Thomas Friedman in his March 3 New York Times column, "Brave, Young and Muslim," hails restive and modern-minded reformers in the Islamic world, and especially singles out Irshad Manji, Canadian Muslim feminist author of The Trouble with Islam Today. Friedman directs readers to her website Muslim Refusenik, in which Manji calls for "reopening the gates of ijtihad" or independent reasoning in modern Islam. The website states:
At the beginning of my book, I call myself a "Muslim Refusenik". That doesn’t mean I refuse to be a Muslim; it means that I refuse to join an army of automatons in the name of God.
In that spirit, I’m asking Muslims in the West a very basic question: Will we remain spiritually infantile, caving to cultural pressures to clam up and conform, or will we mature into full-fledged citizens, defending the very pluralism that allows us to be in this part of the world in the first place?
My question for non-Muslims is equally basic: Will you succumb to the intimidation of being called "racists," or will you finally challenge us Muslims to take responsibility for our role in what ails Islam?
Sounds good. But we hope Manji recognizes that (for instance) Rev. Falwell’s contention that "Mohammed was a terrorist" is, in fact, thoroughly racist—and just because charges of racism can be used to stifle dissent doesn’t mean Muslims aren’t a target of racism. We also hope Manji will be courageous enough to voice some dissent at being invoked by Friedman, a vigorous advocate of bombing Muslims.