International BestSelling Author Irshad Manji to Speak at MCLA


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will host author Irshad Manji, founder and director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, in the next Public Policy Lecture, "The Future of Islam," on Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m., in the MCLA Church Street Center's Eleanor Furst Roberts Auditorium.

Made possible through the generosity of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust, "The Future of Islam" is free and open to the public. No reservations are required.

"Recognized as a leader behind positive change in Islam, Irshad Manji invites Muslims and non-Muslims alike to transcend fears of offending others in a multicultural world," said John DeRosa, trustee of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust. "An advocate of 'moral courage,' she emphasizes that all human beings have the right to contribute to reform in any community. We are pleased to bring her to MCLA to speak to our community, and I encourage the public to join us for what should prove to be a thought-provoking discussion."

In her presentation, Manji will chart the course for the reform of Islam. By "reform," she means reconciling faith and freedom, and offer key insights into a new generation of Muslims, illuminating their challenges and opportunities. She also seeks to empower non-Muslims to support Islamic reform in ways that bring out the best in all.

Starting with her personal journey and ending on recommendations for action, Manji will urge every individual - Muslim and non-Muslim - to become a leader in the struggle for universal human rights, and provide suggestions for what everyone can do to achieve this.

Deepak Chopra describes Manji as "the new voice of reform, not only for Islam but for all religions." 

Her bestselling book, "The Trouble with Islam Today," has been published in 31 countries, including Indonesia, Lebanon, and Pakistan. In 2011, Professor Manji released the sequel: "Allah, Liberty, and Love.

Bill Moyers called it a "passionate yet practical guide for the journey that each of us must begin if we are to live with dignity on a crowded planet."  O, The Oprah Magazine, selected it as one of the "10 Books You Must Read Now."

Wherever her books are banned, Manji reaches readers by posting free-of-charge translations on her Web site,, prompting Fareed Zakaria to state, "Irshad Manji never gives up."

In-between books, she produced "Faith without Fear," the PBS documentary that garnered an Emmy nomination for artfully following her campaign to reconcile Islam with women's equality, respect for minorities and honest debate. 

Her Moral Courage Project at NYU aims to groom leaders who will challenge political correctness, intellectual conformity and self-censorship. The Moral Courage Project teaches that rights come with responsibilities, that we are citizens before we are members of mere tribes, and that meaningful diversity embraces different ideas, and not just identities.

She also is the founder and president of Project Ijtihad, a charitable organization promoting a "tradition of critical thinking, debate and dissent" in Islam, among a "network of reform-minded Muslims and non-Muslim allies."

The Jakarta Post named Manji as one of three women making a positive change in Islam today. 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 Forum selected Manji as a Young Global Leader. She also has 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, and in November 2012 she received the New York Society for Ethical Culture's highest honor, The Ethical Humanist Award.

For more information about "The Future of Islam," go to publicpolicy, or contact Chelsey Burke, 413-662-5391, or