Something’s Gotta Give: Islam in the West

This is an intro to the work of Dr Rachael Kohn and to a particular Australian ABC transcript – SEE end of this i.e. MY COMMENT to go to source;-0-What’s required to foster better relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West? Two Muslims – Irshad Manji & Mehmet Ozalp – give their points of view.


Irshad Manji is the author of The Trouble With Islam. She calls for change in Islam to conform with the values of Western democratic societies. Mehmet Ozalp is the President of Affinity Intercultural Foundation, which recently held a conference in Sydney on “Islam and Its Relations with the Other.”MUSIC

I’ll just give you a minute or two to pretty much observe the domes, observe the calligraphy, the Qur’anic verses, the patterns on the wall and so forth, just for you to have a bit of a look, and then I’ll start hopefully explaining some of them.

Rachael Kohn: An Open Day at Gallipoli Mosque in Auburn, New South Wales.Hello, and welcome to ‘Something’s Gotta Give: What does it take for Muslims and other Australians to foster a better relationship?’ This is The Spirit of Things on ABC Radio National, with me, Rachael Kohn.

With the dress requirements there is dress requirements both for males and females. OK, and I’m just going to go through the minimal requirements for both a male and a female. The minimal dress requirement for a male is from the navel to below the knee area; that is the minimal requirement for a Muslim male. The minimal requirement for a Muslim female is exposure of hands, face and feet. Now some say don’t include feet on that list, but you do have certain areas where opinions will differ. Now for a Muslim woman, she is required when she comes to a certain age, usually the age of puberty, to pretty much dress the way that I’m dressing, to start fulfilling the dress obligations, or the dress requirements that is expected of her. OK. Now one of the sole reasons why we do it, OK, which is probably one of the most commonsense reasons, is because it’s a commandment from God.

Rachael Kohn: In the larger community, you could say there’s a stand-off between Muslims and non-Muslims. Fear, disdain and ignorance have kept both sides at arm’s length. For Mehmet Ozalp, a second generation Australian Muslim, education is the answer. We’ll hear more from him later in the program.MUEZZINRachael Kohn: My first guest goes much further, in calling for a reform of Islam itself. Irshad Manji, a Canadian Muslim visiting Australia for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, believes that it is not only Islam, but democracy, free thought and human rights, which are at stake. When I spoke to her earlier in the year about her book, The Trouble With Islam, Irshad revealed that her life had been threatened on many occasions for speaking out as she has. I’m pleased to say there was no need for bodyguards when she came to the ABC.Irshad Manji, welcome to The Spirit of Things.Irshad Manji: Thanks for having me.Rachael Kohn: It’s great to have you back on the show again. Six months ago, your book had recently come out, The Trouble with Islam; since then I think you’ve been interviewed all over the world, I doubt if you’ve been home for very long in Toronto. How many copies has the book sold?Irshad Manji: Well there are different countries in which it’s been released. I don’t have exact sales figures for any one of those countries; things change, but I’m really happy to say that the book made it to The New York Times bestseller list in the US; it has been on the best seller list for months in Canada, which is my home country, and by this time in September, it’ll be out in 20 countries, and I’m really happy to say, if I may just throw this in as well, that the book is being translated into both Arabic and Urdu, Urdu being the major language spoken in Pakistan. Now that doesn’t mean however that it’ll be published in the Arab world. No publisher has been found to touch this book with a 10-foot pole in the Arab world. So you know, it’s young Muslims from the Arab world who have said to me, ‘Forget the publishing powers-that-be, don’t let the vision be hidebound to them. You get the book translated into Arabic, you post that PDF on your website, make it free of charge to download, and Irshad, when you do that’, they’ve told me, ‘you will get an even bigger audience than you ever anticipated, because if we can read the book in relative privacy, then that means we can read it in relative safety and start discussing these ideas in a way that we couldn’t if we had the book in our hands and were harassed for doing so.’ Very interesting point.

Ultimately the only force that will contain extremist Islam is true Islam – and the same principle is true of all other forms of extremism.
I wanted to share this resource – many transcripts and audio of programmes presented by Rachael Kohn for Australian ABC. This one is under the category of ‘Fundamentalism’.Go to read the full program and to find many others.

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