TORONTO – Toronto District School Board concluded Islamic Heritage Month activities held during October to inspire students to increase dialogue, bridge gaps and combat Islamophobia.
“I never knew Muslims invented algebra,” Nazerah Shaikh, a mother of two, told CBC News on Saturday, October 28.
“We came up with points like that because it’s important for students to hear positive points and it’s good for Muslim students to know and see themselves reflected in the curriculum.”
Shaikh attended events organized by Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during October as part of Islamic Heritage Month.
The events meant to inspire students and bridge the gap between religions and ethnicities.
Shaikh and Haniya Sheikh used their own personal experiences to brainstorm different interactive events.
“It was in response to Islamophobic comments made to my kids,” said Sheikh.
“We thought, ‘How can we make this into a learning experience?'”
The events concluded on Friday with the screening of The Sultan and the Saint, a movie about the crusades and an unlikely friendship between a Muslim and a Christian.
The film is about the meeting in 1219 between Malik Al-Kamil, Sultan of Egypt, and the man who would become St. Francis of Assisi.
After the screening of the movie, the evening concluded with an interfaith discussion with the film’s associate producer Daniel Tutt, an Imam, and two Friars.
“A lot of radical Islamic clerics are actually citing medieval events like the crusades as motivation for their activities. So an example of peacemaking, like in The Sultan and the Saint, during this dark, brutish and short time period is worth telling,” said Tutt.
Shaikh, a volunteer on the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee, said she encourages educators and students to ask her questions.
“For me as a Muslim, I’m open to conversation. The only way we’re going to learn from one another is if we’re open to dialogue.”