The IIS is made up of staff, researchers, and scholars who bring their unique expertise and collaborative spirit to projects that help elevate our understanding of Islam and Muslims.
Anver EmonDirector, Institute of Islamic Studies
Anver M. Emon is Professor of Law and History and Canada Research Chair of Islamic Law and History at the University of Toronto. His research integrates a careful attention to Islamic legal history and contemporary debates on law and governance. He is director of the IIS, where he helps research teams incubate large scale research projects that have the capacity to recalibrate both academic and public debates on Islam and Muslims.
Anver M. Emon’s research centers on the study of Islamic law and history. His publications address both premodern histories of Islamic law, and how those histories are deployed in contemporary debates on governance and the rule of law at a time when the spectre of ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslim’ are highly politicized tropes in public debate around the world. A professor in both the Faculty of Law and Department of History, Emon’s teachings range from foundational courses in legal education (constitutional law and statutory interpretation), to historical methods courses that center the study of Islamic law and comparative law. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his scholarship, having been the 2014 Guggenheim Fellow in Law, appointed to the College of the Royal Society of Canada and awarded its 2017 Kitty Newman Memorial Award in Philosophy, and named a Senior Fellow to Massey College.
In addition to publishing numerous articles, Professor Emon is the author of The ‘Islamic’ Deployed: The Study of Islam in Four Registers (Middle East Law and Governance, 2019), Islamic Natural Law Theories (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law: Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law(Oxford University Press, 2012), as well as the co-editor of Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law: Searching for Common Ground? (Oxford University Press, 2012). His most recent book, Jurisdictional Exceptionalisms (Cambridge University Press, 2021), (co-authored with Urfan Khaliq) interrogates the fields of private international law and Islamic law as they impose themselves on the bodies of children abducted by parents across state borders.
Zaid KhanResearch Officer, Institute of Islamic Studies
Zaid Khan in a Research Officer at the Institute of Islamic Studies. He supports the Institute with its strategic planning, communication design, stakeholder engagement, and project management.
Zaid has a background in strategic communications in the advertising and design industry. Zaid’s particular interest is in using design-led approaches to help communicate research in new ways, such as digital interactions or experiential installations. He holds a Masters in Design in the Strategic Foresight & Innovation Program at OCAD University.
Sana PatelPost-Doctorate Fellow, Digital Islam and Islamophobia Research
Sana is a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa, awaiting her thesis defence in Fall 2022. She holds an MA in Religion and Public Life from Carleton University.
Sana’s doctoral dissertation examines the intersections of online and offline religion, specifically how young North American Muslims interact with religious authority figures. Her research interests include studying digital religion, religious diversity, religion and immigration, Islamophobia, and nonreligion. Sana has taught Introduction to Islam at uOttawa and has appeared as a guest lecturer on religion and media for other courses. Sana is also a Research Assistant for the Nonreligion in a Complex Future Project (NCF) at uOttawa. She worked for the Canadian Muslims Online (UQAM), and Religion and Diversity (uOttawa) projects in the past as a Research Assistant. Sana’s recent publications include: “Religion and Media in Canada” (2021), “Hybrid Imams: Young Muslims and Religious Authority on Social Media” (2021), and “Islamophobia in North America” (2022).
Moska RokayArchivist, Muslims in Canada Archives
Moska Rokay has been a dedicated community organizer in her Afghan-Canadian community for 7+ years, committed to raising awareness for Afghanistan and uniting the diaspora. She is currently the lead of the Muslims in Canada Archives at the IIS. Moska received her Master of Information in Archives and Records Management from the University of Toronto in 2019 and advocates for archives/archival practice that centers communities.
A refugee and settler on Turtle Island, Moska is actively involved in the Afghan-Canadian diaspora community and is a co-founder of a Canadian non-profit organization called ARCH (Afghans Reviving Culture and Heritage).
Moska’s research interests lie in the interdisciplinary crossroads of archives, critical race and ethnicity studies, media studies, and identity formation in diaspora communities of war and trauma. She is an advocate for community-centered, activist archives and archives of diaspora/migrant communities. In 2020, she was the recipient of the ACA New Professional Award as well as the Archivaria Gordon Dodds Student Paper Prize. She completed her Master of Information at the University of Toronto and defended her MI thesis in 2019.
She is Director Without Portfolio for the Archives Association of Ontario and has guest lectured for a number of courses at the UofT Faculty of Information.
Sarah ShahData Team, Muslims in Canada Data Initiative
Sarah Shah's research focuses on the sociology of Islam in Canada. A mixed methodologist, Shah's work highlights the intersections of gender and family relations, immigration and racialization, and mental health among Canadian Muslims.
Sarah Shah (they/them) received a doctoral degree in 2019 from The University of Toronto in Sociology. Shah’s research includes analyses of religion as it pertains to gender attitudes, family organization, mental health outcomes, and group identity. By interrogating the nuances of religiosity, including identities, practices, and approaches, Shah’s research unpacks how religion dialectically structures and is structured by gender and family relations, immigration and racialization processes, and mental health.
At the IIS, Shah is working with a team of leading researchers on the Muslims in Canada Data Initiative. This Initiative aims to address the dire lack of data on Canadian Muslims and their sociodemographic characteristics, socioeconomic outcomes, and social experiences in everyday life. Along with a robust panel of international scholars, the Initiative is supported by collaborations and partnerships with several Canadian Muslim community organizations.
Shah is cross appointed as a faculty member at the Department of Sociology, The University of Toronto Mississauga.
Youcef SoufiCo-Principal Investigator, Reading Muslims
Youcef is the Co-PI of the "Reading Muslims" project. He is an expert in classical Islamic law and is currently writing a book-project historicizing the impact of the Global War on Terror on Canadian Muslims.
Dr. Youcef Soufi is a former Assistant Professor in the Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies Department of the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Youcef is originally from Winnipeg, MB. He completed a BA Double Honours in History and Political Science at the University of Manitoba, MA in Political Theory and Cultural, Social, and Political Thought at the University of Victoria, and PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Toronto.
Youcef specialize in the historical development of Islamic law in Iraq and Persia during the classical period (10th-13th centuries). He focuses largely on how the culture of debate (munāẓara) of classical jurists shaped Islamic law. His forthcoming book examines the emergence of classical debate practices, its underlying pietistic ethos, and the power relations upon which Islamic critique depended and entrenched. He has a number of forthcoming articles that trace intellectual shifts on contentious legal subjects like jihād and Arab superiority by focusing on institutional and political changes.
Youcef’s second book project brings his expertise in Islamic law and political theory to bear on modern politics. The book examines radicalization, Islamophobia, and state surveillance in the post 9/11 world through a case study of three young Muslim students at the University of Manitoba who left to join al-Qaeda in Pakistan in 2007. The case study provides a complicated picture of Muslim/State relations in Canada and the US after 9/11. It serves problematizes the concept of radicalization for its deployment in a project of state governance that served to mask state violence during the war on terror. The book reveals how the state created the political circumstances that gave rise to a new and far more threatening discourse of jihad long after 9/11 had transpired.
Hassan AsifSenior Fellow, Information Systems
Hassan is a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information and supports the IIS on its information systems and network needs. He also has a collaborative specialization with the Centre for South Asian Studies.
Hassan’s doctoral research examines media remix processes and the corresponding impact of digital media archives on the identities of Muslim content creators in Pakistan. Hassan utilizes frameworks that consider media remix techniques from local-alternative and decolonial perspectives.
Sanniah JabeenSenior Fellow, Islamic Art & Material Culture Collaborative
Sanniah Jabeen is a PhD student in the Department of Art History at the University of Toronto.
Sanniah’s doctoral research focuses on textiles from South Asia and particularly the impact of digital printing, machine-replication, and mass-production on modern and contemporary ‘folk’ crafts in Pakistan. Central to her research are questions of how artisans and craft communities respond to changing markets, movements across networks of craft exchange, differing forms of gendered craft labor, textiles as markers of ethnicity and nationality, and concerns over the ‘indigeneity’ of the handmade. For her dissertation, Sanniah is studying the “Ajrak,” a block-printed and resist dyed rectangular cotton textile. By considering its handmade forms and mass-produced representations as a markers of certain ethnicity, the Ajrak is juxtaposed as a political tool of representation with its high-fashion counterpart amidst global concerns around craft-preservation
Bee KhaleeliSenior Fellow, Muslims in Canada Archives
Bee Khaleeli is a Senior Fellow at the Muslims in Canada Archives, and a student at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto.
Bee Khaleeli is a second-year Master’s student in Archives and Records Management and Library and Information Science in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto.
Fahad AhmadAdvisor, Systemic Islamophobia Research Lab
Fahad Ahmad is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology at Toronto Metropolitan University. He is an interdisciplinary scholar interested in national security governance, racialized policing and surveillance, civil society organizations, and the political economy of philanthropy.
Prior to joining Toronto Metropolitan University in July 2022, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto. He obtained his PhD at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University. His doctoral research, supported by SSHRC and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, comparatively examined the securitization of Muslim civil society organizations under national security regimes in Canada and the U.K. He is currently preparing a book manuscript based on his dissertation.
Fahad is an interdisciplinary scholar interested in critical terrorism/radicalization studies; racialized practices of national security policing and surveillance; civil society and resistance; and justice and community-oriented approaches to the study of philanthropy. His scholarship is informed by 15 years of work experience in community and nonprofit organizations in Canada and the U.S. His ongoing projects include work on the SSHRC Connection Grant, “Critical Reflections on Security, 9/11 and the Canadian Settler Colony,” and the SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, “Justice Philanthropy: An international Research-to-Practice Network.” He is also the co-lead for the critical national security hub housed at the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto.
Ulrike Al-KhamisCo-Chair, Islamic Art & Material Culture Collaborative
Dr. Ulrike Al-Khamis is the Director and CEO at the Aga Khan Museum. She has over 20 years of experience as a curator and senior advisor for museum and cultural projects, working with institutions including the National Museums of Scotland and Glasgow.
More recently Ulrike served as Co-Director at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization as well as Senior Strategic Advisor to the Sharjah Museums Department in the United Arab Emirates.
Ruba Kana’anCo-Chair, Islamic Art & Material Culture Collaborative
A noted historian of Islamic art, Dr. Ruba Kana’an is an assistant professor of Islamic art and architecture at the University of Toronto Mississauga and was the 2018-2019 Barakat Senior Fellow in Islamic Art, University of Oxford.
Dr. Kana’an’s primary research focuses on the Intersections between art, artists, art production and law in historical and contemporary contexts. She uses archival, textual and field-based research in her work, and has conducted research in Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, Yemen, Oman, East Africa, Egypt and Syria. In theoretical terms, her research engages with Bruno Latour’s object-networks and Henri Lefebvre’s production of space, among other frameworks. Her publications address questions about the formation and meanings of mosque architecture, metalwork and civic space in pre-modern Muslim societies.
Abdie KazemipurData Team, Muslims in Canada Data Initiative
Dr. Abdie Kazemipur is Professor of Sociology and the Chair of Ethnic Studies at the University of Calgary.
He previously served as Stephen Jarislowsly Chair in Culture Change and Immigration at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and has been the founding director of two research data centres at the University of Lethbridge and Memorial University. His research is in two distinct areas: the socio-economic experiences of immigrants in Canada, and the socio-cultural developments in the Middle East, on which he has published eight books. His book, The Muslim Question in Canada: A Story of Segmented Integration (UBC Press, 2014), received the 2015 John Porter Excellence Award from Canadian Sociological Association. He is currently working on a new book, titled Sacred as Secular: Secularization under Theocracy in Iran. Commentaries and interviews about his works have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, la Presse, Winnipeg Free Press, Vancouver Sun, Lethbridge Herald, Global TV, TVO, and Russia Today TV, among others.
Anna KortewegCo-Principal Investigator, Atlantic Study of Islams and Muslims
Anna Korteweg is Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research focuses on the ways in which the perceived problems of immigrant integration are constructed in the intersections of gender, religion, ethnicity and national origin. From this critical vantage point, she has published extensively on debates surrounding the wearing of the headscarf, so-called “honour-based” violence, and Sharia law.
Professor Kortewe’s current projects look at the return of women who joined IS to their European home countries, the construction of LGBTQ+/gender rights in refugee politics, and the citizenship implications of refugee sponsorship in Canada. She has published the two monographs: The Headscarf Debates: Conflicts of National Belonging (Stanford University Press 2014, with Gökçe Yurdakul); Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration (edited with Jennifer Selby, University of Toronto Press 2012). In addition, she has published articles in a wide range of journals, including Annual Review of Sociology, Theory and Society, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Social Politics, Gender and Society, Social Identities, Nations and Nationalism, Women’s Studies International Forum, Canadian Criminal Law Review, European Journal of Women’s Studies, Law & Social Policy, International Journal of Feminist Politics, Signs, Social Compass, Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, and Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Her research has been funded by multiple SSHRC grants and funding from the DAAD and CERIS.
Heba MostafaCo-Chair, Islamic Art & Material Culture Collaborative
Heba Mostafa is Assistant Professor of Islamic art and architecture at the Department of History of Art at the University of Toronto. She received her doctorate from Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture in 2012 and holds degrees in architecture and the history of Islamic architecture from Cairo University and the American University in Cairo.
Dr. Mostafa has held positions at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Kansas and the Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence. Her research explores the formation of Islamic architecture through the lens of early Islamic sectarianism and governance and the intersections of politics, the sacred and architecture. A focus of her research is the interface of Islam with late antiquity, Christianity and Judaism through commemorative architecture, pilgrimage and ritual practice. Her two most recent projects explore Davidic commemoration in Jerusalem throughout the Islamic Medieval period and the spatial repertoires of Nile veneration in Medieval Cairo.
Michael NesbittAdvisor, Systemic Islamophobia Research Lab
Michael is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Calgary, where he teaches and researches in the areas of criminal law, national security law, and international organizations and human rights.
Michael engages regularly with the media on his areas of research, including writing comments for the Globe & Mail and the National Post, providing TV and radio interviews for the CBC, CTV, and other local, national and international broadcasters, and interviews with local and national newspapers and legal publications. Before joining the Faculty of Law in July 2015 he practiced law and worked on Middle East policy, human rights, international sanctions and terrorism for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs. Previously, he completed his articles and worked for Canada’s Department of Justice, where his focus was criminal law. Michael has also worked internationally for the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Appeals Chamber.
While completing his doctorate Michael was a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Scholar, executive editorial assistant to the University of Toronto Law Journal, and taught in the legal research and writing program.
Fahmida SulemanCo-Chair, Islamic Art & Material Culture Collaborative
Dr. Fahmida Suleman, ROM Curator of Islamic Art & Culture, is responsible for developing and implementing strategy to build, manage and interpret the ROM’s world-class collection of Islamic art and material culture, which represents the largest collection of its kind in Canada.
Fahmida’s role includes leading strategic acquisitions, developing public programs and exhibitions, and further engaging the Islamic community in Toronto and across Canada. Fahmida joined the ROM from the British Museum where she was Phyllis Bishop Curator for the Modern Middle East. In that position, Fahmida was responsible for the Museum’s collection of ethnographic objects and textiles from the Middle East and Central Asia. Previously, Fahmida has also been a consultant with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture during the development phase of the Aga Khan Museum.