Whenever I criticize some aspects of traditional and contemporary Islam in public, the reactions are boringly uniform. The leaders of national Islamic organizations come out with harsh denunciations of my views, while individuals within the community write to congratulate me. Some do question my motives, advising that my harsh words might add to rampant Islamophobia.
My answer is always the same: I do what I do because I see myself, especially in my role as a scholar, as being so commanded by my God, "O you who believe, be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives" (Koran 4:135).
When the Feb. 6 edition of the Citizen put my comments on its front page, the reaction was predictable. It was no less different when in March 2004, at a conference in Montreal, I made the statement that many mosques preach anti-Jewish and anti-Christian rhetoric.
I was, the leaders of some Muslim organizations declared, destroying the bridges of rapprochement that had been built between communities. On these occasions I point to translations of the very first chapter of the Koran that have interpolations that preach hatred against Jews and Christians. I can quote exegete after exegete. The truth cannot be overcome.