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October 2018

Dr. Adnan Husain

Twelve years ago, the Parliament of Canada recognized October that year as Islamic History Month. Kingston was among the first municipalities formally to declare Islamic History Month and has consistently renewed its commitment annually to mark the month. 

This year was no exception, and City Hall was illuminated in green on the evening of October 2 to celebrate the start of the month. I am delighted and honored to have the opportunity to serve as guest editor of this newsletter to introduce and launch Islamic History Month at Queen’s, a tradition I have proudly participated since its inception in 2006. 

Like Black History Month several decades ago, this initiative by community and civic organizations responded to the need to educate the public and celebrate the achievements and contributions of a community too often poorly understood, ignorantly portrayed in public media, and discriminated against in various ways. Also like Black History Month, this program has served multiple purposes: to redress through knowledge common stereotypes that undergird prejudice, to promote a civic and public culture of multicultural and religious diversity, and to give recognition to achievements and contributions that have been ignored or underrepresented in a predominantly Euro-centric perspective on history and culture.   

As is very often the case, the community activists made important achievements far in advance of the universities. Since my arrival to Queen’s in 2005, for example, no full-time professor with a primary specialty in Islam; Muslim societies of the Middle East, Africa, Asia; or of Muslims in Europe and North America has joined Queen’s to teach and research in these major fields to my knowledge. This curricular gap is particularly acute for the modern Middle East and Islamic world across disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. In response, in 2012 my colleague in Ottoman history Dr. Ariel Salzmann and I developed the Muslim Societies-Global Perspectives (MSGP) project.

Again this year, partnering with the Islamic Society of Kingston in the community, we have organized a program of public events for Islamic History Month this October. MSGP has sponsored public lectures, workshops, film screenings and discussion forums on campus and for the community to commemorate Muslim contributions to culture, to learn from diverse histories ranging from the multi-religious society of Muslim ruled Spain and the Ottoman Balkans in the medieval and early modern eras, to understand developments in the Middle East and Islamic world today, and to share the experiences of Muslim communities in modern multicultural societies of Europe and North America. 

Much more could be done to make this month successful each year in achieving its diverse purposes at Queen’s. We are especially eager to institute and endow, with support from donors in the community and beyond, a major annual lecture for Islamic History Month that would allow us to bring a prominent and internationally renowned scholar to Queen’s each October as a focal point for both campus and Kingston community commemoration.

Islamic History Month provides an opportunity not only to learn more, share knowledge and experiences publicly, and promote greater understanding, but it is also an opportunity to think more about how the university can and should embed such extracurricular learning more fully into its regular curriculum. As the university continues to implement the goals of the Principal's Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report and the many previous recommendations of earlier reports and initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion, programs and departments can take the initiative to redress the remarkable absence of scholarly knowledge of the culture and history of Muslims in our university.

What areas are particularly underrepresented? We urge students and faculty to consider what contributions Muslims and their diverse cultures have made in the visual arts, literature in numerous languages from Arabic to English, architecture, philosophy. What majority Muslim societies and Muslim minorities could be better understood and represented through scholarship and teaching in the disciplines of sociology, geography, anthropology, political economy?  

Dr. Adnan A. Husain
Associate Professor, Department of History
Medieval Mediterranean and Islamic World
Director, Muslim Societies-Global Perspectives 

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Featured Events

UN International Day of the Girl

Douglas Gibson Lecture: Bob Rae on the Rohingya crisis
Thurs, Oct 11, 12 – 1 pm, Robert Sutherland Room 202

Muslim Societies, Global Perspectives; Dr. Timothy Gianotti, "Imagining a World in which There are No Religious Others: Al-Farabi on Prophecy, Religion, and the Relativity of Religious Language and Symbol"
Thurs, Oct 11, 2:30 – 4 pm, Watson Hall Room 517

The Chancellor Dunning Lectureship: "Race, Injustice, and the Burden of Hope" - Chris Lebron
Thurs, Oct 11, 4 – 6 pm, Chernoff Hall Room 117

Go ENG Girl
Sat, Oct 13, 9 am – 2:15 pm, Beamish-Munro Hall

FLSQ Visitor: Erica Lawson - The Pursuit of Justice in Peace Huts: A Feminist View from Liberia
Mon, Oct 15, 1 – 2:30 pm, Sir John A. Macdonald Hall Room 202

UCARE meeting
Mon, Oct 15, 5 - 6:30 pm, Robert Sutherland Room 202

Harry and Sylvia Rosen Symposium in Jewish Studies and Kingston Jewish Council presents: Dr Judith Cohen - "Music in the Three Religions of Medieval Iberia"
Tues, Oct 16, 5:30 pm, University Club George Teeves Room

Soulful Singing
Oct 17, 12:10 – 12:50 pm, John Deutsch University Centre Room 344

Jewish Studies and The School of Religion: Dr Gary Waite "Jews and Muslims in Seventeenth-Century Discourse"
Wed, Oct 17, 2:30 – 4 pm, Watson Hall Room 517

Introduction to Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Curricula: Highlighting Indigenous Issues in Curricula
Thurs, Oct 18, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Robert Sutherland 202

Installation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikhism)
Sat, Oct 20

Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre Open House
Mon, Oct 22, 3 – 5 pm, 144 and 146 Barrie Street

The Ban Righ Foundation Inspiring Women Event
Thurs, Oct 25, 7:30 – 10 pm, The Isabel Bader Centre

Brown Bag Conversations: Discussing Decolonization Series
Tues, Oct 30, 12 – 1 pm, Mackintosh-Corry Hall Room F200

Accessibility Cafe: Proposed 5-Year Accessibility Plan for Barrier Removal in Existing Buildings
Wed, Oct 31, 11:45 am – 1 pm, Robert Sutherland 202

Samhain (Gaelic)
Wed, Oct 31 evening – Thurs, Nov 1 evening

The John Meisel Lecture Series "Canada's Oldest Controversy: The Pretense of Reconciliation" - Hayden King
Thurs, Nov 1 4 – 5:30 pm, Biosciences Complex

Introduction to Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Curricula: Highlighting Indigenous Issues in Curricula
Thurs, Nov 1, 1:30 – 3:30 pm, Robert Sutherland Hall Room 202

For a full listing of on-campus events, visit the University Events Calendar.

From the Community

Learn more about plans for Islamic History Month, and the schedule of Muslim Socities Global Perspectives events, on the MSGP Facebook page.

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre had a visit from Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef last week as part of Women's History Month. Learn more about the Women of Impact initiative that was unveiled.

Have you picked up a copy of Scarborough, this year's Queen's Reads book? Pick up a free copy on campus and learn about opportunities to participate in reading groups.

Congratulations to Camille Georgeson-Usher, PhD candidate in Cultural Studies, for winning the 2018 Canadian Art Writing Prize. In her original submission, Ms. Georgeson-Usher considers the effects of urban landscapes on Indigenous bodies. 

Nominations are being accepted for three annual awards given out by the Human Rights and Equity Office. The nomination deadline for the Employment Equity, Accessibility, and Human Rights Awards is Friday, Jan 11. 

Congratulations to the Human Rights and Equity Office - winners of another innovation award from the federal government for their efforts to foster inclusive hiring.

Queen's University is situated on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territories.
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