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Irshad Manji -- In Conversation/Book Signing

Wednesday Mar 21 2012 7:00 pm, Winnipeg, Grant Park in the Atrium

In support of Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom (Random House of Canada).

Irshad Manji teaches moral courage at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. A Globe and Mail columnist, she is also a scholar with the European Foundation for Democracy. Her #1 Canadian bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Wake-Up Call for Honesty and Change, earned international recognition and inspired Manji’s Emmy-nominated PBS film, Faith Without Fear. The New York Times has called her “Osama Bin Laden’s worst nightmare” while the Jakarta Post in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, has identified Irshad Manji as one of three women creating positive change in contemporary Islam.

Irshad is joined in conversation this evening by Prof. Marilou McPhedran, head of The University of Winnipeg Global College and an international human rights lawyer.


Allah, Liberty & Love

- Trade paperback

by Irshad Manji - $19.95 - Add to Cart

Now in paperback with a discussion guide."Irshad Manji is the new voice of reform, not only for Islam, but for all religions." -- Deepak ChopraThe New York Times bestselling author to whom Oprah gave her first ever Chutzpah Award, Irshad Manji has written a book that equips all of us to develop moral courage.Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our time, Irshad Manji reflects on the journey she has taken since her previous book catapulted her into the public spotlight, drawing on her real-life encounters with a world full of seekers who are struggling, as she has, to reconcile faith and freedom. Having engaged with politicians, activists, families, students, scholars and ordinary people of various religions and cultures, Manji tells stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about the morally confused era in which we live. In doing so, she paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to defend the values of liberal democracy--and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love. Above all, Manji shows that by participating in this signature cause of the 21st century, individuals can embark on a journey of their own towards moral courage. Allah, Liberty & Love is ultimately a book about how to become a gutsy global citizen working for both personal and world peace. Manji has faith not just in Allah, but also in her fellow human beings. Prepare to be informed as well as inspired.

The Trouble with Islam Today

- Trade paperback

by Irshad Manji - $22.95 - Add to Cart

The Trouble with Islam Today is an open letter from award-winning journalist Irshad Manji to concerned citizens worldwide–Muslim or not. The book is a lively wake-up call, a demand for honesty and change in Islamic countries and the West. With guts and sincerity Manji insists that readers face some of the most important questions troubling the world today.A self-proclaimed Muslim Refusenik, Manji exposes the disturbing cornerstones of Islam as it is widely practiced: tribal insularity, deep-seated anti-Semitism and uncritical acceptance of the Koran as the final, superior manifesto of God. But the book begins with and repeatedly returns to Manji’s own experience of Islam, from a teenage debate with a madressa teacher who couldn’t explain to her why girls weren’t allowed to lead prayer, to how she discovered what’s worth salvaging about Islam, to the surprising conclusions she reached about the Arab-Jewish conflict after traveling to Israel — a part of the Middle East that few Muslims dare visit.Irshad Manji doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but in the book’s first two chapters she relates how, through her journey from childhood to adulthood, she came to ask several key questions about Islam that continue to concern her (and that few other writers have had the courage to raise): Why was her B.C. public school so open and tolerant, but her religious school bigoted and rigid? How could she reconcile her faith with the misogynist, homophobic and anti-Semitic violence committed in its name? Why are rote, literal readings of the Koran the mainstream of Islamic thought today? “When Did We Stop Thinking?” she asks in chapter three, unearthing Islam’s tradition of creativity and curiosity — a tradition that died for entirely political reasons. Then, trekking through the Middle East, that Islamic countries’ difficulties can’t easily be blamed on the usual scapegoats: Israel, she discovers, is a fiercely pluralistic society that should be an example to Muslim nations; the United States, surprisingly, is admired by many Muslims and is seen more as an unrealized hope than as lead criminal. This being the case, Manji wonders if the Muslim world is being colonized not by America, but by Arabia. Because Islam was founded in the land of Arabia, in the language of Arabia, for the people of Arabia, Muslims around the world have succumbed to “foundamentalism.” Even non-Arab Muslims — Islam’s majority — have come to imitate the seventh-century tribal rites of the Arabian Peninsula. But this narrow, intolerant and paternalistic system isn’t the only way to be a Muslim.“Ijtihad” (ij-tee-had) is the positive message of this book. Ijtihad is Islam’s lost tradition of independent thinking, which flowered in the Islamic golden age between 700 and 1200 CE. Reviving ijtihad requires Muslims and non-Muslims alike to stop spouting received wisdom, start thinking for themselves and take action. For example, Manji writes, we can revitalize the economies of the Islamic world by engaging the talents of female entrepreneurs. When offered micro-business loans, women accrue assets, become literate, read the Quran for themselves and see the options it gives women for self-respect as well as for respect for the “other.” Through this and other practical ideas, Manji shows how ordinary Muslims, with a little help from their friends, can have a future to live for rather than a past to die for.Of course, her campaign to revive ijtihad raises concerns: For Islamic countries, does becoming more humane mean becoming more Western? Can one sow reform without being a cultural colonizer? Manji addresses these questions head-on — and reminds us of a crucial fact: In the West one can ask dissenting questions about religion and society without fear of being raped, maimed or murdered by the state. Manji gives thanks for these precious freedoms and she challenges Muslims in the West to exercise them. She also invites non-Muslims to step out of “orthodox multiculturalism” and expect better of Muslims, both at home and abroad. Irshad Manji remains a Muslim, one who takes seriously the verse in the Quran that states: “Believers, conduct yourselves with justice and bear true witness before God — even if it be against yourselves, your parents or your family.” In that spirit, she ends her open letter by asking critics to tell her where her analysis has gone wrong. The result is an intense discussion on her website. Whether you agree or disagree with her argument, one thing can’t be disputed: The Trouble with Islam Today has already created a worldwide conversation where none existed before.