Tuesday, 27 November 2012

oct reports in toronto

OCT reports

Somalians youths losing their lives and where is the justice?

In last two years some 44 Somalian youths have lost their live in gun violence between Alberta and Toronto. That is the alarming statistics that brought many Somalian mothers, community leaders and members of the Ministry of Public Safety and the law enforcement to discuss at the Delta. Folks from Alberta, Ottawa and Toronto deliberated for two days on various programs and strategies to address this unanswered justice towards Somalian youths.

Muslim chaplaincy in prison was asked to address what they do to provide help Islamically and socially for the Muslim youths. Habeeb Alli presented the case that while CSC has a quota for every 150 inmates of any denomination one full time chaplain and volunteers are welcome. It is not certain that an Imam volunteering in prison will only see Somalians but must be open to all faiths and ethnic backgrounds.

More volunteering and more programs for the youths are needed to keep them out of the street gang culture as they are exposed to a new culture that reinforce a certain lifestyle that can only be met with illegal activities. A Somalian Police officer is working hard to connect with the youths and more minority candidates are needed to step up to the task through equity employment opportunities.

One mother said she always keep her children busy with after school programs, sports and Quran classes while another mourned her son who was shot in his apartment by astray bullet. It was an open and frank discussion. The conversation has to continue everywhere and as one Imam put it- the mosque has to be seen as a trusted hub of community affairs and not a place of worship with suspicious attendees.

GTA Faith Alliance has been doing work with youths for years and with all types and colors and so too has been the work of www.jane-finch.com

Islamic History month at NOOR.

Wahida Valiante has tirelessly volunteered in the Muslim community in Canada after arriving from England and in the past forty years made her mark to bring Islam into the public sphere, her latest success, apart from making it among the 500 most influential Muslims’ list, is to make Canada declare October as Islamic history month.

Noor Cultural centre hosted one of the many events for the month- some held in Waterloo and London. A famous historian at the Royal Ontario Museum spoke to Islamic Art and Europe- showing through her power point presentations the many beautiful art pieces on vases, tiles, fabrics, calligraphy, minarets, that later were transported from Persia and Turkey into Europe. Karin Ruehrdanz, Islamic Art Curator, Royal Ontario Museum spoke eloquently and she did likewise in Saskatoon, Kingston and London. Signs of that are with us as we see domes, tiles, fountains and tiles in modern buildings in North America. She did justice to the fact that Muslims are not miserable people but owned a civilization of joy and celebration.

Habeeb Alli did the opening prayers of the event and reminded all that the Lord of Abraham and Muhammad is the Lord of rationale and beauty and when we pray to God to open our hearts for wisdom we allow His Presence in our midst before every act of Art and Poetry could flow.

The Canadian council of Imams have been supportive of Islamic history month and hopes more will happen in the coming years with the new President of Canadian Islamic Congress, Dr. Amin Elshorbagy at the helm.

Cardinal dinner- halal accommodation- underfunded charities supported

Where in the world does an imam gets invited to sit with Cardinals and Rabbis among 1700 guests except at the Cardinal’s Dinner in Toronto?

For the past 32 years this largest dinner in Canada attracts political leaders, lead bishops, Fathers and parish leaders from the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and business people to raised almost $3M for those twenty odd charities that are underfunded. DISMAS is one such charity that I noticed as they help inmates reintegrate in society and given the recent cuts to chaplaincy this was the best gesture.

Abdul Hai Patel and Habeeb Alli from the Canadian Council of Imams were in attendance and exclusive halal cuisine was provided just as the Rabbi was provided with kosher meals. This was an act of Interfaith respect and the Jews and Muslims were the honourable guests of Father Damian Macpherson – Interfaith and Ecumenical Director at the Cardinal’s Office.

It was an evening of giving to those who do not have and reminding all, in the words of the Cardinal Thomas Collins and re-echoed by the many MPs. MPPS, Mayors and dignitaries, that, we live in a model country and we have to show leadership in recognising the rights of the diversity that we embrace.

Westin Harbour hosts Interfaith and the Belonging

Finding ways to connect meaningfully with other Faiths and making sure Canada maintains the pride of Multiculturalism was the theme behind the discussions held in Halifax by major faith organisations and leaders. The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is producing a website as well as a poster that will remind all that no matter what Faith you belong to; you belong to Canada. The many options for racism and discrimination that are heightened with the Internet should not deter people from standing up for justice, speaking out against blasphemy; engage with the wider world and work harder to build trust among Canadians. One report shows that some 48% of Canadian does not trust Muslims! Where is the Interfaith budget, where is the resources to outreach to Canadians, where is the task force to make Canadians know Muslims, as half of them have never met one? The Ahmadiya Jamat distributed half a million flyers about the Life of the Prophet door to door! NAMF organised a panel discussion with Academics, religious leaders and the laity. Many great initiatives to fight stigma, racism, workplace inequity, diversity ignorance is going on and CRRF validated these efforts by having a symposium as well as an award ceremony. Rev Don Meredith was the key note and reminded all that if he can make it through the valleys of the disadvantaged youth then any one can- from a boy coming from Jamaica to a Reverend becoming Senator.

Eid celebrations in prison

Eid is not for the free only. Prisoners in Ontario jails celebrated Eid with prayers and food. One Christian Chaplain ensured the inmates had chocolate for Eid celebration and a food night with only halal goodies!

Qurbani was done by many locally and many of the meat were donated to Yonge Street Mission. Some of that meat was donated and prepared for prisoners so they could have a direct Eidul Azha experience and they did. One brother actually would buy a big healthy cow, every year at a farm and on the day of Eid, after prayers would go done and get the sacrifice done. He claims that running behind the animal and being part of the fast before while actually doing the Qurbani on that day was his father’s legacy and he has continued that. There are 40 farms in Ontario that the Ministry of Agriculture has approved for halal slaughter. So when Chaplain Habeeb took in curried beef and curried lamb and roti with baklawa there was indeed the camaraderie that Islam is alive and Canada has been exemplary in ensuring the Charter Right of religious Freedom. We hope she stays that course and do not cut part time chaplains work in the federal institutions. Every act of Islam is kindness and every act of kindness help to reform the prisoners- all of whom are not criminals- if only you knew!

OMC hosts conference on Chaplaincy at Jackson point

Ontario Multifaith Council is headed by Dr AbdulHai Patel and Abdurrasheed Taylor is a key leader- both are from the Canadian Council of Imams.
The theme this year was Facing the Questions in Spiritual and Religious Care.
Elizabeth Rahman is a member and has volunteered at the Lindsay provincial prison and so there were many Muslims who find meaningful experience at the Salvation army Conference place every year-sharing and learning about ways to improve patients, prisoners, seniors, dying persons in palliative care and others who need spiritual care and not only health care. Abdurasheed Michael Taylor thanked all the speakers and guests while reminding all that gratitude is the key to a well developed spiritual experience! Habeeb Alli presented in Muslim inmates challenges- from acquiring halal diets, conversions, prayer places, visiting mosques, volunteers visiting to conflicts with theology and laws. The challenge is to be open and educated and willing to accommodate because the foundation of any system is to be open to be reasonable! Chaplains give a lot and must be supported and their is no better way than maintaining CSC contracts for all chaplains of all types and denominations!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Book launch- 15th

My new book will be launched on Nov 10 at Richies Place Victoria Park Scarborough.

It's about my poems, letters and news that I have written in the pass 2 years and features comments and Foreword from prominent writers, scholars and friends.

It's named after my blog.

Sandy Hurricane

Whipping every man in sight
Sandy bulldozes with ravishing plight
Countries powerful, islands delicate
The dark curling clouds so passionate

She has not done so much damage in decades
As if revenge on us meek humans was in phase
Hitting down guarded treasures, taking lives as if Hell has no fury
Sandy you're like Ms climate change gone angry

Now picking up the pieces after billions
You say it's just a tiny part of your mood syndrome
That God wills on winds whatever He desires like sweet zephyr,
Or He has winds of fire, sand and shut down an empire!

So stop saying I'm safe and warm
Reach out to others like a Red Cross arm
Embrace their lost with your gain
Send them a treat this season with no trick
Say my Faith commands compassion not a judging- kick!