Ben Qian’s Sit Down Interview with Irshad Manji


Irshad Manji talking at her evening conservation for her book, Don’t Label Me, last year in April. Photo Courtesy of lfa smugmug.

Ben Qian

On Irshad Manji’s recent second visit to LFA, there was a lot of conversation about her book, Don’t Label Me, which includes her experiences within modern relationships. Manji said she has had various labels throughout her life: a Muslim, a lesbian, a daughter, a speech deliverer, and a student. She believes that being branded in one way, as years unfold, and being labeled, causes conflicts and unnecessary arguments.

In a sit-down interview, Manji discussed how curiosity is really essential in modern society as we fail to learn what’s different about other people. It’s easy to assume what people think, feel, etc., but they are distorted from each other by assumption. Manji said that she herself has been labeled as a Muslim by political leaders and the press.  

    She described how there is a lot of anxiety around the people, feeling not needed, feeling desperate, and feeling that this generation is becoming old and faded, and how amongst this, it can be to be a minority celebrity.

    In her book, Manji wrote about her own wisdom for having long time communication with a diverse community with various political believes. When being asked about her response when being offended, she answered, “I will ask myself, am I being defensive or being magnified?” said Manji, “because pay back is not progress.”

    Manji thought that reframing the argument could show the insulter his own magnifity, speaking in their value and humanizes them. “ Give Grace a chance,” said Manji.  

    According to her, labels are human made and all humans are born with impulsive brains. When talking to a different opinion holder, there is a risk of being labeled as there will always be people who label. However, conversation is the beginning of further actions, profound agreement of other sides as cooperation will not be achieved without with collective talks.

    Manji argued that people should be encouraged to stand up against the majority or even authority when they are facing inequalities, but they should reconsider the way they deliver their messages. Manji argued that yelling at people will make them more defensive, so preserving the dignity of others is really important. Already suggestions or rejections would lead to different opinions.

Manji also stated that nobody be liked being played, so the best way is to ask ourselves what is their quality that we miss, when people feel being heard, they will hear others. There is some part of the brain that is not smart, we all need to slow ourselves down so that we can think more rationally instead of emotionally. Overly emotional is the ability the thing that come through way.