Six years ago, I moved from Mexico City to Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada. Although I moved here to study, my trip to the north resulted to be a whole religious experience. Having grown up in a nuclear family that had left Catholicism and had sought dogmatic atheism, I was largely unfamiliar with religious diversity. Thus, coming to Canada quickly sparked my curiosity, and here I am six years later with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies.
My first contact with Islam was when I was still learning English at the University of Alberta. Since Alberta is the centre of petroleum exploration and petroleum engineering education in Canada, I studied in classes where half my classmates were from Saudi Arabia and the other half from China. My first encounters with Saudi classmates, especially males, were quite frustrating. Many of them felt the need to show some kind of pious superiority, while others felt attacked in an environment where their religion was often being connected to 9/11.
As for myself, I was struggling to come to terms with the strong secular principles I had learned through my family and I had started to question the strong reactions that my parents showed when presented with the issue of religion.
By my second year of university I was already “religion-shopping,” which led me into my first Religious Studies class. In this class, one of the projects was to visit a religious community other than our own and write about our experiences. Luckily for me, it was Ramadan, which allowed me to observe the Muslim community in Edmonton from a special angle. [Read more...]