Irshad Manji is a Canada-based Muslim author, who is also a feminist, journalist, and activist. Presently, she is working at New York University, as the Director of the Moral Courage Project, which encourages young people to speak truth for power in their communities. Today, she is the most recognized as well the most criticized for being the author of the book ‘The Trouble with Islam Today’
. It has been has been published in over 30 languages, including Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Malay.
Irshad Manji is known for being a critic of radical Islam as well as the orthodox interpretations of the Qur'an. The author believes in more liberal views in Islam and advocated the revival of ijtihad i.e. critical thinking in Islamic tradition. Infact, she has also founded an international charitable organization towards this end. Known as Project Ijtihad, the organization aims at creating a network of Muslims who believe in a liberal reform of Islam. Being a journalist, she has written many articles and has even addressed audiences like United Nations Press Corps.
Irshad Manji was born in the year 1968 in Uganda, to parents of Gujarati and southern Egyptian background. In 1972, when she was only 4 years old, her family shifted to Canada and settled near Vancouver. Being a Muslim, she grew up attending both a secular school and an Islamic religious school (madarassa). Though she performed brilliantly in the secular, she was expelled from the madarassa for asking too many questions. So, she started learning Islam through public libraries and Arabic tutors.
Irshad Manji graduated from University of British Columbia with an Honors Degree. Being an excellent student, she won the ‘Governor General's Silver Medal’, for top humanities graduate, in the year 1990. After graduating from the university, she started working as a Legislative Aide in the Canadian Parliament. Manji also worked as Press Secretary in the Ontario Government and Speechwriter for the Leader of the New Democratic Party. In 1992, at the age of 24, she became National Affairs Editorialist for ‘The Ottawa Citizen’.
With this appointment, she also became he youngest member of an editorial board of any Canadian daily. During this time, Irshad Manji also won ‘The Gemini’, the top broadcasting prize of Canada. In 1997, she released her first book ‘Risking Utopia: On the Edge of a New Democracy’. In the late 1990s, she produced and hosted QT: Queer Television for City TV, based in Toronto. In the show, she also laid special emphasis on the lives of gay people in the Islamic world.
Irshad Manji became the writer-in-residence at Hart House, University of Toronto, in 2002. It was at the Hart House itself that she started writing ‘The Trouble with Islam Today’. The novel was published in 2004 and received instant fame and criticism. She remained a Visiting Fellow with the International Security Studies Program at Yale University, from 2005 to 2006. In 2007, she worked as a senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels. Presently, Irshad Manji is working as the Director of the ‘Moral Courage Project’.
- Awarded ‘Global Vision Prize‘ by ‘Immigration Equality’
- Awarded Oprah Winfrey's first annual ‘Chutzpah Award’ for “audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction"
- Named as a ‘Feminist for the 21st Century’ by Ms. magazine
- Recognized as ‘One of the three Muslim Women creating positive change in Islam today’ by Jakarta Post in Indonesia
- Selected as a ‘Young Global Leader’ by the ‘World Economic Forum’
- Won ‘The Gemini’, Canada’s top broadcasting prize
Irshad Manji Timeline
- 1968 - Born in Uganda
- 1972 - Moved to Canada
- 1990 - Won ‘Governor General's Silver Medal’ for top humanities graduate
- 1992 - Became National Affairs Editorialist for ‘The Ottawa Citizen’
- 1997 - Released the book ‘Risking Utopia: On the Edge of a New Democracy’
- 2002 - Became Writer-in-residence at Hart House, University of Toronto
- 2004 - Released the book ‘The Trouble With Islam Today’
- 2005-06 - Was Visiting Fellow with International Security Studies Program, Yale University
- 2007 - Was a Senior Fellow with ‘European Foundation for Democracy’ in Brussels
- Presently - Working as Director of the ‘Moral Courage Project’