HIS367H5 Lecture Notes - Premarital Sex, Somali Diaspora, Quran

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4 Apr 2012

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Lecture 6 Case study: the Somali diaspora in London and Toronto
VIDEO: Show the way that poetry is used to transmit political ideas. Objecting to the way that Alshbab
using political situation. The person on the horse is a person famous for being an anti-colonial poet.
About five to seven years, there were a great integration of Somalians into the United Kingdom
and Toronto. The reason for studying this was because there was a great opportunity to study and
compare these two places.
What was it like to practice Islam in these areas? What were some things that they hung onto,
different cultures, etc.
This work required the professor not to be Somalian because there were various clans and had a
lot of clan tensions that driven the exodus.
o People were very eager to talk because they felt secure and wanted to talk about identity
o Somali required written work from 1969, and the ability to learn languages was a skill
they already had
Interview with Somalian Women
Mystical Islam feel your way into enlightenment and not text oriented
With the move to the west, led primarily by Somalian women, they tried to redefine Muslim. What
does it mean to be Muslim and Somalian.
o Everyone who made that moved was traumatized and endured horrific things. They had
lost property, businesses, livelihoods, and had seen horrific things that had happen to
family members. Everyone was traumatized.
o Then, they had to go through the traumatization of moving. They found that praying was
extremely soothing and could blot out the anguish and pain.
o There was also something else going on, they were terrified of losing their children into
the alien world. It was frightening that they could have no religion or another type of
They had to define what it meant to be Somalian and Muslim.
o They picked up the Koran, studied and read it.
o In the west, there were already Islamists who had already arrived prior. The Islamists
started out with being political dissidence. By the time the community moved, there were
two different communities already
o The women who were came did not trust them because Islamism was not a default
comfort zone for them. Also, it was because of clan bias. There were many single mother
Reasons for this may be because large families with up to four wives, in many
cases men had to stay behind and get their families out first. Sometimes the
fathers did not make it out. Other times, families broke apart because of the
stress of the move.
o The process of the move was extremely brutal and now they embark on a project of what
it means to be Muslim and Somalian.
Redefinition: As they began to read and become more textually knowledgeable, they changed their
traditions. They began to pray, wear hijab in a different way, being more careful about allowing
their kids to read the Koran
o Also, another change was premarital sex. The most striking example is the question of
female cutting (done when they were 8-9 years old).
Comparing adjustment in Toronto and London
In Toronto, what they experienced was that they ran into racism and Islamic-phobia at the same
time, there is a space here to be both Somali and Canadian. A number of women said that they
could learn French because they wanted to pursue the identity of being Canadian.
o There were all types of problems such as education, they wanted to change in the
In London, they encountered much more sense of never being British. That had a real profound
difference of how these changes took place. British feminist groups portrayed Somalian groups as
savages because they performed female cutting, but British women mutilated their bodies as well.
There was some sense of a backlash, and believed that this was part of their culture. The
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