Dissident Muslims, Dissonant Times: A Window into the Politics of Islamic Reform

By Sharify-Funk, Meena | Inroads: A Journal of Opinion, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Dissident Muslims, Dissonant Times: A Window into the Politics of Islamic Reform


Sharify-Funk, Meena, Inroads: A Journal of Opinion


Irshad Manji, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change. Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2005. 272 pages.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Raheel Raza, Their Jihad ... Not Mg Jihad!: A Muslim Canadian Woman Speaks Out. Ingersoll, ON: Basileia Books, 2005. 176 pages.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Although hardly a rigorous way of ascertaining what Canadians are reading about Islam, visits to major bookstore chains such as Chapters can be quite revealing. Content on the shelf (on occasion two shelves) labelled "Islam" varies, yet a certain genre almost always appears to be well stocked. Titles in this genre invoke themes of alarm or dissidence: The Trouble with Islam Today, Infidel, Their Jihad ... Not My Jihad!, Standing Alone in Mecca. Intriguingly, the authors of these books are typically women who take a stance at odds with their faith tradition and community. Their message is one of righteous, risk-taking dissent.

The ubiquity of these self-conscious dissident publications in mainstream Canadian bookstores finds a dramatic counterpoint in their virtually complete absence from shops oriented toward Muslim minority communities. Few Muslim book merchants would expect to profit by promoting these books to their customers--not only because they directly challenge conventional wisdom and communal authority, but also because they were not written for a specifically Muslim audience. Rather, they are largely books by Muslims (or in some cases "ex-Muslims"), about Muslims, for non-Muslims.

For the most part, their modes of argumentation do not resonate with the sensibilities of those arguing for change from within the Muslim community, and their generalizations about Islam and about the state of contemporary Muslim communities leave out experiences and issues that are of great importance to the larger Muslim readership. While the non-Muslim reader will often appreciate the bold, outspoken manner in which dissident books such as Irshad Manji's The Trouble with Islam Today and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel attack the misogyny and narrow-mindedness of reactionary thinkers, even exceptionally well-integrated members of Muslim diaspora communities often wince at the way these best-selling authors represent Islam to an eager non-Muslim readership.

Given recent events, the mainstream success of these books is not surprising--which says something not merely about what booksellers deem worthy of promotion but also about what engages the North American reading public. In their preoccupation with the question "What's wrong with the Muslims?" the books appeal to cultural liberals as well as to political conservatives, and they meet the demands of a market that was created in North America after the events of 9/11.

While one would expect "edgy," journalistic books to perform well in the aftermath of terrorist attacks and wars, there are nonetheless grounds for lamenting the more limited appeal of academically weighty studies of Islam and stories of cross-cultural and interreligious bridge-building. Beyond the very real problems of contemporary Muslim communities lies a rich and deeply varied Islamic tradition--a tradition whose historical contributions to the larger story of Western civilization and Abrahamic faith has too often been neglected. In the present climate of escalated political and cultural conflict, popular and accessible accounts of "what was right" in Islamic history or accounts of "missed opportunities" in Islamic-Western relations could provide a powerful corrective to the biases of defensive Muslim and suspicious non-Muslim readers alike. Instead, both Muslims and non-Muslims are more often turning to reading material that confirms impressionistic hunches and overgeneralizes about the "other." By crowding out a wider range of voices, they create problems for majority-minority relations in a multicultural society.

While assertive in its efforts to break Muslim taboos, the "dissident" literature about Islam and Muslims is unlikely to genuinely surprise the reader with new or unexpected information. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dissident Muslims, Dissonant Times: A Window into the Politics of Islamic Reform
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.