Islamic History Month aims to 'reduce tensions' and address 'misconceptions': organizer

This year the Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton will host the biggest celebrations they've ever made for Islamic History Month.

Islamic History Month celebrations will take place until the end of October

Hamilton's Muslim community opens its doors to welcome anyone who wants to know more about Islam. (Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton)

The main reason Hamilton's Muslim community will celebrate Islamic History Month this October, Dr. Raza Khan says, is to reduce any tensions there might be in the city between Muslims and non-Muslims.

"Basically the purpose is to reduce tensions and address any misconceptions or stigmas there might be about the Muslim community in Hamilton," says Khan, spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton (MCGH).

The MCGH will host events across the city. 

Khan says the Muslim community in Hamilton has been engaging the general public almost since the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. The MCGH has been hosting open houses and open question events with Imams for about a decade, but never like this year says Khan.

This year is the biggest celebration we've done in history.- Dr. Raza Khan, spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton

"This year is the biggest celebration we've done in history. We've never done anything this big before," he says.

Khan hopes this will be a chance for Hamiltonians to take part in the festivities. "We'd also like to highlight the contributions the Muslims have made to enrich life in Canada," he says.

"We want to encourage harmony, mutual understanding and respect in the community because it's something that will be good for Hamilton," says Khan.

Starting this week, and happening throughout the rest of the month, there will be food festivals, art and calligraphy exhibitions, movie presentations and a number of talks.

It's about awareness

Journalist Steven Zhou is a Muslim-convert who will be talking about Muslim portrayal in the media on Oct. 18.

(Oguz Sarkut)

"The Muslim presence in Hamilton and the GTA in general is substantial," says Zhou. "I hope Islamic Heritage Month is a platform that reflects the diversity of the Muslim community so that non-Muslims will have a better understanding of our culture."

He feels right now the community needs to try to educate non Muslims about what the community is like and what it stands for. "I'm hoping Islamic Heritage Month will be a mainstream platform that becomes the place where all the questions around Islam are talked about."

Zhou also thinks that organizers have a chance to do better. "As time goes on I think organizers will have a better chance to moderate and provide spaces of conversation that get at the root of some issues like gender or extremism."

The Muslim presence in Hamilton and the GTA in general is substantial.- Steven Zhou, journalist

Ward 3 councillor Matthew Green is listed as a sponsor for the Islamic History Month. "I think in the current climate of Islamophobia it's important to learn about cultures and particularly Islam in ways that aren't negative", says Green.

Green thinks learning about other cultures demystifies some questions people might have due to lack of information. "And lack of information leads to fear," he says.

Islamic History Month will kick off this Friday and will end on Oct. 31. 
Hamilton's Mountain Mosque. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)


Samuel Guevara is a reporter with CBC Hamilton. He's passionate about local news and digital journalism. You can contact him at samuel.guevara@cbc.ca.