An enthusiastic crowd of about 50 people gathered outside the Saanich Municipal Hall on July 27 for the opening of an Islamic art exhibit.
Organized in partnership with Voices for Muslim Women – an organization actively working to combat racism and discrimination by creating opportunities for cultural education and expression – Al-Fatiha has been in the works for over a year and aims to increase Islamic representation and to foster a greater sense of belonging for Muslims living around Greater Victoria.
“The exhibition is called Al-Fatiha, which is the first chapter of the Quran, meaning the opening,” said organizer Asiyah Robinson. “We take it two ways. It is to open the public to the contributions of Muslims to art, but we also hope that this exhibition will not be the last of its kind. We want to start an open-minded conversation based on more than just negative stereotypes. I think that’s really the intention.
It’s just part of a larger effort to create more welcoming and inclusive spaces for one of Canada’s fastest growing demographics. Robinson, along with Zaheera Jinnah and her colleagues, called on the mayors of Saanich and Victoria to implement recommendations to help address the growing problem of Islamophobia. These recommendations cover several areas, from suggestions for reforming policing to increased funding for the arts.
The exhibition features artwork created by Muslim women from across the province and explores key themes in Islamic traditions and Muslim practices such as prayer, identity, belonging, resilience, spirituality and new departures.
But it’s not just for those who practice Islam or identify as Muslim, say Robinson and Jinnah, who invited members of different faith communities to participate. It’s for the whole community, especially those from other marginalized and underrepresented groups, they said.
“We want to make sure it’s inclusive and open to everyone. We not only want Muslims to see themselves in this, but also other people, other communities and other groups,” Robinson said. “Anything you identify as we hope you can come here and say, ‘this is what I want to create for my community too.'”
The exhibition runs until September 5. For more information, visit voicesofmuslimwomen.com.
Arts and CultureIslamSaanich