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Islam and social justice at Toronto's Noor Cultural Centre

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, Samira Kanji and Azeezah Kanji talk about the work of the Noor Cultural Centre in support of a vision of social justice grounded in Islamic teachings.

Many non-religious progressive and radical folks in North America have trouble wrapping their heads around the grounding in faith that is crucial to many who work for social justice. And to the the extent that this is understood, it often goes as far as a nod to strands of Christianity like the social gospel and liberation theology, and no further. The ways in which, for many, Islam is a powerful resource for understanding and acting in the world that calls for and guides towards social justice is often completely off the radar.

Samira and Azeezah Kanji are a mother and daughter who are part of Toronto's Noor Cultural Centre, a place of Islamic worship and education. Samira is the centre's President and CEO, and Azeezah works with both her mother and her sister to organize the programming at the centre. A key element to the centre's work is a concern for social justice along multiple axes, grounded in Islamic teachings and ethics. Samira and Azeezah talk with me about the critical education work they do with the congregation and beyond around questions as diverse as poverty, animal rights, and globalization; about the ways that their vision of justice is integrated into worship at the centre; and about their work against Islamophobia in local, national, and global contexts. Particularly timely is their role in organizing a recent public statement calling for an end to the "callous devaluation of Palestinian life communicated by [Canadian] political leaders," and signed by hundreds of academics and cultural luminaries from many places, institutions, disciplines, faiths, and communities across the country.

To learn more about the Noor Cultural Centre, please click here. To see the statement calling on Canadian political leaders to take a more just stand in response to the massacre in Gaza, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit the recently revamped website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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