Alleviating the Clash of Ignorance(s): An Ismaili Muslim Initiative in Canada

Title: Alleviating the Clash of Ignorance(s): An Ismaili Muslim Initiative in Canada
Authors: Cummins, Alyshea
Date: 2021-02-23
Abstract: This doctoral dissertation examines and describes how both the Imamat institutions and ordinary Ismailis are attempting to alleviate Islamophobia and, what I have termed, intra-umma dissonance in Canada. Through the promotion of pluralism (the Ismaili Pluralism Project) and religious literacy about Muslim diversity (the Muslim Literacy Project) they seek to foster pluralism in Canadian society by first alleviating fear of the Muslim, and Ismaili, ‘other’. Through various efforts, the Imamat institutions are attempting to standardize Muslim diversity as an alternative discourse to the current “that’s not Islam, this is Islam” response to anti-Muslim narratives, thereby creating space for minority Muslim representation; however, as will be presented throughout this thesis, ordinary Ismailis are not only actively getting involved in various Imamat-led initiatives, but are also contributing in their own unique ways, inspired by their faith, identity, and experience. I argue that, collectively, the Ismaili community’s inclusive response to anti-Muslim narratives stems from Ismaili identity and experience; being ‘othered’ by members of the umma due to their unique interpretation of the faith. Thus, through this inclusive collective response, Ismailis and their institutions not only aim to alleviate the othering of Muslims by non-Muslims, but the othering of Muslims by Muslims as well. Further, the Ismaili community is simultaneously standardizing and professionalizing their religious schooling system and offering other internal educational programming to strengthen Ismaili Muslim identity to withstand the effects of Islamophobia and intra-umma dissonance, to ensure that Ismailis are equipped with the tools necessary to become confident ambassadors of their faith in an increasingly multicultural world – part of an effort that I am calling the Ismaili Identity Project. All three of these projects together aim to bridge the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims and foster harmony amongst the diversity that exists within the Muslim umma. The research shows that the Ismaili community is attempting to create harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims by simultaneously creating unity, respect, and mutual understanding amongst Muslims themselves.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -