"Belonging and Banishment aims to represent, as its editor explains, "the diversity of Muslims in Canada." Its authors come from a range of disciplines (academic, journalistic, and creative) and the variety of their backgrounds, methodologies, styles, and topics are both the book's strength and its weakness. This edited collection aims to counter limiting assumptions about Muslim lives by exploring specific, differing versions of them. Its authors actively argue against the way that, as contributor Anar Ali writes, "Islam is often treated as a monolithic entity. . . ." Importantly, the plural identities the book represents are also Canadian identities. The lives arrayed in Belonging and Banishment are lived in Canada, under Canadian law, within Canadian culture. For example, Ali, explains how she negotiates living as an Ismaili Muslim born in Nairobi raised in Alberta, and media portrayals of Muslims that conflict with her lived experience. Arif Babul, a professor of Physics and Astronomy, describes how he reconciles his devout Muslim beliefs with beliefs more typical of an academic conception of the natural world. Indeed, these are two of the collection's best essays; their authors enact the book's theme of plurality through the nuances of their individual voices and perspectives. While the approach from pluralism is appealing, it also, at the same time, poses problems. Who is the intended audience for a book so expansive as to include a didactic essay on child rearing (which explains, "saying-no moments can be teaching moments") alongside a philosophical explanation of Islamic theology (which takes up the "relation between meaning and agency")? Academic readers may wonder where the editors drew their lines of inclusion - and why they drew them there. What, for example, might a queer Muslim voice have sounded like? Is there a place for a non-Muslim contributor? How does the political and cultural climate in 2008 differ from the climate (that the book responds to) in 2001? On the other hand, if the intended audience is a general one, then a more difficult problem arises: those readers who stand to learn the most from this book may also be the least likely to read it, having told themselves they already know what "being Muslim" means." - Canadian Literature Summer 2010
From the Back Cover
A variety of Canadian voices come together here to explore some of the vital issues facing Muslims in Canada. Who, indeed, is a Canadian Muslim? This is only one of the fundamental questions addressed in this volume.The authors are from diverse ethnic backgrounds, hail from coast to coast, and profess varying degrees of practice and belief. In their thoughtful contributions, they explore matters of faith, identity, sectarianism, human rights, and women's rights. Specifically, the essays collected here question the dubious role of the government of Canada - under pressure from the "war on terror" - and its agencies regarding the human rights of young Muslims; explain the relationship between scientific research and the muslim traditions of knowledge and intellectual pursuit; give examples of tolerant Muslim upbringing and reinforcement of positive identities; point out the duplicitous practices of certain Canadina media in portraying Muslims; look at the issues of women voting or participating in sport while veiled, and the implications of Shariah law as means of arbitration.