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Author: iqradotca

Only building of its kind in Canada

(May 31, 2009) Doors Open Toronto celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 23-24, 2009. One-hundred-and-seventy-five buildings of architectural, historic, cultural and/or social significance opened their doors to the public. Highlights this year included the ornately detailed BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple. The temple, known as a Mandir, is Canada’s first traditionally hand carved stone and marble Mandir built according to the principles of ancient Indian Shilpshastras, in an extraordinary tradition that dates back many millennia. All the masonry of a Hindu Mandir is in itself load bearing, with no reinforcement from ferrous material such as steel, even in the foundations! Thousands of tonnes of fine marble and limestone have been hand-carved by 1,800 skilled craftsmen. There is no structural steel used in the construction and it is built to last more than 1,000 years. The temple cost $40 million to build. The funds were raised by Hindu communities worldwide. The Mandir shares its home with the Canadian Museum of Cultural Heritage of Indo-Canadians....

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Muslim-Jewish history is inspiring

By Hussein Hamdani It was a big question from a little child: “Have Muslims and Jews always hated one another?” The question came recently when I gave a talk at a public elementary school about the religion of Islam. I have given these types of talks many times before, but I have never been asked this question. I was stunned, for two reasons: First, I do not think that most Muslims and most Jews hate each other today and, second, the historic relationship between the Muslim community and the Jewish community has been one of mutual respect and tolerance. The idea there has been an ancient enmity between Jews and Muslims is completely without historical perspective or context. Those groups and individuals who promote such a view seem to be unaware of the long history of co-operation between the two religions. Much has been written in recent years about the Golden Age of Jews in Muslim Spain (Andalusia). Indeed, when Muslim rule came to an end and the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492 during the Inquisition, they were welcomed into the Ottoman Islamic Empire. The anti- Semitism that plagued medieval Christian Europe was not to be found in the Islamic world. In commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day on April 21, I would like to share some stories that often do not get...

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Don’t Judge others by what they look like, Lieutenant Governor

(Toronto, ON) – Changing our attitude is the key to providing greater accessibility to the disabled, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor David Onley told a gathering hosted by the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities (CAMD) on Sunday, May 24. “It means that we must not form value judgments based on what a person looks like,” he said. “I’m sure it has happened to many of you and it has happened to me. It’s not pleasant and in many cases its hurtful.” Onley who is the first Lieutenant Governor in Ontario with a disability, has overcome challenges associated with polio and post-polio syndrome, including paralysis. Rabia Khedr, CAMD’s Executive Director, said the Symposium was organized to, “bring families, community leaders and community members together to talk about planning for the future of people with disabilities and their families as they’re aging.” The Planning for the Future: Disability Rights & Responsibilities Symposium was held at the ISNA Islamic Centre in Mississauga. The day-long planning symposium included presentations by Abdalla Idris Ali and Shahina Siddiqui, a video presentation, and workshops. The event was an opportunity for families, service providers and community leaders to network and discuss issues around disabilities and it concluded with the launch of the CAMD Family Support Network. The Symposium was funded by the Olive Tree Foundation as “we feel that CAMD is providing an important service to the Muslim...

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Our Imam Problem

By Muneeb Nasir The Canadian Muslim community continues to agonize over their religious leaders. In a recent study done by Karim H. Karim for the Institute for Research on Public Policy, he found that Muslims in Canada and other Western countries “seek religious leadership that can guide them as they navigate spiritual and worldly matters in a knowledgeable and insightful manner. They expect their imam to have not only an intellectually sophisticated understanding of Islamic sources but also a keen appreciation of the Western contexts in which they are living.”  Very recently, the congregation of the main mosque in Ottawa, the Ottawa Muslim Association, has been caught up in a debate around such issues as a result of the choice of a new Imam.  The Imam, who was brought in from Al Azhar University in Egypt, is being criticized by segments of the community for his communication skills, his lack of experience and familiarity with Canadian social conditions. The debate has become very public with the articles being written in the local press and even eliciting an editorial in the Ottawa Citizen. The Ottawa Citizen editorial identifies the crux of the community’s wrangling as due to the lack of religious leaders in Muslim institutions who possess both Islamic knowledge and knowledge of the Canadian context. “While the discussion is ongoing, it has already accomplished some larger good in revealing...

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The Power of Courage

By Shelina Merani The Power of Courage was one of the topics of discussion at a two-day intensive workshop in Paris recently where the European Muslim Presence network met to study the latest book by Tariq Ramadan, Radical Reform, Islamic Ethics and Liberation. Fortunate to have the author himself there, Tariq Ramadan started the discussions by explaining that the process of reform starts by engaging with the world. In doing so, we are finding meaning and ultimately  answering the call of our creator. The concept of “reform” therefore should not be a foreign concept to Muslims. Radical Reform highlights two major problems in the Muslim world which are hindering reform. The first problem is that of leadership. Muslim scholars rarely come together to debate and drive reforms. Instead, they are more satisfied in talking among themselves in isolated circles.  Not serving the community, but instead being served by it. The second challenge is that the Muslim community have forfeited their responsibilities. Instead of reforming themselves and their societies with a clear, forward looking vision, they are adapting and reacting to circumstances as they unfold.  As passive receptors of information, they admire scholars often exclusively because of their charisma or the emotions they invoke in the masses. In addressing these problems, a bold call has been put forth to Muslim communities: hold the scholars to account and challenge them to...

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