In the early 20th-century Muslims, primarily with roots in Lebanon, began to settle in Canada’s interior plains. In 1938, the small community in Edmonton opened the first mosque in the country, which would come to play a key role in shaping Islam's development in the Canada. Earle H. Waugh, Professor Emeritus at University of Alberta, narrates the history of this community and the place of this institution in Al Rashid Mosque: Building Canadian Muslim Communities
(University of Alberta Press, 2018). The micro-history of Edmonton’s Muslim community opens up vistas on the broader Canadian history and the role of Muslims in forming national projects and identities. Waugh outlines shifts in Islamic educational programs and community leadership, as well as the political terrains Muslims needed to traverse. Overall, the book offers a readable and robust history that adds a unique story to the history of Canada. In our conversation we discuss the Muslim population in Canada during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the mosque’s original building and the funding efforts to build it, the role of women in the community, Islamic education, religious leadership, the new mosque building in 1982, the effects of local and global politics, the Palestinian question in Canada, and 9/11 and its aftermath on Canadian Muslims. We also discuss Waugh’s training in Religious and Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago in the 1960s and 70s with scholars like Fazlur Rahman and Mircea Eliade.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.