Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 7:00pm
The Gladstone Hotel, Ball Room


How do Muslims talk about their own diversity and deal with their internal differences? How did the perception arise that all Muslims are the same and why is it perpetuated? This Is Not A Reading Series presents an informed and engaging discussion between poet & spoken word artist Sheniz Janmohamed and author Zulfikar Hirji about how pluralism and diversity manifest themselves in Muslim contexts at the launch of Zulfikar’s new book, Diversity and Pluralism In Islam: Historical and Contemporary Discourses Amongst Muslims.  Sheniz will launch the evening with an awe-inspiring reading of selections from her book, Bleeding Light (also available for purchase at the event). 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The Gladstone Hotel, Ball Room
1214 Queen Street West
Doors open at 7:00; Event starts at 7:30
Admission is $5.00 or FREE with a book purchase

DIVERSITY AND PLURALISM IN ISLAM: Historical and Contemporary Discourses amongst Muslims
For more than fourteen hundred years, Muslims have held multiple and diverging views about many aspects of their religious tradition including religious authority, ritual practice, political power, law and governance, civic life, and the form and content of individual and communal expressions. Muslims have regularly debated amongst themselves about these issues. Despite the diversity amongst Muslims and the plurality of understandings about Islam, Muslims are regularly portrayed as internally homogenous and monolithic. This edited volume of papers, written by a number of prominent international scholars in different academic disciplines, challenges such propositions by examining the ways in which Muslims regularly debate amongst themselves about matters of common concern, the processes by which they discursively construct notions of self, other and community, and the socio-cultural tools they employ in so doing. For more information on the book, visit I.B. Taurus.

Zulfikar Hirji (DPhil, Oxford) is Associate Professor at York University in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. As an anthropologist and social historian, he is interested in how human societies articulate, represent and perform understandings of self, community and other in contemporary and historical contexts. His research focuses on Muslim societies in a range of historical and contemporary contexts. He is particularly concerned with the diverse ways in which Muslims express and articulate issues of deep human concern as well as matters of daily life. He also interrogates knowledge produced about Muslims, by academics and others. His research interests have lead him to study a range of issues including the production and performance of identity, the role of cultural workers and social movements, the dynamics of family networks and inter-generational migration, the socio-legal formation of communal identity in colonial contexts, and form and context of urban violence in religiously plural societies. He has conducted archival research and ethnographic fieldwork in various parts of the world including East Africa, South Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe and North America. He is co-author and co-editor (with F. Daftary) of the Ismailis, An Illustrated History (IB Tauris & IIS, 2008), and editor of Diversity and Pluralism in Muslim Contexts (IB Tauris & IIS, 2010). He is currently co-editor of the Routledge Indian Ocean Series. In 2011, he has been an academic consultant for the Textile Museum of Canada exhibition and program on Magic Squares: The Patterned Imagination of Muslim Africa in Contemporary Culture, and has completed his first film, ‘Pushpanjali: A sensory invocation’, which is part of an ethnographic research project on the life-world of Tehreema Mitha, a Pakistan born, USA based, dancer-choreographer. For further information on Zulfikar and his works, visit his online portfolio: http://www.wix.com/zulfikarhirji/portfolio

Sheniz Janmohamed is a freelance writer, author and spoken word artist. A graduate of the University of Toronto (BA Honours in English and Religion), and the MFA in Creative Writing program at The University of Guelph, Sheniz has been mentored by some of Canada's most beloved authors, including Dionne Brand and Thomas King.

As a journalist, Sheniz has interviewed a variety of artists and celebrities including director Richie Mehta, critically acclaimed actress Seema Biswas, author Mohsin Hamid and musical maestro Nitin Sawhney. She has performed her spoken word at countless events in and around Toronto including the TedXYouth Conference, the Small World Music Series and the Strong Words Reading Series.

Sheniz is the founder and president of Ignite Poets, a spoken word youth initiative that promotes peace and social awareness through poetry. In 2009, Sheniz visited Kenya to establish the Kenyan branch of Ignite Poets, work with local artists and musicians and raise money for the Hawkers Market Girls Centre in Nairobi. She works with Mariposa-in-the-Schools, an initaitive that brings spoken word and storytelling into the classroom. Her first book, Bleeding Light (TSAR Publications) was published in September 2010. Visit Sheniz at www.myspace.com/shenizpoetics to hear more of her work.

Bleeding Light is a collection of ghazals tracing the steps of a woman’s journey through night. In order to witness dawn, she must travel through dusk first. Throughout her journey, she is caught between West and East, religion and heresy, love and anti-love, darkness and the knowledge of light. Each couplet of a ghazal is an independent thought and reflection, a pearl strung into a necklace. Bleeding Light is fraught with opposing, stark, and often violent imagery heavily influenced by Sufi philosophy.

"Sheniz Janmohamed is one of a very few new poets who has mastered the form of the ghazal...The couplets in her eloquent and appealing ghazals dazzle one with their precision, sudden turns and brilliant use of the cultural memory of language and imagery."
—The late Kuldip Gill (Professor, Poet and Mentor)

This Is Not A Reading Series (TINARS) offers a ground-breaking theatrical dimension to the appreciation of fine writing. Employing music, comedy, psychodrama, dance, multimedia performance, lectures, dialogue—everything but reading—TINARS investigates the creative process behind literary works.

Diversity and Pluralism In Islam: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, +44 (0)20 7243 1225, marketing@ibtauris.com
Bleeding Light: Nurjehan Aziz, TSAR Publications: (416) 483-7191,  inquiries@tsarbooks.com
This Is Not A Reading Series: Anna Withrow, phone: 416-805-2174, awithrow@rogers.com