Like all faith groups in the rich tapestry that makes up Canada, Muslims are diverse in language, culture, ideologies, and socio-economic status. However, when preyed upon through the eyes of bigotry, xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, and fear-driven politics, often all who identify with the faith are homogenously pegged, mistreated, and maliciously marginalized. In the National Council of Canadian Muslims 2014 Hate Crime Report, hate crimes against Muslims in Canada resulting in attacks on individuals, threats, and property damage rose 50% over five years. Most recently, having seen the way divisive and contentious issues related to Muslims seemed to have been in the centre of the 2015 Canadian National election, that trend does not seem to be receding in the very near future.
Educators serve on the front-line for social and behavioural change for the future generations in our nation, educating our students to think critically, see bias, and advocate for peace, civility, and justice. Moreover, those deeply affected by these ills in our society are our students and their communities. It is when we allow a subsect of our student population to feel disenfranchised that we sentence them to the outskirts and edges of our society, stifling their potential and cutting-them off from a chance to become a fulfilled, contributing member of society. By disrupting the normalization of a culture of fear, educators can play a critical role in the lives of not just Muslims, but all Canadian students.
Allow Neglected Voices to be a soft introduction that brings students to see an experience they may have never had the chance to empathize with before. Yet, please see this as more than a “Muslim” or anti-Islamophobia resource. If one were to peruse the resource, it would be seen first-hand that the skills to be attained from it are: building character and resilience in the face of adversity, empathy, ending racism and misogyny, establishing self-realization and a positive identity. The vessels to bring students to these foundational skills may be the neglected voices of Muslim youth. However, you will realize more apparent in their stories than their faith is their relatability, and their unwavering need to just be accepted for who they are – which is something we want all our students to have, isn’t it?
We hope you find this resource to be as important to your students as we felt it was to never give-up on creating it over the past four years. Peace be unto you.
Sultan A. Rana,
M. Ed. Educational Consultant for Neglected Voices