President Obama was mistaken when he publicly declared that Osama bin Laden "was not a Muslim leader," asserts Irshad Manji in an excerpt of her latest book Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom. Bin Laden espoused a real interpretation of Islam, she writes, and the religion needs reformists to challenge this interpretation, not moderates to solidify the status quo.
Manji is a longtime reform advocate and director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University. While moderate Muslims, like moderate Jews and Christians, acknowledge flaws in their scripture, moderates in Islam hesitate to openly debate problematic passages in the Quran and censure those who speak out, she writes. But events within the Muslim community affect those outside the community and "so our business is everyone's business."
Perhaps the clearest example is an oft-cited passage that says "Whoever kills a human being…it is as if he has killed all humankind."
The missing phrase allows killing "as punishment for murder or other villainy in the land." Jihadists use that clause as "a loophole to exploit" and justify their violence, she writes.
Reformists can counter that loophole by showing "that more Muslims are being slaughtered by other Muslims than by anyone else."
Moderate Muslims may not be up to the job because they can be overly consumed with Western imperialism and fear that publicly criticizing their religion is tantamount to a total surrender of group honor and identity to the West, Manji writes. This blinds Muslims to the imperialists within Islam who "dominate, censor, injure and murder fellow Muslims."
"Moderate Muslims denounce violence committed in the name of Islam but insist that religion has nothing to do with it; reformist Muslims, by contrast, not only deplore Islamist violence but admit that our religion is used to incite it."
Read the full excerpt here.