Islamic history month takes off at Queen’s

‘Muslims are an integral part of the Canadian population’

Image supplied by: Supplied by Mona Rahman
Several events are taking place on campus this month.

Oct. 1 marked the start of Canada’s 16th Islamic History Month. 

Taking place over October each year, this month creates the opportunity not only for Muslim students and faculty, but non-Muslim students, to learn about Islamic culture and support systems on campus.

Aumama Al-Naib, ConEd ’26, graphic design coordinator for Queen’s University Muslim Student Organization (QUMSA), spoke to The Journal about the upcoming month.

Al-Naib explained Islamic History Month is about “appreciating the old, but also the new.”

“It’s about valuing the contributions of people like Ibn al-Haytham, the father of optics, and Mariam al-Astrulabi, a brilliant inventor, who marked their names in history. It’s about recognizing the great roles Muslims have in societies today. It’s about standing closer together as a society that respects everyone,” Al-Naib said.

Al-Naib encouraged everyone to explore the past and look at the beautiful gardens of the golden age of Islam by consuming Muslim content, like the mini-film, 1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets.

“I encourage you to get involved with QUMSA in the present and stand with us as we look towards the future together.”

Professor Adnan Husain, director of the School of Religion and Muslim Societies Global Perspectives Project (MSGP), and Mona Rahman, research awards officer, added their insight about what Islamic students and faculty can expect this month.

“The whole point of the month is to learn about the histories of Muslims in Canada,” Rahman said in an interview with The Journal.

“People typically think of Muslims being a new group in Canada, but we’ve been here for quite some time. The oldest recorded Muslim was here in the 1890s.”

Muslims are an integral part of the Canadian population, and recognizing they are not a new group is essential to the meaning of the month, Rahman explained.

“This year the [national] theme of the month is Multicultural Flavours of Muslim Cuisine which celebrates the diversity, cultures, and cuisines of the Muslim community and how it’s used in terms of health, wellbeing, and spirituality,” Rahman said.

Rahman and Husain further spoke about the MSGP.

“[The] MSGP is an initiative to organize non-curriculum based public programming and education about the Middle East, Islamic world, and Muslim diasporic communities in the west,” Husain said in an interview with The Journal. 

“We have always participated as part of our activities in Islamic History Month by organizing a series of talks, events, cultural events, and so on.”

Husain said it’s important to combat and deal with Islamophobia to counter some of the perceptions, misunderstandings, and hostile representations of Muslim students on campus.

He added there were a series of major incidents of Islamophobic attacks, abuse, and even vandalism of the QUMSA offices at the JDUC several years ago.

“As part of the response [was] a few of us—myself, my colleague Dr. Ariel Salzmann—thought we should approach the administration about trying to bring more knowledge and understanding through scholarly expertise and public education.”

“We’ve been supported by the University to try and build in a way that is useful to the curriculum, but also in support in services by making campus more inclusive through genuine education.”

At the start of Islamic History Month, Husain started a new employee resource group called Queen’s University Muslim Inclusion Network (QUMIN)—launched for Muslim faculty and graduate student employees.

“‘Employee’ is a broad category we’re using here and that also is meant to bring people together so that they can feel supported, but also advocate about accommodations that may be needed,” Husain explained. 

“There’s really something for everybody, both who want to learn more about the Middle East Islamic world and Muslims, but also for Muslims themselves.”

Husain explained there are several events taking place during this month, run by both the City of Kingston and Queen’s.

“On Oct. 18 we’re going to watch two episodes of the Ms. Marvel series and have a panel discussion with myself and a few other scholars who study religion and popular culture of Muslims in North America,” Husain said.

“We’re going to talk about what this female superhero being an observant Muslim character means and how do we analyze it.” 

On Oct. 4 a past Queen’s graduate of cultural studies and one of Husain’s supervisees gave a lecture regarding Islam and anarchism in their new book. On Oct. 27, Larry Silvers, a medieval Islamic historian and Muslim creative writer is giving a lecture.

Silvers will be discussing her book, The Lover: A Sufi Mystery, and what it means to write historical detective murder mysteries for today’s audience and for contemporary Muslims.

Rahman and Husain encouraged everybody to connect with MSGP.

“People can get involved, come to these events, and sign up on our mailing list. We also have Facebook, Twitter, and a podcast called “The Majlis” (available on Apple Music or Spotify),” Husain said.

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