dihyah bin Lhalifah al-Kalbi, but she died while Mohammed was still alive. al-Tabari vol.9 p.13831. Women of Mohammed’s Right Hand”…abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess – for (in their case) they are free from blame,” Sura 23:5-6. See also Sura 4:24″He [Mohammed] replied, ‘Conceal your private parts except from your wife and from whom your right hands possess (slave-girls).’” Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4006 p.1123Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4443-4445 p.1244 shows that having sex with a slave-girl a man owns is fine, but a man will be flogged for having sex with his wife’s slave-girl.As was typical of wealthy Arab men, Mohammed apparently had need of a few slave girls too. See Bukhari vol.7 book 64 ch.6 no.274 p.210.Salmah for was a maid-servant of Mohammed. Abu Dawud vol.3 no.3849 p.1084Maimuna was the freed slave girl of Mohammed. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2531 p.514; Abu Dawud vol.1 no.457 p.118Mohammed briefly had a “very beautiful” captive before he gave her to Mahmiyah b. Jaz’ al-Zubaydi. al-Tabari vol.8 p.151One of the slave girls belonging to Mohammed house committed fornication with someone else. It is the “someone else” part that was a problem. Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4458 p.1249Mohammed called a black slave-girl to come and conceal Abu Dharr behind a curtain while he was taking a bath. Abu Dawud vol.1 no.332 p.87Mention Umm Ayman (=Barakah), a client (slave-girl) of the prophet. al-Tabari vol.39 p.287Mohammed definitely had a sense of humor. Umm Ayman, the Prophet’s client [i.e. slave whom it was lawful for him to spend the night with]. According to al-Husayn … Umm Ayman: [One] night the Prophet got up and urinated in the corner of the house into an earthenware vessel. During the night I got up, and being thirsty, I drank what was in the vessel, not noticing [anything]. When the Prophet got up in the morning he said ‘O Umm Ayman, take that earthenware vessel and pour away its content.’ I said ‘By God, I drank what was in it.’ The Prophet laughed until his molar teeth showed, then said ‘After this you will never have a bellyache.’” al-Tabari vol.39 p.199In general, Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4443-4445 p.1244 teaches that having sex with a slave-girl a man owns is OK, but a man will be flogged for having sex with his wife’s slave-girl.But, having sex with a wife’s slave girl is OK if the wife made her lawful for him. Note that he did not have to be married to the slave girl. Ibn-i-Majah vol.4 no.2551 p.12 Mohammed Turned Some Women Down!A’isha felt jealous of the women who offered themselves to Mohammed [as wives]. Sahih Muslim vol.2 no.3453 p.748. But it was OK that a woman offered herself to Mohammed. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.2000-2001 p.304-305Some thought Mohammed married al-Ash’ath, but al-Tabari says that is false according to al-Tabari vol.39 p.190i. (Overall, al-Tabari did a masterful job of trying to keep up with all of Mohammed’s women.) Some Women Turned Mohammed DownMohammed asked to marry Ghaziyyah on account of her beauty, but she declined. Tabari claims she was in a state of infidelity but provides no evidence. al-Tabari vol.9 p.136. There is no evidence she was unfaithful and Mohammed was lax in not punishing her, or that she was and Mohammed punished her.Layla clapped Mohammed’s shoulder from behind and asked him to marry her. Mohammed accepted. Layla’s people said, “’What a bad thing you have done! You are a self-respecting woman, but the Prophet is a womanizer. Seek an annulment from him.’ She went back to the Prophet and asked him to revoke the marriage and he complied with [her request].” al-Tabari vol.9 p.139From to al-Tabari vol.9 p.140-141, Mohammed proposed marriage to, but ended up not marrying:1) Umm Hani’ bin Abi Talib [Hind] because she said she was with child.2) Duba’ah bint ‘Amir but she was too old.3) Reportedly he proposed to Saffiyah bint Bashshamah, a captive. She was allowed to choose between Mohammed and her husband, and she chose her husband.4) Umm Habib bint al-‘Abbas but since al-‘Abbas was his foster brother so it would not have been lawful so Mohammed backed out.5) Jamrah bint Al-Harith. Her father falsely claimed she was suffering from something. When he returned, he found that she had already been afflicted with leprosy.It is inconsistent on whether Umm Hani’ became a Muslim before or after Mohammed asked her to marry him. al-Tabari vol.39 p.197 and footnote 857 p.197

  • Ted Baines

    “Of any moralising or demoralising effect that Muhammad’s teaching had upon his followers we cannot say with precision. When he was at the head of the Robber(Muhammad earned his living through armed robbery) community, it is probable that the demoralising influence began to be felt; it was then that men who had never broken an oath learnt that they might evade their obligations, and that men to whom the blood of their clan had been as their own, began to shed it with impunity in the “cause of god”. And that lying and treachery in the cause of Islam received divine approval. It was then too that Moslems became distinguished by the obscenity of their language. It was then too, that the coveting of goods and wives possessed by Non-muslims was avowed without discouragement, in fact active encouragement, from the Prophet….”- D.S. Margoliouth in Muhammad and the rise of Islam

  • Elma

    Hatin’ on the concept of religion as a whole, or dismissing it as inherently leading to violence and irrationality as has happened in many of the above comments is not going to do any good. Like it or not, religion is a motivating factor for a huge part of humanity. It will do no good at all to alienate Muslim believers, whether it’s by dismissing them as inherently kinda fundamentalist and scary or, if they DO try to make positive changes, calling them naive idealists. Yes, islam has some wacky followers and, unfortunately, has become intricately bound up with repressive cultures. And yes, there are some very questionable passages in the Qu’ran. All these things call for self-criticism among Muslims and for a willingness to reexamine traditional interpretations. And this is exactly what Irshad Manji is offering. So why are people spending so much time beating her initiative into the ground? She is pushing for an alternative to fundamentalism, for equal rights for women and gays, and for freedom of thought and expression– and isn’t that what we are all after?

  • Elma

    Hatin’ on the concept of religion as a whole, or dismissing it as inherently leading to violence and irrationality as has happened in many of the above comments is not going to do any good. Like it or not, religion is a motivating factor for a huge part of humanity. It will do no good at all to alienate Muslim believers, whether it’s by dismissing them as inherently kinda fundamentalist and scary or, if they DO try to make positive changes, calling them naive idealists. Yes, islam has some wacky followers and, unfortunately, has become intricately bound up with repressive cultures. And yes, there are some very questionable passages in the Qu’ran. All these things call for self-criticism among Muslims and for a willingness to reexamine traditional interpretations. And this is exactly what Irshad Manji is offering. So why are people spending so much time beating her initiative into the ground? She is pushing for an alternative to fundamentalism, for equal rights for women and gays, and for freedom of thought and expression– and isn’t that what we are all after?

  • Terry

    Very good article. Everyone, including Muslims, should question everything about their faith. Read, meditate, question, debate, pray and most of all think about your faith and what it means to you and the world. It is time people of faith stop being led like sheep and become thinking reasoning members of society. There is a reason God, or whatever term you use for a Greater Being, gave us free will and the ability to reason. Use it.

  • george

    As a Canadian, I’m proud of Irshad. Her power is the key to critical thinking, she asks alot of questions. If one does on occasion, disagree with her conclusions, one cant deny she is living her life with her eyes open rather than following blindly or coercing others to her view with force.The idea that interfaith marriages might be supported under islam in interesting. I think the most important thing is for some of the more narrow minded muslims to allow other muslims to make their own descisions.As far as I’ve seen it in practice, interfaith marriages in Islam, usually mean a Muslim man marrying a non-muslim woman. These happen in very traditional places like Iran on occasion. The converse is very rare, as far as I can tell. I know one case of the converse.Personalily, i think if one is very very religious and believes in a faith like islam or christianity, it probably is wiser to marry within your faith. However, alot of people have a faith without adhering to it utterly rigidly to the letter. We should be allowed to choose our faith for ourselves. My beef with Islam is the loudness of those who seek to impose ‘religion’ on other muslims; i doubt god is glorified by someone acting to save his life rather than from his free heart.

  • Jim Rush

    What ever happened to God? After Adam and Eve was dispatched from the Garden of Eden, God said, not Jesus, not Allah, not Buddha, not any other man but God said “go forth and multiply”. Gods Ten Commandments do not mention religion with marital boundaries. Quit asking man what to do when it comes to all things including marriage. God’s word was written into all of us at conception. Follow your heart and your soul. Do not follow your mind which is influenced by the very traps that God seeks to remove. END THE REPUBLICAN WAR IN IRAQ.

  • salim

    Irshad writing is music to my ears. I am proud and pleased that such thoughts and ideas are published by the WP. I first experienced the American way of life and thinking as a freshman at the American University of Beirut ( AUB ) in 1957 and I came to the America in 1964 and never looked back. Only four of us the 14 Jordanians/Palestinians boys who arrived with me at AUB in 1957 on full shcolarship provided by the United States tax payers were as affected as I was by this experience and I as well as the other three are now residing in the States and retired and have done extremely well. We are doctors, businessmen, and scientists. All of the men here are thinking the same way as Irshad. Their children as well as mine have integrated into the American culture completely and now live the American way of life as free as they could be. The Ben Laden crowd are as alien to us as the main stream Americans and more so. Actually we always wonder with great pain where the heck these terrorists came from and why. All of us, while very proud to be Moslems, understand the need for reformation of the religion of Islam and suffer greatly when we hear the shouters on TV attack the religion itself rather than the few who abuse it. Our children have married Christians and non-believers and we are proud of them and we support them in every way. These are the Moslems immigrant I know in America and we are all proud of what we and our children have become.

  • Katharine Dean

    Ever since I read Ms. Manji’s book “The Trouble With Islam” I have continually been amazed at her reasoning & calm conversation/debate about Life, Love, & frankly Islam. I know that with Ijtihad Muslims all around the world can live happier & more fulfilling lives. I know that’s what God wants for all of us. Interfaith marriage is not bad or evil or sinful. And for that matter neither is same-sex marriage. I echo Irshad’s comment “May they have lovely weddings.”

  • James Beldock

    Why is it that anyone who bravely raises her voice to seek reason, discussion, or tolerance within Islam immediately becomes the target of such vitriol? I suppose I don’t object to the reasoned (if intensely verbose) review of her book by Haroon Moghul, which someone was “clever” enough to cut and paste above (thus flagrantly violating US copyright law :-). Twice. (Incidentally, the review was originally published in Islamica Magazine, whose tag line reads “Opening Minds Everywhere.” Irony.) But the intense desire of the others who speak out above and insist on flinging mud at Ms. Manji for her person–instead of her argument–is truly astonishing. I suppose it simply proves her point: that intolerance is at the core of the problem, and is, in effect, the Trouble with Islam Today….

  • Anonymous

    James Beldock,It would be nice if Islam could be peaceful but that would be a contradiction to the qur’an and the example to the prophet. Manji’s ideas are simply a pipe dream. The only way to make islam peaceful is to get rid of the qur’an and forget the example of the prophet. Do you know anything about islam? I do not think you do but you sure can tow the politically correct line.

  • Gustav Hallin

    Two plus two equals four? What a shocking discovery! Next you’ll be telling us the earth revolves around the sun. God never talked to anyone, hence didn’t promise anything to anyone and wasn’t ghost writer to our supposed holy books. We’re on our own, folks, and reason is the best tool we’ve got.

  • Patrick

    I commend Irshad on her courageous stand. I believe that honest examinations of our religious texts can lead to a deeper understanding and love of our own faith traditions. I also believe that with individuals like Irshad, who are willing to question with love their faith traditions, that we as a world can move forward. I pray for your success Irshad and I hope that your ideas will spread and grow.

  • janet

    Everyone in this discussion should read the lead article in this week’s New York Times Sunday magazine section. The article is called The Politics of God. This is an article about how it came to be historically that the West has separated religion and politics, and how that separation differs from the fusion of religion and politics in the Muslim world, and how to manage those very different worldviews.

  • Meg C.

    I can understand discouraging interfaith marriage. It makes it difficult even in the Christian world when a couple believes in different sects of Christianity; how do you instruct your children when Mom is Catholic and Dad is Methodist? How about when Dad is Mormon and Mom is agnostic? Now imagine Mom is Muslim and Dad is Christian. Do you teach the kids that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet? Or do you teach the kids that God is the Father and Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Saviour of the world? Or how do you explain religion and the world if one parent is Jewish and the other Muslim? Mom and Dad love each other, but their people want to kill each other?How do you decide which holidays to celebrate? Its things like this that make interfaith marriage something that most religions discourage.To say its prohibited, however…what kind of message does that send? Its ok to be friends with others with different beliefs, but if you marry them, you’re going to burn in hell? Religion should promote feelings of goodwill and peace. I personally don’t think I could handle the difficulty of trying to reconcile religions that are so different in basic beliefs, but that’s not to say no one should try.

  • Anonymous

    Gustav HallinYou must be God for in order to say there is no God you would have to have the attributes of God. Are you all-knowing Gustav? Have you searched the whole universe at the same time requiring that you are everywhere present. Maybe we should bow down and worship you the Almighty Gustav.

  • Anonymous

    I am very happy about the wiretapping. I have nothing to hide and I want all the terrorists caught. The libs are using this issue to play politics with our security.

  • Tahir Gora

    Ijtihad is the only option for Muslim nations in order to make them compatible with rest of the mankind. Irshad Manji’s emphasis on Ijtihad is not ignorable. She is calling reasoning back in the Muslim societies. Since we, the Muslims, have closed the doors of Ijtihad, we have been alienated from new philosophies, creativity and scientific developments. We certainly need to reform the Islam. No doubt, Irshad is a great reformer of our times.

  • Tahir Gora

    Ijtihad is the only option for Muslim nations in order to make them compatible with rest of the mankind. Irshad Manji’s emphasis on Ijtihad is not ignorable. She is calling reasoning back in the Muslim societies. Since we, the Muslims, have closed the doors of Ijtihad, we have been alienated from new philosophies, creativity and scientific developments. We certainly need to reform the Islam. No doubt, Irshad is a great reformer of our times.

  • Maurie Beck

    Meg C. – I can understand discouraging interfaith marriage.There is only a problem when people are fundamentalists with literalist truth claims. Otherwise it is easy. It sounds like you were brought up in a fundamentalist household.

  • hebba

    Assalamu Alaikom,Irshad Manji is a breath of fresh air! As a new revert to Islam from Australia and still “a baby” so to speak, I don’t profess to know all about Islam by any means. However, after watching several enlightening videos and reading her book “The Trouble With Islam”, one doesn’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that this articulate and amazing lady is indeed a reformer of our times.I truly hope all Muslims and also non-muslims alike open their ears and really listen to what Irshad is saying about Ijthad and think about it deeply. She makes perfect sense to me! Insha Allah.Hebba

  • akram saidkhonov

    I agree with you about (The Qur’an states that women are subject to men’s authority only if men spend money to “maintain” women. So if a woman earns her own assets, as did the Prophet Muhammad’s beloved first wife, Khadija, she can make decisions for herself.) what about muslims in the USA, does that mean that if the husbands income not enough which means she still can keep her money and dump him???

  • akram saidkhonov

    I agree with you about (The Qur’an states that women are subject to men’s authority only if men spend money to “maintain” women. So if a woman earns her own assets, as did the Prophet Muhammad’s beloved first wife, Khadija, she can make decisions for herself.) what about muslims in the USA, does that mean that if the husbands income not enough which means she still can keep her money and dump him???

  • george

    Most of the interfaith marriages I know involving Muslims, involving a Muslim man marrying a Christian woman. Personally, I think if you are very very stuck in the letter of a religion, it is better NOT to marry outside of faith.All the ijithad stuff is cool but when all is said and done, it would be nice if more Muslims were willing to look INWARDLY rather than trying to force others (INCLUDING OTHER Muslims) to “worship” god as they see fit. I get impression that intent is very important in Islam as it is in Christianity. Wearing a hajib to protect oneself from being beaten up for example, means nothing. (There is a verse in the Koran about pilgrimage for the wrong reasons.) An orthodox Muslim, who does IJithad and still holds to the old ways without imposing himself/herself to others, is still held to respect in my books. Sadly, separation of Mosque and State does not really seem to be an Islamic tradition.Radical muslims, need do look at the man in the mirror, rather than tainting Islam as an evil religion in the minds of the 80% who don’t support this faith. (And who knows how much among the 20% who don’t take it all as the crazies do.)Moderate Muslims need to be louder. They try but radicals voices are maginified many times over by the evil they do. They taint Muslims are being a insecure sociapaths.

  • Robert Landry

    I read many posts to this discussion that use intricate detail regarding “facts” presented in the Qu’ran to substantiate positions of rigidity and control. The same arguments are made by rigid Christians in discussions of the Bible and its’ application to daily life. After years of reading, observing, and soul searching, I have come to the following conclusions regarding religion. 1) It is all man made. Not that there is no God, but religion is constructed by people… mostly men. 2) The original constructs of religion were myth. Not fairytales or absolute untruths, but myths. Stories that embody profound, eternal, universal concepts that cannot adequately be expressed by direct intellectual construction. 3) People like concrete. We don’t want to hear beautiful stories that convey ideas regarding loving our sons and daughters, careing for those who can’t care for themselves, or remaining faithful and devout regardless of the realities of life. We want to make the world solid and predictable, and we want a structure that assures us that we are correct in this world and thus guaranteed of the next. 4) We have made myth into history. This creates a rigid dogma based of historical “facts” that we can adopt as absolute truth that can be easily followed and provides us a “tribe” of like minded to verify our correctness. 5) We have a universe of evidence for a miraculous God. Look at the reproductions available online of images taken by equipment on the Hubble telescope. How can the creator of all this space and time care weather I marry a Christian, Buddist, Musulim, Jew, Hindu, Jainist, or athiest? 6) The truth of religion is really very simple and was expressed in the New Testiment by Christ: Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, and spirit. Love thy neighbor as thyself. How easy is that? Obviously from history, Not easy at all.

  • B. W.

    Making the world a better place through peace and reason is an effort that everyone should support. Yes it is difficult, but it is too important to do anything less. I didn’t know just how dedicated Irshad was to this effort until I saw her documentary, “Faith Without Fear”. I commend her for her efforts. I believe that we owe this effort to all future generations of children so that they can live in peace among all people of the world.

  • victoria

    raised in america i searched with my whole being for god in my self and others- as a muslim- islam is for me incorruptable in that it wisely forgoes the hiearchal structure – my relationship is with the god only- no intercessors, no one else to think for me- peace

  • Aminah Yaquin Carroll

    Well said Irshad; as always food for thought. I am a member of Project Ijtihad. To me the process of ijtihad is AN AUTHENTIC RETURN to Islamic Tradition and the real teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).Muhammad, Upon Him Be Peace, said “if you know even one Surah, teach it”…the highest form of teaching, to me is by example.The Qur’an and Hadith discourage full time clerics of any kind. They support the civil and human rights of women. They point the way to an Islamic society where all the orphans and vulnerable as well as the poor are cared for, where the social safety net is an antidote to the ilss of poverty, where all learning is encouraged. It seems that nowadays only rote memorization (even when the memorizer comprehends little of the Qur’anic Arabic s/he recites)and dogmatic screed are encouraged; actual critical thinking and true scientific study & inquiry are squelched.Certain schools are claiming that they are the sole Islam and killing those who are their variant or dissident muslim sisters and brothers. It is taught that we are to argue with beautiful words and substance of our lives; to disagree without harming each other; to prctice as we believe best and to maintain our faith in Allah and our kindness to the whole world, and every creature in it including dogs.Law, rather than guidance has become ascendent, and the more literal and the less progressive and life-giving interpretations of Qur’an by living hearts and minds are attacked by the ultra-orthodox.Many, far too many to name, incorrigible breaches of Islam have ocurred due mainly to those who destroy our tradition of scholarship and harmony with those of other faiths and with each other, varied yet one, as they destroy the actual literature and commentary by ancient scholars and faithful practitioners of Islam with whom they disagree.What a horror. The Prophet (SAWS) said that there would come muslims with the bodies of men and the souls of Shaitan. Terrorists and muslim bigots, trying to make Islam an exclusive club with a brutal reductionist dogma that is misogynistic and cruel, claim that the criteria for membership is an enforced and coerced punishing orthodoxy. The emphasis by these agents of human pride and jusdgementalism rather than the traditional humane hospitality and generosity of Islamic spirit emphasize appearance (does she have a hair showing from her hijab? is her chador long enough? is she Asian looking enough?) rather than substance.Islam is a progressive, gentle tradition of MERCY,dignity and honor. having the courage to speak truthfully and to stand up for the disenfranchized and dispossessed, especially when they are cheated by power mongers, Islamic or otherwise, can be considered to be a whole cloth of righteousness, and so too for all forms of pursuit of social justice.The Qur’an says “for each person there is a goal, a destiny and a life path to which ALLAH turns her or him” .For many of us that is the path of righteousness, according to God’s guidnce, notr human made rules, even if they are called Sharia.Woe to those who kill and maim their struggling sisters and brothers, or any sincere believer, including the People of the Book,even if the murderer sports a beard like the Prophet or is wearing perfect hijab.

  • Zakia Tomi

    Hi Irchad,This is an amazing project. I would like to give you all my support and my entire agreement as a modern Muslim who is committed to a non-Muslim man for such a noble cause. There is a lot of fundamental aspects that should be re-interpreted in the Quoran. As a young Arab who has the ability to read the holly book by herself, I say yes definitely to your project, our project. Zakia

  • Raquel Evita Saraswati, Executive Director, Project Ijtihad

    Dear Zakia, and others interested in becoming involved with Project Ijtihad:Drop me a line at projectijtihad@project-ijtihad.com! Zakia, you are right. It is “our project”. I hope to hear from you (and others!) soon.Peace and blessings,

  • Mudassir Ali, M.D.

    Fully agree with the ideas presented in the article. Ijtihad is the only answer to the present day crisis of Islamic world. We need to wake up…the sooner the better.Good work Irshad Manji!

  • Deb Chatterjee

    I have simply admiration for both Ms. Manji and Ms. Saraswati. However I have reasons to believe that despite the very noble intentions and goodwill that these two courageous ladies have shown, the project i.e. “Project Ijtihad” is doomed to failure. That is, this project will be restricted to North America only where secular liberalism, feminism and personal freedoms thrive. These are the very qualities that classical (or orthodox) Islam resists. In most Islamic countries, and even in the liberal ones like Indonesia, radical Islam is on the rise. If radical Islam is not arrested wsith reason – as Ms. Manji rightly suggests – anything like Project like Itjihad is doomed. IT cannot get global acceptance. I would question, the methodology by which Project Itjihad aims at presenting itself as compatible with the secular and liberal West. For example, how can Ms. Manji or Ms. Saraswati convince this Anjem Chaudhry (in England) who wants UK to become an Islamic Caliphate and establish the Shariah laws there ?Also, there is a lack of credibility here. Islam has a very negative position for women. Evidence of two women equals one man. In particular, as I write this blog, Taslima Nasreen is now being held under quarantine from mullahs who have threatened to kill here in Kolkata, India. How would Project Itjihad deal with such a situation (and similarly with Salman Rushdie) ? Finally, though this may seem funny, the director of Project Itjihad (Raquel Evita Saraswati) has a birth or adopted name that most Muslim women shall not find acceptable. The “Saraswati” is the name a Hindu goddess of wisdom. Islam is against Hindu (polytheistic) religious practices. Thus if this lady would go to Pakistan and on a Project Itjihad mission, she would be in a double-whammy. First the whole effort would be condemned, and second the director would not find credible acceptance just because who she is.

  • greg vanden

    Bravo! This is what we need to hear. This is also the proof that change in Islam will come from women. Thank you for your endeavors Irshad!

  • Iffat Gillani

    Awesome Article!!! The idea of Ijtihad is a very important one, and essential for the progress of islam. By keeping our minds and hearts closed, we will never be able to attract more people towards our beautiful religion. It is time we learnt to see islam in it’s correct light

  • Bruce

    I find all this to be quite complex indeed. As a non-Muslim westerner, I’m going to find it easy to compare the Catholic faith as the most obvious match for the idea of Islamic authoritarianism; witness the persecution of Galileo, for example.Having said this, I must also give credence to those forces in any society whose interests are said to preserve established order in the name of the common good.For me the value of radical forces in any society is where the junction of tradition and change intersect. Those who see the effects of change and can react to it, are both devils to the traditionalists, as well as saviours to those who wish for betterment in times of ferment.I don’t think that those who seek to maintain and impose conservative values upon Islamic culture are in any way bad people for the most part. It’s not so hard to understand their alarm and upset about the changes extant in the world, if one tries to see things from their perspective. In this view, they appear to act in a caring fashion in order to preserve the ideas of good which they cherish and wish to promulgate.Now, having tried to walk in the shoes of others, I will walk in my own. It’s not so easy to see people of possible good will as enemies to the daily world I inhabit; it’s also easy to see that this western world can be viewed as anathema to such notions of peace and stability.So, here we all are, each wishing peace and stability, each seeing that the “other” somehow interferes with this goal.I don’t really buy into this apparent opposition; to me one of the objectives of Itjihad is to basically become a tool to open up mutual awareness of common goals, even if reached via quite different value systems. As such it provides the necessary mental awareness required to actually bring such harmonies into action.Certainly the Western academic value system is mostly quite well attuned to the ideas of Itjihad, so it’s tempting to view people such as Irshad as an exile from these aspects of Islam until the necessary intellectual order can be restored within Islam, as it has managed to be preserved here for the most part.We have our own failings to deal with as a culture which those in Islam should rightfully criticise & fear; also we have been somewhat more successful in keeping a tradition of open-mindedness active in our culture, so perhaps it’s time to lend a hand where it’s feasible to do so.In this light I strongly applaud the courage and intelligence of this courageous woman for finding the strength to both challenge and lead; for me it’s an inspiration to ensure things turn out well for *everyone*. I am very pleased to be given hope in this way …

  • Steve

    Irshad is one of the lonely voices of reason in the muslim world, why are people of her own faith supressing her? Please everyone, listen up and give an open ear. Our world needs more understanding and less ugliness. Steve

  • Edip Yuksel

    Dear Irshad,I command you for your article. I want to add a few points:Enlightened by the Quran, the primitive Arab tribes in a dizzying speed became the pioneers in sciences and technology, such as medicine, astronomy, optics, automations, and mathematics. They mobilized in search of knowledge without looking at the religion, color, ethnicity, geography or the language of the source. They translated the entire Greek philosophy and was ignored by the Christendom and contributed to them.Unfortunately, the impact of hadith and other sectarian dogmas finally became manifest in 12th century and with the rise of al-Gazzali and his ilk, the decline became official.I would like to suggest a correction regarding one of your statements, though:”The Qur’an states that women are subject to men’s authority only if men spend money to “maintain” women. So if a woman earns her own assets, as did the Prophet Muhammad’s beloved first wife, Khadija, she can make decisions for herself.”No, the Quran does not state that. As I argued in detail in the beginning of Quran: a Reformist Translation, the word AUTHORITY is a mistranslation. The correct translation is PROVIDER.For more information, you may visit http://www.yuksel.org, http://www.islamicreform.org, or http://www.brainbowpress.com .Peace,

  • George Staley

    Wow! It is so refreshing to read Irshad’s proposition that modern Moslem followers should think for themselves and not necessarily follow the edicts of their Islamic teachers.As Christians, we can reflect on our religious past when fanatics burned people at the stake in the name of Christianity. We were wrong to follow such repressive teachings rather than the message of love and tolerance delivered to us by Christ himself.As Irshad has written, we need a world where Islamic believers can follow their faith while allowing for dissention. Christians and Moslems need to live side-by-side in love and respect not as mortal enemies.Thank you for printing this important message.

  • Raquel Evita Saraswati, Executive Director, Project Ijithad

    Hey Deb! The important thing for many of us to remember is that the majority of the world’s Muslims are in fact not Arabs. In fact, Islam is sometimes referred to as the world’s fastest growing religion. This means that there are a lot more Muslim Smiths, Millers, Patels, Gonzalezs, etc- popping up everywhere. We all share a faith that has room for all of us- no matter what. That is one of the beauties of faith- it sees beyond the superficial- to the heart. Truth be told, Deb-for all of the troubles in Islam today- most people I talk to agree with what I’m saying in this posting. (Even if they don’t agree with my other postings!). We all come from different backgrounds and paths- and that is a good thing. Just a fun fact- there are estimates of anywhere between 20 to 100 million Muslims in China. We’re diverse, arriving at this point from many various ones. In short- whether you’re a Chen, a Manji, an Abdullah, a Patel, an O’Clare- or even a one-name wonder (a la Madonna)- the integrity and voracity of your faith is between believer and Creator. At the end of the day- the rest simply doesn’t matter.Lastly, I appreciate your kind words- (calling us courageous). I’d say we’re simply acknowledging and trying to do justice to the blessings that are freedom and pluralism.Peace to you.

  • Catherine

    Amen, Irshad, the world needs creative, enterprising spirits such as yours. I wish I could read all the comments posted here and respond to some of the points they raise. Having skimmed a few only, let me say this, in a nutshell: Project Ijtihad may look like a dream to some people, but if you don’t dream and hope, what hope of progress is there for humanity? Remember Martin Luther King’s impossible dream! Besides, it’s a rational dream. Irshad Manji believes that human beings are endowed with reason and will use it, given a chance to do so. I hate to disagree with one of the supportive posts here, but Irshad has the right outlook: it may seem like her message will only reach the converted, but our means of communication nowadays give it a chance of succeeding outside liberal countries. Project Ijtihad, I am convinced, is one of those noble efforts that will inspire people beyond North America and Europe to have the courage to start thinking for themselves. And it is happening right now! I am so tired also of the sterile academic argument that ijtihad requires full knowledge of the processes that were used in early medieval times, etc. etc., that in order to practice ijtihad legitimately one needs a kind of PhD in “ijtihadian studies.” No, this is a way too easy dismissal of Irshad Manji’s enlightened outlook. What we need to remember is the goal of Project Ijtihad: to encourage people’s faith in their own abilities to reason and discriminate right from wrong. Once they gain that courage and faith, the Muslim world can return to a more balanced view and practice of its religion. It will happen, inevitably. When it will happen is another question.No, Irshad Manji is not just “youthful,” i.e. naive. She has the energy of youth, god bless her, to achieve great things. May she keep that energy going for a long time! Let us trust in the young at heart, the future belongs to them!

  • J Nem

    Great article/great message.Assimilation, acceptance, adaptation, inclusion, compassion and evolution………not seperation, discrimination, exclusion, violence and hatred.

  • J Nem

    Great article/great message.Assimilation, acceptance, adaptation, inclusion, compassion and evolution………not seperation, discrimination, exclusion, violence and hatred.

  • Sohel Ahmed Bahjat

    Dear Irshad.

  • ANONYMOUS

    Thank you Irshad for what you do. Sinds I discover Project Ijtihad, i’ve another relation with my religion. Before this discovery, I was so disapointed by my religion. I thought it was a sad religion. So thank you very much Irshad…Take care of you…

  • Gregory Krohm

    These are doubtlessly hard words for many traditional Muslims to hear. But, the call to reason and spiritual reflection on the meaning of the Qur’an in the modern world is inevitable. Christianity has had wave after wave of reinterpretation of its most sacred New Testament writings (believed by Christians to God’s Word). I cite one parallel case to the controversy cited above by Ms. Manji: St. Paul in his famous first letter to the Corinthians says: “any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled bring shame upon her head” (1 Cor 11:5). This was generally practiced for centuries, but has fallen into disregard (except by a tiny minority). Why? This and many of the moral teachings and sayings of Christian Bible (regarding slavery, dietary issues, role of women, etc.) have been reinterpreted in light of cultural circumstances, new information, and reason. The Catholic Church places great value in finding God’s plan in “natural law” which reason can find independently. This is because elements of God’s will are written for all humans to see in the laws of nature. I hasten to add that traditional authorities in the Catholic Church would qualify this by saying that reason should be enlightened and guided by authoritative teachings of the Church leadership.I applaud the above article and pray for Ms. Manji and the success of her work.

  • Sarah Al-Mulla

    I was raised in a traditional Muslim-Arab family (as per my aunts, uncles and grandparents etc.). However, my father was always extremely liberal and Western (my mother is American), he taught my sisters and I to be the exact kind of persons that you are describing. He did, however, have an aversion to marrying outside the religion, but it is my hope that were he still alive today he would condone a union between me and any person that I felt were my soul mate.It has been said that 1500 years after every religion is founded there is a push towards fundamentalism (eg. Protestantism pushed by Martin Luther) and that Islam is hitting that mark; which explains a lot. I just hope that such movements do not hold strong.Project Ijtihad is crucial to the survival of Islam, may it grow and remain a strong force.

  • charles r. hinckle

    i completely agree. only when muslims are able to reconsile from within their faith and speak out loudly and firmly against those who have hyjacked islam will there begin the process of peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world.

  • charles r. hinckle

    i completely agree.

  • charles r. hinckle

    i completely agree.

  • charles r. hinckle

    i completely agree.

  • Shadieh Mirmobiny

    I read Irshad Manji’s article “Islam Needs an Age of Reason,” and I agree that ijtihad is the only way that can bring answers to many who seek peace in our own troubling times.For centuries Muslims have relied on the interpretations of the so called “experts” while there are Qur’anic passages which when read from a different perspective, clearly advise to the contrary of those interpretations. I want to argue for an essential point here and that is religion, like humanities and arts, offers a way of looking at things and just like art it can be interpreted differently. If this is true, why do Muslims restrict themselves to the interpretation of a few so called “experts” without question or giving themselves an opportunity to view it from different angles?For centuries we have been told exactly who the right-doers and the wrong-doers are without once asking the criteria for right and wrong. Today, we know better that right and wrong are relative terms and they depend upon how you look at things; today we exercise the right to question in every field but our faith.I can cite examples of numerous verses from the Qur’an and Hadith that, when looked at from a different perspective, support individual responsibility which means individual’s effort to seek out the truth for himself/herself, in other words the individual ijtihad:Every one is responsible for the choices they make: “… And certainly you come to Us bare and alone As We created you for the first time. You have left behind you All which We have bestowed on you: We see not with you your intercessors whom you thought to be partners in your affairs Certainly now relations are severed between you and what you conceived which misled you…”Qura’n -6:94.“…There everyone is affected by what they have done before And will be brought back to God -their rightful Lord- And vanished is what they falsely claimed…” Qur’an -10:30. It is quoted from Imam Sadiq (8th c.) that if a Muslim does not become knowledgeable in his/her religion, no good will come out of him/her. Everyone who is not rich in their religious knowledge, will become dependant upon others’ interpretations and thus will enter into the same misleading ignorance as their advisors, and he/she will not know.* If a Muslim has faith in God and the Day of Judgment, as explained in the above examples, it means that everyone must be responsible for his/her own actions. To put it differently, on something as important as our “eternal salvation,” we cannot pursue according to others’ perspectives, particularly when the Qur’an advises against it:“ And pursue not what that of which you have no knowledge; Every act of hearing Or of seeing or of the heart will be questioned…”Qur’an -17:36; it clearly means that we are individually responsible for whatever we hear, see, do and believe. It is quoted from the prophet who also said everyone is responsible (no exceptions!)“…That there is nothing for man but what he strives for…”Qur’an -53:39. What better task to strive for than one’s own belief.No imam will volunteer this information to their followers for the fear of losing their business. The simple point is in order to stay in power, they take the individual power and responsibility away from everyone else by encouraging (or even forcing) all to rely on their so called “expert” interpretations. So, not to fall into this trap, it is up to people to seek the truth for themselves, and this IS ijtihad. *Principles of Kafi. Vo. I: 40

  • Michael

    We are still discussing and interpreting the Constitution of the United States after over 200 years. The bible has been discussed and interpreted since its beginning. The West has flourished and progressed while the Muslim countries of the world (generally) have not. Why?I have watched Irshad for the last year – she differs from her critics since she does not HATE. To reject ijtihad would be easy, but I predict that it will happen when the average Muslim moderate is no longer afraid to discuss, debate and interpret. Please see this beautiful video of Muslims singing, “This is Not Us.”“Yeh Hum Naheen – This is Not Us”

  • Sharon from NY

    Ms. Manji – Once again you have brought the underlying truth of this vital subject directly to the forefront. Education is empowerment. Not being forced to rely on others to be told what something says, let alone it’s interpretation, keeps people enslaved; mentally if not literally. When it comes to faith- not being able to independently explore the basic teachings of your religion stufles thought and action and perpetuates the teachings of the powerful- who may not necessarily be the wisest! The ability to exercise critical thinking and seek one’s own answers to the basics of one’s faith system is the only way in which we can understand our own world and our relationship to it and to each other, in the positive way that does exist. In addition to Muslims having access to their own religious writings, all persons of any faith must undertake to gain at least a basic understanding of the belief systems of our brothers and sisters. We are all related in very basic and profound ways. I thank you again, Ms. Manji, for articulating these vital thoughts and ideas and am very pleasedto see that your words are accessible to more and more people.

  • Claud

    Your article is very enlightening. I am a Catholic and do not know very much about your religion. That said, your voice has opened my eyes to its beauty.I pray for you.

  • Barbara Cartabuke

    As a revert to Islam I have been astounded at times when I have been told by others to “follow blindly” interpretations of the Quran. I must compliment the Scholars that I have listened to or spoken with as none of them have expressed this limited view. I believe in Islam and the Quran because it demands that Muslims seek the truth through their own reflections and prayers. It says that we are each responsible and if we follow the wrong path we will be held accountable- thus one can not say but I was only following the scholars interpretation. If one reflects on The Quran it encourages freedom of thought and peaceful solutions. If one reads about the Prophet(pbuh) he encouraged discussion, let Muslims and non-Muslims have their say and decisions were made with all of this input. Muslims who have told me to follow blindly seem to be taking the ‘easier’ path of not having to think or question for themselves thus giving up their rights and responsibilties.

  • S.Ehtisham

    Dear Irshad,

  • Aminah Yaquin Carroll

    First I hope you were able to make full sense of my comments above which i did not edit as i wish i had done.Second i recommend the video link given above by Michael.excellent and poignant.

  • Imad

    Instead of attacking the alleged intentions & charater of Irshad, doubting naysayers should go learn about the tradition of Ijtihad from academic and theological literature for themselves. Not only that, but learn that the orthodoxies like Sunni & Shi’a Islam that most adhere to today were not around during the prophet’s time, nor the time of the first dozen caliphs. Most Muslims still believe (’cause its taught at a young age) that Mohamad intended for Sunnism or Shiism are the right form of Islam to follow, when in reality Islam had dozens of struggling idealogies in the first 3 centuries of its existance.Irshad’s efforts are on target to getting people to open their eyes. Learning your own history comes with accepting that what you’ve been taught is not necessarily the full truth. Ijtihad will follow. Many Muslims don’t even know that 3 out of the 4 Sunni Imams weren’t even born by the time Muslims reached Spain (AD 711). There was no Sunni Islam when Muslim Spain was erected. What does that say about Sunnism? Why do Muslims hold on to its Sunni tradition so much? Key word: “tradition”. Funny thing is: Sunnism managed to label its tradition as God’s exact will. That to me is unacceptable. Not because I enjoy rebelling against the establishment, but because I read primary sources such as Ibn Ishaq’s Sira (translated by Guillaume) which is the earliest surviving work on Mohammad, among other sources. Once traditional Muslims open their eyes to the raw facts in their history, and stop being spoon fed the rubber-stamped ministry of ed school books, then Ijtihad will come naturally to them. But like one poster here said: you have to outnumber the blindly indocternated. And Irshad is bringing people together to do just that.

  • Piyush

    Dear Irshadhere in India we have a special problem. Young muslims boys are exhorted to court and marry if possible non-muslim girls for which, till a few years ago, each marriage would get the boy Rs.1,00,000 in cash. The idea is to get the women from other faiths in – increase the population and also the means to increase the population- the women. However, if a muslim girl wants to marry outside – she and her hsuband are to be killed if they don’t convert to islam.

  • Jamie Caton

    Have you ever seen live programming of the debates occurring in the House of Lords? At first glance the Ministers of the House, come across as monkeys, bantering back and forth. Really, what is happening is brilliance. The members, debate, quarrel and fight out the issues of the day… how beautiful is such a thing to have the freedom of voice to discuss and debate?Irshad who is one woman does not claim herself to be THE saviour of Islam, she is however one strong voice who has the courage imbued with hope for Islam and humanity (as artificial as that may sound), to encourage individuals to fight for their personal freedoms and to be able to THINK FOR THEMSELVES. Faith and independent thinking over doctrine. Faith ABOVE fundamentalism. Pluralism and acceptance of others OVER literalism and absolutism.Those in this discussion forum who insult Islam have no merit as in doing so; you insult your own religion. The underlying meaning of every religion is to have faith in something that is larger than oneself and to respect others and that is indeed a beautiful thing. At the very least we see in Irshad Manji, a beautiful and courageous soul who is fighting for that very same “beautiful thing”. Ladies and Gentlemen, she recognizes the beauty of Islam, she sees it! Evidenced in how she discusses the flourishing of Itjihad before the 12th century. At the very most we have yet to see the encompassing change that I believe Irshad is setting in motion.To all those critics and cynics. There is a fine line between a scholar who is learned in the books and a person who sees the world and humanity outside the written word. Irshad is a visionary, who displays each of these qualities in her own right. I say to those critics and cynics who can recite passages of the Quran with absolute arrogance as though you yourself were the power and might that is Allah, what are you doing for the world today? How are YOU contributing to bettering the world we live in?I support Irshad in her work with both hands open. May God Bless each of us and May God Bless Ms. Manji.To the last respondent who wrote in their cynical and sarcastic tone “Dream on Irshad.” I second that response, yet my “Dream on Irshad” is filled with much more support and hope for what Ms. Manji aims to achieve through her Project Itjihad. It is only through courage and dreaming that dreams are achieved.

  • Jamie Caton

    Have you ever seen live programming of the debates occurring in the House of Lords? At first glance the Ministers of the House, come across as monkeys, bantering back and forth. Really, what is happening is brilliance. The members, debate, quarrel and fight out the issues of the day… how beautiful is such a thing to have the freedom of voice to discuss and debate?Irshad who is one woman does not claim herself to be THE saviour of Islam, she is however one strong voice who has the courage imbued with hope for Islam and humanity (as artificial as that may sound), to encourage individuals to fight for their personal freedoms and to be able to THINK FOR THEMSELVES. Faith and independent thinking over doctrine. Faith ABOVE fundamentalism. Pluralism and acceptance of others OVER literalism and absolutism.Those in this discussion forum who insult Islam have no merit as in doing so; you insult your own religion. The underlying meaning of every religion is to have faith in something that is larger than oneself and to respect others and that is indeed a beautiful thing. At the very least we see in Irshad Manji, a beautiful and courageous soul who is fighting for that very same “beautiful thing”. Ladies and Gentlemen, she recognizes the beauty of Islam, she sees it! Evidenced in how she discusses the flourishing of Itjihad before the 12th century. At the very most we have yet to see the encompassing change that I believe Irshad is setting in motion.To all those critics and cynics. There is a fine line between a scholar who is learned in the books and a person who sees the world and humanity outside the written word. Irshad is a visionary, who displays each of these qualities in her own right. I say to those critics and cynics who can recite passages of the Quran with absolute arrogance as though you yourself were the power and might that is Allah, what are you doing for the world today? How are YOU contributing to bettering the world we live in?I support Irshad in her work with both hands open. May God Bless each of us and May God Bless Ms. Manji.To the last respondent who wrote in their cynical and sarcastic tone “Dream on Irshad.” I second that response, yet my “Dream on Irshad” is filled with much more support and hope for what Ms. Manji aims to achieve through her Project Itjihad. It is only through courage and dreaming that dreams are achieved.

  • Jamie Caton

    Have you ever seen live programming of the debates occurring in the House of Lords? At first glance the Ministers of the House, come across as monkeys, bantering back and forth. Really, what is happening is brilliance. The members, debate, quarrel and fight out the issues of the day… how beautiful is such a thing to have the freedom of voice to discuss and debate?Irshad who is one woman does not claim herself to be THE saviour of Islam, she is however one strong voice who has the courage imbued with hope for Islam and humanity (as artificial as that may sound), to encourage individuals to fight for their personal freedoms and to be able to THINK FOR THEMSELVES. Faith and independent thinking over doctrine. Faith ABOVE fundamentalism. Pluralism and acceptance of others OVER literalism and absolutism.Those in this discussion forum who insult Islam have no merit as in doing so; you insult your own religion. The underlying meaning of every religion is to have faith in something that is larger than oneself and to respect others and that is indeed a beautiful thing. At the very least we see in Irshad Manji, a beautiful and courageous soul who is fighting for that very same “beautiful thing”. Ladies and Gentlemen, she recognizes the beauty of Islam, she sees it! Evidenced in how she discusses the flourishing of Itjihad before the 12th century. At the very most we have yet to see the encompassing change that I believe Irshad is setting in motion.To all those critics and cynics. There is a fine line between a scholar who is learned in the books and a person who sees the world and humanity outside the written word. Irshad is a visionary, who displays each of these qualities in her own right. I say to those critics and cynics who can recite passages of the Quran with absolute arrogance as though you yourself were the power and might that is Allah, what are you doing for the world today? How are YOU contributing to bettering the world we live in?I support Irshad in her work with both hands open. May God Bless each of us and May God Bless Ms. Manji.To the last respondent who wrote in their cynical and sarcastic tone “Dream on Irshad.” I second that response, yet my “Dream on Irshad” is filled with much more support and hope for what Ms. Manji aims to achieve through her Project Itjihad. It is only through courage and dreaming that dreams are achieved.

  • John Siordia

    Irshad Manji has done a great thing with founding Project Ijtihad. Reviving ‘critical thinking’ is not something Muslims need to do but all people, of all nations world wide need to do. It only makes sense to question preaching that discriminates and dehumanizes certain sections of any particular faith. One of the questions all of us should be asking is why Muslims and non Muslims alike are trying to keep us separated? Why is it wrong to associate with people of other faiths? Why is it wrong to marry a person of another faith? Are we not all human beings? Are we not all equal before God? Each religion says they are the true religion. Each religion says they pray to the true God. I believe each religion holds a part of the truth but not all. Remember, the Koran and the Bible were written by men, religious men to be sure but still men. Imams, like Christian preachers, can make mistakes. Both the imams and the preachers are peddling guilt and fear to keep us cowed, to keep us submissive, to keep us from asking questions. Isn’t there a better way to worship God than to be brow beaten and demoralized? If you fear God too much, won’t you be afraid to talk to him? If you are made to feel unworthy, doesn’t your life become colored with hopelessness? I don’t believe that is the life that most faiths want for us. We are all human beings, each trying to find our path, our way in life. Life is hard enough without being alienated from God through guilt and fear. I believe God wants us to embrace him with hope and love. If we can embrace God in that manner, can we not then embrace our fellow human beings in the same manner? That is a much better way to live life.

  • John Siordia

    Irshad Manji has done a great thing with founding Project Ijtihad. Reviving ‘critical thinking’ is not something Muslims need to do but all people, of all nations world wide need to do. It only makes sense to question preaching that discriminates and dehumanizes certain sections of any particular faith. One of the questions all of us should be asking is why Muslims and non Muslims alike are trying to keep us separated? Why is it wrong to associate with people of other faiths? Why is it wrong to marry a person of another faith? Are we not all human beings? Are we not all equal before God? Each religion says they are the true religion. Each religion says they pray to the true God. I believe each religion holds a part of the truth but not all. Remember, the Koran and the Bible were written by men, religious men to be sure but still men. Imams, like Christian preachers, can make mistakes. Both the imams and the preachers are peddling guilt and fear to keep us cowed, to keep us submissive, to keep us from asking questions. Isn’t there a better way to worship God than to be brow beaten and demoralized? If you fear God too much, won’t you be afraid to talk to him? If you are made to feel unworthy, doesn’t your life become colored with hopelessness? I don’t believe that is the life that most faiths want for us. We are all human beings, each trying to find our path, our way in life. Life is hard enough without being alienated from God through guilt and fear. I believe God wants us to embrace him with hope and love. If we can embrace God in that manner, can we not then embrace our fellow human beings in the same manner? That is a much better way to live life.

  • stephen russell

    I agree its time for an Islam Age of Reason.I call for an Islam Age of Reason & Renissance.

  • stephen russell

    I agree its time for an Islam Age of Reason.I call for an Islam Age of Reason & Renissance.

  • edda eisele

    This is exactly what needs to happen. People must think rather than follow. Educate women and children and family will be healthy and better off. Iam all in favour of intelligent discussion and reasoning. Unfortunately that is not happening, keeping women down serves the purpose of them having no voice and being considered chattel. An educated woman will not tolerate this kind of situation. Perhaps one needs more female imams to read and discuss the Qua’ran. E.E.

  • Tim Kapshandy

    God Bless courageous people like Irshad Manji and Khaleel Muhammed. They are our best hope. They don’t have to convince the extreme fringe, just the presently silent middle. Differences of opinions are fine and to be expected. Resolving them with torture and murder are not.

  • edda eisele

    This is exactly what needs to happen. People must think rather than follow. Educate women and children and family will be healthy and better off. Iam all in favour of intelligent discussion and reasoning. Unfortunately that is not happening, keeping women down serves the purpose of them having no voice and being considered chattel. An educated woman will not tolerate this kind of situation. Perhaps one needs more female imams to read and discuss the Qua’ran. E.E.

  • dave klepper

    The wealth of saudi arabia has spread lies throughout the islamic world, such as jews are decended from the russian kazar tribe and not from abraham, that jews only visited the holy land but didn’t settle until after 1948, that judiasim requires destruction of arab holy places on the temple mount, that ferdinand and isabella forced only muslims to convert to christianity or leave spain, that no jews pemanently resided in the holy land until 1948, that jews cannot pray in mosques, that jews believe heaven is reserved only for jews, that jewish law permits jews to cheat non-jews, and much other nonesense. a good book in arabic by a good muslim scholar who has studied jewish sacred books and commentaries, and our history, is long overdue.

  • Michael Duff

    If Ijtihad would be accepted by all of Islam the world would be a safer place and all Muslims would have a closer relationship with God and each other.

  • Rosanna Fernandez

    Hear! Hear! Hear! I’m in full support with Irshad. I believe in love, peace, honor and respect.

  • Bruce MacLennan

    Dear Ms. Manji:This is an interesting article. I personally believe that any opportunity for constructive dissent and debate should be taken advantage of, especially to promote peace and safety. As a Christian, I understand from reading about the life of Jesus that He debated and discussed with the Jewish religious leaders at a very young age and for the remainder of His earthly life. The Bible teaches to ask questions – to “try the spirits”.BM

  • John B.

    I fully support the concept of Ijtihad, and the efforts of those whose propose change from the inside out, like Irshad Manji. Every religion needs to come to grips with the dishonor its leaders have misused the scriptures for its’ own good. God Bless Irhsad Manji for speaking up with TRUTH.

  • Walt Clayton

    Although I am not a religious person, I strongly support any and all efforts to encourage open and frequent communication among persons of different faiths. Irshad Manji is right on track about opening up dialogue via “ijtihad,” the Muslim tradition of dissent and debate. Communication leads to understanding. Understanding leads to more tolerance and less violence. Despite all our differences, let’s all be big enough to listen to one another, and temper our views and opinions.

  • Jane B. Leverett

    Excellent Article. Inter-faith marriages sound like a perfect solution to our misunderstandings and a great way to bridge the gaps into something peaceful and loving.It is time to study, to question and to interpret through knowledge, not shear acceptance. That is why the world is dealing radicals. They only hear and think what they are told. Human to Human with a one-sided view leads to radical interpretations, which is what we are seeing today. The Muslin religion is fearful of questioning. There is good reason. Thinking people will differ in their views. Non-thinkers accept.

  • Jane B. Leverett

    Excellent Article. Inter-faith marriages sound like a perfect solution to our misunderstandings and a great way to bridge the gaps into something peaceful and loving.It is time to study, to question and to interpret through knowledge, not shear acceptance. That is why the world is dealing radicals. They only hear and think what they are told. Human to Human with a one-sided view leads to radical interpretations, which is what we are seeing today. The Muslin religion is fearful of questioning. There is good reason. Thinking people will differ in their views. Non-thinkers accept.

  • Deb Chatterjee

    Reading the responses to Irshad’s Project Ijtihad and Raquel Evita Saraswati’s comments, I think it is wise to consider the practicalities to make the project launched by two very courageous ladies successful. IMHO, these are the keystones:1. Open a chapter here in USA and target CAIR (Council of American Islamic Relations). This group supports the physical Jihad and Ibrahim Hooper (the head honcho of CAIR) is on record stating that he wants to see USA become an Islamic State. Such dangerous persons, holding such vicious opinions, need to be challenged intellcetually.2. Enlist the help of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Walid Shoebat in combating radical Islamic ideologies – such as the Wahabi theory and Salafist ideas.3. Help the US and Canadian lawmakers to formulate a rational and progressive policy towards (modern) Islam. After all, if Islam is to be acceptable in these countries some of the most heinous aspects of Islam: stoning, apostacy, inter-faith marriage, hijab, burkha, hatred for non-believers must go. Islam, like all other cultures must embrace the western concept of Free Speech (1st Amendment). Organize frequent rallies by moderate Muslims to openly condemn Osama bin Laden and other fundamental aspects of Islam. (We have seen only muted token protests by “moderate” Muslims on Jihad. Much more needs to be done, and many more miles to go.)4. Visit the various US campuses and open up discussions. Invite the so-called anti-Islamists like Robert Spencer, Ibn Warraq, Andrew Bostom, Daniel Pipes, Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen, etc., and let them air their opinions. It must be accepted that indeed Islam as it exists literally in the Quran, can surely inspire Jihad and bloodletting. Irshad Manji is taking a different position. (She falls in category number 2 Muslims, as defined by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.)5. Spread the message of Ijtihad to other nations, and notably Pakistan. This country is the epicenter of radical Islamic terrorism/ideas. It would be a challenge to spread Ijtihad there and that too by a woman (Irshad Manji et. al.)Just some random thoughts. Though orthodox Islam is most violent and intolertant, not all Muslims live by those antiquated and barbaric dictates. Most Muslims are nice like you and me.

  • Slic Nic 5150

    A note to Miss Manji’s detractors:If you are going to bag on Miss Manji for her opinions and thoughts presented in this article, then I recommend you read it first. You’ll win over none of her supporters with irrelevant verses and parroting of the “party line”. Please at least attempt to be original in your criticism. The issues at hand are inter-faith marriage, the re-birth of Ijtihad, and liberating the entrepreneurial spirit of female Muslims.

  • Slic Nic 5150

    A note to Miss Manji’s detractors:If you are going to bag on Miss Manji for her opinions and thoughts presented in this article, then I recommend you read it first. You’ll win over none of her supporters with irrelevant verses and parroting of the “party line”. Please at least attempt to be original in your criticism. The issues at hand are inter-faith marriage, the re-birth of Ijtihad, and liberating the entrepreneurial spirit of female Muslims.

  • Mark S. Martin

    Mohammed Must be weeping when he sees what is being done in his name. Islam is in danger of returning to the Tribalism that it was to replace. I don’t recall the last time Lutherens crashed Planes into occupied buildings. The rational must stand up to the corrupted fanatics or risk becoming a blood cult. Keep up the good work Irshad, and we will keep you in our prayers

  • John Derick Osman

    Dear Dr. Manji

  • John Derick Osman

    Dear Dr. Manji

  • Judith Davies

    Dear Irshad:You are certainly the voice of reason. How I long for a day people of all faiths and politics can show respect for others and learn to make positive contributions to ensuring the survival of mankind. There has been brutality in all religions in the past, but those other than Islam have evolved into a more “do unto others” philosophy rather than kill first and ask questions later. My Islamic friends are neither brutal, nor hateful, nor do they consider women to be inferior beings. Few go to Mosques any more.

  • Amod

    Islam is not a static ideology by its basic definition. On the contrary, Islam (like the other Abrahamic religions) is a “social concept”.For example; the Quran clarifies that Islam was created to morally benefit man – to lift it from moral decay and improve mankind. Therefore it is not a religion for the “sake of being a religion”… but it is a moral benefit for Muslims.That is, it ought to improve our ethics by giving us better ideals to achieve.That is the root reason for Islam’s existence. Therefore in this day and age Islam not only CAN be, but by its very root OUGHT to be redefined in order to CONTINUE its eternal purpose: to improve our society.In that light Islam demands that we raise the standard expected of ourselves, as it was raised in the 7th century. We are no longer barbaric tribal people… our current moral standard far exceeds the 7th century standard – we realize today that it is inhumane to have slaves, to cut hands of thieves etc. We realize today that revenge taking is not “justice”… we realize today that the status of women has to be legally equal to that of man. On these accounts a new interpretation of Islam is needed. In fact, this is what Islam’s philosophy demands: to RAISE THE BAR for ourselves!I appreciate the work of Irshad Manji and other reformists like her. We can make a difference. We are morally obliged by the very essence of Islam, to make a change.The Islamic reform movement is bound to be successful. It is inevitable.

  • Aminah Yaquin Carroll

    in response to don but i believe with relevance to others:tis is a very difficult tiome to study Isla, in some respects. Most of teh Qur’anic translations have been altered by the ultra-orthodox and in unscholarly fashion, the alterations are not even disseminated in the NEW para-translation.Anathema, of course to ultra-Orthodox islamo-fascist cultural chauvinists.in any case, the study of Islam when i undertook it almost a quarter cebtury ago led me to the most beautiful and important experience and treasure of my life which is Islam.to practice Islam with Love and the guidnce and blessings of Allah is treasure beyond diescription adn i am so sorry that with more than a billion muslims in the world, the great najority ofwhom are caring, loving, merciful and insightful very good parenting people, that you happened to find the hostile press that ahs become commonplace, and the revisionism which threatens my faith, rather than the beauty of Islam.

  • ROBIN HARDEY

    WHEN ANYONE SUBSCRIBES TO A THOUGHT OR PRACTICE THEY SHOULD ALWAYS BE ALLOWED THE LIBERTY OF DISCUSSING IT’S PRECEPTS…..EVEN THE BIBLE TEACHES YOU TO STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED. SEEKING TRUTH SHOULD ALWAYS ALLOW DISCUSSION. DEBATING IS A FORM OF PASSIONATE DISCUSSION AND IS IN AMERICA MY RIGHT TO QUESTION AND NOT JUST ACCEOT BECAUSE SOMEONE TELLS ME TOO.

  • Lucinda Coffey

    Irshad is a breath of fresh air in a world of religious dissension. Her quest for free thinking in the Islamic world will not be an easy task, but it will be done. For those who think it cannot be done or those who think free thinking should not prevail, you are wrong. God gave us two ears and one mouth. People that are dedicated to ijtihad will use God’s wisdom and listen with an open mind and speak with intelligence and truth. Yes, the truth will set you free.

  • Dan M.

    If ijtihad were to be embraced by muslims, in a reasoned attempt to establish dialogue with the other religions & cultures, I think muslims would be received with open arms! As a thinking Christian, I am happy to discuss other religious points of view. I have no fear that my faith will be damaged. In fact, I suspect that my God is quite a bit larger than my understanding of Him. Jesus said “I have sheep who are not of this fold.” Maybe I can learn more about God by meeting people from “other folds”! I know some Christian denominations who could use some of this “ijtihad”!

  • Sita

    Why is it important that we Muslims start practicing Ijtihad? The obvious answer is because Muslims these days are not using their heads and the other reason is because many in Europe and the Middle East are blind-sighted by the 7th-Century Tribal Norms, giving Islam an ugly image. I’m not even going to delve into the Male-Female issue because that in and of itself deserves its own topic, however I will give you an example, why I believe it is necessary that Muslims all over the world, even here in America, start practicing Ijtihad. My cousin came over to visit me for the first time. I live in Las Vegas. I am 22 years old and I’m a woman, while she’s only a little child, eight ears of age. As everyone in the entire country knows, Las Vegas has the reputation of Sin City and for obvious and good reasons. However, this is my home and it has treated well for the past decade. I love it here and I don’t think I would ever move. With that said, let me enlighten you as to where my cousin comes from. She’s this cute little adorable eight year old girl who comes from Michigan…a small town in Michigan where unfortunately, the immigrants, directly from their home country are in charge of things and passing down their harsh 7th Century Tribal Norms onto my cousin. When she came to see me in Vegas, she was shocked at all the people at the airport who were gambling. Her parents never told her what Vegas was so when she first got off the plane, she was shocked and upset that so many people were gambling. She later told me that all those people would be going to hell for what they were doing. Now you can only imagine, I was absolutely floored with her statement. Not being super-girly or anything, but this little girl should be thinking about life and adventure and exploration and friends and toys, and going out and having fun in life, not condemning people for doing something so obtuse as gambling. Now, I have my own opinions about those who gamble, and though my religion forbids it, I did put 25 cents in a machine and I was happy with getting 50 cents back. No harm done. I never gamble, not even when my closest family members do. With that said, I did not like the high and mighty, stuck up attitude that Muslims were superior to others, at least, that’s what I got from this little girl. So I said, well that’s not true. What if they were good people all their life and then in that one moment, they gambled for the first time in their life. Or what if, they were very good Religious people and then in just one second, they wanted to put in just one coin? Does that mean everything they did in life makes them bad for that one little mistake? Do you think God would abandon them because of that one little mistake? Does Allah hate all his children for the little mistakes they make in life if they say their sorry and repent? I literally saw the light bulb click, and she smiled at me. Critical thinking is so very important because the old traditions of ancient centuries that are still being practiced is the cause of our ignorant population of an eye for an eye theology of mass Muslims. Please don’t’ get me wrong. I love my religion and I love my culture but I’m also an American living in the 21st CENTURY World…meaning, things have got to change and they have to change for the better. I am a proud Muslim however, I do feel that most of the Muslim society, especially in the middle east are blind…blind to the fact that they are no longer living in ancient societies and that we are now living in the 21st century. If many more Muslims would practice Ijtihad, like myself, then they would realize that life isn’t just black and white, write or wrong, and they would not be brain-washing children like my cousin with out-dated traditions and teaching them such ugly hatred at a time in life when everything should be beautiful. After all, what is a child if there is no innocence?

  • Sita

    Why is it important that we Muslims start practicing Ijtihad? The obvious answer is because Muslims these days are not using their heads and the other reason is because many in Europe and the Middle East are blind-sighted by the 7th-Century Tribal Norms, giving Islam an ugly image. I’m not even going to delve into the Male-Female issue because that in and of itself deserves its own topic, however I will give you an example, why I believe it is necessary that Muslims all over the world, even here in America, start practicing Ijtihad. My cousin came over to visit me for the first time. I live in Las Vegas. I am 22 years old and I’m a woman, while she’s only a little child, eight ears of age. As everyone in the entire country knows, Las Vegas has the reputation of Sin City and for obvious and good reasons. However, this is my home and it has treated well for the past decade. I love it here and I don’t think I would ever move. With that said, let me enlighten you as to where my cousin comes from. She’s this cute little adorable eight year old girl who comes from Michigan…a small town in Michigan where unfortunately, the immigrants, directly from their home country are in charge of things and passing down their harsh 7th Century Tribal Norms onto my cousin. When she came to see me in Vegas, she was shocked at all the people at the airport who were gambling. Her parents never told her what Vegas was so when she first got off the plane, she was shocked and upset that so many people were gambling. She later told me that all those people would be going to hell for what they were doing. Now you can only imagine, I was absolutely floored with her statement. Not being super-girly or anything, but this little girl should be thinking about life and adventure and exploration and friends and toys, and going out and having fun in life, not condemning people for doing something so obtuse as gambling. Now, I have my own opinions about those who gamble, and though my religion forbids it, I did put 25 cents in a machine and I was happy with getting 50 cents back. No harm done. I never gamble, not even when my closest family members do. With that said, I did not like the high and mighty, stuck up attitude that Muslims were superior to others, at least, that’s what I got from this little girl. So I said, well that’s not true. What if they were good people all their life and then in that one moment, they gambled for the first time in their life. Or what if, they were very good Religious people and then in just one second, they wanted to put in just one coin? Does that mean everything they did in life makes them bad for that one little mistake? Do you think God would abandon them because of that one little mistake? Does Allah hate all his children for the little mistakes they make in life if they say their sorry and repent? I literally saw the light bulb click, and she smiled at me. Critical thinking is so very important because the old traditions of ancient centuries that are still being practiced is the cause of our ignorant population of an eye for an eye theology of mass Muslims. Please don’t’ get me wrong. I love my religion and I love my culture but I’m also an American living in the 21st CENTURY World…meaning, things have got to change and they have to change for the better. I am a proud Muslim however, I do feel that most of the Muslim society, especially in the middle east are blind…blind to the fact that they are no longer living in ancient societies and that we are now living in the 21st century. If many more Muslims would practice Ijtihad, like myself, then they would realize that life isn’t just black and white, write or wrong, and they would not be brain-washing children like my cousin with out-dated traditions and teaching them such ugly hatred at a time in life when everything should be beautiful. After all, what is a child if there is no innocence?

  • Russ Paladino

    There is no more important mission in today’s world than taking back Islam from the death merchants who have stolen it. The only way to achieve this, I believe, is if there can b discussion about the Qur’an without fear of death. The only way Islam can have a place in the modern world is if brave people of the Islamic faith like Irshad speak up and be heard by the masses of muslims who only hear the fundamentalists version of things.

  • Russ Paladino

    There is no more important mission in today’s world than taking back Islam from the death merchants who have stolen it. The only way to achieve this, I believe, is if there can b discussion about the Qur’an without fear of death. The only way Islam can have a place in the modern world is if brave people of the Islamic faith like Irshad speak up and be heard by the masses of muslims who only hear the fundamentalists version of things.

  • Sita

    Why is it important that we Muslims start practicing Ijtihad? The obvious answer is because Muslims these days are not using their heads and the other reason is because many in Europe and the Middle East are blind-sighted by the 7th-Century Tribal Norms, giving Islam an ugly image. I’m not even going to delve into the Male-Female issue because that in and of itself deserves its own topic, however I will give you an example, why I believe it is necessary that Muslims all over the world, even here in America, start practicing Ijtihad. My cousin came over to visit me for the first time. I live in Las Vegas. I am 22 years old and I’m a woman, while she’s only a little child, eight ears of age. As everyone in the entire country knows, Las Vegas has the reputation of Sin City and for obvious and good reasons. However, this is my home and it has treated well for the past decade. I love it here and I don’t think I would ever move. With that said, let me enlighten you as to where my cousin comes from. She’s this cute little adorable eight year old girl who comes from Michigan…a small town in Michigan where unfortunately, the immigrants, directly from their home country are in charge of things and passing down their harsh 7th Century Tribal Norms onto my cousin. When she came to see me in Vegas, she was shocked at all the people at the airport who were gambling. Her parents never told her what Vegas was so when she first got off the plane, she was shocked and upset that so many people were gambling. She later told me that all those people would be going to hell for what they were doing. Now you can only imagine, I was absolutely floored with her statement. Not being super-girly or anything, but this little girl should be thinking about life and adventure and exploration and friends and toys, and going out and having fun in life, not condemning people for doing something so obtuse as gambling. Now, I have my own opinions about those who gamble, and though my religion forbids it, I did put 25 cents in a machine and I was happy with getting 50 cents back. No harm done. I never gamble, not even when my closest family members do. With that said, I did not like the high and mighty, stuck up attitude that Muslims were superior to others, at least, that’s what I got from this little girl. So I said, well that’s not true. What if they were good people all their life and then in that one moment, they gambled for the first time in their life. Or what if, they were very good Religious people and then in just one second, they wanted to put in just one coin? Does that mean everything they did in life makes them bad for that one little mistake? Do you think God would abandon them because of that one little mistake? Does Allah hate all his children for the little mistakes they make in life if they say their sorry and repent? I literally saw the light bulb click, and she smiled at me. Critical thinking is so very important because the old traditions of ancient centuries that are still being practiced is the cause of our ignorant population of an eye for an eye theology of mass Muslims. Please don’t’ get me wrong. I love my religion and I love my culture but I’m also an American living in the 21st CENTURY World…meaning, things have got to change and they have to change for the better. I am a proud Muslim however, I do feel that most of the Muslim society, especially in the middle east are blind…blind to the fact that they are no longer living in ancient societies and that we are now living in the 21st century. If many more Muslims would practice Ijtihad, like myself, then they would realize that life isn’t just black and white, write or wrong, and they would not be brain-washing children like my cousin with out-dated traditions and teaching them such ugly hatred at a time in life when everything should be beautiful. After all, what is a child if there is no innocence?

  • SLCR

    What all authoritarian regimes in any time in history have feared most is the education and free thinking of the people they want to keep in submission. There was a time when only the priests of the Catholic Church were allowed to read The Bible. It was illegal to translate it into other languages and for anyone else to read it. There came a time when the “rebels” of their day secretly translated and distributed The Bible to the masses. Many were executed for their “heresy”. Then it was illegal for Catholics to question their religion and many were executed for doing so. Today we know the rebels of their day were right. People have a right to be free and to think for themselves. It is early in the struggle to be free of the authoritarian regime in Islam; but, the day will come as more and more people (young and old all over the Islamic world) question their lives and their choices. Part of the process is that once the new philosophy is introduced and begins to take hold, it takes several generations to become reality as those of the old way of thinking die and are replaced by those of the new. Now that the movement has begun, it will not be stopped.

  • Pamela Warr

    Thank goodness the Muslim faith has its forward thinkers too! Ijtihad is a necessary movement in all faiths! Here in the US, the Christian bible is interpreted many different ways, making it possible for any person to find for themselves a meaningful faith. True, we disagree about the original meaning of the words; and yet, the teachings are as vital to one person as to another.

  • Anonymous

    Bravo once again Irshad, for not only telling the truth but for eliciting such strong responses from so many people. In many ways, this is what you are asking for: for people to speak their minds freely and use relevant facts to back up their arguments. Slowly, slowly, you will find what you are looking for.I think it’s important to make a distinction between interfaith marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men vs. Muslim men and non-Muslim women. My whole life, I’ve known Muslim men who can marry whomever they like. Most of the time, the women are forced to convert to Islam otherwise they are welcoming all manners of heartache and stress into their lives. But in the reverse, it is forbidden. Why? Methinks it is another silent, slow-moving form of jihad – facilitating the conversion of non-Muslims one (to four) at a time.That being said, all of this is superficial nonsense that doesn’t deal with the root of what plagues Islam, and that is political control. As the Iranian Mariane Satrapi wrote: “The regime understood that one person leaving her house while asking herself, ‘Are my trousers long enough? Is my veil in place? Can my makeup be seen? Are they going to whip me?’ no longer asks herself, ‘Where is my freedom of thought? Where is my freedom of speech? My life, is it livable? What’s going on in the political prisons?'” Until Muslims wake up to and revolt against the fact that their religion is being used to steal their livelihoods and happiness, the world will not have peace. Non-Muslims can help in this struggle, in many creative ways, but ultimately, it is up to the brethren of the people who would take away all freedom of expression to claim back their religion and their individuality.

  • SSW

    Bravo once again Irshad, for not only telling the truth but for eliciting such strong responses from so many people. In many ways, this is what you are asking for: for people to speak their minds freely and use relevant facts to back up their arguments. Slowly, slowly, you will find what you are looking for.I think it’s important to make a distinction between interfaith marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men vs. Muslim men and non-Muslim women. My whole life, I’ve known Muslim men who can marry whomever they like. Most of the time, the women are forced to convert to Islam otherwise they are welcoming all manners of heartache and stress into their lives. But in the reverse, it is forbidden. Why? Methinks it is another silent, slow-moving form of jihad – facilitating the conversion of non-Muslims one (to four) at a time.That being said, all of this is superficial nonsense that doesn’t deal with the root of what plagues Islam, and that is political control. As the Iranian Mariane Satrapi wrote: “The regime understood that one person leaving her house while asking herself, ‘Are my trousers long enough? Is my veil in place? Can my makeup be seen? Are they going to whip me?’ no longer asks herself, ‘Where is my freedom of thought? Where is my freedom of speech? My life, is it livable? What’s going on in the political prisons?'” Until Muslims wake up to and revolt against the fact that their religion is being used to steal their livelihoods and happiness, the world will not have peace. Non-Muslims can help in this struggle, in many creative ways, but ultimately, it is up to the brethren of the people who would take away all freedom of expression to reclaim the religion and their individuality within it.

  • Anonymous

    Bravo once again Irshad, for not only telling the truth but for eliciting such strong responses from so many people. In many ways, this is what you are asking for: for people to speak their minds freely and use relevant facts to back up their arguments. Slowly, slowly, you will find what you are looking for.I think it’s important to make a distinction between interfaith marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men vs. Muslim men and non-Muslim women. My whole life, I’ve known Muslim men who can marry whomever they like. Most of the time, the women are forced to convert to Islam otherwise they are welcoming all manners of heartache and stress into their lives. But in the reverse, it is forbidden. Why? Methinks it is another silent, slow-moving form of jihad – facilitating the conversion of non-Muslims one (to four) at a time.That being said, all of this is superficial nonsense that doesn’t deal with the root of what plagues Islam, and that is political control. As the Iranian Mariane Satrapi wrote: “The regime understood that one person leaving her house while asking herself, ‘Are my trousers long enough? Is my veil in place? Can my makeup be seen? Are they going to whip me?’ no longer asks herself, ‘Where is my freedom of thought? Where is my freedom of speech? My life, is it livable? What’s going on in the political prisons?'” Until Muslims wake up to and revolt against the fact that their religion is being used to steal their livelihoods and happiness, the world will not have peace. Non-Muslims can help in this struggle, in many creative ways, but ultimately, it is up to the brethren of the people who would take away all freedom of expression to reclaim the religion and their right to practice openly and honestly.

  • Karren Brown

    Thank you Irshid, as always thought provoking and challenging. To quote an agnostic saying about religion “I don’t know and neither do you.” No matter what anyone’s faith is it is exactly that – Faith. All human cultures over all time had and still have beliefs in something greater than ourselves. The attempt to explain who we are, what our place is in the universe and what our obligations are to each other and to the Power that created all is at the core of being human. There has to be a recognition that we are never, in this life at least, going to be able to answer these questions, but we must always keep asking them. It is an act of arrogance and disrespect to the Power to assume that any of us have the answer and that our answer is the right one. Faith must never be preserved, because the only things that are preserved are dead. Faith is kept alive by sharing experiences, questioning, discussing beliefs. Faith is living and breathing.A thousand years ago my ancestors, good Celts that they were, practiced human sacrifice as part of their faith. It is hard to think of ever so great grandma and grandpa stringing up one of the neighbors in the sacred grove as part of going to church. Through these thousand years this part of my family eventually became Lutherans. I am just thankful that there was the opportunity for my ancestors to question and discuss the value of human sacrifice in their faith and make a change. I like my neighbors.

  • fred p

    I’m all for anything where Muslims are encouraged to be freedom loving and free thinking

  • Rob Brant

    I wish to offer my support to all muslims that have the courage to practice the tradition of creative reasoning. Stand up and demonstrate to the world just how peaceful the muslim faith should be, and respectful to the rest of the world.Peace Now

  • Daniel Mack

    Without a doubt, Irshad and people like her will save our world from many wars to come if their ideas are listened to. Critical thinking in the Islamic world will bring moderate muslims together to fight against the terrorists and killers that have hijacked their religion. And it will hopefully lead to human rights for women, gays and eveyone else whose rights are currently non-existent in the Islamic world.

  • Ernest Klimonda

    Irshad speaks my mind. I hope she will succeed in making Islam a more reasonable religion.Ernest Klimonda

  • Jeff G.

    Islamic Reformation is necessary as a feature of enhancing community peace and understanding. Perpetuating tribal distortions (in any religion) only can divert attention from the original messages.Marriage and love are complex and can be challenging for any one of us. May they elevate our human relationships progressively in a more spiritual direction. Irshad Manji and Project Ijtihad are blessings in these times.

  • Jeff G.

    Islamic Reformation is necessary as a feature of enhancing community peace and understanding. Perpetuating tribal distortions (in any religion) only can divert attention from the original messages.Marriage and love are complex and can be challenging for any one of us. May they elevate our human relationships progressively in a more spiritual direction. Irshad Manji and Project Ijtihad are blessings in these times.

  • Barbara C

    Tribalism is spoken about as if it doesn’t exist in America and ‘civilized’ countries. As if this thought process and lifestlye is antiquated, but you need not look far to see it. From a leader who says you are with us or against us, teen gangs, to families and work groups this behavior exists. People give up their individuality and ability to choose right from wrong to belong, maybe it gives them a sense of security.

  • J Wright

    Thank you for continuing your efforts to encourage a meaningful and useful dialog about critical issues. I admire your thoughtful commitment and courage. You are a beacon of hope.

  • James Hill

    Very good article and Project Ijtihad is a needful recommitment and new direction.For what it’s worth. The Age of Reason is seen negatively by much of Evangelical Christianity. There are many parallels to the Reformation, particularly in areas of literacy and each person’s responsibility to read and evaluate God’s Word on it’s own merits, independent of expert opinions.

  • hjcreary

    Irshad imrpesses as very voluble and focused. Her preferences are not for discussion here, but her desire for peace is. Hopefully she is able to bring together Muslim, Jewish and Christian believers into a tranquil unity of purpose, one motivated by love and not competition. I will read the above article next, and look forward to further news of Ishad (whom I saw on television yesterday…).

  • Barbara C

    Addendum:

  • Elke Barrett

    I was born 67 years ago in Germany, catholic and raised during and after WWII.I have read your Book, I will read it again and again to get a better understanding of your religion.Thus far I believe your modern interpretation or translation of the Koran will help towards understanding and all of us, meaning all peoples and all religions, living in peace.I do believe it will take a very long time. God bless you Irshad, always, and watch over you and protect you.You are my hope for the future, you are a modern day Prophet of peace.Very sincerelyElke Barrett

  • gordon peterson

    what irshad says is what muslims of today should be thinking about. all religions have to be updated periodically. she is a wise person and not one to be reviled.

  • Bill Privette

    Knowledge will rule the day. Eventually, intelligent people will overthrow despots and terrorists. I hope that Islamists recognize that simple truth and reject the bullies among them.

  • margaret donato

    As a 30+ year convert to Islam, it is long overdue for “reform” which to me means taking the body politic from misogynistic paternalistic and, yes, racist fundamentalists. I personally would advise you, Irshad, to leave your gender preferences, which are truly your business, out of the spotlight and focus on hoping to see Islam become a genuinely liveable religion, i.e. way of life.

  • Bart

    To Margaret:

  • Nina Wouk

    Islam-with-ijtihad sounds to me a lot like Reconstructionist Judaism: Islam as an evolving religious civilization. Evolution can be viewed God’s way of enabling us to adapt and survive. A lot of comments say that any attempt at reforming Islam risks likely failure, but where would we be now if people had never taken risks? Every change has to begin somewhere and I am very happy to see this one, however small or great it may turn out, beginning.

  • Nina Wouk

    Islam-with-ijtihad sounds to me a lot like Reconstructionist Judaism: Islam as an evolving religious civilization. Evolution can be viewed God’s way of enabling us to adapt and survive. A lot of comments say that any attempt at reforming Islam risks likely failure, but where would we be now if people had never taken risks? Every change has to begin somewhere and I am very happy to see this one, however small or great it may turn out, beginning.

  • Tom

    Project Ijtihad can be a ray of hope, in a ever increasing dark and barbaric world. Let it be a renewal of Islam and reason for hope for all, one person at a time.

  • Ron Hinchley

    It is wonderful to hear the sound of faith and reason go hand in hand. These estranged bedfellows really need to be reconciled.

  • may

    One thing that is very frustrating to me is that it is hard to change the nature of people that come from these non western countries who naturally, like status quo. When people are trying to change the Muslims (in the nonwestern countries)to be more open than they are now, it is not just trying to change in religion, but also the culture. How do you change a culture? The culture has been around for thousands of years (and Islam has been around only since the 7th century).

  • Nakia

    May, if it’s people that you’re trying to change, you’ve got your work cut out for you. You’d do far better to create an environment where such changes can be made by those who CHOOSE to make them. To ask questions, to spark discussions, to urge people toward reflection is about all one can manage- not even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) could change people, or their culture, without their consent. He brought the message, and inspired the change that ripples through the world today.

  • Buzz

    Irshad has once again opened a doorway of opportunity. Her article begins with the premise that asks the reader to consider a thought/idea/concept/change in the notion of interfaith marriage. I only wish that she had expanded more on the concept from the viewpoint of how the elements of say a woman with a Muslim life lens and a man raised in the western world with a different life lens would blend. Are their barriers that can not be overcome such as age or is it simply a matter of love?Additionally, her article reinterates some of Irshad’s concepts and ideas which I believe warrant consideration for application in this crazy world. Thank you again Irshad. Thank you folks for posting the article.Buzz

  • kayJay

    Blessings to Irshad. She has taken a bold but necessary point of view for all Muslims not just women. Her message needs to reach the “young and the restless”. Perhaps a generation from now all religions will live in peace.

  • Fran B.

    Irshad Manji is a voice of reason in the Muslim community. Let’s hope that her attempts to revive the spirit of Ijtihad are successful. The benefits will reach far beyond the Muslim world.

  • Jamie Caton

    SHADEOFCHINAR, I believe it is you who needs to cleanse his soul (and his mouth), not the homosexuals who walk this earth. Then again, I am not one to judge your soul as you are not one to judge others for being, GOD BLESSED – WHO THEY ARE. How did Irshad’s intellectual discussion on inter-faith marriage turn into your homo bashing? Your “argument” (if it may be called that) is weak and full of hate. A weak attempt to combat Manji and her call for reform in the Muslim world.QUOTING shadeofchinar :

  • Barbara C

    When someone can’t give reasonable statements in a discussion or debate they tend to start bashing thru prejudicial statements. I have read and reread the Quran and the story of Lut. No where does it say that I or anyone else has the right to bash homosexuals. The beauty of Islam is that Each of is is responsible for our own decisions and behavior and it is not our responsibility to judge. All of the political rhetoric and media coverage about gay marriage, rights, etc… is just a camouflage to keep people away from the real issues- war, poverty, and oppression.

  • Bob Powers

    I believe Irshad’s greatest contribution is her extolling the virtues of the Qur’an and how it doesn’t preclude western thinking. I only hear about radical Islam and cannot understand why imams, with few eceptions, are not vilifying those who misinterpret the teachings of Muhammad. If I were to only listen to the the radical side I certainly wouldn’t want anything to do with Islam or anyone who followed their teachings.Irshad’s voice is clear, urbane and needs to be heard by all.

  • Les Hiebert

    Hi,Irshad’s article is brilliant, timely, and oh so practical. I find myself married to a Muslim (although I am not one myself), and it works out fine,… and lest you think we live in some isolated caccon I can assure you that we travel and live all over the world and are subject to many difficult situations.My wife is always accepted in the (non-Muslim) western world, by my friends, family, and associates. Our troubles are always in the middle east or in her native Indonesia where our relationship is not accepted. What kind of a message does that send to me? The door of tolerance seems to swing only one way.Obviously project ijtihad is very much needed at a time like this. I wish you the best in this effort.Cheers,Les

  • Darrell Wilke

    Allowing the “next” generation of Muslims to break free of tribalism and to be able to interpret the Quran in light of the 21st century is the ONLY way terrorism will be defeated! More power to Irshad and other Muslims who think that bringing their religion out of the dark ages is the true way to eternal happiness. Let’s give the next generation a reason to live instead of a reason to blow themselves up!

  • *

    Life is good. Let’s continue it.

  • Youssef Azghari

    I read the article of Irshad Manji with great interest. I agree with her message and would like to add that using ijtihad in our daily life is the only way for our fellow Muslims to wake up from our long sleep. Our nightmare is that very fanatic Muslims who have narrow minded ideas about the Quran, for instance the Taliban in Afghanistan, destroy the beauty and spirituality of islam by spreading nonsense in the name of islam. At the same time I realize that it is not the solution for all the problems that we face now. But without ijtihad we are not able to take our destiny in our own hand and be responsible for our own decisions that we make. We cannot enjoy freedom as long as the gates of ijtihad remain closed.It is according to me the only way to find real peace in Islam. To practice ijtihad is to practice tolerance. Ijtihad stimulates Muslims to think (like in the Golden Age several centuries ago in the muslimworld) by themselves and avoid ignorance. By emphasizing ijtihad we open also our hearts towards non-Muslims with different backgrounds. Ijtihad is open to diversity.I want to support the efforts of Irshad and the members of the project Ijtihad. Therefore I will spread as a Moroccan-Dutch commentator this message about ijtihad to all Muslims in Holland by writing next week an article about it in the Dutch daily newspaper in Trouw

  • Youssef Azghari

    I read the article of Irshad with great interest. I agree with her message and would like to add that using ijtihad in our daily life is the only way for our fellow Muslims to wake up from our long sleep. Our nightmare is that very fanatic Muslims who have narrow minded ideas about the Quran, for instance the Taliban in Afghanistan, destroy the beauty and spirituality of islam by spreading nonsense in the name of islam. At the same time I realize that it is not the solution for all the problems that we face now. But without ijtihad we are not able to take our destiny in our own hand and be responsible for our own decisions that we make. We cannot enjoy freedom as long as the gates of ijtihad remain closed.It is according to me the only way to find real peace in Islam. To practice ijtihad is to practice tolerance. Ijtihad stimulates Muslims to think (like in the Golden Age several centuries ago in the muslimworld) by themselves and avoid ignorance. By emphasizing ijtjihad we open also our hearts towards non-Muslims with different backgrounds. Ijtihad is open to diversity.I want to support the efforts of Irshad and the members of the project Ijitihad. Therefore I will spread as a Moroccan-Dutch commentator this message about ijtihad to all Muslims in Holland by writing next week an article about it in the Dutch daily newspaper in Trouw.

  • Youssef Azghari

    I read the article of Irshad with great interest. I agree with her message and would like to add that using ijtihad in our daily life is the only way for our fellow Muslims to wake up from our long sleep. Our nightmare is that very fanatic Muslims who have narrow minded ideas about the Quran, for instance the Taliban in Afghanistan, destroy the beauty and spirituality of islam by spreading nonsense in the name of islam. At the same time I realize that it is not the solution for all the problems that we face now. But without ijtihad we are not able to take our destiny in our own hand and be responsible for our own decisions that we make. We cannot enjoy freedom as long as the gates of ijtihad remain closed.It is according to me the only way to find real peace in Islam. To practice ijtihad is to practice tolerance. Ijtihad stimulates Muslims to think (like in the Golden Age several centuries ago in the muslimworld) by themselves and avoid ignorance. By emphasizing ijtjihad we open also our hearts towards non-Muslims with different backgrounds. Ijtihad is open to diversity.I want to support the efforts of Irshad and the members of the project Ijitihad. Therefore I will spread as a Moroccan-Dutch commentator this message about ijtihad to all Muslims in Holland by writing next week an article about it in the Dutch daily newspaper in Trouw.

  • Marilyn Lee

    “What is good Phaedrus and what is not good? Need anyone tell us these things?”

  • Raquel Evita Saraswati, Executive Director, Project Ijtihad

    Dear Mr. Azghari:Be well brother,

  • Doug Martin

    May God bless Irshad Manji, the words she writes speak to the truth about what progressive positive thinking Muslims, Jews and Christians need to realize. Those who would take the words of the Bible, Torah, or Qur’an and use the literal interpretations to diminish women do so against what makes sense to honourable persons of faith. It is important that we appreciate the courage of women and men who are willing to renounce any interpretation of the holy books of any religion that supports hate, killing, or any teachings that diminish the place of women in society. I support and encourage the views and attitudes of Irshad and all like minded people. God Bless this courageous woman.

  • Naema Tahir

    I strongly support Project Ijtihad. I have been writing on muslim issues for the last few years, published books on identity, self criticism and human rights of muslimwomen. Especially, their reproductive rights, I believe are key to muslimwomen’s emancipation. It is only logical that given the times we live in, we need to be more ambititious with regard to our thinking and believing. For me ambition means, lets think and rethink rather than being subordinate to what others have -maybe wrongly- thought right over de last centuries. Naema Tahir, Netherlands based human rights lawyer, author of Precious possession (novel on reproductive rights of muslimwomen), and A Muslimwoman unveils (on critism within muslimcommunities).

  • Keith Murphy

    The Bible also teaches us to think for ourselves, look inside for answers. Many interfaith and interracial marriages have increased partners respect for one another and made the journey in life a gift of cooperation and growth in knowledge.

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  • Martha Toy

    The processes of ijtihad and bad’i are universal faculties of the human mind. Both of these processes are opposite sides of the same coin of human evolution and they are both essential in promoting and supporting the truest alignment of daily human life with that quality of Divine Goodness which is humanity’s strongest and most vital nature.

  • Sherisse Kyle

    Terrific article! This is exactly the sort of dialogue and groundroots change that is needed.Consider the evolution of Christian denominations, which initially began as very hierarchical and then evolved over the years to the point that it is accepted that every Christian can read and interpret the Bible as he (or she) is moved by God. No other earthly authority is necessary to intuit the will of God, only the quiet voice of the individual in personal communion with God.It would be healthy for all Muslims to embrace the same individual right and ability to commune privately with Allah and to interpret the Qu’ran for oneself. Reject the outdated, fascist idea that only an elite caste of conservative clerics can truly know the will and word of God. I am heartened for the future of the world when I read of the possibilities for change that grassroots ijtihad offers us all.

  • HelpfulGuide

    Recommended book to understand apparent hostile verses of the Quran, the place of extremism within the Islamic social fabric, traditional reign of knowledge over mere ideology, whether or not Islam needs to be modernized, Islam and democracy, and economics of terrorism:’Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars’These authors avoid the obvious credential shortfalls of the vast majority of all recent authorships about Islam — all are Western natives who are PhD/candidate Muslims in the field of Islamic studies, educated in the Middle Eastern languages and Islamic philosophy.

  • Anonymous

    Irshad’s words are a message of hope.If societies are to advance, then people must not only be able to practice what they believe, but also allow others to do the same.

  • D. Markell

    Dear Irshad,The women of Islam must speak and flourish…

  • Alicia

    Irshad, in my opinion, you are the Scarlet Pimpernel. Pretending to be a clown or a fop, while engaged in the most deadly serious and important task of progressively reforming Islam. Just want you to know that there are a lot of people, like me, who regard you (and Ayyan Hirsi Ali) as the real heroines of the Muslim world today.Thanks.

  • Mac

    Irshad is a voice of reason and hope in the Muslim world that is too often only represented by hate and threats from small minded fanatics.Peace be upon her and let us all hope that her message of tolerance and logic is picked up by more people of her religion.

  • Mac

    Irshad is a voice of reason and hope in the Muslim world that is too often only represented by hate and threats from small minded fanatics.Peace be upon her and let us all hope that her message of tolerance and logic is picked up by more people of her religion.

  • Mac

    Irshad is a voice of reason and hope in the Muslim world that is too often only represented by hate and threats from small minded fanatics.Peace be upon her and let us all hope that her message of tolerance and logic is picked up by more people of her religion.

  • Mac

    Irshad is a voice of reason and hope in the Muslim world that is too often only represented by hate and threats from small minded fanatics.Peace be upon her and let us all hope that her message of tolerance and logic is picked up by more people of her religion.

  • MVB

    Ms. Manji speaks a common truth that should be heard by fundamentalists of all religions. Since the Quran and the Bible reflected the cultural climate of the day, they should serve as only spiritual guides for the present. The basic ideologies and values that all great prophets have shared….are indisputable. It seems illogical to interpret anything literally that was written under political influence and translated with many different interpretations.I fully support Irshad in her unwavering efforts to pursue a new awareness of critical thinking. This should be taught in elementary schools all over the world. Thank you for posting this superb article.MVB

  • MVB

    Ms. Manji speaks a common truth that should be heard by fundamentalists of all religions. Since the Quran and the Bible reflected the cultural climate of the day, they should serve as only spiritual guides for the present. The basic ideologies and values that all great prophets have shared….are indisputable. It seems illogical to interpret anything literally that was written under political influence and translated with many different interpretations.I fully support Irshad in her unwavering efforts to pursue a new awareness of critical thinking. This should be taught in elementary schools all over the world. Thank you for posting this superb article.MVB

  • MVB

    Ms. Manji speaks a common truth that should be heard by fundamentalists of all religions. Since the Quran and the Bible reflected the cultural climate of the day, they should serve as only spiritual guides for the present. The basic ideologies and values that all great prophets have shared….are indisputable. It seems illogical to interpret anything literally that was written under political influence and translated with many different interpretations.I fully support Irshad in her unwavering efforts to pursue a new awareness of critical thinking. This should be taught in elementary schools all over the world. Thank you for posting this superb article.MVB

  • Alassan Jallow

    Your article is very interesting, because it raises the questions that scare Muslims in 21st century. If Islam is to survive as a religion, it must tacle these two problems: interfaith marriage or love and violence.

  • Falastine

    Assalamu Alaikom, Thank you, Irshad, for this beautiful piece. Reading the essay and all that you said about Ijtihad side by side with readers’ comments, I realize that an Islamic reform can’twon’t happen between a day and a night, but it’s not a dream and it has already started with the efforts of reform minded Muslims all over the world… As a Muslim raised up in Arab and Muslim country like Palestine, I profoundly believe that an Islamic reform is an obligation as we, Muslims, try to emerge in our modern world and be a productive part of it rather than continue living in the shells of fanatic dogmatic thinking. Thank you. Falastine DwikatPalestine

  • Fr. David O’Leary

    Greetings Irshad!I fully agree with your article. The age of reason in the West started when the University Chair took over from the Cathedral chair of the bishops.To use one’s mind, is to use the gift the Creator gave. All Sacred texts should be read in light of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Reason and Experience. The Sacred text came from the Sacred Tradition of a believing community.Keep up the great work.Pax et Lux,Fr. Dave O’Leary, S.T.L., D.Phil.

  • Lawrence S. Katz

    Critical analysis is important for Mulims and non-Muslims alike. Islam is here to stay, so it is essential that we non-Muslims support Irshad Manji and Project Ijtihad, a rational approach to Islam and its evolution into a religion consonant with a secular democracy and the universal rights of women.Lawrence S. Katz

  • Lawrence S. Katz

    Critical analysis is important for Mulims and non-Muslims alike. Islam is here to stay, so it is essential that we non-Muslims support Irshad Manji and Project Ijtihad, a rational approach to Islam and its evolution into a religion consonant with a secular democracy and the universal rights of women.Lawrence S. Katz

  • Dr Nik Azam

    The conservatives in Islam usually claim that their interpretations of the Islamic law and Quranic texts are the correct versions and are from God. Other interpretations or laws are man-made and so will have to be inferior to their versions.Our duty is to bring out the awareness that the Quranic verses are indeed eternal, but their interpretaions will have to depend on the circumstances of the world around us. Many Muslims are now living far away from Arabia and time keeps ticking away. We have to rethink on interpretations that were made centuries ago.The principles as enshrine in the Quaran are eternal, but the applications of the messages to us now, will have to depend on our present situations.Hamba Allah, Azam

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