Allah, Liberty and Love

The book named Allah, Liberty and Love written by Irshad Manji is the book about Islam, its core values and rigid interpretations of these values that many Muslims turn into hostages of dogmatic thinking. The book gives us the answer to a number of interesting questions which impose themselves when the topic is the Islamic world and its interaction within the global trends.



These questions can be formulated as follows:

-          How is it possible that a culture that for centuries after their creation figured as afirmator of freedom of thought, becomes a culture which is perceived as the biggest global censor?

-          How is it possible that a religion that has been a lifeline for women at the time of its creation, becomes a synonym for their oppression?

-          How is it possible, I will paraphrase a bosnian writer Skender Kulenović, that some followers of the book which is against fetishes made fetish?

-          How is it possible that some followers of the faith that has been the inspiration for some of the greatest works of art and philosophy became destroyers of same heritage in other cultures?

Such questions go back to the distant past, but 11th September of 2001st is the date since these questions even a single day does not fall from the tops of the global public interest. If it happens in a moment that Islam is not among top themes of world's black chronicle, it hapenes some event that returns Islam on the top: public executions, killings due to free expression, suicide attacks, censorship and immurement of freethinking people in the Islamic world, the destruction of monuments which belong to the world's cultural heritage, a serious violation of human rights, especially when it comes to women and sexual minorities, or something else.

The basic answer is that we can find in the book is disregarding the tradition of ijtihad - independent thinking in Islam. According to author's insights, that occurs in the 12th Ages with the colonization of Spain, wen Muslims under the guise of unity actually gain uniformity and vertical management hierarchy established within the Islamic communities. Since then, Islam, in fact, when it comes to humanity, does not contribute to the development of ideas, freedom, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, generally, does not contribute to progress.

Irshad Manji calls for reform and disobedience to those authorities who make jail of Islam and behave as they have a monopoly on truth. She appeals on Muslims to have the individual approach to faith and life, she appeals on them to take out the principles of ijtihad from political elitism and academic theological circles.

She talks about Muslims in general, but, in some way, she categorizes them. Definitely, the most interesting category are Muslim reformers where author belongs too. They are the most interesting because they are the ones on whose success largely depends Muslims attitudes toward others and attitudes of others toward Muslims and the Islamic world, and we know that sometimes these relationships causes some global trends. Reformers in Islam are somehow a litmus test for sanity. Based on them, we can see where we can find it and where. So the author says in one place: " Muslim reformers have long been in the crosshairs of Islam-supremacists, but now their most vocal adversaries—Islam-bashers— are targeting reformers like me simply for remaining Muslim." The author also lucidly observes that today's reformers within some other communities, such as Afro-American, are facing problems, but they do'nt perceive the threat of death, their books nobody forbids, etc.

Reformers are a good indicator of the kind of relationship that Muslims have towards ourselves. It can be said that this is an infantile attitude. Islamic leaders have managed to instill into the foundations of Islamic identity an extremely infantile dependence on the community so that the most openminded people not clearly state its position on a single issue if it had a clash with the official stance of the community. That is not just the fear of radical Muslims. Often it happens that Muslims in areas where Muslim radicals don't have influence should not impose their attitude if they think differently from the Muslim mainstream for fear of what someone can say. They are most  afraid of possibly family anger.

Infantilism, inadequacy for modern age and its demands, it can also be linked to the Muslims who are radical and threatening and killing people who decide to reform Islam, because with those acts they usually sets its belonging to a community. As the author said: "When you accuse others, you can handle your anger as a badge of tribal credibility."

The whole book shows only one thing – how identity undermines the integrity, and can be considered as call for the release of identity politics.

The book has a dialogical structure. It is composed almost entirely of the author's discussions with her opponents as well as with people who think similar to her. Discussions are often raging and provocative. That gives dynamic to book and increases its attraction. „Allah, Liberty and Love“ is one of those books that you can read in one sitting.

The book is provocative not only because of provocative dialogue, but primarily because of it ultimate goal and that is completely reform the dominant Islamic world outlook. Suffice it to mention that the author openly identify herselve as lesbian and different manifestations of sexuality considered as possible and compatible with Islamic ethics. That is enough to let us see what is the depth of mentioned reforms. However, the book not intend to provoke, but to show that it is possible to be Muslim and unconstrained by dogma.

However, its greatest value is that it entirely fits the title. This is one of the few books, if not the only, that successfully connects the concepts of freedom and love with Allah after all the horror that are used to compromise Islam. The book completely denies thosewho for  decades associated with Allah concepts such as slavery and hatred. However, the big question is when and if will the Islamic world figure it out.

Amer Tikveša

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