Thursday, 25 October 2012

Qurbani your fear

Dear Editor

I would like to take this opportunity to send Eid greetings to all my family and friends, loved ones and colleagues in the Muslim community as well as the wider population as the Eid of Abraham is everyone’s festival. While Arabs are descendants of Ishmael, the Jews are descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s two sons.

We are indeed grateful for life and its many gifts. What this Eid does for us is to seek deep into our hearts the generosity to share halal meat and meals with others, while remembering Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice that which he loved the most- his first son.
Love is such that it tests you. Abraham was God’s best friend. He wished to have a son. God wanted to reveal to the world that human sacrifice is forbidden, but sacrificing for the one, you claim to love, is a must. Jesus said, "you shall love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:31)
I remember when we had just restarted Golden Grove mosque project with the late Khalid Khan in 1992- a place that had turned into a pig sty and garbage dump, after being bombed in 1964 and abandoned for thirty years – there was a feeling that we were so resource-less, to even provide a single cow for the first Eid. But the eight brothers thought that we can all pool out of our meagre resources and at least have a small cow. The villagers were so delighted and recently upon visiting the neighbourhood the folks there were so excited to see me and reminisce on those austere but loving days.

That’s the original spirit of Hajj and Eid ul Adha. Unfortunately much of that is lost today with the rich making the pilgrimage and the rich having the means to do Qurbani and the rich having a good time around these festivities. Money cannot buy love and wealth cannot purchase heaven. It’s your heart that matters in the end! The obituary always talks about deeds and not status!

Abraham lived in the dessert of Arabia that even water was scarce. God sent water in the form of the miraculous Zamzam well. Today, I’m proud to see many who cannot afford an entire party of charity, still join with others in sharing a ‘share’ and giving it away to the food bank. A few years ago I saw an ad for the Christmas drive, from a known food bank in Toronto. It was around Eid al Azha. I made the call and explained the significance of our holiday and how many Muslims make the sacrifice but would send the donation to known poor countries out of Canada. The folks there welcomed the idea of having halal hygienic meat, donated for their food drive, as all can partake of halal. Today that’s an ongoing charity and my friend from Enmore always says ‘charity begins at home’.

I’m so saddened therefore to hear about the gruel murder of a Brother visiting from Toronto and having lost his life in Georgetown on his way to make Qurbani from his life savings. His martyrdom during the sacred days of Zil Hijja will not go in vain and justice must prevail as people must be safe wherever they are: - to perform their religious duties freely and live happily- a right secured by the Charter of Rights, Geneva Convention and the Medina Treaty 1400 years ago.

Quran 37:102 ‘when he (Abraham’s son) attained to working with him, he said: O my son! Surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see. He said: O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones.’

If anything, Abraham’s son, Ishmael, was taught to pelt the devil and scare him away as he tried dissuading the lad from undertaking the sacrifice, willingly. This reminds us that fear must undergo Qurbani. Fear must be pelted with full force. Fear must be replaced with safety. Fear has no place in life but ultimate destruction. When Love enters, just as darkness dissipates when light arrives, fear MUST disappear.

‘Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.’ Rumi, Poet of 2007, UNESCO

Happy Eid

Habeeb Alli

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


What to do when you are continually bombarded with negative comments and un resolved issues except that your mind wades in the cesspool of resentment. This is so depressing that sometimes the person you lived makes you feel life is not worth it.
But life is good regardless. Love is possible be it with whom. And after one trial there will be another. The rose in the garden looks beautiful for the onlooker and gardener alike only he has to toil the soil while the lover just admires!
Unrequited love in the shadow of pain. What a treat!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Condolence on behalf Muslim leader- Naeem Nasir- of Guyana‏

Dear Editor

Upon the passing away, in Georgetown, a legendary Guyanese and Bakewell owner, brother Hajji Naeem Nasir, I would like to extend my condolence to his family and to the Guyanese community from faraway, Toronto.

I had the pleasure of doing business and learning from Naeem, R.I.P and his generosity knew no bounds. The vision he had for the humanitarian needs of Guyanese is simply mind boggling- State of the Art Mosque at Queenstown, State of the Art hostel for the homeless (not the Palms), State of the Art University to teach religion and academic pursuits, the non discriminatory position of his tireless philanthropy to all types of Muslim organisations and causes- its a simple fact that his religious upbringing from his father, the late Mr Nasir and his brother, Moulana Siddiq, left an indelible mark on his life. 

I'm reminded of the beautiful poem of Shaikh Saadi-the Persian Fakir: 
To worship God is nothing other than serving the people.
It does not need rosaries, prayer carpets, or robes.
All peoples are members of the same body, created from one essence.
If fate brings suffering to one member, the others cannot stay at rest.
What a beautiful brother- may Allah accept all his good deeds and grant him Firdaus in Heaven- and may God not deprive us of his blessings after.

May his family find patience after and his loved ones the passion and wherewithal to continue his legacy.

As Guyanese would say dead done but cry nah done- a country rather the world mourns his loss!

Monday, 1 October 2012



Muslims in GTA were treated to a sumptuous celebration of food, drink, games, qaseedas and good wishes at the second annual Eid in the Widlwood Park, Derry Rd, hosted by Richard Aziz. This year the weather was superb and many more attended including well wishes from major organisations like HCI, IMO, Imdaadul, Markham Masjid, Weston Islamic Centre, Brampton Islamic centre, etc
Br Alim from the Muslim Perspectives Radio Islam show was at hand doing the nasheeds and qaseedas while bro Habeeb did commentary on the cricket match. Sisters also participated in the cricket, volleyball, and eating fruits race. Amazing race! The children won many prizes and giveaways and again it was fabulous event put on by the Richard Aziz’s team in Toronto. Special mention to the CIOG team that were on display as well as all the sponsors including Chief brand products and Twins products from Guyana run by Razia Khan, the recipient of the Richard’s Caribbean Music Festival entrepreneur award.


Masjids can lease their roof to install solar panels and make an income. That was the recent discussion that was promoted in the mosques in Ontario by Marriam Daneshwar who is working in close proximity with Energy Ontario and a solar company. One such mosque is Barrie. The twenty year lease is offered to home owners and commercial buildings too. The idea is to reuse renewable energy and integrate it into the mainstream grid so more Ontarians may have green energy while making a lease income from their rooftops.

QAWALI- on the rocks!

Bindas is an astounding mix of Qawali- Urdu poetry sang with musical instruments and a mixture of Hebrew songs performed by an Israeli Jew, a New York guitarist, two Bengali singers and harmonium players and a Toronto pundit on the drums. Jewish and Indian counterparts organised this show recently during the Ashkenazi Festival and brought Indian lovers of Sufi music together with Jewish friends. Vijay Sipani said that some 400 attendees made the event a success with Non Muslims getting an opportunity to be exposed the universal teachings of Sufis- they taught love for all!

Behaviour Management System

Teachers in Islamic schools were trained at the North York Civic centre recently by a trainer on Behaviour Management System. Mr Alimamy Bangura conducted the one day workshop that is offered to TDSB teachers and the Ontario Association of Islamic Schools organised this one through Anela Jadunnandan. The idea is to control physical violence and misbehaviours through a peaceful and controlled means within the Education Act, Criminal Code and family law.

Students were offered a certificate and trained how to physically diffuse a situation not only in school but anywhere where such bad behaviours occurs.

Interfaith dialogue

Muslims and Christians were treated to an evening of talk and food. Mr. Tariq Khan has been organising such events for a decade and this time round he had a youth speaker Sauliha Alli speak on Canadian values of multiculturalism and Habeeb Alli talked about the importance of Islamic law. That evening many questions were asked to both Habeeb and Rev Arjan from Hamilton. Later that evening Habeeb took that message to the Dawah Centre, downtown, to their monthly halaqa and continued the topic. Laws are the source of love for God and with Iman one naturally wants to obey Allah.


Many Imams and leaders were invited for a sumptuous and well decorated Eid dinner at Sayyeda Khadija Centre hosted by Dr Hamid Slimi. Among the noted guests were persons working on the Rohinga massacre and they spoke of the plight of the displaced people from Burma. Sister Zabeda did a fabulous job with matching themes of decoration, enjoyable cuisine and a fantastic desert. Persons were also engaged on the issue of global sighting. It was a pleasant evening to celebrate Eid.

The Toronto Area interfaith Council wants to engage Torontonians on various issues including Climate Change Adaptability, discrimination and networking at the North American Interfaith Network conference in April 2013 at U of T. TAIC is known for its mayor breakfast. Mr. Zul Kassim Ali is the Chair and he wants more involvement from the Council on issues affecting Torontonians. He gave the example of without funds one can organise help. He recently placed fifteen women in the hands of a seamstress and with donated space and sewing machines they soon will graduate to go about doing alterations. Any one can help- that’s what faith teaches!

Women in prison are not all tattooed up and killers. They are humans inside and are spending time in order to make a change. That was the discovery made at the recent workshop of hearing your voices conducted by life Coach Fatima Omar Khamissa at the GVI, Kitchener women fancily where some twenty Muslims and Non Muslim sisters attended. She gave her story of survivorship from domestic violence and heard the stories and ambitions of the attendees. She inspired them by showing she is now a published author and renowned speaker. Any one can make a change because dua is not a plan but just a phase.


Athena is passionate about interfaith relations. She is from Nepal and works with the underprovided in Afghanistan. She recently organised a wonder dinner with members of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish friends at High Park Toronto. It was indeed a wonderful evening of tasty Pilipino halal chicken curry and kosher salad plus South African okra stew. The conversation was centred on what we can do to make a difference. Athena is making a difference with her wonderful mom’s cooking and sharing her life with others faraway in Afghanistan this fall. What are you doing?

JANAZA- Colonel Saab

The Janaza of Colonel Amiruddin Khan, from Hyderabad, was done at the Abu Bakr Masjid in Scarborough with a remarkable attendance of 4000 Muslims from Canada and USA. He died at the age of 96 and a website about his life and works is registered. A man from Scottish background, who was raised in India and served the Nizam of Hyderabad then lived in Canada and married in Trinidad. He leaves behind many children and grandchildren and his grandsons on said in his obituary at the packed masjid that Colonel was from the Al Bayt and Nawab family. He had converted over 5000 and traveled to 76 countries.

ISARC – Interfaith coalition against poverty, organized an evening at the Holy Trinity Church at Bell square in collaboration with the Turkish Intercultural dialogue institute about poverty. Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Jewish panelists explored the idea of poverty in their respective faiths. Among them was the famous Avram who works through YAHVETA, an International relief organsition that has been doing work in Guyana for many years. The son of a rabbi, he said that when he was in rabbinical school he learnt a lot about the intricate discussions around when the wall falls, then whose responsibility is it is to lift it up. When he left he wanted to lift it up and help others lift it too.


Water is a sacred tool. It is so scarce in the world. That’s what we learned form speakers at the recently organized seminar at Islamic Foundation. Officials for Toronto City as well as volunteers of Greening Sacred Spaces and organised the showing of a film that shows the situation of water around the world. Many in attendance were asked their feelings about the film and their social justice anger to fight for those in Canada who are deprived of basic drinking water in the reserves. Do you know how you can save water? Drinking water is a small percentage of the available water in the world for a growing 7 billion humans!

Scriptural Reasoning
Students of Scripture were once again treated to the discussion from the Scriptural reasoning session with PhD candidate Susan Harrison from U of T. The topic this time was on Mysticism and passages from the Quran, Torah and New Testament were brought forward for the discussion with many meaningful insights and pertinent questions asked. It was delightful to discuss and not fight! Many Interfaith leaders have been supportive to Muslims during the video crisis and feels that this doesn’t represent the Prophet of Islam or the viewpoint of mainstream Muslims. They have equally condemned those who do such things to stroke the fire of hatred.


Torontonians needs to have faith in their City and the City needs to recognise Faith is playing its vital role in keeping Toronto alive!
Soon interfaith leaders will have an opportunity to speak to this at a conference being organised with one of the Counsellors on board and a website in place. Issues are dealt with every day by City officials and Faith communities too but often there is no connection made yet alone information available. This will soon be addressed at a one day conference at City hall. Stay tuned.

CHAMP- fighting Stigma!

Persons with HIV stigma are facing many issues including discrimination, criminalization, immigration and lack of education and medical help. The champs program was orchestrated by Ontario government to seek out Faith leaders to help intervene and as scuh a training and research was recently concluded. HIV is everyone’s business and rather than judging we have a chance to help.
One person said he was diagnosed since in the 80’s and without much hope he turned to crime and drugs. Now he is studying at George Brown and York University and giving back to the city since he survived while his friends died!

PEARSON- is prepared!

Chaplains were invited to join other servce providers at Pearson Airport to discuss issues around emergency and learn about using social media as well as understand how to deal with peer support. It’s no surprise that persons witnessing traumatic situations may be affected and service providers are no different. How to deal with burn out and how to take care of peers without being intrusive is a problem in every sphere of life.


Trinidadians in Toronto were treated to a sumptuous Canadian dinner and electryfing talk by Dr Munir ElKassim at TARIC Mosque in order to fundraise for the Islamic Relief Centre in Trinidad. The twin Island people has helped thousands in India, Haiti, Guyana, Bangladesh, Somalia, Pakistan, Grenada, and they continue to through your support. Zainol Ali, the Chair said it was a successful event and he is grateful for the many volunteers and generosity of all Canadians to make his project come through. Special thanks to TARIC.

NAMF INTERFAITH Panel on Honoring the Prophet

Responding the satire that vilifies the Prophet Muhamamd has been varied and even controversial. NAMF responded with an interfaith panel of Imams, and Jewish and Christain leaders. There is the idea is to have a dialogue of civilization rather than a clash of cultures. The evening was indeed a great honor for Islam’s prophet, on whom be peace, where academicians, religious people and spiritual leaders converged to dialogue about the options rather than fight over the conflict! The messages of solidarity from many interfaith leaders have been overwhelming.

Christian-Muslim forum