The Department of Gender and Women's Studies welcomes Professor Mahruq Khan to our faculty! Professor Khan is a sociologist, working at the intersections of gender, religion, and race. In particular, her work has centered on LGBTQ+ Muslims; feminism in Islam; anti-Muslim racism; and anti-immigrant sentiment, with a focus on new religious immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. We asked her to give us an image or object that helps to describe her research, and to describe her teaching philosophy. You can read more about her work and courses here.
I extended my research on gender-/queer-inclusive communal worship from the U.S. to Toronto to document how the LGBTQ+ Muslim community there was melding the importance of kindness, hospitality and love in Islam with values intrinsic to the local Canadian culture, as evidenced by the pattern blend on the flag on the left. I attended an iftar gathering (i.e. breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan) hosted by Salaam (the Canadian LGBTQ+ Muslim support organization), which invited city officials, community members, and other interfaith leaders to "break bread" together and hold a sermon and congregational prayer that was queer/gender-inclusive. The organization is reclaiming tradition (Quranic text) to promote social change and gender/sexual diversity of Muslims.
Empathy, self-reflexivity, and social awareness, which are mutually reinforcing, are primary objectives of my courses. I develop students’ understandings of how various categories of analysis, like gender, race, and class intersect, simultaneously exacerbating inequality along one axis, enhancing privilege along another, and exposing the socially constructed nature of identities and group formations. By shifting away from simplistic binaries of “oppressor” vs. “oppressed,” I highlight the multiple institutionalized “isms” and individual agency that impact group dynamics, underscoring the “danger of a single story” (Chimamanda Adichie). Not only do I want students to deeply understand that people may occupy their same social worlds and have vastly divergent encounters, but also witness the important contributions that non-dominant groups make to society, despite structural constraints. Through discussions, students situate their own experiences within these complex social arrangements, reflect on their pre-conceived notions, find deeper connections to the issues and to one another, and thus, foster empathy.