Marc Manley has written a thoughtful critique of Irshad Manji’s recent talk at UPenn called The Trouble With Muslim Pundits Today. I find many of Irshad Manji’s critiques really really problematic. And like Marc pointed out, they follow the same Orientalist lines. Like many of the Progressive Muslims, she’s trying to do exactly what she criticizes classical scholars for doing, trying to interpret Islam within a her cultural framework and impose this view as a universal. He wrote:
A major portion of my critique on Manji’s arguments and positions as well as comments that Dr. Swidler gave, were that neither Manji nor Swidler are scholastically equipped to answer any such questions regarding the intellectual tradition of Islam. Manji is a journalist of questionable objectivity and Swidler’s expertise lies outside the fold of Islam. Manji often relies on crude reductionism coupled with a woefully absent basic familiarity with the Islamic Tradition. Buzz words like ijtihad, fatwah and of course, the crowd pleaser, jihad, are tossed out to lend to her some Islamic academic credibility. In fact, Swidler’s presence is somewhat questionable as Temple University could have certainly offered up someone who would have been far better suited to the task at hand. In light of access to scholars like Khaled Blankinship, it remained a curiosity as to why Manji chose a non-Muslim religious professor to engage in talks about Muslim reform.
I’m glad he wrote up this piece, after his recent entry questioning the benefits of blogging. I hope that Marc continues to blog and photography because he makes some outstanding contributions to the American Muslim intellectual and artistic community. One of the benefits of blogging is that it allows for immediate feedback and interaction between writers and readers. One of the downsides of blogging is that it allows for immediate feedback and interaction between writers and readers.