The closing session started with the news that next year's conference will be at Gaylord National Convention Center just outside Washington, DC. Hopefully, those who weren't able to attend Annual Conference this year will be there in 2011.
Our closing speaker was Irshad Manji, author of the book The Trouble with Islam Today: An Insider's Call for Reform in Her Faith. She has been called "Osama's Bin Ladin's worst nightmare" by the NY Times for her views and questioning of Islam and Muslim fundamentalists. Among the things she told us, Ms. Manji spoke of moral courage, saying, "each of us need some of it to make change for the good." We also saw a 20 minute clip of a PBS documentary called Faith Without Fear on her effort to challenge reform Islam. She admitted that her views draw extreme reactions, and that was certainly the case even within the room of NAIS educators. Sadly, I don't feel equipped to evaluate her arguments about Islam, but it seemed clear to me that her confrontational style might be as off-putting to some as her actual message. I do like the fact that our final speaker will leave all of us with something to think and talk about. I'm anxious to read her book, and I'm sure that I'll continue to reflect on her message about moral courage and her ideas about Islam.
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