The Trouble With Muslim Pundits

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.

4 thoughts on “The Trouble With Muslim Pundits

  1. Salaam alaikum Marc,
    You’re doing great work and I hope you write more in the future.

    As for chicken in Egypt, I haven’t heard of a major bird flu outbreak. They have health inspectors and people are no longer allowed to keep chickens around. But i have seen some people with chickens in Alexandria. I would only buy chicken from major stores, not the whole in the wall butchers that may buy chicken from uncertified farmers. The hole in the wall butchers are scary anyways!! Yikes!


  2. As salaam alaikum,

    I just wandered onto your site this evening, and I was browsing throught…awesome site, sis! I, too, am a black Muslim…probably more of a disillusioned one than an angry one, at least right now. I read your post on African American Muslim marriage. I worry about that a lot, being a medical student right now and coming to the realization that what my mother has said for so many years is true, about black women being the least desired… I previously dismissed it as the black nationalist streak that is still running in her veins, but after a few bad experiences, now I see. …not that such statements helped for a teenager’s self esteem, but now I see.

    I’ll probably be stopping by more often. 🙂

    ws, ~Chinyere


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