Zulfikar Hirji is an Anthropologist and Social Historian of Muslim Societies and Cultures. He is currently Associate Professor of Anthropology at York University, Toronto. He was formerly a Research Associate at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, and Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.
Here are excerpts from Zulfikar Hirji’s article “To humanize Muslims, let’s start in the classroom” on the Globe and Mail (March 25, 2019):
“…Most Canadian students seemingly go through the education system without ever hearing about the plurality of the world’s histories, cultures, faiths and traditions, including Islam and Muslims.
“What messages are we sending to our future generations by continuing to exclude knowledge of a rich and diverse 1,400-year old faith whose adherents continue to shape the modern world?
“With such omissions, are school curriculums not unwittingly contributing to the dehumanization of Muslims and negating Islam’s place in world history?…
“But, in addition to sharing a fear and hatred of Muslims, what unites Islamophobes of all varieties is their aim to collectively dehumanize Muslims and demonize Islam. From the time of Crusades to the era of European colonialism and into the present-day, the West has a well-documented history of undermining Muslims and vilifying Islam…
“That is, if it is the case that Islamophobia thrives upon the twin processes of dehumanizing Muslims and demonizing Islam, then, surely, there is an urgency to re-humanize and restore Islam’s place as an integral and honourable part of world history and culture. And where better to start humanizing Muslims than in our schools and universities?
“Some may argue that teaching our younger generations about Islam and Muslims will not prevent another Christchurch or Quebec City. But integrating the histories of Muslims and Islam into school curriculums will send a clear message to all Canadians that Muslims are an important part of Canada’s history.”