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Irshad Manji Discusses Moral Courage with Introduction to Journalism Class

Michelle Wei and Annie Rubinson, Contributing Writers

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Author, educator and activist Irshad Manji strives to help people around the world develop the moral courage they need to stand up for what is right.  On a visit to the Masters School, Manji enlightened the Introduction to Journalism class with stories and lessons about moral courage. Manji has spread her views worldwide by creating the Moral Courage Project. According to Manji, her primary goal is to “promote the value of asking questions out loud”.

Manji was born in Uganda and grew up in Canada. Having experienced growing up in an abusive household, being a member of the  LGBTQ community, and practitioner of Islam, Manji uses her own experiences to teach other people about the importance of moral courage through the Moral Courage Project. “Moral courage means doing the right thing in the face of your fears–especially the fear of being judged,” Manji said.

The idea for The Moral Courage Project was born when Manji received backlash from her first book, The Problem with Islam Today. While the book encourages the reinterpretation and reform of Islam,  Manji made it clear that she remains a devout Muslim. This experience inspired Manji to encourage people to value their own beliefs as individuals, beyond the collective norms of their religious or cultural groups.

She explained, “The facts themselves rarely change minds. People these days–this is really part of the human condition–are steeped in biases, their own ideologies, and their own agendas. You are going to get pushback, and sometimes even backlash when you stand up for what you believe. The Moral Courage Project is about equipping people, students for sure, but also adults in their own professions to stand up for what is right and to have the humility to be taught why or how they can prove their positions so that they themselves don’t fall into the trap of being dogmatic as they’re trying to do the right thing.”

Manji reminded the journalism students of the significance of having constructive conversations, as well as what Manji referred to “constructive conflicts”.  She also highlights the importance of not only having a diverse group of people, more importantly, the diversity of thought.

“Disagreeing with each other’s ideas does not have to mean denying each other’s humanity. Diversity of thought is critical to achieving diversity itself,” Manji said.

Manji will be leading a workshop at Masters later this year to further discuss and teach topics about moral courage.

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