Of all the possible television channels available at my finger tips (iloveamerica), I am watching C-Span 2 right now. They are airing Monday’s American Library Association’s annual conference speaker, Irshad Manji, a Muslim journalist, filmmaker, and feminist. She is speaking about her life, her religion, and her coming to consciousness about women, injustice, inequality, and her own religion. She is electric. She wrote the book, “The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith.” She has written this amazing book (which I am just now putting on my Amazon wish list) and has had it translated into three languages: Urdu, Farsi, and Arabic so that young Muslims can have access to her ideas. In a little over a year, her Arabic manuscript available for free on her website in PDF has been downloaded over 200,000 times and has been read in underground circles among Muslim youths. It is available for free online because it can be downloaded and read privately and secretly, and in places like Iran, where the book is outright banned from being printed, Muslims who care to access Manji’s ideas can.
But during her talk today, Manji quoted Salman Rushdie. And what Rushdie said made me think about what I do as a daily writer, and how varied and meaningful the power of writing can be. Rushdie told Irshad Manji, “Whenever a writer puts out a thought, it can be disagreed with, disputed, [etc.] But it cannot be unthought. That is the permanent gift a writer gives to this world.”
This woman is incredible. I urge you to try to find information about her, try to find a video of her somewhere on the web because the way she speaks is so engaging and so human. I think she may be the first American Library Association speaker I have ever been able to sit through. I mean, it’s the Q&A and I am still seriously watching.