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The Problem of Mahjoub – Book Review


By: Maryam Abdullah*

Since he published his last book “Manifesto against Islamic Priesthood,” Libyan thinker A. Monem Mahjoub is facing a lot of criticism. His honest opinion in an interview with Al-Taakhi 2 (Fraternity) newspaper about what he calls the Current Islam is indubitable for him but leaves complicated implications to be accepted for his readers.

Mahjoub’s position on Islam made him also rejects Moderation and considers it just an excuse or a pretext to overlook the crisis afflicting Muslims for the time being, saying: “to jump on rigor knots of extremism in the practice of Islam.”, and he believes that the current Islam is a new phase of a religion that kept changing since the third century AH (ninth century AD), and It is remade in the twentieth century out of a farrago of clerical ideas by contemporary clergy, and that the multilayered understanding of Islam is reshaped to comply with ancient tribal traditions which are still powerful in the modern era, due to the control of the Muslim clerics who aspire to establish a theological authority in the Arab countries under the name of Islam.

Thinking of faith as an individual matter, he considers freedom of belief as the most necessary need in Islamic societies.

After the radical political change of 2011 in Libya, and because of his secular analysis and critical view about using Islam in politics for the purpose of controlling power in Libya, he was threatened at gunpoint and faced a lot of harassments by fanatics and jihadists. So he left to Tunis where he published a book titled Manifesto against the Islamic priesthood, calling to liberate faith from the control of Islamic clergy and to rescue the civil life from religious intervention.

He wrote ironically to clerics: “Unchain faith; thus it can leave the muddy body and rise to the sky.” But in frontal words: “Lock up Islam in mosques, Christianity in churches, and Judaism in Synagogues. Religion is an indoor activity. It’s of temples not of streets”.3

Mahjoub is a part-time photographer. He also has a keen interest in designing and drawing scenography and theatrical spectacles.

I met him in Tunisia,

– “What is your problem with Islam”? I asked

– “I feel that Islam is stolen from simple people. Now we live what Sadiq Nayhoum had said twenty years ago. The stage is moving.”4

– “still thinking as a scenographer! Some day you said “The stage must continue; we have to collect and show details in one context.” how do we draw the current scene of Islam?

– “The stage of Islam is changing,” he answered, and in a moment: “dramatically.”

* Editor in chief of Atlas magazine1


  1. https://atlasjournal.wordpress.com/
  2. Altaakhi, 29 Nov. 2016, http://www.altaakhipress.com/viewart.php?art=90893
  3. Mahjoub, Manifesto against Islamic Priesthood.Tanit Books. Tunisia, 2016.
  4. He referred to Nayhoum’s book “Islam in captivity … who stole the mosque” http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6537197