I came to know of her only recently. The interview that I read impressed me. Her look with the trademark, spiny hairdo impressed me more.

Irshad Manji. You probably know her. The flamboyantly outspoken lesbian critic of Islam. A believing Muslim bent on reviving “Ijtihad (pronounced “ij-tee-had”)…Islam’s lost tradition of independent thinking.” The Muslim clergy are after her blood.

I haven’t read her book ‘The Trouble with Islam Today’, which has made her so famous and a nightmare to the Muslim clergy. Its Indian edition has been just released, I learn. But I’ve read a few of her interviews and articles and some reviews of her book as well as a criticism of her. It seems she thrives on controversy.

These are 46 lessons from her official website.

1. Accept the truth from whatever source it proceeds.2. All human beings are entitled to think for themselves.

3. All systems of belief need to be constantly challenged to maintain equilibrium.

4. Always struggle to create a voice for the voiceless.

5. Arabic is a richly symbolic language in which one word, pronounced with a slightly different inflection, can have the exact opposite meaning of what it started with – thereby leading to ambiguous and wholly imperfect interpretations.

6. Are my beliefs passionately moderate, humane, and open to evolution?

7. Bear true witness, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, or your family.

8. Being tolerant of intolerance is something that doesn’t make sense.

9. Believe in mind, not myth.

10. Blast away at the hardened slag that suffocates religion in order to reveal its golden, beating core.

11. By asking questions, we create conversations rather than make sweeping statements.

12. Complacency gets us further into a hole.

13. Demonstrate your love by how it manifests in your own life.

14. Do we separate ourselves by the narcissism of small differences?

15. Dogma compels us to cling. Faith frees us to explore.

16. Even when disagreement can be almost forbidden, a state that insists on compelling assent can be relatively easily made to look stupid.

17. Every issue must be debated. Every last one.

18. Faith is not threatened by dissent. Dogma, on the other hand, is.

19. Fundamentalism of any stripe reduces each of us to something less than our whole, multi-faceted, paradoxical and eminently interesting selves.

20. How precious freedom of speech and expression is for a healthy and functioning society!

21. I have been a silent Refusenik. While I sat around, you acted. While I listened, you spoke. What I observed, you wrote.

22. Is optimism a lack of information, and pessimism a lack of imagination?

23. Is unswerving belief in scientific supremacy an orthodoxy unto itself?

24. It’s better to speak the truth, no matter how much it may hurt, than to remain silent about it.

25. Keep drinking from the fountain of independent thinking, but quench your thirst without getting drunk in the process.

26. Laughter is the best medicine.

27. Legitimacy requires consulting sources far and wide…

28. Literalism quickly turns into fundamentalism.

29. Love all creatures because of the One who created them.

30. Moralistic, legalistic religion which emphasizes external conformity and blind following betrays its own highest aspirations.

31. Prayer is about thanks, not about endless traditions.

32. Questioning is not intolerance. Denial of questioning is.

33. Questions and answers both root for truth, so go ahead and question.

34. Religion is about how (well) we treat our fellow human beings.

35. Religion often sees God as an answer. Spirituality sees God as a question.

36. Sadly, many of us love to do nothing but blame others.

37. Seek, question, challenge, explore, and grow!

38. Self-esteem and pride are involved in any dispute… (Ego rears its ugly head).

39. Thanks to religion – or my rebellion against it – I learned to distinguish between authority (eg. one’s conscience) and authoritarianism (one’s clerics).

40. The “Straight Path” is also exceptionally wide.

41. The moderate majority has the right, and responsibility, to challenge the fanatics.

42. There’s no shame – and, indeed, great value – in asking questions of sacred texts.

43. Thinking, rather than merely imitating, is key to ending prejudice.

44. What is a religion if not the actions of those who practice it?

45. What’s the moral value of being complacent?

46. When religious faith becomes a ruling political principle, all hell breaks loose!

(Irshad Manji says she loves #7, #15, #19, #31, #33, #40, and #45).

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