Manji was born in Uganda in 1968 to parents of Egyptian and Gujarati descent. 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. Manji Belong to Shia Ismaili (Agakhani) sect of Islam She has a bachelor’s degree in History from University of British Columbia.
For wenty years, she studied Islam via public libraries and Arabic tutors. 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. She is openly lesbian Currently she is a Visiting Fellow with the International Security Studies program at Yale University.
While Manji has been applauded for her work in “The Trouble with Islam Today”, she has also faced criticism for the book. Critics say that she has resorted to Arab bashing and appeasing the Jewish block to gain name and fame. The book which discusses in length about the way Islam has forgotten its tradition of critical thinking, called “ijtihad”, and the way it discriminates women and promotes violence against people of other faith especially the Jews. The book attempts to explore the Islamic tradition and the Holy Koran to know what the Prophet really preached. Since she is not an Islamic scholar, critics have said that she is not qualified to talk about the issues in Islam and her views are not to be taken seriously.
In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to- God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them.
Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny. What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation? What scares non-Muslims about openly supporting liberal voices within Islam? How did we get into the mess of customs, such as honour killings, and how do we change that noxious status quo? How can people ditch dogma while keeping faith?In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji invites Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop many from living with integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji reconciles faith with freedom, describing a universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them.
The Trouble with Islam Today, original title The Trouble with Islam is a 2004 book critical of Islam written by Irshad Manji, styled in an open-letter addressed to concerned citizens worldwide – Muslim or not.
In the book the author aims to provide an examination of what she describes as “the inferior treatment of women in Islam”; “Jew-bashing that so many Muslims persistently engage in”, “the continuing scourge of slavery in countries ruled by Islamic regimes”, “literalist readings of the Koran” and “the lost traditions of critical thinking Ijtihad“.
- “The Trouble with Islam is an open letter from me, a Muslim voice of reform, to concerned citizens worldwide – Muslim and not. It’s about why my faith community needs to come to terms with the diversity of ideas, beliefs and people in our universe, and why non-Muslims have a pivotal role in helping us get there.” – “That doesn’t mean I refuse to be a Muslim, it simply means I refuse to join an army of automatons in the name of Allah.“
In the book, Manji says that an Arab failure to accept the Jews’ historical bond with Palestine is a mistake. Manji writes that the Jews’ historical roots stretch back to the land of Israel, and that they have a right to a Jewish state. She further argues that the allegation of apartheid in Israel is deeply misleading, noting that there are in Israel several Arab political parties; that Arab-Muslim legislators have veto powers; and that Arab parties have overturned disqualifications. She also writes that Israel has a free Arab press; that road signs bear Arabic translations; and that Arabs live and study alongside Jews.
- “The Letter”
- “How I Became a Muslim Refusenik“
- “Seventy Virgins?”
- “When Did We Stop Thinking?”
- “Gates and Girdles”
- “Who’s Betraying Whom?”
- “The Hidden Underbelly of Islam”
- “Operation Ijtihad“
- “In Praise of Honesty”
- “Thank God for the West”
Manji was awarded Oprah Winfrey‘s first annual Chutzpah Award for “audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction.” Ms. Magazine named her a “Feminist for the 21st Century,” and Immigration Equality gave her its Global Vision Prize. In 2006, The World Economic Forumselected her as a Young Global Leader. She has also been named a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow by the American Society for Muslim Advancement. In May 2008, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Puget Sound.
I do believe that a substantial reform is impossible without brave reformists who are ready to question everything. Throughout history, reformists have uttered ideas that initially repelled or scared the hypnotized majorities in their “holy bandwagons.” There cannot be a slow transformation, but a shock, a radical jump, a paradigm change among Muslim masses.