A Conversation With Irshad Manji

What a wonderful tool these soc-med (social media) websites are. They enable us to communicate to people far away with speed & ease never imagined before.
A few days ago I’ve had the pleasure of getting connected to Irshad Manji – a well-known activist on Islam & freedom; via Twitter.

I found her following quote :

Hadith is heresay. Ignore it. I accept that Quran is divinely inspired but even Islamic history shows that it’s been tampered with.

So I retweeted it on my Twitter account as follows :

This is the real @IrshadManjiHadith is heresay. Ignore it… Quran is divinely inspired but.. it’s been tampered withhttp://j.mp/9N2trE

It’s mostly for my own note, since my Twitter account is also recorded in my Lifestream website

To my surprise, I got the following reply from Irshad :

“@sufehmi This is the real @IrshadManji: http://bit.ly/awAoK2 How about sending it out to your tweeps? ;)”

Thanks to the link, I ended up reading a LOT of stuff on her website 🙂

It gives me a lot more information about her. Some people are angry with her for her writings & books.
I think, looking at her past and the abuse she (and her family) endured from her father – the response (eg: what she is now) is understandable.
Also I found notes & photos on her journey to Indonesia, including her visit to a madrassa. Remembering her previous quote (http://j.mp/9N2trE), I couldn’t help but wonder if the people there knew her stance on Quran & Hadits (Islam’s foundations) and if they’d still be that friendly to her. Some madrassa in Indonesia can be pretty orthodox.
Anyway, looks like the visit went without any incident, and I’m happy for it.

Of course I also read her article about Indonesia, since it’s the she send in her previous tweet.
After reading it, and finding several inaccuracies, I wrote her back :

“@IrshadManji – The article still need loads of editing 🙂 example: it’s not “islamists”, but “extremists”, etc etc :)”

Then I got the following reply :

“@sufehmi You’re an Islamist, are u? Then u choose dogma over faith. Dogma is insecure & weak, thus needing orthodoxy. Sad 4 u.”

Err…. no, that’s a wrong assumption 🙂

But it’s understandable – with Twitter’s limitation of 140 characters per post, it’s very easy to misunderstood others. And her concern is genuinely touching me.

Looks like I owe some explanation to Irshad.
So, here goes nothing :

On the term “Islamist”

I’ve been opposed to the term “Islam fundamentalist” because it gave negative perception to something that’s supposed to be done by anyone claiming to be muslims.
In my opinion, being a fundamentalist is good since :

  1. you don’t just accept what people said to you – instead, you try (struggle) to go back to the original “source”, and find out the real thing, and
  2. by utilizing the source, you can avoid later deviations / mistakes done by other people. You get the real stuff.

Instead of “fundamentalist”, we should label the troublemakers as what they really is – “extremists”. Or, “zealots”

Anyway, along with the passage of time, the use of this term started to fade away. But, then another term rose to popularity, “Islamist”

This is even worse.

Since I’m a Muslim, of course I consider myself as an “Islamist”.
But instead, these people uses this label (islamist) on the extremists.

Thus placing me, and other innocent Muslims, in the same league as those criminals.

Hopefully this explains my tweet much clearly.

On “Dogma

I used to despise dogma, and people who cling to & do it blindly.
The topic is even one of my favourite movie 🙂

I prefer to evaluate things rationally. My religion, my action, my situation, and so on.
Gradually, I’ve been able to act less emotionally, and more rationally.

I even tested it by plunging myself into various atheists / islamophobic forum 🙂
I came out badly scarred & wounded, but alive – and with stronger logic & faith than ever. It was an experience that I shall cherish until the end of my time.

However, I began to realize that not everyone is capable of such thing. This is a fact.

Especially in Indonesia – where even in the secular schools we are taught rote learning.
We’re taught to memorize, not to understand. So naturally, most of the product of Indonesian education system is not capable of critical thinking.

It’s a sad realization. But it’s also a fact.
I’ve witnessed these people firsthand — when you gave them information to analyze, they went berserk / became very confused instead. Their brain is simply not yet capable of doing so. They became bewildered, and ended up very frustrated. It’s a very sad view.

That’s when I began to be able to appreciate dogma.

The enlightened ones formulate various dogma for the others. Others then can live their life happily, spared from the mental anguish of having to analyze information beyond their capability.

Of course this is not an ideal situation. The enlightened ones (or “ulama”, etc) then have the responsibility to enlighten others too.
So along the time, less and less people will need to rely on dogma. They’ll be able to find out & walk on their own path.

Now here comes the problem.
Many of the so-called ulama are actually bad people. They act like the enlightened ones – spoke ambiguously, acting high & mighty, and so on. But, they are actually some of the worst people on earth.

I’ve seen many of these so-called ulama actually contradicted Islam’s teachings. In several cases – quite spectacularly too.
However, they managed to keep their charade, and fool a lot of people. This is one of many problems found on various Muslim communities.

Anyway, that’s my view on Dogma. Hope it made some sense.

On things that needs fixing in Islam

My faith is that the foundation of Islam, Quran & Hadith, is sound and good.
Especially when we saw how it was implemented in the time of Muhammad — it transformed the barbaric Arabs into one of the most civilized tribe on Earth, in very little time.
If you know the Arabs, you’ll be able to appreciate this too.

A lot of things needs to be fixed in current implementation of Islam. Make no mistake.
But it’s mostly our own faulty interpretation & implementation. The foundations are still sound.

So it baffles me when people ignore the problems, and rattled the foundations instead. It made no sense to me.

Yet people continue to do similar mistakes, such as :

  1. If you see wrong tafseer / interpretation of Islam – you fix it. Don’t change the Quran instead.
  2. If you see the believer making mistake – you blame him. Don’t blame the religion instead.

And so on, the list of mistakes went on.
It would be hilarious to see so-called intellectuals making these logical-fallacies, if it’s not sad.

Focus & Fix the problems, people.
Don’t waste your time trying to find fault on things which you already knew to be faultless – otherwise you’ll end up deluding yourself.

Epilogue

So far that’s the end of my conversation with Irshad Manji. I’ll update this blog post if it continues later on.

170 thoughts on “A Conversation With Irshad Manji

  1. A Like it :
    “Do not waste your time trying to find fault in things that you already know to be perfect – otherwise you will end up cheating yourself.”

  2. irsyad manji bukannya aktifis islam di amrik itu ya?

    keren banget bisa ngobrol dengan beliau 😀

  3. Saya kira ini menjadi tugas Umat Islam untuk menunjukkan aqidah yang sebenarnya dari ajaran Islam. Cara terbaik, menurut saya, adalah dengan tidak berhenti belajar dan menerapkannya dalam kehidupan sehari-hari. Tidak perlu banyak wacana …

  4. As a Muslim, it’s a good thing that you clarified you between extremists. A lot of people are misinformed/mis-educated about the truth about Muslims and Islam.

  5. Wah..ndak mumncul koment saya… test lagi…
    Yap greta mas Harry…memang harus diberikan pencerahan atas penafsiran yg salah terhadap Islam… saya salut atas pengetahuan , mas Sufehmi yg luas termasuk pemahaman soal Islam

  6. Menyedihkan kadang bila orang menganggap islam itu extrimist, padahal jelas siapa yang extrimist tapi mereka tak membuka matanya. Malah seakan buta …!!.

    Mudah mudahan Allah mengangkat WIBAWA ISLAM lagi.

  7. agama yang bisa di trima dengana akal fikir adalah islam
    jadi kita hrus selalu menjaga aqidah kita serta kita harus nerima islam agama yang benar

  8. Baru nemu link dari situs dia ke situs Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL), yup satu lagi perusak islam. Memang kelihatannya menyenangkan membanggakan akal dan pikiran untuk memahami agama tapi bukankah belajar Islam yang terbaik adalah dari orang yang mengerti Islam dan mempraktekkannya dengan baik.

    Belajar menjadi seorang muslim berbeda dengan belajar tentang islam. Orang orang seperti irshad dan orang-orang JIL belajar tentang islam berusaha mencari celah, merubah apa yang mereka tidak suka dan seterusnya.

    Semoga ALLAH membuka hati rekan-rekan yang ada di JIL sehinga mereka sadar akan kesalahan langkah yang mereka lakukan.

  9. untuk mengetahui isi tentunya saya harus mentranslatenya, karena saya kurang mengerti bahasa ini. tapi saya yakin artikel ini bermanfaat dan bagus.

  10. Nice postm, it is good for people of different religions to have a better understanding of other religions as ignorance breeds contempt.

  11. salam persaudaraan bagi saudara2ku

    telah lama sekali aku tidak merasakan indahnya kebersamaan dengan orang2 yang jujur, mukhlis, cinta pada ilmu dan memilki persahabatan yang murni

    mohon doanya untuk seoarang sahabat yang telah kuanggap seperti saudara..kini ia sedang bergulat dengan cobaan yang amat berat..

    sungguh dibelahan dunia yang mana lagi aku bisa mendapatkan teman seperti ia lagi..

  12. People should be respectful in their tweet replies. However, it is very cool to directly contact all these important people in social media.

  13. Your article is very interest and so Helpful to me, I have learned a lot of things, , ,hmm . . . I like this

    follow me on google friend connect

  14. Interesting tips, Certainly something to keep in mind. yes ,we need pay more care about those people

  15. Life really is intriguing. How everyone’s experiences mold the character and how we are transformed to our present selves. So we can’t really define one’s belief just by seeing how they react and interact.

    I don’t really agree with the dogma and faith comparison (which she stated that one was weak and insecure). I’ve always been fascinated with how islams give importance to their faith, as for they have completely brought their beliefs in to their daily lives as well.

    Nevertheless, it’s quite complicated to discuss these kind of topics over social media sites. I know, it’s decent, but it feels strange to talk about it while other tweeps can see perceptions regarding one’s faith.

  16. islam tidak mengenal kata2 kekerasan,
    semoga alloh memberikan hidayahnya bagi mereka yg menyalah artikan,…

  17. Learning to become a Muslim different from learning about Islam. People like Irshad and JIL people learn about Islam tried to find a gap, changing what they do not like and so on.

    May GOD open our hearts that there are colleagues in the JIL so that they are aware they are doing wrong step.

  18. I pray that we all have the open hearts to learn together. People are thrown into catagories and some people never give others a chance when they could have learned a lot from that person. We’re all in this together trying to raise our families and live a peaceful life.

  19. Social Media (SocMed) is indeed a very nice medium of conversation. Because of this, you were able to read and know the thoughts of another person.

    Anyways, regarding this article, like other religions, Muslims also have conflicts with their religion. But somehow they still know how to give respect to one another because their belief of loving each other as brothers and sisters remains in their hearts.

  20. I think Islam is a wonderful and peaceful religion, but it is being used incorrectly by criminals, as some kind of excuse or pretext to commit crimes, crimes which are against the laws of Islam or any of the major organized religions. I respect your religion and regret that you have to be incorrectly grouped with extremists.

  21. You’re absolutely right when you bring forth your point of the wrong being in the implementation & interpretation rather than the foundation. Peace!!

  22. Humanity does not care what you believe is right or wrong .. just care about your faith is good or bad .. If your faith is good, prove it in action .. No need to waste time debating belief .. Because belief always leads to fanaticism..Thousand times you say your believe is true, but your actions are evil, that does not mean anything ..

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  24. Regarding this article, like other religions, Muslims also have conflicts with their religion. But somehow they still know how to give respect to one another because their belief of loving each other as brothers and sisters remains in their hearts.

  25. Harry wrote:
    “Yet people continue to do similar mistakes, such as :

    1. If you see wrong tafseer / interpretation of Islam – you fix it. Don’t change the Quran instead.
    2. If you see the believer making mistake – you blame him. Don’t blame the religion instead.”

    …. what’s wrong with that?

  26. Great post, Jim Brady. I love every single comment. I don’t really like the spam, but it is a sign you’re being found, as well.
    I wish I had more time to blogging, read and comment! Your post is very good. Thank you!

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  27. It is interesting to hear about your conversation with a Muslim. I think it is good for people of different religions to have a better understanding of other religions as ignorance breeds contempt.

  28. Thank you so much for sharing this conversation and your thoughts on fundamentalism vs. extremism. I completely agree with your thoughts there. Fundamentalism shouldn’t have the negative connotation its been given. It’s the extremist interpretation of the Quran, not the actual words of the text that have brought violence. In what I’ve read of the Quran it seems very much the opposite in that it preaches for peace and mercy for others.

    It’s upsetting that those that are following the teachings of the faith the most ardently and peacefully are the ones that are being associated with the negative connotations that have befallen the faith.

  29. I think it’s important to become good behaviour whatever our religion. Especially moslem we have to perform the best ever had, because Islam is a peace realigion and I really dissagree with anything terror connected with Islam. As long as we have good manner to each other then we’ll become a tollerance people

  30. I think it’s important to become good behaviour whatever our religion. Especially moslem we have to perform the best ever had, because Islam is a peace realigion and I really dissagree with anything terror connected with Islam. As long as we have good manner to each other then we’ll become a tollerance people

  31. I heard for some woman called Hirsi Ali..or something like that. Anyway, she said she suffered a lot from Islam tradition and how the Islam treats women very bad, etc. On the other hand I have a very good moslem friend who is one of the best man I ever knew.

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