The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher: Random House Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-35808-0 (0-307-35808-9)
Pub Date: June 7, 2011
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"Irshad Manji is the new voice of reform, not only for Islam, but for all religions."
— Deepak Chopra
The New York Times bestselling author to whom Oprah gave her first ever Chutzpah Award, Irshad Manji has written a book that equips all of us to develop moral courage.
Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our time, Irshad Manji reflects on the journey she has taken since her previous book catapulted her into the public spotlight, drawing on her real-life encounters with a world full of seekers who are struggling, as she has, to reconcile faith and freedom. Having engaged with politicians, activists, families, students, scholars and ordinary people of various religions and cultures, Manji tells stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about the morally confused era in which we live. In doing so, she paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to defend the values of liberal democracy--and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love. Above all, Manji shows that by participating in this signature cause of the 21st century, individuals can embark on a journey of their own towards moral courage. Allah, Liberty & Love is ultimately a book about how to become a gutsy global citizen working for both personal and world peace. Manji has faith not just in Allah, but also in her fellow human beings. Prepare to be informed as well as inspired.
Abdul Ghaffar Khan was a twentieth-century Muslim reformer. The son of a middling landowner, he lived in the region we refer to today as the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, an area now teeming with the Taliban. Life there could have taken a much different turn. And for a while, it did. In the years leading up to India's independence in 1947, thousands of Khan's people, the Pathans, reinterpreted honor and Islam. They showed that freedom comes from disciplining the self, not conquering the Other. Root out the fear within ourselves and our communities, these Pathans believed, and you'll seed a type of honor that ennobles every individual, including the female.
Ghaffar Khan's movement marched up to—and into—the volcano of segregationist tradition. "One of his first concerns was the role of women," observes the biographer and peace educator Eknath Easwaran. Ghaffar Khan "encouraged them to come out from behind the veil, as the women in his own family had done." His sister often toured the Frontier with him, addressing crowds herself as well as listening to the fiery orations of her brother. He knew his Qur'an, choosing to publicize those rarely recited passages that give women and men equal responsibilities. "My sisters," Ghaffar Khan announced to a large gathering, “God makes no distinction between men and women. If someone can surpass another, it is only through good deeds and morals. If you study history, you will see that there were many scholars and poets amongst women. It is a grave mistake we have made in degrading women . . . Today we are the followers of custom and we oppress you. But thank God that we have realized that our gain and loss, progress and downfall, are common.”
Ghaffar Khan didn't limit his empowerment efforts to speeches. He established a school for girls and published a journal, Pushtun, that questioned honor-drenched practices. In one issue, a contributor named Nagiria tells it as she sees it. "Except for the Pathan," she asserts, "the women have no enemy. He is clever but is ardent in suppressing women . . . O Pathan, when you demand your freedom, why do you deny it to women?" Both women and men demanded freedom from the British. As part of northern India, the Frontier was as colonized as the rest of the subcontinent, and maybe more so: Britain used the Pathan province as a rampart to keep imperial Russia's influence at bay. When the Indian freedom struggle picked up speed, Ghaffar Khan's alliance with Gandhi dovetailed with his countercultural Islam to ensure that Muslim women would be central players. Notes the Gandhi scholar Joan V. Bondurant, "Pathan women participating in nonviolent action campaigns would frequently take their stand facing the police or would lie down in orderly lines holding copies of the Quran."
"Irshad Manji is the new voice of reform, not only for Islam, but for all religions. When we realize that liberty and love, meaning and purpose are more sacred than ideology and dogma, our spirituality will come of age."
—Deepak Chopra, author of The Soul of Leadership
"Everyone thinks about courage: we admire it in others; we fear the shallowness of our own. Irshad Manji has earned our admiration; now, in her new book, she calls on the rest of us to summon our 'moral courage.' She asks both her fellow Muslims and non-Muslims to overcome the disapproval of family and peers - and speak truth. Manji writes in her usual vibrant and accessible style, with rich, compelling anecdotes and revealing interviews. This is an important and timely book, written by the master of moral courage."
—Lesley Stahl, CBS News' 60 Minutes
"Irshad Manji once again shows herself to be a Muslim reformist of outstanding courage. Hers is the unwavering conviction that all religions, including Islam, fulfill their timeless moral precepts through universal love, freedom and reason. To understand how these virtues can be allied with Allah and the Quran - not in theory, but in our messy real world - you must read this book."
—N.J. Dawood, bestselling translator of The Koran
"Irshad Manji's Allah, Liberty & Love is a passionate argument for passionate argument - in all of life and especially within Islam. I leave these pages strengthened by her humor, intelligence, bravery, fairness and faith."
"The democratic movements that have now emerged have shown just how many young Muslims want to give voice to their aspirations and achieve their full potential. If you want to get a taste of what they sound like, read Irshad Manji."
—Thomas Friedman, The New York Times
“Like the uprisings against Middle East dictators, Allah, Liberty & Love is a jolt of adrenalin in the struggle against enemies of humanity—those who would coerce a people’s rights or an individual’s conscience. Manji is a brave woman whose moral courage brings threats against her life. Now, even as she equips her Muslim brothers and sisters to ‘stay with integrity’ in their effort to replace dogma with faith, Manji challenges us who are not Muslims to take on the closed minds of our own religion, party, community or clan. This is a passionate yet practical guide for the journey of moral courage that each of us must begin if we are to live with dignity on a crowded planet.”
“Irshad Manji never gives up. In Allah, Liberty & Love, she chronicles her continuing struggle for an authentic Islamic reformation, one that she has rooted deeply in Islam’s own traditions. . . . She writes about her relations with a community that doesn’t quite know what to make of her—but also of the many Muslims who support her as she keeps her faith. Irshad Manji is at the forefront of some crucially important trends that are slowly changing the world of Islam.”
"An audacious, thoughtful call for people of all religions to move beyond hate, fear, and intolerance."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
"Irshad Manji has always been a voice of reason and hope....The brilliant aspect of this book? While it is written from a faith perspective, its lessons in moral courage, in doing the right thing, so to speak, are as valid for atheists, the humanists and the pagans."
"The book is for all who hope to make the world a better place.”
"Its arguments may centre around Islam, but the self-reflection and human values it prescribes are universal."
About this Author
IRSHAD MANJI teaches moral courage at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. A Globe and Mail columnist, she is also a scholar with the European Foundation for Democracy. Her #1 Canadian bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, earned international recognition and inspired Manji's Emmy-nominated PBS film, Faith Without Fear. The New York Times has called her "bin Laden's worst nightmare" while the Jakarta Post in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, has identified Manji as one of 3 women creating positive change in contemporary Islam.
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