Belonging and Banishment: Being Muslim in Canada (Review)

Book cover for "Belonging and Banishment" by Natasha Bakht.Title: Belonging and Banishment: Being Muslim in Canada

Editor: Natasha Bakht

Publication Year: 2008

Pages: 240

Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays

Source: Review copy from the publisher, TSAR Books

From the cover:

A variety of Canadian voices come together here to explore some of the vital issues facing Muslims in Canada. Who, indeed, is a Canadian Muslim? This is only one of the fundamental questions addressed in this volume. The authors are from diverse ethnic backgrounds, hail from coast to coast, and profess varying degrees of practice and belief. In their thoughtful contributions, they explore matters of faith, identity, sectarianism, human rights, and women’s rights. Specifically, the essays collected here question the dubious role of the government of Canada – under pressure from the “war on terror” – and its agencies regarding the human rights of young Muslims; explain the relationship between scientific research and the Muslim traditions of knowledge and intellectual pursuit; give examples of tolerant Muslim upbringing and reinforcement of positive identities; point out the duplicitous practices of certain Canadian media in portraying Muslims; look at the issues of women voting or participating in sports while veiled, and the implications of Shariah law as a means of arbitration.

I was really looking forward to reading this book because of it’s focus on Canadian Muslims, and it didn’t disappoint. Belonging and Banishment is a collection of essays written by Canadian Muslims, about Canadian Muslims – and also about issues that face or affect them. Topics ranged from the victim/aggressor dichotomy in the discourse around the hijab, to the Omar Khadr case, to the issues around “random screenings” of people with Muslim names at airports.

For me, I found the essays in this collection to be really interesting, but also very dense. This can be either a good or a bad thing depending on what you are looking for in a book. One thing that Belonging and Banishment does really well is giving the reader a profoundly deep insight into the arguments of each essayist and the topic that they are approaching.

If you’re interested in learning more about Canadian Muslims and the issues that face them, this would be a good book for you. Unless that’s really your thing, though, I would probably skip over it in favour of something a little lighter and broader. If it’s within your area of interest, go for it!


This book is a part of the Ramadan Reading event happening here this month.

You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.

5 thoughts on “Belonging and Banishment: Being Muslim in Canada (Review)”

  1. While I’m not Canadian (eh), I am always fascinated to learn the perspectives of others. I’m glad you gave this a good endorsement. I’ll have to watch the bookstores for it.

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