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What Is Wrong With Islam Today? (Debate)

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For many years, the worldwide perception of Islam has become more confused and problematic than ever before. In the wake of radicalization and terrorist attacks, the customs and beliefs of the ancient religion have come under intense scrutiny. Defenders of Islam have urged for more tolerance, claiming that Islam is a religion of peace, and that 1.6 billion Muslims should not be held responsible for the acts of a deranged few.

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Author Irshad Manji interprets the dilemma differently. In her book titled The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, she places responsibility for the public’s poor image of the religion at the feet of practicing Muslims themselves. The Al Jazeera documentary-debate What’s Wrong with Islam Today? gives her a platform on which to express and defend her controversial views in a debate setting opposite journalist Mehdi Hasan.

Using the Quran’s true teachings of independent thought as inspiration, Manji believes that it is the responsibility of Muslims all over the world to enact reforms in their own religion. In her view, the need for reform requires more involvement from moderate Muslims who denounce the violence, yet refuse to acknowledge the Quran’s possible role in inspiring it. Manji calls for a rewrite of these questionable passages, assessing that a re-interpretation is necessary to remove any potential for murderous and oppressive activities based on misreadings of the text.

On a stage before a live audience, she is challenged at every turn by Hasan, who dismisses the idea that honest practitioners of the religion should cower to those with vile intentions. He argues that her viewpoint perpetuates a damaging and unjust stereotype. What follows is a heated and candid, but respectful exchange of ideas. Several passages of the Quran are examined down to the punctuation, as are issues related to traditional practices, female oppression, interfaith relationships, the response of admonishment from the Muslim community following the events of 9/11, and the hesitancy of Islamic leaders in tackling the debate surrounding their religion.

What’s Wrong with Islam Today? is a thought-provoking and well-articulated examination of some of the most consequential issues facing our world today.

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