“The Power of Asking Questions Out Loud”


Irshad Manji, senior fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy, spoke at Williams College on Thursday, Feb. 28, in Griffin Hall, room 3 at 7 p.m. in a discussion entitled "The Power of Asking Questions Out Loud." Free entrance.

Celebrated and condemned around the globe as a Muslim who stands up to the forces of terrorism, Irshad shows that one voice, asking simple questions out loud, can change the world. She has transformed her personal journey into a riveting story that teaches how to confront the challenges we face.

Manji is known for her pioneering work to modernize the Muslim community. Irshad Manji is an active supporter of the economic empowerment of women, the fair treatment of gay people in the Muslim world, and the battle against the totalitarian Islam regimes.

She is a proponent of "ijtihad," which she describes as Islam's lost tradition of independent thinking. This tradition, she said, went into a decline in the 11th century and was replaced by narrow and rigid interpretations of the Qur'an. In an interview that appeared in The Independent, she said, "What was true for ninth-century Mecca and Medina may not be the best interpretation of Allah's message today."

She is the author of "The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith." "It's about why my faith community," she explained, "needs to come to terms with the diversity of ideas, beliefs and people in out universe, and why non-Muslims have a pivotal role in helping us get there." The book has been published in 25 countries and been banned in a number of other countries. For those countries, Manji has posted free translations on her website.

She is the creator of the documentary "Faith Without Fear," which follows the journey of a young woman to reconcile Islam and freedom. It premiered on PBS as part of the "America at a Crossroads" series.