It’s that time of year where everything is lighted up and getting dressed for Christmas parties is abuzz! However, I would like you to consider another buzz amidst all this excitement. It’s the joyous act of giving, which is the spirit in December, and kind of synonymous with Ramadan and the charitable act of zakat.
After the shopping craze of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we had the charitable success of Giving Tuesday! So many organisations benefitted from the trend that started by a simple movement away from branding one’s business only and getting everyone involved instead.
I’m thinking of #JasmineJuma
Christmas Day and New Years this year are both on Fridays! Juma, where Muslims flock to the mosques for Friday prayers, is always a Day of Light, far from a myopic blitz! Already at Friday prayers we donate our kind hearts to many causes. I like the Jasmine flower as years ago I was invited for Jasmine tea in traditional Japanese teapot style! Recently, after participating in the Syrian Film festival, I realised the national flower, in the land of Prophet Muhammad’s first childhood trip, is Jasmine! Now I am hooked in finding Jasmine flowers in Toronto! Jasmine is whitish in color and closest to the lightness of Juma!
Do you believe the Prophetic tradition of one who creates a path of good deeds, while people act upon it, will be rewarded by God? I recently told an amazing young man that his painted labyrinths in the city parks is a good deed, for which God will reward him and he retorted no one ever said that to me in my twenty years of volunteering! But isn’t this our online footprint?
I heard Imam Hamid Slimi, at the Liberty Grande, recently, during a fundraising Gala for a youth helpline, quoted the Prophetic tradition that whosoever tries to make someone happy God regards him or her as the choicest gift to humanity! I would like to be that person, would you?
Whatever cause you are passionate about, regardless, by attaching the hash tag #JasmineJuma and sharing it on Facebook and Twitter; even Periscope plus Pinterest and Google+ besides every other social media, including emails and Whatsapp, come this week, until Dec31st, you will be making a difference in the lives of the needy. You would be making a difference in the lives of Syrian children and suffering families during the holidays. You will add a voice to the voiceless during the cold nights of winter, anywhere.
I know the power of replicating good deeds. I just read an article on yohoo.com that the Tabligh movement that started in India a century ago, had invited Muslims to franchise their six positive qualities throughout the world, and now they have expanded to 50million members!
Like and share! Retweet and favourite! Forward and resend! Just Spread The Love! #JasmineJuma
‘Be the change you would like to see’, Gandhi.
Tuesday, 8 December 2015
Monday, 30 November 2015
Sunday, 29 November 2015
I had the pleasure of being a guest of an organization I was fortunate to be an advisor for 10 years ago last eve at Liberty Grand. Naseeha.net is the only youth hotline in NA and has processed 10000 calls from suicide to drugs and everything in between that youths suffered from.
Imam Khalid Latiff was phenomenal when he related his own journey as a youth and how listening and not judging has helped thousands on NYC campus as a Chaplain.
Imam Slimi announced he has two counsellors at Sayyeda Khadeeja Centre to help GTA!
CAMH doctors and counsellors were on hand to talk about the importance of cultural competence in the growing demand of mental health in the diverse communities.
One speaker pointed out that mental health was the key character in a number of the most recent extremist attacks in Canada and Europe.
Of course the media celibrity Nur Toughari expressed, as MC 9f the Gala, her own need for Naseeha in school when she pulled of her hijab!
Naseeha.net is a labour of love and funds raised is to help pay for keeping the lines open- longer and broader.
Yaseen Poonah the man behind the movement mentioned they were able to raise 40K in this first endeavor!
Friday, 20 November 2015
It was amazing. Dr Abdullah, originally from Nigeria, met her mother at Georgetown hospital. She has a hole in her heart. There is a long terminology for it but for sure it's not asthma, which was the prognosis she lived with until recently.
Because she cannot get enough oxygen she becomes blue! This bottle lasts a month when used every few days.
She laughed with us today after a long time. He mother, Shelly, is a stay at home mom because of her- she too was ecstatic!
We fundraised the 500.00 CDN in a day before leaving Toronto to Panama, from family and friends, through emails and even from some kind associates at the IDRF AGM.
I didn't know she is a practising Hindu and so many adorable things of her: like she cannot go to school; had written poems before and dreams of becoming a doctor! She reads voraciously but cannot sit up for long!
I'm glad that we never ask about creed and color when the call to help is made and ever so often.
Sasha's smiles is so much the smiles of innocence or any little girl's smiles!
I feel the Prophetic presence of wiping the tears off Fatima's countenance fourteen hundred years ago in replay!
My friend Shamal who writes these mind boggling brochures organised the eFundraiser and the purchases, etc.
I presented our new angel and beautiful princess my latest book of poetry- Five White Roses and A Red- hoping she too will publish and soon!
It is indeed a blessing to be Muslim, given the reeking Islamophobia !
What a way to spend my day!
Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Poppy is so beautiful. I grew up loving the act of placing the bouquet of red poppies on the wall of Queen's College auditorium in Guyana. However, I must admit I am now a fan of spreading the lavender looking Jasmine around the world as Syrian refugees sprawl worldwide in escape of the land of fragrant flowers.
So here is the scoop. When we were planning the Rememberance Day celebration in Edmonton some people thought instead of the red poppy which at times is still not fully embraced by Muslims around the world, the artist should ceremoniously placed an intricate Jasmine on the right lower corner.
We will not forget the millions of soldiers who laid their lives down so we may love free from Nazi and neo Nazi racist genocides. We also vigorously remember the million Muslims who died as martyrs on the Flander fields of unmarked places globally. Their sacrifices are with their Lord.
However, the worse human crisis since World War 11 warrants that we Remember Alan Kurdi and the millions who either have died in watery homes or are brutally displaced into alien homes.
Rightfully, Dr Munir El-Kassem defended the importance of supporting the Syrian refugees last Saturday night by sharing his own story of escaping Lebanon as a teen with his father at the helm of their large family. He didn't minced words for those who wallow in the literalist approach to Faith and moreso those who view Islam in their own political lens. Rememberance Day is filled with gratitude that one War has ended and the bugle and bagpipe reminds us that the many other wars must soon end.
When I was invited by Senator Rev Don Meredith with Toronto Mayor John Tory last Nov to commemorate for the first time Black soldiers who flew in Battalions in Europe, unsung and never heard of,
I celebrated my Caribbean ancestry and knew that an event to mark the Muslim soldiers of India, Yugoslavia, Algeria, America and Turkey, etc must one day be commerated.
Thats what I finally did for my Indian if not my Muslim heritage.
This week many of my comrades and friends joined us in not only pouring their genorosity in saving refugees who are victims of a senseless war but remembered quietly all of our ancestors and pious predecessors who fought one way or another to make the freedom of religion freedom from tyranny.
I wear my poppy proudly!
I await the bloom of Jasmines on shoulders accross oceans!
Lest We Forget!
Tuesday, 20 October 2015
Interfaith like the rainbow is not meant to be defined
It's beauty lies in the dept of faith
It's breath like elsewhere redesigned
But in Toronto forever in fluid state
Like the stretch of 40 years Where the quilt has been sewn
Another 40 requires threads and tears
Of much colors and love full blown
I laugh at the absurdity
To think we can direct the winds of Spirituality
I cry at the distrust that we can through the inspiration of Interfaith stem the tide of poverty
Yes We Can!
Like the First Nations and their diverse cultures of a millennia
Welcoming us in their Land of Abundance
We in T dot must quickly believe we need millennials
That the Spirit of the God we serve
Awaits our hunger at the Altar of Love
We must not let the refugees faraway die
Not to depend on political minds
And Toronto is the heartbeat of Canada-so don't let her down!
Cheers Salam Shalom Shanti Niha Peace!
Sunday, 4 October 2015
Thierno and Gabrielle
Riding separate ways
Seven years ago
Why not carpool if you're going the same path?
Fast lanes and switching trains
Adrenalin rush and crossed cultures
Where will this infectious smile lead to?
Will love know a better garden of roses?
She a devout West Indian, Jesus-loving, professional home girl, so beautiful!
He raised on the tough love of Mother Africa and Quranic foundations.
Today we celebrate love,
We join in prayers for eternal togetherness,
Like Abraham who couldn't live without Hagar and Sarah,
Divine is this union that you got in the same ceremony the Imam and Pastor!
Allah's blessings forever!
Friday, 25 September 2015
Leaving their homes in anxiety
Not knowing will they return
Crushed at Jamaraat
Returning home in tranquility
Shrouded in kafan for eternity
Your stubbornness blocked millions at the passageway
Now you can spend more on cranes and trains
You cannot escape blame with the martydom of Divinely insane
I know you went for Paradise
And now you're added to the recurring list of accidents
You're with your Maker
But who will to this trajedy answer?
Laa La Baik!
Thursday, 17 September 2015
Actions are not islands
Ahimsa is behind activism
Intentions the ruler of the body
Educate your souls before learning languages
Political parties find Interfaith action pariahs
Gandhi was more than a peace pundit - he fasted to end colonialism
Look the harshness of religious extremism
Millions displaced and further stopped
Maimed by airwars
Little Malala and Alan Kurdi are Ahmeds of science
Martyrs of hope!
You made the light of the season of Hajj
You left us suddenly
This path you’ve chosen despite our cries
Unlike the many who sought to fight you left, my sunshine
I remember your young days learning Quran
I saw a bright boy graduating from Queens
I lived to enjoy laughter and questions
Deeply intellectual, emotionally sensitive, deeper than Orinoco
I wished your youthfulness wasn’t snuffed away too soon
That you loved, danced and prayed on the banks of the Demerara too
I still see twinkles when you asked how can to date; how to love
Your days in the Hereafter will be better, my boy
So many love you and our hearts pray for peace!
Sisters weep for who will now hold their hands
Mother cries for where is my loving son?
The world must learn to engage love even for a second more!
Saturday, 5 September 2015
My son you're not alone
My mommy has left and gone
You're with your mama and sister
I'm fighting for children left to die on shores of political minds
Clouded by trivial fights
While humanity cries
For a child gone too early is humanity buried alive
Oh Canada why did you deny?
Alan how much I dreamed in my watery home
Days working for bread and roof
That the doctor you would be
Returning to save Syrians from misery
Your sister is the apple of my eyes
Now your mother enwraps her in Paradise
They treated us like a number
We couldn't wait for who is right and who is the other
The waves we braved breath after breath
My sister over yonder
The prayers of silent monks and those around the Kaaba
Must have been answered
For who must endure this lost
Like Dr AbuLaish and millions of others
Know there is no pain like leaving my family in helpless surrender!
Alan I willl forever remember!
Thursday, 27 August 2015
A bouquet of six roses
Five white and a red she requested
Lyla is beautiful night in Arabic
She was my mother and forever
Born in Guyana to a Hindu father,
A Catholic mother
Married a Muslim; her children Muslims
Her life was a testament to Faith regardless
A funeral where Janaza was an essential
Roses; poems and eulogy joined in celebration
A song from a Hindu and Amazing Grace from her cousins
A family of Interfaith felt satisfied at her grand finale
Oh how she loved a party!
That quintessential smile always
My mother nurtured love singlehandedly
Her mantra: Love begets love!
Friday, 10 April 2015
Thursday, 26 March 2015
Another turn of greatness
Living to serve the Deen
Imams getting a chance to diffuse
Looking at texts and contexts
Stepping on toes and some confused
But when there is mistake
Rahma descends with grace
We will soon return to our hoods
I will to the North and the bars of brokeness
The delicateness of His demeanour
The eruditness of his wisdom
The call to be inclusisve
The recognition of honoray scholars
Presence in the heirs of the Prophet alihisalam
Validates us not Fox news
Dr Sawy is the raison d'etre of our presence
My travels' trials are lightened
With your dua and guidance!
Oh jewel of the Umma don't be shaken!
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Sunday, 15 March 2015
Saturday, 14 March 2015
Make it Happen- Sadia!
Time to go Sadia!
Alhamdulillah she replied!
It had to be, you can’t keep a good woman down,
Or so it should be for all women born.
She came in years ago locked away in a cell.
Do you want a Quran?
Listen I ain’t that type you know!
I waited and prayed with some sisters who still believed!
And then one Ramadan,
She came crying.
Where is my Quran, my hijab, the prayer mat et al you promised?
She had found him after twenty years!
I mean her kidnapped son and now Allah!
The ex snatched him from her lap.
Told the family his mama had died.
Divine grace made her meet his cousin behind bars!
Leaving every one that she learnt to love behind,
Waiting by the station to catch her ride,
Nervous like a virgin bride,
Knowing she will soon hear him say Mommy I love you!
Why did you get so involved in stupidity?
Why did you disown your own tribe and country?
The lost of my baby boy made me lose faith
Like PTSD, I waited for closure and found it inside.
But such are the mothers of the world.
Broken by their lovers, the Adam and Eve story
Like Khadija or Virgin Mary, like Little Maya our unsung heroes
She will wipe her tears with prayers and even call home her 20 years misery!
Make it happen, one more time!
Another woman- sister applauded by Faith and women
Neither broken nor jaded
She walks through the gates with the sun rising on her hijab-face!
Monday, 23 February 2015
This is a piece dedicated to peace
Freedom fighters like Martin Luther and Malcolm X
Despite the Selma of everyday
We can still be inspired for peace
Looking at Oscar winners John and Common
Saying their piece after rendering
Glory will come
Oh, how I love Malcolm even more! Rahmatullahi alaihi
Look this isn’t about religion
It’s not about who prays to Jesus and who bows to Allah
It isn’t about who is black and who is white
The way Malcolm died is what we ought to cry for.
His Iman was up there
He was not just a broken child; a thug turned Islamic in prison
He was from the Hausa clan
Known for their scholarship and faithfulness: Islam accepted him before he did
When I see his films and I read his books
When we youtube his speeches
Although I was not there
I know I was there, way before the womb that bore me
Malcolm visited Toronto’s first mosque in 65
He visited Mecca for the Hajj
Malik Shabaz visited the noble Ulama of the Middle East and Africa
He was from them- fiery, humble, and simply fearless.
Where did he get this fire from?
Malcolm X was the manhood and still is for Blacks and oppressed men
He withstood the threat to life with Tawakkul in Allah
When he was finally down he trusted in God alone, for his own had put him down
Malcolm rest in peace and Allah’s mercy always
Now that millions claim you
Not only communists, leftists and atheists
Although then you couldn’t get a simple Janaza in a mosque, oh Muslim brother
When I met your daughter
Ilyasa I met the blood of an icon I grew up on
When I met one, who visits your shrine,
I met the soul that I dream of in my khutbas all the time
The reason many don’t know you
They don’t know you are Muslim or you stood up against racism
They do not know your sacrifice
Because of you we have civil rights and equality
It isn’t right
No it isn’t right
Others get the limelight
But One Day, like Selma, One Day, Oh AlHaj Malik Shabaz, Glory!
So brothers and sisters, Listen up
Listen with your heart and not your ears
Put down that cell phone
Call someone you love and stop hating!
Allahummaghfirlahu and wahshur hu maal abrar!
Sunday, 8 February 2015
I'm so happy
I get angry
Living in a stuble
My ears are up in the sky
This war against terror
Flooding my ears and eyes
I want to be drowned
With Godly things, divine and fine
Where are the brothers,
Who will hug for Allah?
Where are the soldiers that walked along her?
Making her a queen although her name was unknown
It doesn't matter what day or creed
It should not matter what color or hairstyle
The heart needs the fuel
To burn in His Love
So make sajda
Like it's the last hour
Cry your soul
Like you will leave forever!
Friday, 23 January 2015
Chaplain Habeeb- what do you do?
People ask me what do I do?
What’s a Chaplain and am I working for the beast?
Some of my friends say I’m the Imam for the criminals
They usually say con lover and yeah we embrace and Salam each other!
Others think I’m on the govt underground payroll
Stinking of selling out to the Intel yo
But you don’t know
Yet when I pass through the iron gates
I feel I get the stares
Who is this guy walking through with maddening stares?
But this is what I do six years and hours out of TO
I make my brothers stop seeing bars
And my sisters to ride inside the heart
I learn to navigate dangerous snow storms
While offering Quran and Sunnah on the blocked up dorms
With every lockdown
Or drug overdose I feel a piece of my soul
Gets crushed esp when my people gets judged
Because I ain’t only serving Muslims, Ismailis and Shias and Sunnis
But Rastas, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Hindus, Sikhs, LGBTs, have all walked through
And yes what do I really do?
I peddle hope
I hustle love
I shoot faith in the lives of those innocent and those guilty alike
Because doing time is not about counting your days
Is not about getting parole or getting on the halal or hijab list only
It’s about making your time count
By seeking forgiveness and seeking a skill
By seeing yourself as one ready for dignity and not play victimology
So when people say what I do?
I say a chaplain is a Christian word for Prophets and Messengers
It’s a word used in the World war that would mean heirs of Ambiya, modern day Imams
And the Apostles’, alaihim salam, posts would have had countless likes, reposts and reshares were they alive
Because we serve for God sake when the light go out
Those who deserve second chances in life
Cuz We Breathe His Love!
You breathe His Love!
Wednesday, 7 January 2015
I know it’s the new years and millions have just celebrated Christmas, as the birth anniversary of Jesus. However, 1.7 billion Muslims are celebrating the birth of Jesus’ brother from another mother- their Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace. Despite having lived 1400 years ago in Arabia and followed by almost a quarter of the world so little is known about this man.
Born as an orphan to a struggling mother, Amina, with ten children and living in the ghettoes of Mecca, Ahmed, his nickname meaning praiseworthy, was particularly inclined to do good and stand up to injustice in his formative years. As a matter of fact he was born 570 years after Christ, in the most barbaric lands of Arabia and ironically in the precincts of the famous Kaba, a sanctuary built centuries before by Abraham and his son Ishmael. Muhammad is an immediate descendant of Ishmael and appears from early childhood that he disliked the worship of idols and participation in the nomadic rampant vices of wine, wars, gambling, women, stealing, killing and usury.
He soon earned a name in his neighbourhood as the Honest Guy- Al Amin and would later solve the crisis among his tribe’s clamour to control the main turf at the Kaba, by suggesting a unique strategy. The Kaba, the top destination for religious tourism, was rebuilt by the honest earnings of the Quraish tribe and was about to be inaugurated. However, the clamour was around who would have the honor of placing the Black Stone in its rightful place among Arabia’s feuding tribes. He, Muhammad, on whom be peace, suggested the stone be placed in a special cloth and a executive member from each stakeholder hold unto his end, while placing it into position!
Hurray- end to war!
Soon he was married to Khadija, a corporate giant of Mecca, after serving her faithfully as a business associate. Their marriage bore the sacred fruits of four beautiful daughters and two wonderful boys, who soon passed away. The girls proved to be erstwhile supporters of his cause till the end.
Later on, the vileness of society were beginning to pain his soul so much that he sought refuge in the distant Cave Hira, meditating in this mountainous retreat for days, wishing for a sign to relieve his restlessness. At the prime age of forty, God sent the long standing servant, Arch Angel Gabriel, to reveal the beginning of the Quran to him. Of course, he was shocked and repelled the first divine encounter by saying “I cannot obey your command to read as I don’t read”!
For the next twenty three years the son of Abdullah, on whom be peace, would spend his precious moments memorising the some six thousand six hundred plus verses, reciting them and teaching these divine aphorisms to his followers. Today the Quran is memorised by millions as is and ‘retweeted’ in five times daily prayers around the globe without crashing anything!
Muhammad was a Messenger of God and his favourite post is he is sent as mercy to all humankind. As an example of how he responded to his enemies, there is
Abdullah bin Ubayy, the chief adversary of Islam in Medina. One day Abdullah passed away with his all mischief. The Prophet participated in his funeral, condoled with the family, performed the funeral prayer asking God forgiveness for the dead, even gave his garment to be put on the body as a cause for divine mercy, and left the funeral in sadness.
Among the life struggles of Muhammad, were the facts that he grew up an orphan and lost his mother soon after his birth and then his grandfather who had nurtured him, as well an uncle who cared for him, made him resilient to grief. Later, in a single year he lost his wife and uncle together, besides the battles he faced with the staunch opposing Quraish, made him even more heartbroken. God favoured him that year with an exclusive journey into the heavens, miraculously, called the Miraj. This strengthened his resolve to continue preaching the message of peace with humanity and submission to the Will of the Creator. Muhammad was the epitome of empathy. He lived in the ghettoes of Arabia, fought for the ghetto youths as girls were buried alive and boys were bred to be child soldiers. The Prophet of Humanity, on whom be peace, breathed hope in the ghettoes of the world before he passed on!
Do you know the ruling Quraish had sentenced him and his tribe to three years of banishment in the Abi Talib valley outside Mecca but he survived his isolation like a triumphant Yusuf, who had sat within the prison walls of Egypt for seven years? Are you aware that when prisoners of war were taken to his mosque he fed them better than he own household and ensured equitable exchange of POWs?
The remaining twenty three years of his adventurous life as The Final Messenger of God was crisscrossed with victories and defeat, happiness and sorrow, wealth and poverty, marriage and lost and mostly making a difference to every heart that came in contact with him.
Finally he passed away at the age of sixty three in his newly immigrated city of Medina and is buried under the famous green dome of his mosque. He made Medina his home forever!
I believe that Muhammad would care for orphans and fight for the poor as any ancient Mandela or modern saint Francis that we know. Among those deprived of our love and care are the incarcerated. They are condemned by the law and worse yet by society, they stand poorly in the court of public opinion. Notwithstanding the heinous nature of their crime or sometimes their proven innocence, the benedictions and prayers of Muhammad, on whom be peace, stands for the shattered hearts of men and women incarcerated when he had prayed for the Meccans, much like his brethren Prophet Joseph did for his brothers- I forgive you; there is no beef on you- on the occasion of entering Mecca successfully, after being driven out his hometown and persecuted for years.
In the words of Dr Karen Armstrong, author of Prophet Muhammad and his legacy- if he was alive today he would be considered a modern Prophet and a man of the 21st century!
*And we ask God to send peace on all of his Noble prophets and Messengers.