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Muslim Impressed by Christianity's Freedom of Inquiry

Best-selling Muslim author and renowned critic of Islam, Irshad Manji shook the religious world with her ground-breaking and highly acclaimed book The Trouble with Islam Today. Translated into more than 30 languages, Manji writes about the lack of inquiry and freedom of thought and speech that pervades across the entire Islamic world.

In 1972, her devout Muslim family immigrated from East Africa to a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, when she was four-years-old. She writes that she came to believe in the basic dignity of every individual not from Islam, but "It was the democratic environment to which my family and I migrated." A couple of years later, her always frugal parents enrolled her in free baby-sitting services at a Baptist church when her mom left the house to sell Avon products door-to-door.

There the lady who supervised Bible study showed me and my older sister the same patience she displayed with her own son. She made me believe my questions were worth asking. The questions I posed as a seven-year-old were simple ones: Where did Jesus come from? When did he live? Who did he marry? These queries didn't put anyone on the spot, but my point is that the act of asking always met with an inviting smile.

She cites another example at her junior high school and her evangelical Christian vice-principal.

[The majority of students] lobbied for school shorts that revealed more leg than our vice-principal thought reasonable. After a heated debate with us, he okayed the shorts, bristling but still respecting popular will. How many Muslim evangelicals do you know who tolerate the expression of viewpoints that distress their souls?

Of course, my vice-principal had to bite his tongue in the public school system, but such a system can only emerge from a consensus that people of different faiths, backgrounds, and stations ought to tussle together. How many Muslim countries tolerate such tussle? I look back now and thank God I wound up in a world where the Quran didn't have to be my first and only book.

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