Irshad Manji: Wikis


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Irshad Manji

Irshad Manji, 2007. Photo by Raquel Evita Saraswati.
Born 1968
Nationality Flag of Canada Canadian
Notable work(s) The Trouble with Islam Today, Faith Without Fear
Notable award(s) Honorary Doctorate, University of Puget Sound, 2008 , World Economic Forum "Young Global Leader"
Official website

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Notable modern critics

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Related events since 2001

Irshad Manji (born 1968) is a Canadian feminist, author, journalist and activist. Manji is Director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University.[1] The Moral Courage Project aims to teach young leaders to speak truth to power in their own communities. Manji is openly lesbian.[2]

Manji is a well-known critic of traditional mainstream Islam and orthodox interpretations of the Qur'an. The New York Times has described her as "Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare".[3] Manji is founder and president of Project Ijtihad, an international charitable organization working to "build the world’s most inclusive network of reform-minded Muslims and non-Muslim allies."[4]

Manji's book, The Trouble with Islam Today (Initially published as "Trouble with Islam"), has been published in more than 30 languages, including Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Malay and Indonesian.[5] Manji has produced a PBS documentary, "Faith Without Fear", chronicling her attempt to "reconcile her faith in Allah with her love of freedom".[6] The documentary has been nominated for a 2008 Emmy Award. As a journalist, her articles have appeared in many publications, and she has addressed audiences ranging from Amnesty International to the United Nations Press Corps to the Democratic Muslims in Denmark to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She has appeared on television networks around the world, including Al Jazeera, the CBC, BBC, MSNBC, C-SPAN, CNN, PBS, the Fox News Channel, the CBS Evening News, and Real Time with Bill Maher.[7]



Early life and education

Manji was born in Uganda in 1968 to parents of Egyptian and Gujarati descent.[8][9] Her family moved to Canada when she was four, as a result of Idi Amin's expulsion of Asians. She and her family settled near Vancouver in 1972, and she grew up attending both a secular and an Islamic religious school. Manji excelled in the secular environment but, by her own account, was expelled from her religious school for asking too many questions. For the next twenty years, she studied Islam via public libraries and Arabic tutors, though she is an Ismaili, a sub-sect of Shi'ism that is generally not considered to be Muslim.

Manji earned an honours degree in the history of ideas from the University of British Columbia. In 1990, she won the Governor General's Medal for top humanities graduate.


Manji worked as a legislative aide in the Canadian parliament, press secretary in the Ontario government, and speechwriter for the leader of the New Democratic Party. At age 24, she became the national affairs editorialist for the Ottawa Citizen and thus the youngest member of an editorial board for any Canadian daily. She was also a columnist for Ottawa's new LGBT newspaper Capital Xtra!.[10]

Manji has since hosted or produced several public affairs programs on television, one of which won the Gemini, Canada’s top broadcasting prize. She participated in a regular segment on TVOntario's Studio 2 in the mid-1990s, representing liberal views in debates with conservative journalist Michael Coren. She later produced and hosted QT: QueerTelevision for the Toronto based Citytv in the late 1990s. Among the program's coverage of local and national LGBT issues, she also produced stories on the lives of gay people in the Muslim world. When she left the show, Manji donated the set's giant Q to the Pride Library at the University of Western Ontario.[11][12]

In 2002, she became writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto's Hart House, from where she began writing The Trouble with Islam Today. From 2005 to 2006, she was a visiting fellow with the International Security Studies program[13] at Yale University. She is currently a senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels.[14] In January 2008, Manji joined New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service to spearhead the Moral Courage Project, an initiative to help young people speak truth to power within their own communities.[15]

Manji has received numerous death threats.[16][17] In an interview with Glenn Beck, Manji stated that the windows of her apartment are fitted with bullet-proof glass, primarily for the protection of her family.[18]

"Muslim refusenik"

"Muslim refusenik" is a phrase Manji uses to identify herself as someone who refuses to "join an army of robots in the name of God."[19] "Refusenik" is an English-Russian portmanteau word first used for Russian Jews refused permission to emigrate, and then for Israeli conscientious objectors who refused to do army service on the West Bank.

The Trouble with Islam Today

Manji's book The Trouble with Islam Today was published by St. Martin's Press in 2004. It has since been translated into more than 30 languages. Manji offers several translations of the book (namely Arabic, Indonesian, Urdu, Malay and Persian) available for free-of-charge download on her website. To date, the Arabic translation alone has been downloaded more than a quarter of a million times.[5] The book has been met with both praise and scorn from both Muslim and non-Muslim sources. Several reviewers have called the book "courageous"[20] or "long overdue"[21] while others have accused it of disproportionately targeting Muslims[22] or lacking thorough scholarship[23].


Manji was awarded Oprah Winfrey's first annual Chutzpah Award for "audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction."[24] Ms. Magazine named her a "Feminist for the 21st Century,"[25] and Immigration Equality gave her its Global Vision Prize.[26] In 2006, The World Economic Forum selected her as a Young Global Leader.[27] She has also been named a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow by the American Society for Muslim Advancement.[28] In May 2008, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Puget Sound.[29]


  • The Trouble with Islam Today, 2004, ISBN 1-84018-837-5
  • The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith, 2005, ISBN 0-312-32700-5
  • Risking Utopia: On the edge of a new democracy, 1997, ISBN 1-55054-434-9

See also


  1. ^ Irshad Manji
  2. ^ "Article on her homosexuality"
  3. ^ Krauss, Clifford (2003-10-04). "An Unlikely Promoter of an Islamic Reformation". Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Irshad Manji blog and official website » the-book
  6. ^ America at a Crossroads . Faith without Fear | PBS
  7. ^ YouTube - IrshadManjiTV's Channel
  8. ^
  9. ^ YouTube - Irshad Manji on Imran Siddiqui's VOA TV (Pakistan)- Part 2
  10. ^ Dale Smith, "Looking back on issue #1 of Capital Xtra!. Capital Xtra!, February 11, 2009.
  11. ^ Irshad Manji's Official Website
  12. ^ Irshad's Myspace Page.
  13. ^ freeSpeech: Irshad Manji Sept. 18, 2006
  14. ^ Who We Are
  15. ^ Irshad Manji blog and official website » moral-courage-project
  16. ^
  17. ^ Irshad Manji blog and official website » Memo to YouTube: Don't censor death threats
  18. ^ "". Glenn Beck. CNN. 2007-02-13.
  19. ^ [World: 'Muslim Refusenik' Irshad Manji Urges Thoughtful Piety] - [Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2008]
  20. ^ Calling all believers to a conversation on Islam-Book Mark-Sunday Specials-Opinion-The Times of India
  21. ^ The Trouble with Islam January 25, 2004. Book review of "The Trouble with Islam".
  22. ^ Debate with As'ad AbuKhalil at Democracy Now.
  23. ^ The Only Good Muslim is the Anti-Muslim by M. Junaid Levesque-Alam
  24. ^ The Chutzpah Awards
  25. ^ Sept/Oct 1997 issue of Ms, p. 104
  26. ^ 2007 Annual Benefit, New York City
  27. ^ The Forum of Young Global Leaders
  28. ^ Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow
  29. ^
  30. ^ Irshad Manji calls on her fellow Muslims to reform
  31. ^ NFB - About the NFB| 2007 Gemini Awards
  32. ^ 2008Muslim Film Festival - Think-Different Women

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Irshad Manji (born 1968) is a Canadian Islamic feminist Muslim, author, journalist, and activist.


  • In Islam's golden age, so much progress was made that it became the basis of the European Renaissance. We Muslims have to change ourselves, that's the main difference. We can't keep blaming America or Israel for our misery.
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