A Pioneer In Cross-Cultural Understanding
This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
Long before the relationship between the Middle East and the West became a matter of global importance, a man named Wilfrid Cantwell Smith founded the continent’s first Center for Islamic Studies, at McGill University. His approach was decades ahead of its time. He believed that the study of the Islamic world would not be possible by non-Muslims unless there were scholars from the Muslim world working alongside them. He wanted to create an instutite where Muslim scholars could feel as much at home as Western researchers – and that’s exactly what he did. Today, McGill’s Institute for Islamic Studies is home to a renowned collection of Islamic texts, many of them in Islamic languages, and hosts scholars from all over the world.