Over the years, I have received many inquiries, mostly from young women, about the history and contributions of Muslim Canadians. The volume of e-mails has increased lately. Last year, a university student from Toronto summed up the reason for this surge in interest:
“I wanted to let you know how much of a difference your research has made to me, as a second generation immigrant to Canada. Much of the discourse since 9/11 has been that Muslims/Arabs are new immigrant communities and cannot integrate.
Your research provides a foundation in believing that we do belong here. Thanks so much for embarking on this kind of research….”
When her e-mail arrived, I had just completed the manuscript of a report, Engaging Muslim Women: Issues and Needs and was looking forward to resuming my consultancy work full time. Needless to say that plan changed. Inspired by her personal testimonial, I thought of making available to interested people as quickly as possible what I have learned over the years.
This brochure is the outcome.
It is intended to be a quick reference to some of the significant events which affected, or were influenced and shaped by, Muslim women. Their contributions are far too many to be covered here or even in a book. This chronicle only focuses on precedent-setting events; subsequent extensions or developments of the same events are not covered. There are many more stories to tell and I hope this brochure will serve to stir readers’ curiosity to explore and advance our knowledge of this uncharted but important part of Canadian history.
I am grateful to many people for their help. Karen Hamdon answered my numerous questions patiently and graciously. Her unique vantage point as the granddaughter of Hilwie Hamdon and as leader of the Al Rashid mosque preservation committee, gave me unique insights into the two most magnificent moments in Muslim history of Canada. Razia Jaffer, who also was a member of the team that preserved the first mosque, and Alia Hogben, who has been active in women’s issues for decades, shared their first hand knowledge of the events. Najet Hassan and Shaheen Ashraf guided me to very useful sources of information.
My thanks also go to a committee of three professionals, all non-Muslims, who selected the entries included in the brochure from a bigger document
Finally, neither the Canadian Council of Muslim Women nor any of the individuals mentioned necessarily share the views
expressed here nor do they bear responsibility for the contents.