Irshad Manji

Irshad Manji
Founder & Director, Moral Courage Project

Irshad Manji is the Founder and Director of the Moral Courage Project, which equips students to make values-based decisions. She has turned her journey as a religious reformer into teachings about professional leadership, informed by cutting-edge research from across the disciplines.

As a reformist Muslim, Irshad puts moral courage into practice. Her latest book, Allah, Liberty & Love, is a guide to reconciling faith and freedom in a world raging with repressive dogmas. Fareed Zakaria of CNN and Time magazine lauds Allah, Liberty & Love as being “at the forefront of some crucially important trends” that are “changing the world of Islam.” Irshad’s previous book is the international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith. In-between her books, she created the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, Faith Without Fear

In both the business and nonprofit arenas, Irshad's work has earned high recognition. The World Economic Forum names her as a Young Global Leader. The New York Society for Ethical Culture has given her its rare Ethical Humanist Award. And Oprah Winfrey bestowed on Irshad the first annual Chutzpah Award for "audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction."

At NYU Wagner, Irshad teaches Moral Courage and Your Purpose. Among the professional skills that students can expect to learn: articulating how you want to serve your society, identifying your core values, turning your values into action, knowing when to step up or step back, and staying motivated to deliver on your vision.

Semester Course
Spring 2014 PADM-GP.2196.001 Moral Courage and Your Purpose

Moral Courage

What exactly is moral courage? How has it been exhibited throughout history? Through the Moral Courage Channel on YouTube, we see it being exhibited today. Which raises the next question: Can anybody develop moral courage? Finally, why is moral courage a pre-condition of cultivating purpose?


Knowing your identity is a good thing. Or is it? Surprisingly, identity can be a major obstacle to developing moral courage and achieving wholeness - or integrity. What is the difference between identity and integrity? To grow from identity into integrity, what questions do we need to ask ourselves?


What does it mean to "have integrity"? How do we know when we have it? Why does integrity matter for personal and professional advancement?

Turning Identity Into Integrity

Many successful people have transformed their identity into integrity. As a result, they have served a greater good. What can such people teach us? We examine the stories of Robert F. Kennedy on the one hand and Oprah Winfrey on the other.


Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” How does self-transformation translate into social impact? 

The Three I’s Start Within You

Identity, integrity and impact are the three i’s of cultivating purpose. How do these dots connect in your life? Where on this journey will you need moral courage to move forward? What are concrete ways in which you can sustain your moral courage?

Download Syllabus
Date Publication/Paper

Manji, Irshad 2012. Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom
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The New York Times bestselling author to whom Oprah gave her first ever “Chutzpah” Award, Irshad Manji writes a bridge-building book that is both a stirring reflection and a path to action.

Allah, Liberty and Love shows all of us how to advance the twenty-first century reformation in Islam. As a Muslim who bridges East and West, Irshad Manji paves the way to reconciling faith and freedom—and she does by teaching “moral courage,” the willingness to speak up in the face of intimidation.

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 tolerating intolerable customs, such as honor killings, and how do we change that noxious status quo?

Calling out both the fatwa-flingers and the mute moderates, Irshad offers the ultimate guide to becoming a gutsy global citizen. Prepare to be informed as well as inspired.


Manji, Irshad 2005. The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith

This book is an open letter from me, a Muslim voice of change, 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.

The Trouble with Islam Today shatters our silence. It shows Muslims how we can re-discover Islam's lost tradition of independent thinking -- known as "ijtihad" -- and re-discover it precisely to update Islamic practices for the 21st century. The opportunity to update is especially available to Muslims in the West, because it's there that we enjoy precious freedoms to think, express, challenge and be challenged without fear of state reprisal. In that sense, the Muslim reformation begins in the West.



In the Press

Despite Charlie Hebdo, Optimism On The Future Of Islam In Europe
The Islamic case for a free press
The Spectator
She Walked In The Classroom, Saw Something Terrible, And Took Her Seat Anyway. Then She Stood Up.
Irshad Manji and Sam Harris: How media gets used and abused in the Islam debate
Learning Democracy
The New York Times
It's time to reclaim Islam from the fanatics. Here's how
The Spectator
It's time to reclaim Islam from the fanatics. Here's how
The Spectator
Wagner professor uses YouTube to inspire students
Washington Square News
A Moral Compass Some Can’t Ignore [Commentary]
New York Times
The Association of Women Entrepreneurs and Executives Hosts The 2012 AWE Awards and National Conference
Sacramento Bee
Dalai Lama tells peace symposium: 'Genuine, lasting peace is true, inner peace'
The Canadian Press
House Subcmtee Examines 2009 Attack at Fort Hood, Texas
C-SPAN [Video - 19:58]
Interview about Honor Killings
In Malaysia, ruling party uses Islamic values to bolster support
Los Angeles Times
By Unpopular Demand
The Economist
Irshad Manji's Books Banned
The Sun Daily
Sharing a Different View with Irshad Manji
The Sun Daily
UGM takes heat from ban on 'Islam reformist'
The Jakarta Post
Interview with Irshad Manji
Charlie Rose
"Zeigt es der ganzen Welt!"
Die Welt
Conversation with Irshad Manji
C-SPAN Book TV [Video]
Islam's Civil War
The Daily Beast
'I feel safe in New York' - reformist Muslim writer
The Times of India
I do ask God: ‘Please don’t let my mother have to bury me’
Reconciling Faith and Freedom
Montreal Gazette
Allah, Liberty & Love
Kirkus Reviews
Reaction to President Obama's Speech
MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show [4 minutes in]
Islam Needs Reformists, Not 'Moderates' [Book Adaptation]
Wall Street Journal
Quran-burning pastor stirs up new trouble
Hardball with Chris Matthews
Keep calm, carry on (and devise a nuclear exit plan) [Commentary]
The Globe and Mail
The State of Islam in America
ABC News "This Week"
Is the Country Islamophobic?
MSNBC Hardball
Must-Read Op-Eds
MSNBC Morning Joe
Both Sides Wrong on Mosque Issue?
Fox News Happening Now
The Top 25 Centrist Columnists and Commentators
The Daily Beast
Week in Review: Mounting pressure on Iran’s government
World Focus (video)
Five U.S. Muslims held by Pakistan for alleged militant links (video)
World Focus
Wafa Sultan and the Nature of Islam
Politics Daily
Let's analyze Fort Hood, not sanitize it
The Globe and Mail (commentary)
Does Modern Culture Lack 'Moral Courage'? (video)
Changing Lives
New York Times Review of Books
Standing Up, Speaking Out
Cornell Daily Sun
E Pluribis Islam? The fragile promise of Muslim diversity (op-ed)
NYU Professor honored by National Organization of Women
Washington Square News
Memo to Clinton: Empower Muslim Women (op-ed)
Washington Post
To Fix Islam, Start from the Inside (op-ed)
NOW-NYC's 29th Annual Susan B. Anthony Awards
Home for Halloween (op-ed)
New York Times
Defying the 'dogma' of religion
Washington Square News
The Only Good Muslim is the Anti-Muslim
The Danger of Identity Pollitics (Op-Ed)
Philadelphia Daily News
A Fresh Focus on Muslim Women
the Boston Sunday Globe