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Exploring the Canadian Muslim identity for Islamic Heritage Month

By Jillian Cung, October 27 2022

October is Islamic Heritage Month, and it is important to uplift voices within the Muslim community when Islamophobia runs rampant in Canada — which hits home especially because Calgarian Muslims deal with the consequences of it. Being a religious minority in Canada can feel isolating — especially considering how Statistics Canada is reporting that Canada is developing into a less religious nation

The Gauntlet had the opportunity to sit down with a Muslim student to learn a bit more about her experiences in Canada. The contrast between growing up in a country like Pakistan, which is heavily intertwined with religion in all aspects of daily life — and living in Canada where religion has a weaker influence in our culture —  is further elaborated on by Najaah Faisal, a third-year student at the University of Calgary.

“Over the years, I was able to identify with the Canadian identity, along with being a Pakistani-Muslim woman because all of these experiences have shaped who I am as a person,” said Faisal. 

Muslims being a minority in Canada can make it difficult to get appropriate accommodations. Faisal explained that the issue with getting religious accommodations in Canada is that people are usually unaware of religious practices. 

“Let’s say I need to pray and need five minutes off [from work], it would be hard to explain why this is such an important part of my life,” she said.

Being Muslim in two different environments gave Faisal a chance to further explore her Muslim identity. 

“While in Pakistan, I could say my religion came to me naturally because of the environment I was in, but on the other hand, living in Canada allowed my religious experience to be more individual — more for myself,” she said, adding that it allowed for her to deepen that connection with Islam.

Knowing your religious background goes beyond a product of your environment and can be comforting. During Islamic Heritage Month, consider educating yourself about the barriers Muslim people face in Canada, their rich cultures — because Islam is not an ethnicity — histories, and their general lifestyles.

This article is a part of our Voices section does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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