NYT on Manji and Hirsi Ali

My favorite part of this New York Times (“Muslim Rebel Sisters: At Odds With Islam and Each Other“) article about Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi is that it quites only one Muslim thinker — Irshad Manji — and that all the supposed authorities on Muslim “reformers” and modern Islam are non-Muslims closely affiliated with the two authors, who offer very little actual criticism or insight into the philosophies or tactics of the two women featured in the article. The article mentions that Hirsi Ali is herself an atheist — not a Muslim — but still treats her as if she were one, for the purposes of this envisioned “Islamic Reformation.” This is perhaps the worst profile of either of these two characters I have seen recently, not just because of its obvious bias (in the subjects’ favor), but for the dreadful quality of its reporting and lack of interest in the many Muslims in the West and elsewhere working towards change within their communities everyday but who are ignored in favor of flamboyant and remote figures, such as Manji and Hirsi Ali, who paint them as the problem and Islamists and radicals who caricature their faith and often place them in mortal danger. I would also add that the NYT does not seem to believe that Manji and Hirisi Ali’s obvious bigotry towards Arabs — or at least Arab Muslims — is a negative thing. Speaking disparagingly of “Arab desert culture” and saying that “we aren’t in the Saudi sand dunes anymore,” while constantly insinuating that the practice of Islam in Arab societies is essentially the same in Saudi Arabia is perfectly acceptable.


3 thoughts on “NYT on Manji and Hirsi Ali

  1. Well, we were all too happy when Ayan Hirsi Ali went to the States. We thought we would get rid of her rantings here for at least a while. Unfortunately, money spoke… 😦

    Don’t take me wrong, I like very much the fact that a fellow atheist comes from another cultural background than mine. But it is her total lack of nuance and obvious lack of credibility which always bothered me.

  2. Amina Wadud is an interesting comparison, as she is a reformer in Islam. Though a convert, she has studied at al-azhar in Cairo and works within the tradition to arrive at her tafseer. Controversial to be sure, but in talking to some Muslims in my Arabic classes her arguments are examined seriously, rather than dismissed immediately like Manji’s.

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