*written in undergrad year 2011
I have just come back from a lecture, or I guess a public speaking presentation if you will. I saw posters for the guest speaker outside my classrooms and around campus so I decided why not? This guest speaker presentation was put on by the Cultural Analysis and Social Theory – MA Program at Laurier. Dr. Anouar Majid from the University of New England came to speak of Faith and Hersey: Pluralism and Muslim Diversity. I went in without having done any research on what I was getting into but I’ll have to say I was disappointed. Majid is a well known and accomplished academic who has published numerous books about Islam and its relation to Colonialism and the West etc etc etc. Instead of expanding any understanding or answering questions effectively, Mijad spoke for an hour about how Islamic people should embrace “westernized” terms of diversity. And how theocracy should be banned from Islamic state Constitutions. He was somewhat unconventional and by no means an excellent public speaker- he went off on tangents and some light humor but when other professors and attendant with PHDs asked questioned his approach to diversity within the Muslim community. He seemed to be stating that there is no diversity within Arab states and that Muslim communities are unable to grasp or awknowledge the concept of diversity or that the Koran has origins of within Judism and Christainity. It is my understanding that he wants Muslims to “accept or realize” that superhuman or divine moments in their religious history did not actually occur and that they must accept diversity through WESTERNIZED standards and on the WEST’S terms.
This bothered me. It set an unsettling attitude because it is my own belief that the Arab world – and excuse me if I am using Arab Muslim Islam in the wrong contexts as I am only now broadening my full understanding of such terms- is misunderstood in alot of ways and disrespectfully misrepresented within media, media relations and in our naive perspective as a society as a generalized whole in Canada. Three of my old profs were there and made very interesting points. Dr. Zaidi, a professor of Global Studies at Laurier argued that the Koran actually has a wide respect for other religious beliefs and acknowledges them and spoke that there was diversity within the Koran. And another woman, who was “very disturbed” with his whole argument. She mentioned that in Toronto there is an established Queer Muslim Community. And that there is diversity within Muslim communities and she mentioned Muslim feminist movements. She was mostly disturbed by Majid’s implication that Muslims need a U.S. intervention or rescuing or occupancy – I cant remember her exact words- to bring diversity overseas.
This has triggered something. And my class in Representations of War in the Media has intrigued me to question suffering and question issues of diversity and perspectives of the “OTHER” .
anyways I will be expanding my own understanding and developing me own educated perspective about these types of issues and I will be discussing them periodically in the near future. * The previous post is an email I sent to Dr. Zaidi. And hope people start to think about these certain issues because they are important in a larger sociological perspective, especially now as modernity, globalization and diversity are issues that shape our current economic, social, cultural and political states of being.