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Author: iqradotca

‘Arts, Culture and Religion – Friends or Foe?’

(August 3, 2009) – MuslimFest 2009 held an Open Discussion Forum on the role of Arts and Culture in a Muslim’s life during the festival that took place at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga this past weekend. The question up for discussion was ‘Arts, Culture and Religion – Friends or Foe?’ “The goal of the forum was to foster understanding and promote dialogue on this important topic,” said Afaun Mandol, an organizer of MuslimFest. A small group of attendees took time out from the numerous events at the festival to join the forum which was skillfully moderated by educator, Michael Cassidy. Cassidy began the forum by suggesting to the participants that the gathering should be an open circle for discussion instead of the traditional format of presentations followed by questions and answers “The Forum should be a symbolic place within a gathering – a place to centre the experience and perception within each of us and a place to listen to our own questions” he said. The participants actively engaged with the question and expressed the opinion that the ‘Friend or Foe’ description was far too simplistic – artistic and cultural expressions can be either a friend or foe depending on the intention and ethics behind the activity or product. “We need to ask ourselves about the meaning of art, the objectives invested in it and what it...

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Tariq Ramadan appointed to Islamic Studies Chair at Oxford

(August 1, 2009) A scholar of international standing has been appointed to a new Islamic Studies Chair at Oxford, enabling more research and teaching on core Middle East issues as well as improved links between the university and the Middle East. Tariq Ramadan, Research Fellow (General) at St Antony’s College, has been appointed the His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies beginning on 1 September 2009. He is currently Visiting Professor (holding the chair: Identity and Citizenship) at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, and the Lokahi Foundation (London). As the post holder, he will be a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies. The role is associated with St Antony’s College, where the Middle East Centre is based. Dr Ramadan’s role is supported by a benefaction from the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The role includes a programme of activities and a secondment at the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. Dr Ramadan is an internationally recognised scholar and was named by Time magazine as one of a hundred innovators of the 21st Century for his work on creating an independent European Islam. He was a member of a British government task force, which defined policies to root out Islamic extremism in Britain. Tariq Ramadan said: ‘I am very happy and honoured to...

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Lessons from a treasured grandfather

  One year ago, someone special died, and I am still coming to grips with the loss. After battling cancer, my grandfather, Hussein Abdulla Hamdani (my namesake), passed away on July 10, 2008. In Arabic, the word for treasure is the same root word for grandparent. In other words, there is an understanding in the Arabic culture that a grandparent should be seen and treated as a priceless treasure: a source of wisdom, insight and good judgment. I would like to dedicate the next two columns to my grandfather, share what some of his wisdom and teachings were to me, and hopefully, this will benefit readers. I cannot possibly capture in these short columns all or even most of my grandfather’s profound accomplishments, but I will try to highlight a few life lessons for the reader’s benefit. Even though this story is unique, it is not that far off from the stories of countless immigrants and refugees who come to Canada looking for a better life. My grandfather’s life story is quite inspiring. His father left the small Yemeni village of Toudan in the province of Hamdan to settle in Kampala, Uganda, in East Africa. In September 1922, my grandfather was born in Uganda (my father and I were also born in Uganda). Both his parents died when my grandfather was a young man. He was forced to take...

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Concern at Anti-Muslim Attacks in Ottawa and Vancouver

(August 1, 2009) The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) today expressed concern regarding the recent round of unprovoked attacks in Vancouver and Ottawa targeting Canadian Muslims. In Ottawa two Muslim women who wear the hijab were attacked by the same assailant while walking in the street—one was punched in the shoulder and the other was kicked in the leg. In Vancouver, a Muslim journalist seated in a bus after leaving prayer and dressed in traditional attire was called “Bin Laden” repeatedly by another passenger who subsequently punched him in the head for which he required hospital care. “All Canadians, including Muslims and their fellow citizens of conscience, are disgusted by these types of cowardly and hateful acts and law enforcement officials are urged to investigate these as potential hate crimes and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” said CAIR-CAN Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee. “We encourage Canadian Muslims to report any acts of violence or vandalism against their persons or property to the appropriate authorities and to CAIR-CAN so that a clear record can be kept of these incidents,” said...

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Will Islamic opposition movements seize the day?

By Amr Hamzawy and Jeffrey Christiansen (July 30, 2009) – When it comes to democratic development in the Arab world, the ball is now squarely in the court of Islamic opposition movements. US President Barack Obama has spoken. Defying expectations that he would downplay domestic affairs and democracy promotion in favour of a more realist outlook, Obama used his platform at Cairo University to enunciate fresh policy. The United States, he stated, will respect “all law-abiding voices… even if we disagree with them” and will “welcome all elected, peaceful governments”. Obama was targeting a specific audience: Islamic opposition movements across the Arab world that have renounced violence, accepted the political process and currently represent a popular and potential force for pluralism in the region. Now that the United States is willing to engage them, what will it take for them to come to the table? Islamic opposition movements need the United States more than they are ready to admit. They seek international recognition as a serious political force. And they want the United States to define its commitment to democracy in the Arab world to mean applying pressure on Arab regimes for greater political pluralism. But they will have to send Obama consistent signs of their intentions. Their responses to Obama’s speech were hardly an example of bold outreach. In Morocco, the Justice and Development Party said Obama’s speech...

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