From Mansoor Hallaj
Date 23 October 2008 17:02
Subject Re: The 'United Nationalism' of Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni , NewAgeIslam.Com - 22 Oct, 2008
--- On Wed, 10/22/08, NewAgeIslam-Newsletter@newageislam.com <NewAgeIslam-Newsletter@newageislam.com> wrote:
Understanding Islam: A challenge by Irshad Manji
Random House, among the top publishers in
Dear Mr Sultan,
As per Zmag Irshad Manji is a "A Multifaceted Fraud"! Read the Expose' in two parts by Justin Podur
1 - A Multifaceted Fraud December 05, 2003 By Justin Podur - Part 1
Irshad Manji, according to the jacket of her book, is "a broadcaster, author, public speaker, and media enterpreneur, born in East Africa and raised on the west coast of
A critique of Islam, like a critique of any religion or ideology that has doctrines preventing people from exercising their moral sense, solidarity, and reason, is welcome. Orthodox (or mainstream) Islam, like dominant strains of Christianity, Judaism, or Hinduism, is deeply sexist, homophobic, and authoritarian.
Addressed as a letter to Muslims by a Muslim who is struggling with hard questions, the book seems to live up to a simple moral rule: that people should focus their attention on problems that they can influence, should 'look to their own backyards'. For Manji, this 'backyard' would seem to be the Muslim community, making her critique one that, whatever factual errors, biases, manipulations, or distortions it contains (and it contains many), is fundamentally morally responsible. When she describes "Arab hypocrisy" (pg. 106) without ever using a phrase like "
Manji's own words suggest otherwise. Late in her book, she talks about reasoning being "entirely compatible with the ideals I hold as a Westerner." (pg. 229) Describing her visit to
Reading her book, it becomes clear that it is not the work of a self-critical individual trying to hold the Muslim community accountable, but a self-congratulatory Westerner, cheering for powerful states and whitewashing the crimes of her "family".
Manji, the disinterested intellectual
To open Irshad Manji's website or book is to be exposed to quite a bit of posturing. The site accompanying her book launch is called 'muslim-refusenik.com'. She uses the word 'refusenik' to invoke the dissidents of the former
Opening the website, one is exposed to the picture of a young woman in an elaborate hijab, an outfit that covers all but her face. This type of picture invokes the women of Afghanistan, who have suffered over 25 years of brutality, rape, and torture at the hands of Soviet invaders, the jehadis trained by the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia in order to fight the Soviet invaders, and the factions that those jehadis split into - the 'Northern Alliance', the Taliban, and now the Northern Alliance again.
Perhaps this is because RAWA was against the
As the photo of the young woman fades, two quotes appear. One is from the Koran. The other is from an article by the late Edward Said, from an article he wrote for Le Monde Diplomatique in 1998. It says: "The intellectual's role is to speak the truth as plainly, directly, and honestly as possible. No intellectual is supposed to worry about whether what is said embarrasses, pleases, or displeases people in power." Manji presumably presents this quote to claim that she is engaging in an act of moral courage in publishing her book. But while she has use for Said's words on her website, she smears and misrepresents him in her book. Her summary of him? "He's the Arab-American intellectual who, in 1979, used the word 'Orientalism' to describe the West's supposed tendency to colonize Muslims by demonizing us as the exotic freaks of the East." (pg. 22) In Manji's world, Said's "acolytes" were so powerful that they created a "chill" that harmed discussion of "just about anything that affronted mainstream Muslims." (pg. 22)
In fact, Said talked about actual colonization, not a "supposed tendency" - he talked about the British colonial conquests. He talked about the way scholarship was deployed as a weapon of empire and a rationalization of it. Manji's summary dismissal suggests, if anything, that she hasn't read Said's "Orientalism". Indeed, her later use of the same Le Monde Diplomatique article suggests she read only a part of it. As part of a multi-page long section (pp. 116-123) of rhetorical questions intended to refute the idea that Israel is an apartheid state, Manji quotes Said as evidence: "Even the eminence grise of Palestinian nationalism, Edward Said, states flat out that 'Israel is not South Africa...' How could it be when an Israeli publisher has translated into Hebrew Said's seminal work, Orientalism?"(4) . But the very article Manji cites explicitly says Israeli is an apartheid state. A fuller version of the quote is as follows:
"Israel is neither South Africa, nor Algeria, nor Vietnam. Whether we like it or not, the Jews are not ordinary colonialists. Yes, they suffered the holocaust, and yes, they are the victims of anti-Semitism. But no, they cannot use those facts to continue, or initiate, the dispossession of another people that bears no responsibility for either of those prior facts. I have been saying for twenty years that we have no military option, and are not likely to have one anytime soon. And neither does Israel have a real military option. Despite their enormous power, Israelis have not succeeded in achieving either the acceptance or the security they crave."
"What Azmi Bishara and several Israeli Jews like Ilan Pappé (4) are now trying to strengthen is a position and a politics by which Jews and Palestinians inside the Jewish state have the same rights; there is no reason why the same principle should not apply in the Occupied Territories where Palestinians and Israeli Jews live side by side, together, with only one people, Israeli Jews now dominating the other. So the choice is either apartheid or it is justice and citizenship."(5)
Indeed, Manji could have benefited from reading the entire article in more than one way. Said's points about the intellectual's role were to distinguish intellectual from political behaviour.
"Speaking the truth to power means additionally that the intellectual's constituency is neither a government nor a corporate or a career interest: only the truth unadorned. Political behaviour principally relies upon considerations of interest - advancing a career, working with governments, maintaining one's position, etc."
With features in the New York Times, the New York Post, and Canada's Globe and Mail, Manji's book seems to be something that "pleases people in power", and she is on her way to "advancing a career", by distorting citations and ignoring facts.
Manji, the journalist of Israel/Palestine
Said's 1998 article is not the only source Manji distorts, nor the only cited piece one is forced to wonder whether Manji actually read, to which we return.
Manji's posturing includes a stance that she is "asking questions, not providing answers". But her account of her trip to
It turns out that Manji was in
I would encourage you to look at her photos, available online (see the table below, with her photos in the left-hand column and mine in the right-hand column), since she took them, as I said, at approximately the same time as I took my own, not very far away. One of them is of a woman leading a column of Israeli male troops (to show that
The Israeli army Checkpoint wire
Manji at al-Aqsa Checkpoint lineup
Children Destruction of Trees
Manji al-Aqsa Jenin Destruction
A boy in the old city blowing up a bank in Jenin
That Manji could travel to the Israel and the Occupied Territories and not notice the ongoing, physical destruction of Palestinian society, instead publishing numerous photos of herself, despite being a "journalist with a reputation for flinging open doors" should not come as too much of a surprise. That might be a disservice to
Manji's thesis is that
"The video shows it all: Here are the three kids on their bikes, three black dots on the slope of the road, two on the right, close together, the third on the left, and a white car passes between them. A woman calls out something unclear, maybe a warning to the children about the tank; the car disappears down the hill, and then the tank suddenly appears from the corner on the left. First you see the tank's turret gun, then the base of the turret and then the tank itself, charging after three little kids on their bicycles a few dozen meters ahead. The picture freezes for a second to show the details better. Then suddenly the screen goes dark. Sound of firing. Boom. Lots of noise, dust and smoke everywhere, and that's it. The anonymous photographer stopped filming...
"The IDF spokesman, this week: "The incident is still being dealt with." Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer issued an apology. No one from the IDF came to the family's home; no one even bothered to watch the video."
Amira Hass, also in Ha'aretz, on July 9, 2002, described the destruction of the economy in
"The Gaza Strip's welfare is dependent on several border-crossing points where
If Manji's point is that Israeli journalists often have more integrity, empathy, and openness than North American ones about what
Manji the historian
Manji claims her book is an "open letter" to Muslims, as opposed, perhaps, to a work of historical scholarship. Since her sources are, with few exceptions, from 2001-2002, this claim holds up. But when she discusses Israel/Palestine, Manji suddenly becomes a historian, citing primary sources and documents like the Palestine Royal Commission Report, Cmd 5479 (London, July 1937)(9) , "Beirut Telegraph, September 6, 1948, no page number assigned to article. Confirmed by the Newspaper Archive Division of the
Her history is as dishonest as her journalism. Discussing Benny Morris, an Israeli historian who shows that
When she talks about being "balanced or even sympathetic to the Palestinian cause", Manji must be talking about Morris's book and not Morris himself, since, as Norman Finkelstein reports, quoting Benny Morris:
"Benny Morris explicitly justifies expulsion of the Palestinians not only in the event of a regional war but in the name of Lebensraum: 'This land is so small that there isn't room for two peoples. In fifty or a hundred years, there will only be one state between the sea and
"Morris professes that as a historian his only concern is truth. Indeed, finding evidence of yet more 'massacres' of Arabs in 1948 'makes me happy.'...
"The Palestinians, according to Morris, are 'a sick, psychotic people'. They refuse to acknowledge that 'Jews have a just claim to
Finkelstein's careful assessment of Morris's work concludes that there was an element of design in the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, and not only war as Morris claims. Indeed, Finkelstein provides evidence cited by Morris himself that supports this conclusion, including a quote from the diary of a prominent Zionist from 1940, 8 years before the war, saying "There is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, and to transfer all of them, save perhaps for [the Arabs of] Bethlehem, Nazareth, and old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one [bedouin] tribe."(16)
Another excellent work on the origins of the refugee problem as the first attempt in
On 'Muslim complicity in the Holocaust'
Citing Maurice Pearlman's work on the Mufti of Jerusalem's relationship with Hitler, Manji concludes there was Muslim 'complicity in the holocaust'. This is true, as true as there was Christian, and particularly
"Far from resisting Nazi genocide, some Zionists collaborated with it. When the British devised a plan to allow thousands of German Jewish children to enter the
"'If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to (Israel) then I would opt for the second alternative.'
"Later, Israeli Zionists would again make alliances with anti-Jewish extremists. In the 1970's,
Complicity in the holocaust against the Jews was not the monopoly of any religion. And neither was resistance to the Nazis. In a review of Manji's book for the Toronto Globe and Mail, Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress addressed this issue:
"Has Ms. Manji ever heard of the Palestine Regiment, a unit in which Jew and Muslim fought side-by-side against Hitler's Afrika Korps in
On the Second Intifada
On the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, Manji cites Khaled Abu Toameh's article of September 19, 2002 in the Jerusalem Post, in order to suggest the intifada was 'planned in advance', as opposed to a spontaneous response to Sharon's visit to the al-Aqsa mosque accompanied by hundreds of armed men who proceeded to fire into the crowds and kill nearly a dozen people (21) . This article, too, is a distortion of the facts of both the intifada and the breakdown of the
"His visit was carefully planned, with a thousand soldiers securing it and taking shooting positions on the roofs in advance. It is not Sharon who is responsible for the present massacre, but Barak, Ben Ami, the Israeli government, and Israel's "peaceniks" who have been supporting them all the way through."(22)
There are numerous analyses of the failure of
"Although some people describe
"The annexations and security arrangements would divide the
"Because of the geographic placement of Israel's proposed West Bank annexations, Palestinians living in their new 'independent state' would be forced to cross Israeli territory every time they traveled or shipped goods from one section of the West Bank to another, and Israel could close those routes at will.
Manji may think that her distortions and omissions of history make her a better 'supporter of
2 - A Multifaceted Fraud, Part 2 December 05, 2003 By Justin Podur - Part 2
Manji the searching moral critic
Manji says she wants to revive the idea of 'ijtihad', of self-criticism and reformation, from the Islamic tradition. She probably got the idea from Ziauddin Sardar's May 2002 article in the New Internationalist, which she cites (27) . Sardar writes:
"For well over a century, Muslim scholars and thinkers have been arguing that Islam is in need of urgent reform. Or to use the technical terms, Muslims need to undertake ijtihad, literally 'reasoned struggle', to rethink and reformulate Islam. It was the Iranian reformist Jamaluddin Afghani, who with the then Mufti of Egypt, Muhammad Abduh, first argued for ijtihad at the end of the 19th century."
Sardar presents various reasons why Muslims need to rediscover 'reasoned struggle', and why rigid doctrines prevent people from using their reason and moral sense to act in the world. Unlike Manji, Sardar also presents a historical context:
"The modernist leaders who took over from the departing colonial powers maintained their hold on Muslim societies with excessive use of force and by ruthlessly persecuting the traditional leadership and abusing and ridiculing traditional thought and everything associated with it. The economic and development policies they pursued often ended in spectacular failure and concentrated national wealth in the hands of the few. Globalization has further marginalized traditional cultures, creating a siege mentality in historic communities. These factors have contributed to the emergence throughout the Muslim world of a new form of militant traditionalism.
"Thus the Muslim world finds itself caught in an intense struggle between the combined forces of an aggressively secular modernity and globalization pitted against an equally aggressive traditionalism. This struggle is quite evident in countries like
"To this complex, we must add another dimension. Both traditionalists and modernists now share the belief that the fate of their societies is actually determined by decisions taken elsewhere. This is why so much energy in the Muslim world is now spent in criticizing the actions and consequences of the centres of power: the nexus of Western government, economy, industry and popular culture where globalization is manufactured and exported to its recipients in the Muslim World. The widespread feeling of dispossession and total powerlessness in Muslim societies is a product of this. Hence the sense of rage that now envelops both modernists and traditionalists alike."
Indeed, the sense of powerlessness brought by globalization and displacement has helped empower fundamentalists and fundamentalist movements throughout the world. Muslims have no monopoly on this. A quick look at the Hindu right movements in
Arundhati Roy wrote about this after the Gujarat Pogrom of February 2002 in
"Over the past fifty years, ordinary citizens' modest hopes for lives of dignity, security and relief from abject poverty have been systematically snuffed out. Every 'democratic' institution in this country has shown itself to be unaccountable, inaccessible to the ordinary citizen, and either unwilling, or incapable of acting, in the interests of genuine social justice. Every strategy for real social change-land reform, education, public health, the equitable distribution of natural resources, the implementation of positive discrimination-has been cleverly, cunningly and consistently scuttled and rendered ineffectual by those castes and that class of people who have a stranglehold on the political process. And now corporate globalisation is being relentlessly and arbitrarily imposed on an essentially feudal society, tearing through its complex, tiered, social fabric, ripping it apart culturally and economically.
"There is very real grievance here. And the fascists didn't create it. But they have seized upon it, upturned it and forged from it a hideous, bogus sense of pride. They have mobilised human beings using the lowest common denominator-religion. People who have lost control over their lives, people who have been uprooted from their homes and communities who have lost their culture and their language, are being made to feel proud of something. Not something they have striven for and achieved, not something they can count as a personal accomplishment, but something they just happen to be. Or, more accurately, something they happen not to be. And the falseness, the emptiness of that pride, is fuelling a gladiatorial anger that is then directed towards a simulated target that has been wheeled into the amphitheatre." (28)
All of this is described and analyzed in a book that actually does what Irshad Manji says she is trying to do: Tariq Ali's 'Clash of Fundamentalisms' (29) Manji cites his book several times, but does not present his argument or analysis in her book (30) . Ali argues that the Muslim world needs to go through the kind of reformation the Christian world went through, the reformation - influenced, incidentally, by Muslim and Jewish scholarship and learning -- that led the Christian world out of medieval theocracy. He argues that this reformation is all the more urgent because the world is increasingly in the grip of another kind of fundamentalism - that of neoliberal economics and militarism. Unlike Manji, Ali looks at modern history and finds ways that one fundamentalism helped to create the other. The Taliban, the Mujahaddin, and indeed Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda grew out of the jehadis funded, trained, and armed by the United States to fight the
Soviet Union in
But Ali's critique comes from a position of solidarity. He is aware of the need for a reformation, he is against fundamentalism, but he is also aware of and concerned about the atrocities that are being perpetrated against Muslims. He has empathy for what is happening to Palestinians in the territories. He has empathy for the people of
Without that kind of solidarity, Manji's book is exposed for the posturing that it is. Claiming to be a letter to Muslims, the book is set to be published in
On the reaction in the West to Muslim communities after 9/11, Manji finds nothing but remarkable tolerance, tolerance her whole book suggests is undeserved. "In
'The security measures' made it into her footnotes, but the prison at
"Since January 2002, about 660 prisoners have been transferred at first to
"How prisoners at
"The purpose of holding the prisoners at
If Manji wants to "Thank God for the West" (the name of her Chapter 9), it is not necessarily because she supports civil liberties. Praising
Perhaps it is because this does not fit the picture of the West (or of Muslims) Manji is trying to paint that she also denies Queer Muslims a voice, even Queer Muslims from her very own Toronto. Salaam describes itself as follows. "Salaam: Queer Muslim community is a Muslim Identified Organization dedicated to social justice, peace and human dignity through its work to bring all closer to a world that is free from injustice, including prejudice, discrimination, racism, misogyny, sexism and homophobia." (34) The activists of Salaam link from their website to Project Threadbare, a coalition of justice groups that tried to fight the detention and deportation of 21 Indian and Pakistani Muslim men based on virtually no credible evidence. A group of queer activists well aware of discrimination and homophobia in the Muslim community, Salaam recognizes that the struggle for social justice means struggling against all injustice. It is no wonder that they, like RAWA, or so many courageous Israelis, Palestinians, and Muslims, have no place in Manji's book.
Manji the humourist
Manji is best when she is flippantly dismissing critics who exhibit homophobia, sexism, or ignorance of one kind or another. Indeed, she devotes a substantial portion of her site and 10 minutes of her public talk to show herself answering such critics. Her point, perhaps, is that humour can help even in serious situations.
She might be right. In one of her notes (35) she describes the treatment of an intolerant Muslim cleric by a queer rights group: "In response to Sheikh Omar, two gay-rights groups, the Lesbian Avengers and Outrage, issued a 'Queer Fatwa' against him. The fatwa reportedly read: 'Omar Bakri Mohammad is hereby sentenced to 1000 years of relentless sodomitical torture.' Pity his torturer."
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT
"The queer group who first settled Starbucks launched a new marketing campaign today, introducing shoppers at Macy's
"About 20 activists from Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism descended on the downtown store today with samples of Village Vanishing Cream, Bloody Hand Cream, Atrocity Cover Up, Defoliant, WhiteRight Ethnic Cleanser and Kill Me Pink Lip Bomb. They gave away 500 samples of the new scent Eau de Occupation to appreciative passersby.
"The promotional leaflet explains that Ronald Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder International, serves as president of the Jewish National Fund, which was formed in 1901 to establish Jewish settlements by purchasing land from absentee landlords. After the state of
came to listen to her speech, "Defending Israel is Defending Diversity", I told Irshad Manji that she has a standing invitation to go to the Occupied Territories with the International Solidarity Movement. I gave her my email address and the sites for ISM
But for all the humour, the fact is that these are serious issues with very high stakes. They demand serious treatment. Manji's is not a serious book. Instead, as Tarek Fatah argues in his review: "[h]er book is not addressed to Muslims; it is aimed at making Muslim-haters feel secure in their thinking." It may have another intention as well: critics of
Meanwhile, Manji can sell books, give flippant and arrogant answers to queries, and posture as an 'intellectual'.
1. Their site is couragetorefuse.org.
2. Anne Brodsky, "With All Our Strength: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of
4. Chapter 5, footnote 26
5. Said, "Israel-Palestine:
6. The whole photo essay is at
and should be seen in its entirety.
7. The online site, ZNet (www.zmag.org), republishes material from Ha'aretz, especially pieces by Gideon Levy and Amira Hass. Levy's article is archived here and was published July 5 in Ha'aretz
8. It is archived here:
9. Footnote 8, chapter 5
10. Footnote 3, chapter 5
11. Footnotes 10, 11, and 14 of chapter 5. A good book on the Mufti of Jerusalem is Philip Mattar, "The Mufti of Jerusalem", Columbia University Press,
12. See footnotes 3, 6, and 15 of chapter 5 and 30 of chapter 4
13. See footnote 31, chapter 3, and footnote 12 of chapter 4, and for a serious account of the outbreak of the second intifada see Tanya Reinhart's "Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948", Seven Stories Press, New York, 2002.
14. See footnote 3, chapter 5
15. All quoted from Norman Finkelstein, 'Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict', Verso,
16. Quoted in Finkelstein, 'Image and Reality', pg. 86
17. Baruch Kimmerling, 'Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against the Palestinians', Verso,
18. See Norman Finkelstein, 'The Holocaust Industry', Verso,
19. Tim Wise, 'Reflections on Zionism from a Dissident Jew', ZNet September 9, 2001.
Archived here: http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2001-09/05wise.htm
20. Tarek Fatah, "Don't paint Muslim people as Nazis", Globe and Mail November 27, 2003. See also Robert Fisk, "How an Arab and a Jew fought Hitler, then each other, and died as friends."
21. Since, the first suicide bombing occurred after dozens of Palestinians had been killed and hundreds injured by Israeli attacks, Palestinian "planning" must have been rather lacklustre.
22. Tanya Reinhart, "
23. Tanya Reinhart, 'Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948', Seven Stories Press, NY, 2002.
24. Kimmerling, 'Politicide', Verso 2003.
25. Seth Ackerman, 'The Myth of the Generous Offer: Distorting the
26. Noam Chomsky, 'Fateful Triangle: The
27. Footnote 18, chapter 3
28. Arundhati Roy, "Democracy: Who is she when she's at home?" Outlook
29. Tariq Ali, 'Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity'. Verso,
30. Instead, she smears him in a roundabout way. In footnote 8 of chapter 7, she writes: Despite being a Marxist, Tariq Ali acknowledges in The Clash of Fundamentalisms that "from the beginning, [Islam] regarded commerce as the only noble occupation." She smears Robert Fisk in a similar way, saying (Chapter 5, footnote 7) "Even the most pro-Muslim reporter I can think of, Robert Fisk, does not try to deny" the Turkish genocide against the Armenians. The implication is that Fisk (and Ali) are in the business of denying facts, but the implication is made without evidence - a common thread throughout the book.
31. Footnote 7, chapter 9
32. Jonathan Steyn, "
33. Amnesty International's Annual Report on
35. Footnote 19, chapter 8
36. See, for example, their statement here: http://www.ektaonline.org/~quitpale/actions/gaymen2.html and another important case, presented by Israeli activist Neve Gordon, here http://www.counterpunch.org/gordon11272003.html
37. Their site is at http://www.ektaonline.org/~quitpale/index.htm and their Estee Slaughter campaign at: http://www.ektaonline.org/~quitpale/esteeslaughter/estee.html
38. Footnote 34, chapter 3.