Saturday, 17 September 2016

Challenges of a Prison Chaplain

I am sitting with some inmates inside the chapel and its Saturday morning. Could you imagine what they are talking about?

People wonder why an Imam would consider spending his precious weekend with men who are hardcore criminals. I find it myself mind boggling!

Is it the story of Yusuf that so inspired us to be to be considerate of the incarcerated? Is it the sweet voice I heard from Bri-anneSwan at our Multicultural Eid in Toronto sharing her brave act to meet with an inmate on death row in Texas? Or is it the soft nature of the innate human disposition called fitra that Dr Karen Armstrong alluded to in the Interfaith conference recently in Montreal?

I suppose it’s all of this and much more as the constellation of accumulated stories of faith and hope over the past eight years makes me continue to listen and guide men and women whose lives tiptoe on the brink of hope!

So here is the inspiration.

Mr strong man is a long time practitioner of Islam and has written his memoirs. He was brought up on Islam; however the cruel interactions of society have led him to a life of regret. But one of the smartest and creative men you will meet when you read about his unpublished work of addictions and the life of a Muslim.

So the path that Malcolm X chartered is not a maiden of street without GPS but very much lived by many in the dark alleys of prison.

And there is our so ghora Gujarati dude in full beard and jubba, cooking spicy Iftars during Ramadan and reciting beautiful Quran! He is so cool that you wouldn’t even imagine he ran the turf one time.

The path that Yusuf Islam threads within the story of music and conversion is the beautiful narrative of a world's celebrity not being afraid to play for his fans and proudly speaking for Islam. I met him at the CN tower dinner last year and he kept it real with his humor!

So I have the pleasure of knowing people for their stories and not judging them by one story. People are not defined by their worse or best moments but by what they do for others. Dr Martin Luther reminds us that what life is about.

Sipping coffee and touting tattoos he respectfully submits that it's time for prayer! That's the white supremacist turned everybody's friend, thanks to the dynamic seed of Islam planted in his soul by reading the Quran last Ramadan. He now exudes the beautiful aura of the Sunnah style and even received a standing ovation as the valedictorian this year!

Such is the transformation that the soul is capable of, that this proven path of spirituality, like music therapy and pets for compassion, is something one could be proud of.

It reminds me of the Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace, allowing the Bedouin to continue urinating in his mosque while others wanted to smack him up. But Muhammad was more hood than the tough Arabs! He steadied the ‘gangsters’ and won the Bedouin’s heart and millions still today.

That's why I am a Chaplain! And yes Eid is always a blast!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

9/11: Multicultural Eid Commemoration- 2016

9/11: Multicultural Eid Commemoration 2016

I still remember where I was on 9/11. I was sitting in front my computer in Guyana.
What a horrific act that still evokes sympathy and shock!

In Canada, I have continued to defend Islam tirelessly in the jury box ever since- Islam is a religion of peace. Islam stands for justice and equality.

This year whilst considering an Eid celebration that is inclusive and upbeat, I realized it will fall according to the calendar on Sep 11th. Well after all on a Sunday to celebrate Eid is not bad.
Although in Canada we have freedom of religion, people still find it battling to get a religious day off.

So the thought evolved with a few dear volunteers and close friends to observe an interfaith service as a memorial for the victims of 9/11 and to observe a minute of silence in the presence of Canadian Muslims, political figures and Interfaith leaders. This will mark the sacredness of the lives lost to the meaningless wars fought ever since.

Then the thought of Eid being the observance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son Ishmael arose. It’s a time when people think of making Hajj and performing their religious duty of donating towards the poor. However, with the missing girls of Canada being upper most in our minds my thoughts went towards making Hagar the mother of Ishmael and her sacrifice being the focus of today’s trials of mothers and wives all around the world. So the English Khutba will focus on women.

As the amazing volunteers pooled together their resource and ideas to make this event in Ajax a success, search for a place turned out to be difficult until the Ability Centre in Whitby became available. With a centre that caters to persons of disabilities the sponsor organisation couldn’t have been more appropriate- CAMD- Canadian Association for Muslims with disabilities. Many other sponsors since then have thankfully stepped up to the challenge.

The fun of the Eid festival is not done without good food and entertainment. As much as that comes with a price, the recent Muslimfest in Mississauga, with thousands enjoying Muslims at their Artistic best, it is indeed an inspiration that #EidByLake will be another hit that Canadians of all backgrounds will be proud of!

Dress to impress this Sun and be at the Ability Centre Whitby at 10am!

Habeeb Alli

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Black Love in protest

Longing for the aspirant childhood dream
That dances in my nocturnal journey
I prayed for the exotic union
Laid bare on the altar of Essequibian love

As ebony is enriched by the  beauty of love
The waters so dark shed its inhibitors
Like the inhabitants of Paradise  pure is the desire
One stroke in a thousand years

Love through faith
Love under the raining rooftops
In the waves that musically awaken buried passion
Like Damon and Cuffy
A revolution within is born and dreams lived again!

Alicia and Tariq: Meant to be!

Passing each other
One  from New York the other in Toronto
Although  they knew each other
It took fifteen  years and a cousin to line the stars

Now what was a call  on CIOG dinner day
Turned out  be a flirt with love and now down the  aisle  a few months after
How coild a girl with a mind of her own surrender?
A girl unconquerable by any other?

This is what  love does
Breaks the bones of stubborn resistance
Softens the heart of bitter stoics
Makes a man leave the big apple for the  apple of his eye

So fasting and prayers is the new Gucci
Smiling under those stern eyes she lives
Love that gives faith power
Is like pious Ali never deserting Fatima, not now nor ever!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Sam and Daryl: In love marriage

They say hell is falling in love across  the Atlantics
Not everyone  gets the Titanic love story
But falling in and out
Like  the waves that bond them
Daryl couldn't  keep his eyes off this Canadian beauty

Sam determined  to marry the one of her heart
She travels  to  the  land of the hummingbird
He lives up to his promise
No more digicel and Skyping through dinner

No matter the difference  of culture
Faith in love knows no barrier
Yusuf  and Zulaikha
Muhammad  and Aisha
When  tradition meets love
A union so blessed that the  Kaba makes  the  dua!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Usain Bolt faster than lightning

He signals the cross and raises his head to The Most  High
Smiles with confidence after 2 golds why not
On your mark get set
And faster than light  the Bolt won 3rd gold!

Touching Andree and flying Olympian  style
He cheers on his fans with such sportsmanship
The air waves are  crackling
Hussain  Bolt is the fastest on earth!

Jamaica green flag flying
The stadium  rises and our Caribbean  hearts  swell
Another Garvey, another Marley
He signals the cross and lifts his head to the sky smiling!

Usain Bolt Don Anderson

Friday, 12 August 2016

Remembering My Mother Lyla Ali- 1st Anniversary

Too soon we say
A year has passed and the wounds are still bleeding
You moved on beyond the walls quickly
That smile and laughter still fresh in our minds

How can we forget the joy of your face?
How can we not want to spend the birthdays together?
When will this troubled heart find ease?
You flew away with life's wonder!

Under the moonlight and into the sunset
Your every ounce of kindness shines brighter
People who knew you say she was indeed a beautiful woman
Few are remembered this way- you were everyone's mother!

The prayers you taught me
The pursuit of happiness you empowered me
The sacrifice for education you gifted me
I have nothing to return except these frail hands clasped in prayer!

I love you mommy!