Call for Submissions
Islam in the City – Reflections
The transition of summer into fall occurs each year, though for students across Ontario, Canada, and the entire world, this transition comes ladened with all-new meanings this year. The past year has carried a number of societal issues and strains to new peaks – the weight of these issues has been crushing for many people; and our ability to cope, fight, and to cause change has only been hindered by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. For students, this fall season brings with it all new complications, tensions, transformations… As we navigate our studies online, as we work from home, as we are starting a new semester, and as we are slowly but surely winding down the year, this season is a time of transition unlike all others.
More so than ever, this is a time of reflection.
In its continued longevity, the COVID-19 pandemic has encompassed many occasions of religious and cultural significance. Ramadan, Hajj, Muharram… These are all times in which communities come together to celebrate, commemorate, or mourn. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the ways in which we experience community. The ways in which we live at home and relate to our families, our broader communities, and to ourselves have all been changed.
Throughout the pandemic, Muslim students – as indeed, many non-Muslim students – continue to contend with issues of systemic racism and violence. Both abroad and here at home, police violence and systemic racism cause unfathomable harm to individuals and communities. The protests occurring largely in the U.S. have brought greater urgency and visibility to an issue that has been plaguing Black communities across the world and in Canada for far too long. LGBTQ+ Muslims continue to be targets of oppression and harm throughout the world and struggle to find acceptance in parts of their own communities. Additionally, large swaths of the world have been literally burning… All this, and as we settle back into the school year, we are still stuck at home. This season of transition carries much discomfort. Our reflections are brimming with pain and loss, uncertainty and anxiety. The world has been wracked by sudden and jarring change; but is there – in the words of the prophetic and timeless Octavia Butler – room to shape and harness that change?
Islam in the City – the new publication from the Institute of Islamic Studies – is committed to be a platform for Muslim students across Toronto and greater southern Ontario to express the multitude of conflicting feelings, emotions, and thoughts that we are all experiencing. Islam in the City is a space for all Muslims – of any sect, racial/ethnic background, sexuality and gender identification, level of practice, or any other configuration of identity – to explore their unique version of Islam in conversation with their experiences of life in the city, life in the classroom, life at home, life during a pandemic, of life…
As a publication committed especially to de-centering monolithic or ‘mainstream’ narratives of what Islam is, it is a space to experiment with and expand our conceptions of what Islam can be – a space for those who do not see themselves represented in the narratives and conceptions of Islam that we confront day-in and day-out. As such, Islam in the City invites you to reflect with us. We invite you to consider not only what has been lost in this last year, but what we stand to gain. Your expressions of authenticity, of your struggles and your growth, are all welcome. In short personal essays, in poetry or prose, in visual art – this is a platform for you to be heard and to serve as your own center, your own authority. This season of transition has not come easy, but it does come with an opportunity to reflect on the changes all around and within us, to de-center the confining narratives which supposedly represent us, and to express and celebrate the many unique experiences, configurations, and sentiments of Muslims across the city. Come explore not what Islam is, but the expanse of all that it can be.
If you would like to submit a piece of work – whether non-fiction, poetry or prose, or a visual art piece -, please send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your name, your school, and program of study. The submission deadline is Friday, November 13th.