Keywords:Encounter, heritage, culture, religion, Islam, pluralism, diversity, architecture, tradition, prejudice, Qur’an, identity, family, status, transition, ethics, education, Islamic Studies, Europe, Canada, USA, America, Muslims, education, marriage, women, space, normative, values, assimilation, multiculturalism, law, civil society, faith, culture. 

Abstract: In the last half of the twentieth century, Muslim communities in North America have been increasingly recognised as an established minority rather than a mere exotic presence. Their "encounters" with their host communities have been multidimensional and consist of a diverse set of experiences. This article explores three dimensions through which Muslims have interacted with their communities of adoption: a) the establishment and creation of community space for prayer and gathering; b) addressing the normative values embodied in family life and tradition within an alternative and primarily secular context of law and rights; and c) recognising the importance of education as a tool for furthering identity and opportunity amidst assimilative national models.



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Professor Azim Nanji

Azim Nanji is currently Special Advisor to the Provost of the Aga Khan University, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa, a joint partnership between His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Canada. He has held many prestigious academic and administrative appointments, most recently as Senior Associate Director of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University, where he was also lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies. From 1998 to 2008, Professor Nanji served as Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London.

Professor Nanji has published numerous books and articles on religion, Islam and Ismailism, including: The Nizari Ismaili Tradition (1976), The Muslim Almanac (1996), Mapping Islamic Studies (1997) and The Historical Atlas of Islam (with M. Ruthven) (2004) and The Dictionary of Islam (with Razia Nanji), Penguin 2008. In addition, he has contributed numerous shorter studies and articles in journals and collective volumes including The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Encyclopaedia Iranica, Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World, and A Companion to Ethics. He was the Associate Editor for the revised Second Edition of The Encyclopaedia of Religion.

Within the Aga Khan Development Network, he has served as a member of the task force for the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) and Vice Chair of the Madrasa-based Early Childhood Education Programme in East Africa. He served as a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1998, 2001 and 2016.​​