Yesterday here on the blog I praised religious dissidents -- or, anyway, thoughtful in-house critics who make religious leaders and followers rethink what they believe and do.
Today I want to extend that praise to the author of a book I've read about but haven't yet had a chance to read -- a Muslim woman who is challenging what the author of this New Republic piece about her calls "the general famine of intellectual daring in contemporary Islamic Studies."
Her name is Irshad Manji, and her new book is Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom.
What I find so encouraging about the book and what the reviewer has to say about it is that it is another piece of welcome evidence that some Muslims are working hard to counter the influence of the radicals in their midst who would prefer to have the religion -- and the whole world -- return to the 7th Century.
Such reform-minded people may not make up a majority of the world's Muslims, but they clearly are becoming a force to be reckoned with as Islam seeks to negotiate its place in those parts of the world (including the U.S. and Europe) where Islam is not the majority religion of the population.
As Omar Sultan Haque, author of the piece about Manji says of the Islam she is promoting, it's one in which "Muslims can think for themselves, and overcome a fearful, passive, conformist religiosity."
As I said here yesterday of Catholic theologian Hans Küng, may Manji's tribe increase.
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CHANGES FOR THE ANGLICANS
And speaking of changes in religious traditions, the Church of England faces exactly that now in the wake of the resignation of Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury. Already England has opened up a debate about the proper role of political leaders in choosing the head of the church.
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P.S.: My latest Presbyterian Outlook column now is online. To read it, click here.