Irshad Manji is an international bestselling author and Muslim reformer.
The New York Times called Ms. Manji “Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare.” A faithful Muslim who openly advocates equality for women and minorities, she practices “moral courage – doing the right thing in the face of one’s fears.” After publishing two seminal books about why and how to achieve liberal reform within Islam, Ms. Manji founded the Moral Courage Project at New York University.
Ms. Manji’s latest media venture is Moral Courage TV, the YouTube channel that features individuals who are risking personal and professional backlash so they can improve their societies. Last year, Moral Courage TV won the Ron Kovic Peace Prize, in honor of the Vietnam vet who became an anti-war activist and inspired the Oliver Stone movie, Born on the Fourth of July.
In-between these media initiatives, Ms. Manji created the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, Faith Without Fear. It chronicles her journey to convince fellow Muslims that questioning religious authorities is necessary – and possible. She has scaled this effort through her charitable foundation, “Project Ijtihad” (pronounced ij-tee-had), named for Islam’s own tradition of independent thinking, dissent, debate and re-interpretation. Its main initiative, the Guidance Team, is an online network of advisors who mentor young people to speak their truths out loud. Being digital, the Guidance Team has international reach, empowering vulnerable youth in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Irshad Manji came to the digital world through the printed word. Her books are banned in some countries and are bestsellers in more. She has written The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) and Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom (Simon & Schuster, 2011). They are translated into a total of 34 languages.
An educator at heart, Ms. Manji teaches moral courage at New York University, Human Condition Labs and other arenas worldwide. She also brings her message of moral courage to the airwaves, frequently appearing on networks such as Al Jazeera, CNN, MSNBC and HBO. When not formally teaching, mentoring, writing, or filming, she is speaking with audiences as varied as Amnesty International and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
African by birth, Canadian by citizenship and American by immersion, Ms. Manji recently moved from New York to Los Angeles to be with her fiancée.