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									October 2007 - Shawwal 1428                                                                                                    Volume 5 ~ Issue 4

Islam to the
Muhammad Zaman
                                                                 Eid Mubarak!
October does not belong only to
Halloween and Thanksgiving anymore,
thanks to the recent launch of Islamic
History Month Canada.

In an effort to encourage Canada’s
Muslims to share their history, heritage
and culture, the Canadian Islamic
Congress has spearheaded an
initiative that would see cities officially
designate October as a month in which
to celebrate Muslim contributions to the
arts, sciences, medicine, music, and
much more.                                    What’s Eid without those syrupy sweets everyone loves? Local bakeries like Malek Lebanese Pastry in Ottawa South offer
                                              up traditional tastes to celebrate the conclusion of a month of personal struggle.         Photo credit: Asif Rehman
“This goal would be achieved through

                                                                                           Convert spearheads support
community and public events such as           culture. Imams (Muslim clergyman) can
exhibitions, lectures, celebrity tours,       do their part by dedicating Friday
book fairs, and other complementary           sermons to exploring Islamic influences
activities,” reads the campaign’s
                                              throughout the ages.                         group for sisters
                                              After all, it was a Muslim farmer who        Staff Writer                                The organization held its first events
The first city to adopt the idea was          discovered coffee, and a Muslim                                                          during the month of Ramadan, inviting
Victoria, BC. Kingston, ON soon               mathematician who invented the first         A Canadian woman who converted to           converts to break fast several times
followed. Public events are also taking       pin-hole camera. Soap, quilting,             Islam three years ago has launched a        during the first two weeks of the holy
place in several other Canadian cities,       windmills and carpets also link back to      new organization dedicated to female        month.
including Ottawa.                             Muslim thought and exploration, as did       converts.
                                              many other elements of our everyday                                                      “All praises are due to Allah,” wrote
“There are so many good stories to            lives.                                       “. . . I always thought that insha' Allah   Ms. Gilles in an email to the Muslim
share and new [teachings] to                                                               (God willing) it would be nice if there                     Continued on page 2
experience,” says Senator Mobina              The Canadian Islamic Congress is also        was an organization dedicated to new
Jaffer, honorary chair of Islamic History
Month Canada.
                                              offering Canadian researchers grants
                                              of up to $5,000 as an added incentive
                                                                                           Muslims where they are welcome
                                                                                           regardless of their age, background,
                                                                                                                                          What’s inside:
                                              to study elements of Islamic civilization.   whether they wear hijab or not, and
Canadian Muslims are encouraged to                                                         would be among sisters who                  Hajj special . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
get involved by making presentations          Test your knowledge of Islamic history       understand what they are going              Muslims & the media. . . . . . . . . . . 9
on Muslim contributions, watching              for a chance to win one of four iPod        through and can support each other,”        Kids World. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
special documentaries on Islamic                            Nano’s at                      said Kim bint Gilles, founder of            Women in mosques . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
history, or reading books on Islamic    ■             “Alfitrah.”                                 Event listings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Page 2 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link                                                                                                                                                                                           NEWS

Islamic History Month                                                                                                     Snapshot:
launches in Ottawa                                                                                                        Community iftar
                                                                                                                          Throughout Ramadan, Muslims of all ages and backgrounds gathered together to
                                                                                                                          break their fasts at various locations around town. Muslim Link photographer Asif
                                                                                                                           Rehman attended one such iftar held for the city’s young Muslims at Ridgemont
                                                                                                                               High School. It was sponsored by the Muslim Association of Canada’s
                                                                                                                                                      Mac4Highschool committee.

Photo Credit: Montreal Muslim News
Dr. George Sawa at Ottawa’s City Hall, playing the qanoun, a stringed instrument from the
Middle East.

Yahya Abdul Rahman                                         Alexandria, Egypt, and studied
                                                           Western and Arabic music both there
The melodious sound of a qanoun                            and in Canada. He is currently the
reverberated in the corridors of                           Noor Visiting Professor at York
Ottawa's City Hall at the start of                         University.
October to mark the beginning of
Canada’s Islamic History Month.                            The qanoun he played at City Hall was
                                                           crafted in mahogany and the strings
The city hosted a free public solo                         were made from the skin of fish from
performance by Dr. George Sawa on                          Egypt’s Nile River. The two fingerpicks                        Mohammed el Kadri, Head of MAC                                       the iftar, just one of many events MAC
the unusual 78-stringed Egyptian harp,                     he uses were made from water buffalo                           Youth Ottawa, told the crowd that                                    Youth hopes to hold this year. A survey
which has been an integral part of                         horns.                                                         today’s young Muslims, of diverse                                    was distributed to find out what the
traditional Arabic music for centuries.                                                                                   backgrounds and cultures, should work                                youth want to do. In the meantime, a
                                                           He held a repeat performance at the                            together: “Let your generation be the                                horseback riding trip is planned for
Mr. Sawa—who has performed                                 Student Centre of the University of                            generation that unites the community.”                               October.
extensively in Canada, the US, Europe                      Ottawa. (Montreal Muslim News)■                                                                                                            For more information, email
and the Middle East—is a native of                                                                                        About 100 young people took part in                              ■

Sister’s group launched with Ramadan Iftars
Continued from Cover Page

Link. “The dinners were a success with
converts from Guatemala to Germany
(with many countries in between) in                        “My journey to Islam started when I                            sister who I started spending time with                              whatever the case may be . . .”
attendance. Many of the girls were so                      was 13. It was around Christmas time                           and it reminded me of my desire to be
happy to gather with other ‘new                            and I was talking to some Muslim                               a Muslim. I started reading more on my                               “In my case, and I think for many other
Muslims’ and to meet some of the                           friends. I asked what they were doing                          own again and one day while we were                                  converts, it was a struggle in some
newer members of our ummah                                 for Christmas, etc. and they told me                           driving I told her that I wanted to                                  ways because many of the things you
(community) who said the shahada                           that they didn't celebrate [it] and                            become a Muslim. This was shocking                                   used to do and think were okay are no
less than six months ago and are                           proceeded to tell me that they don't                           to her because we never even talked                                  longer okay and you go from not even
experiencing their first Ramadan.”                         believe that Jesus, peace be upon him,                         about Islam together. She ended up                                   thinking about prayer to praying five
                                                           is the son of God.                                             leaving on vacation shortly after—                                   times every day and on time. Because
April Zufelt said she appreciated the                                                                                     before I got to say my shahada                                       of the struggle I was facing I was
opportunity to meet with others who                        “This was completely shocking to me                            (testimony of faith). Alhamdulillah, in                              sometimes shy to be around girls who
shared similar experiences with her.                       and I asked my mom for proof that                              January 2004, shortly after my friend                                had been Muslim all their life since
                                                           Jesus was the son of God so I could                            [returned], we went to see the imam of                               masha’ Allah they were nicely covered
“It was a very wonderful and rewarding                     prove it to my friends. She told me that                       the main mosque and I said the                                       and knew how to pray, etc. and I did
experience. I felt so much love and                        there was no proof and that it is                              shahada.                                                             not.”
comfort, since we were all there for the                   something you just have to believe.
same reasons: To meet new sisters                                                                                         “. . .I didn't have much help and
[who had] embraced Islam. . . I hope to                    “From there I read about Islam and                             support in the beginning months. I tried                                               — Kim bint Gilles,
continue meeting new sisters from the                      read the translation of the Qur'an and                         calling masjids (mosques) and centres
support of the site, insha’ Allah.”                        always felt in my heart that Islam was                         to ask about sisters groups where I                                               founder of Al-Fitrah ■
                                                           the truth but never really acted upon it.                      could go to learn about Islam and meet
 To find out more including upcoming                       ...                                                            new sisters, but my calls were never
   events, visit ■                        “When I started college I met another                          returned. Maybe they were busy, or

                                                                   Contributors: Mohamoud Adam, Muna Bashir, Saadia Benmakhlouf, Mohamed Sheikh Ahmed Dalmar,
                                                                   Mohammad Dourou, Raghad Ebied, Amira Elghawaby, Hadeer Abo El Nagah, Sakina Bint Erik, Attiya
                                                                   Gardee, Nuh ibn Zbigniew Gondek, Chiraz Guessaier, Tahira Ismail, Ahmed Khalil, Saadia Khan, Saeeda
                                                                   Khan, Sheema Khan, Huda Ktabi, Ahmad Luqman, Waseem Poeme Manigat, Amira Mauthour, Nariman                                           Published monthly by
                                                                   Nasef, Yahya Abdul Rahman, Mariam Sheibani, Aisha Sherazi, Mohammed Bin Salim, Asif Rehman,
                                                                   Jennifer Templin, Sehr Wyne, Umm Yezen, Muhammed Zaman, Tariq Zein.
          1 Stafford Rd. Suite 255, Ottawa, ON K2H 1B9
     |               The views and opinions expressed in this newspaper are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view
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NEWS                                                                                                    Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 3

Distribution of Zakah: Caring                                                            To God do we belong, and to
for our community                                                                        Him we shall return. - Qur’an (2:156)
OMA Zakah Committee                           (including prescription medication),
                                              clothing and school supplies for
Ramadan and its conclusion often              children, bus tickets, and so on. One
remind Muslims to make their                  of our primary forms of aid has been in
compulsory zakah (poor-due)                   providing families with much needed
payments. Community leaders and               groceries. This relieves the pressure
scholars often dedicate Friday sermons        on people who have too many bills to
and lectures to speaking about the
importance of paying it, the correct
ways of calculating it, and to whom to
give it.

The Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA)
Zakah Committee has been distributing
zakah and serving needy Muslims in
the National Capital Region (NCR) for                                                                                                          Photo Credit: Giorgio Zanetti
over 20 years. Its volunteers have
seen and heard first-hand the
                                              “And be steadfast in                       The waters may be still now, but Lac
                                                                                         Philippe was the site of the drowning of
                                                                                                                                    to save each other from drowning. The
                                                                                                                                    Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon
challenges facing some members of
our community:
                                               prayer and regular                        three Muslim University of Ottawa
                                                                                         students on September 8. Mr. Ghanim
                                                                                                                                    him, is reported to have said, “...he
                                                                                                                                    who dies in an epidemic is a martyr; he
                                              charity (zakah): And                       Mohamed Silim Nahdy, a fourth-year         who dies from a stomach disease is a
•    My kids are hungry, but there is no                                                 Telfer School of Management student,       martyr; and he who dies of drowning is
     food in my fridge. Can you please          whatever good Ye                         Mr. Samir Salum Ali and Mr. Mehrdad        [also] a martyr" (Reported by Muslim).

     bring me some milk and bread?
     My daughter needs to by                   send forth for your                       Khazabi, fourth-year Chemical
                                                                                         Engineering students, died while trying

     notebooks for school, but I don’t         souls before you, ye
     have any spare money. What do I
     do?!                                        shall find it with  Falling on hard times: One
•    I’m in a lot of pain, but I don’t have
     the money to buy the medicine the          God: for God sees    woman’s story
     doctor prescribed me. Please help
     me!                                      well all that you do.” Staff Writer      The daughter herself                                                  broke her leg
•    Eid is here and I want to buy new                         - Quran (2:110)           A severe car accident has left the         while visiting her mother a few weeks
     clothes for my kids, but I just can’t                                               mother of a local Muslim woman badly       ago. Requests have gone out to the
     afford it. Can you help me out?                                                     injured and in hospital. But because       community to help them through these
                                                                                         her mother was visiting from abroad,       hardships by making supplications,
Many of us are surprised to hear that                                                    she has no health insurance. She has       visiting the family and offering financial
there are people with such problems                                                      already spent over 20 days in hospital,    assistance.
living in our generally affluent                                                         at about three thousand dollars a day.
community. However, there are many                                                       Efforts are underway to relieve the        For information on how to help, contact
families living in hard realities and they                                               family of this terrible debt.                  Br. Sarwar at 613-292-0151. ■
sometimes encounter even more
distressing circumstances.                    pay, such as rent and hydro. It also
                                              ensures that both parents and children
                                                                                         Fund) and can be mailed to or dropped
                                                                                         off at the Ottawa Main Mosque (251
                                                                                                                                          Do you drive?
Recent immigrants, for example, often         have the food they need to function        Northwestern Avenue, Ottawa, ON,           If yes, please consider donating your
have large extended families to               better at work and school. It also frees   K1Y 0M1). Please note, if you are          time to help buy and deliver groceries
support. And single parents, often            up money to purchase things that           making a cash donation using the           to needy Muslims in the Ottawa area.
mothers, usually struggle to keep a           many of us take for granted like proper    donation boxes at the Ottawa Main          Both sisters and brothers are
roof over their family’s head and food        winter clothing, essential school          Mosque or the collection boxes at          encouraged to give about two hours of
on the table.                                 supplies for children, bus tickets, and    Friday prayers, you must place it in an    their time, every two weeks, for this
                                              toys for kids.                             envelope marked “Zakah Donation.”          worthy cause. Please send an email to
Over the years we have helped                                                            Otherwise, it may be used for other (Attn: OMA Zakah
individuals with rent payments,               Donations can be made by cash or           purposes. ■                                Committee) or leave a message at the
overdue utility bills, medical expenses       cheque (payable to the OMA Zakah                                                      OMA office (613-722-8763) with your
                                                                                                                                    name and number. ■

    Self-motivated &
      Part-Time /
         If you are
    interested, please
Page 4 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link                                                                                                                                             NATIONAL

Niqaabi reveals her views on Elections Canada
Sakina bint Erik                                           would like to tell the good professor that wearing the public as an act of modesty, or to emulate the
                                                           niqaab hasn't stopped me from voting in the past and Prophet’s wives, who did fully veil.
As a Canadian citizen and a Muslim woman who it won't this year either.
covers her face, I have been asked to remove my                                                                   So I would echo the sentiment expressed by Afifa
niqaab (face veil), or at least lift it momentarily, many Whenever I am asked to lift my veil to verify my Naz, an engineer in Montreal who wears niqaab: "This
times including when renewing my health card and identity, for religious reasons I simply seek out a is not something we demand," she told CBC News.
driver’s license, and when crossing the border into the woman to unveil in front of. There is always a woman "We can accommodate the needs of society while
US. I’ve even had to do it at the post office. I'd lift it around, especially at the voting polls so I wonder why practicing our religion.”
again, of course, to vote in elections. Canadian Elections Canada is offering to pay Muslim women to
niqaabis are used to having to do this and it is no big work the polls specifically for our benefit. Sounds like Sakina Bint Erik is an author and publisher. She can
deal.                                                      unnecessary spending to me.                                    be contacted at ■
                                                                                                                                                                      Politicians of all stripes
At least I thought it was no big deal until I heard non-                            And even though I am now given other options that                                 expressed outrage that
Muslims fussing over whether or not we could vote                                   allow me to keep the veil on while still confirming my                            Elections Canada would
with our faces covered. I was amused by the thought                                 identity, including showing two pieces of ID (which                               allow veiled women to vote
that Elections Canada would concern itself so strongly                              show my face, by the way), I think it is much simpler                             without showing their faces.
with an issue affecting a fraction of a percentage point                            to just lift the niqaab.                                                          Skeptical commentators
of eligible voters. Besides, as one Muslim leader                                                                                                                     suggested those expressions
pointed out, this issue seemed to “come from                                        Allah has made Islam easy and the Canadian niqaabi                                of shock were really meant to
nowhere.”                                                                           does not object to lifting her veil for secular reasons.                          impress some Québec voters
                                                                                                                                                                      as they headed into key by-
                                                                                    From a religious standpoint, according to the majority
                                                                                                                                                                      elections last month.
Even though some claim this is all about equality, as                               of Islamic scholars, women are not even permitted to
suggested by William Christian, a political science                                 cover their faces during two major acts of worship: the                            Photo Credit:
professor at the University of Guelph who recently                                  daily prayers and the pilgrimage to Makkah. It is just                             photographicindex.files.wordpr
wrote about those historically barred from voting, I                                that some women prefer to conceal their faces in                         

Canada’s immigrant students outshine in mathematics
Dr. Chiraz Guessaier
                                                                                    The context                                                 Commonly, second-generation students perform
A recent international report reveals that Canadian                                                                                             better than students who go through a new
students with an immigrant background are among                                     These findings are significant because children of          education system, a new culture and a new
the best in the world in mathematics.                                               immigrants will become increasingly vital to the            language. Although this is still true—Canadian
                                                                                    Canadian economy and society. Statistics Canada’s           second-generation students performed
The report findings                                                                 projections forecast that the fastest growing visible       significantly better than first-generation
                                                                                    minority groups are Arabs and Muslims, with their           students—both first- and second-generation
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and                                      populations more than doubling by 2017. These groups        students in Canada outperformed students in
Development (OECD) studied the math proficiency                                     are younger than the rest of the Canadian population        most other countries, performing at or above level
of immigrant students around the world.                                             and will be crucial to the renewal and replacement of the   2 of the math assessment.
                                                                                    Canadian workforce.
The Education at a Glance 2007 (EAG) report                                         The performance disadvantage that these students            The Program for International Student
highlighted the high achievement in mathematics of                                  usually experience compared to their native                 Assessment (PISA) proficiency scale represents
young first- and second-generation Canadians. This                                  counterparts is in fact insignificant in Canada. For        the baseline levels of mathematics proficiency at
is in contrast to how immigration usually has a                                     example, second-generation 15-year-old Canadian             which students begin to demonstrate skills that
negative impact on young students’ math                                             immigrants outperformed their German peers in math by       enable them to actively use mathematics.
performance; but Canadian immigrant students                                        a positive achievement gap equivalent to almost three       Students who are classified below level 2 may
perform well.                                                                       school years.                                               then face considerable challenges in terms of
                                                                                                                                                their labour market and earnings prospects. The
                                                                                                                                                comparatively positive situation of students with
                                                                                                                                                an immigrant background in Canada may, in part,
                                   ELTOC                                                                                                        be a result of selective immigration policies
       English Language Tutoring for the Ottawa Community
                                                                                                                                                resulting in immigrant populations with greater
                   Help break the isolation & build a stronger community.                                                                       wealth and education.
   Volunteer to teach English to adult newcomers in their homes who cannot go to class
                   because of health, childcare or busy work schedules.
                             Teaching experience not essential.                                                                                 Therefore, the student immigrant population
              Tutor training, ongoing support & teaching materials provided.                                                                    remains greatly affected by the educational and
          Visit or call (613) 232-8566                                                                                             socio-economic environment in which they find
   Volunteers should be able to commit to 2 hrs a week for 6 months                                                                             themselves. Students coming from well-off and
                                                                                                                                                educated families have better chances at higher
                                                                                                                                                math and educational achievement than students
                                                                                                                                                that come from low-income, uneducated

                                                                                                                                                Dr. Chiraz Guessaier is a research analyst at the
                                                                                                                                                   Canadian Council on Learning in Ottawa.■

                                                                                                                                                Native students: students with at least
                                                                                                                                                one parent born in the country of
                                                                                                                                                First-generation students: students
                                                                                                                                                born outside the country of residence
                                                                                                                                                with parents who are also foreign-born.
                                                                                                                                                Second-generation students: students
                                                                                                                                                born in the country of residence with
                                                                                                                                                foreign-born parents.
NATIONAL                                                                                               Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 5
Montreal Notebook:
Quebec Council on the Status of Women is wrong
Yahya Abdul Rahman                                    Council on the Status of Women's proposals are                other people of faith and generate a lot of resentment
                                                      adopted, the rights of Canadians to publicly express          and bitterness. Furthermore, it will create intolerable
It is infuriating.                                    and practice their faith will be eroded.                      conditions which lead to social unrest.

No wait, Muslims are not permitted to be infuriated   Many Muslims have come to this country to find a              Religious freedom, regardless of one's background or
- even though we are arrested and detained on         better life where they can freely practice their faith        convictions, is something that all Canadians must be
secret evidence, even though we are shipped to        without harassment.                                           vigilant in defending.
other countries to face torture, even though we
are racially profiled and scrutinized.                They cannot always do that back in their own                  With a single voice, we should all reject this ill-advised
                                                      countries due to anti-Islamic oppressive regimes. But         proposal.
We are expected to take it all with a smiling face,   now they are once again confronted with the prospect
heard only during election time, and soon             of falling right back into what they have fled in the first               Yahya Abdul Rahman is the
forgotten after that.                                 place.                                                                 Editor of Montreal Muslim News.
                                                                                                                     He can be reached at montrealnews ■
And now another outrage has surfaced, this time       If adopted, this policy will further alienate Muslims and
from the Quebec Council on the Status of Women,
who want the Government of Quebec to adopt a
policy banning hijabs, yarmulkas and other visible
religious symbols in the workplace, suddenly
deemed offensive.

What kind of message would be sent out to other
employers if the government were to publicly
adopt a policy of discrimination in its hiring
practices based upon religious attire?

It would give employers a license to deny fully
qualified people the opportunity of employment
and force them to choose between their faith and
the need to earn a living.

People of faith, like all other Canadians, get up
every morning and go to work. They pay taxes
and contribute to the well-being of society. Their
communities are fraught with the same problems
as all other communities. But now, if the Quebec
Page 6 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link                                                                                     INTERNATIONAL / HAJJ SPECIAL

Choosing wisely: Tips for would-be pilgrims                                                                            Trip of a lifetime
Staff Writer                                                  buffets, etc.? If you have specific dietary requests,
                                                              can they be accommodated?
                                                                                                                       for graduating
Remember that most Hajj organizers are businesses
aiming for profit. Their goal should be to facilitate the   • Ask about the ratio of staff to pilgrims. Find out       class
pilgrimage to Mecca for the sake of Allah (Glory to           whether any scholars or guides will be with the
Him in the Highest), but they also want to be strong          group. What about a doctor or nurse? Will one be         Mohamed Sheikh Ahmed Dalmar
enough financially to continue providing the service.         traveling with the group, and what is her or her level
As a consumer, it is up to you to do                                                of experience?                     Since 2004, the Ottawa Islamic School has taken
your research and ensure that you                                                                                      its grade 12 graduating students to Mecca for
get a good and reliable deal.                                                      • Inquire about the group           umrah, as a complimentary gift for their hard work.
                                                                                   organizer or director. Is he        This past summer, 19 students took part.
• As with any large purchase, shop                                                 trustworthy? Is he known
  around and compare offers before                                                 among the community? Find           The school’s mission is encapsulated in these
  making your choice. Don’t get                                                    at least five to 10 people who      trips: strengthening students’ Islamic knowledge
  rushed into a decision by                                                        have travelled with the group       and practice while empowering them to realize
  organizers that say you will lose                                                and then discuss any                their     full
  your spot if you don’t act quickly.                                              concerns they raise with the        academic
                                                                                   operator.                           potential.
• Get all the details. For example,                                                                                    As       God
  don’t just take the organizers’                                              • Confirm whether the                   says in the
  word that you will have a five-star                                          company you are dealing with            Quran: “But
  hotel. Instead ask for the specific                                          is a registered hajj operator           seek, with
  name of the hotel and make sure                                              with the Ministry of Hajj, or if        t h a t
  you confirm the dates of stay.                                               they are a “reseller,” buying           (wealth)
  Confirm even the smallest matter.                                            packages from registered                which Allah
                                                                               companies and then re-selling           h      a    s
                                                                 Photo Credit:
• Verify the itinerary of the program   South Bay Islamic Association website
                                                                               them to pilgrims at a higher            bestowed
  clearly and verify where you will                                            price. If they are a reseller, ask      on you, the                              Photo Credit:
  be departing from. Do you go to Medina before or        how they plan to obtain visas, as sometimes                  home of the       courtesy of the Ottawa Islamic School
  after and are you departing from Jeddah or Medina?      resellers promise them and then fail to deliver.             hereafter,
  Ask them to provide you with the timeframe. Find                                                                     and forget Ottawa Islamic School Principal
  out if organizer(s) will accompany the group • Find out whether the flights are confirmed and                        not      your Mohamed Sheikh Ahmed Dalmar led the
  throughout each leg of the trip.                        whether the dates are firm or flexible.                      portion    of 2006-2007 high school grads on a trip to
                                                                                                                                      Mecca and Medina this past summer.
                                                                                                                       l a w f u l
• Ask about the transportation provided in the cities       • Several players are often involved in a hajj trip:       enjoyment
  (government buses or luxury buses?) And how do              travel agent (flight bookings), hajj group               in this world; and do good as Allah has been good
  they plan to get you from Mecca to Jeddah and               (coordination of programs), Saudi government             to you, and seek not mischief in the land” (28:77).
  back?                                                       (visas, permission for buses), and so on. Find out
                                                              from the group what they actually have control over,     These pilgrims did work for both worlds during
• Find out whether food is offered in your program            and what they can do to ensure you will get what         their umrah (minor pilgrimage). They spent 11
  and what type of food it is. Is it boxed lunches, hotel     you have paid for.■                                      days praying, remembering God, learning about
                                                                                                                       the elements of umrah and reciting Quran. But
                                                                                                                       they were thinking about their futures in this world,
                                                                                                                       too, as nine of them went to inquire about their
                                                                                                                       chances of getting accepted to Al Jamia Al
                                                                                                                       Islamiah, a renowned Islamic institute. They left
                                                                                                                       with the necessary information to apply once back

                                                                                                                       The school has already built a reputation with
                                                                                                                       Ontario universities as an institution that produces
                                                                                                                       candidates with high chances of success at the
                                                                                                                       post-secondary level and beyond. The first group
                                                                                                                       to graduate, in June 2004, is now in its final year of
                                                                                                                       bachelor programs. Most of those students were
                                                                                                                       awarded scholarships at the outset of their
                                                                                                                       academic careers, and continue to maintain high
                                                                                                                       marks. The current grads are following in their
                                                                                                                       footsteps, with 83 per cent of them recognized as
                                                                                                                       Ontario scholars (with overall grades of 80 per
                                                                                                                       cent or higher). They are starting their first year in

                                                                                                                       Not only is the Ottawa Islamic School popular
                                                                                                                       within the Muslim community, but staff at the
                                                                                                                       faculties of education of Ottawa University and
                                                                                                                       Queen’s University commended the teacher
                                                                                                                       trainees who study at their institutions.
                                                                                                                       Partnerships between the two universities and the
                                                                                                                       school are only expected to strengthen as more
                                                                                                                       and more of the school’s teachers seek out
                                                                                                                       certification. The teachers are the backbone of this
                                                                                                                       school. To them we say: “May Allah make your
                                                                                                                       good deeds intercede on your behalf long after
                                                                                                                       you have left this world.”

                                                                                                                       As for the students who circled the Kabah this
                                                                                                                       summer, rejoice in your quest for the best of both
                                                                                                                       worlds: this one and that of the hereafter.

                                                                                                                       Mohamed Sheikh Ahmed Dalmar is the principal of
                                                                                                                          Ottawa Islamic School. He can be reached
                                                                                                                             at ■
Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 7
Page 8 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link                                                                                                               INTERNATIONAL

King reigns in Morocco despite moves towards democracy
Saadia Benmakhlouf
                                                                                                                        would then ask the following question: are these
Polls worldwide predicted the victory of the Islam-                                                                     elections necessary? Do they even matter to
inspired Justice and Development Party in last                                                                          Moroccans? The answer resides partly in the 63 per
month’s parliamentary elections in Morocco, though                                                                      cent abstention rate of citizens, who are choosing
many in the international arena – typically suspicious                                                                  not to exercise their civil right. This number could be
of Islamic parties – weren’t hoping for it. Besides, the                                                                interpreted as a rejection of the current state of
King had already rejected that sort of outcome in                                                                       affairs.
2002 when he completely banned a similarly inspired
party from taking part in politics.                                                                                     Some commentators say these elections are a
                                                                                                                        positive step towards democracy because they were
This time, he didn’t have to intervene. The secular                                                                     transparent. Others say that these elections were
Independence Party (Istiqlal) ended up winning the                                                                      merely a strategy of seduction meant to please the
most seats and at age 67, Abbas El Fassi became                                                                         West and prove the success of the ongoing
the new prime minister of Morocco. Morocco has not                                                                      “democratization” of the Middle East. These raise
gone the way of Turkey.                                                                                                 another question:
                                                                                                                        Is this an illusory
It was the second time that King Mohammed VI's                                                                          democracy or the
subjects went to the polls during his reign. Sixty one                                                                  beginning of a
million dollars was allocated by the Moroccan                                                                           true shift towards
government to organize this year’s elections, where                                                                     representative
a total of 33 parties and 13 independent candidates                                                                     politics? ■
were competing for power. Yet, the complexity of the
Moroccan political system makes it almost
                                                                                                     Photo Credit:
impossible for any party to obtain the outright                         
majority. Hence, the winner must create coalitions
and work with other candidates of diverse parties to       Abbas El Fassi became Morocco’s third prime minister
constitute a new government.                               after his secular party won the largest number of seats in
Nourredine Ayouch, president of Daba 2007, an              Morocco’s parliament in September.
organization that aimed to mobilize Moroccans                                                                             The Muslim
during the campaign, criticizes this political system      political leader, the executive head of state, the           Link archives at
by invoking a lack of ideology. “People don’t even         religious leader and the military chief. Considering
know where the right and the left [are]. The               the complexity of the system, the existence of all 
landmarks are blurred and no one can [presume] to          these parties and the power the king has, some
say he is conservative today. As a result, all the
parties pretend to be liberal.”                                 This Publication was made possible by the advertisers.
                                                                                Call or visit one today!
Moreover, politics in Morocco take place in a
framework of a parliamentary constitutional                    For advertising space please contact
monarchy, whereby the king is granted all powers by
the constitution and the prime minister is the head of
government. It is also a multi-party system.
Ultimately, whatever the outcome, real power resides
in the hands of the monarch, who is after all the
IN FOCUS/ OP-ED / LETTERS                                                                            Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 9
                  In Focus                             Speak up – but do it right!
A revert’s                                             Aisha Sherazi
perspective on                                         Writing was not my life's ambition. Nor was it even
                                                                                                                 3. "Muslims are only interested in specific
                                                                                                                    topics.” That basically means Muslims are only
gender roles in                                        planned. But I started writing for one reason: When I
                                                       see what is printed and shown in the media about
                                                                                                                    interested in…Muslims. We need to start seeing
                                                                                                                    ourselves as part of the solution and not part of
                                                       Muslims, I don't see myself or anyone I know being           the problem. We have something valuable to offer
Waseem Poeme Carl-Henry Manigat                        represented. How can this be, given that Muslims             and we can and should contribute to any
                                                       appear daily in the news?                                    debate. We should be involved in a variety of
Since converting to Islam, I’ve always dreamt of                                                                    issues affecting the broader community, not only
visiting a Muslim country. I had heard many            Well, to be frank, I have learned that it is not a           our own. If you want to test yourself on this, ask
amazing things about them and that they were           conspiracy against us. When I have taken the time to         yourself whether you paid much attention to the
particularly wonderful to visit during Ramadan and     meet with editors and ask why our voices seem muted,         recent Ontario elections – did you know about the
Eid. I got the impression from other Muslims that it   I am told the following:                                     candidates running in your area? Were you aware
was simply impossible to recreate the same kind                                                                     of the promises being made? If not, there is a
of environments and feelings here in North             1. "Muslims are too emotional.” We see or hear               problem. It can be resolved by reading more about
America.                                                  something that disturbs us and we react irrationally      the issues affecting the community at large.
                                                          instead of dealing with it calmly. Or we simply vent
                     Finally, last summer, Allah          our frustrations. That doesn’t add anything            By the way, our own community doesn’t always have
                     gave me an opportunity to            constructive to a debate that our viewpoints could     to agree on an issue as there will certainly be
                     live my dream. I spent twelve        otherwise enrich. When you want to write a letter      differences of opinion amongst us. But that doesn't
                     days in Pakistan and one             to the editor of a paper, or discuss an issue with     mean we shouldn't offer our ideas or
                     day in the United Arab               someone, take a deep breath, say “Bismillah” (in       suggestions. The discussion alone will be of value,
                     Emirates. It was also an             the name of God), think, and think again. Consult      God willing. Besides, if we consult each other and hold
                     opportunity for me to see            others who can offer a detached view.                  friendly debates, we may even achieve some unity.
                     first-hand how women are
                     treated in Muslim countries.      2. "The language is not always up to par.” That           The first word revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace
                                                          means the grammar is sometimes awful. Once             be upon him, was “Read!” And it is God who taught us
                      Before arriving, my vision of       you have overcome the emotion, ask a friend or         the use of the pen. Are we using these blessings to
                      what the society would be           two to edit what you have written to make sure that    their fullest potential?
        Photo Credit:
                      like was utopian. I imagined        it reads well and is grammatically
                      myself walking towards the          correct. Remember, you should also think of the         Aisha Sherazi writes for the Ottawa Citizen. Visit her
mosque five times a day with the rest of the              audience. Ask yourself, what kind of language or       blog at:
nation. Yet what I experienced was far from this.         style does the paper usually adopt? You don't                    blogs/outsidethebox/default.aspx ■
Nevertheless, I have priceless memories such as           need to use long fancy words; I usually don’t in my
praying in the largest congregational prayer of my        writing. I try to get the point across by keeping it
life. Tears came to my eyes as I prostrated to God        simple.
on the beautiful marble floors of Faisal Mosque in
Islamabad.                                                    Write to us.. Your thoughts.. Comments.. Criticisms.. Compliments.
While running errands for a family wedding, I                                Send your letters to
asked a young man what work women do during

the wedding preparations. His response was
telling. He said: “They do nothing. They have fun
and get ready and we do the work and get them
what they want!” At first I thought he was joking,     Dear Editor,                                              Dear Editor,
but when I paused and looked around, I realized
that he was absolutely right. That is one of the       I just wanted to say jazaakum Allaahu khayraa (may        Just wanted to drop an email congratulating you and
great things I saw in the upper-middle-class           God reward you) to the Muslim Link team for all of the    your staff on a wonderful edition of the Muslim Link.
families of Islamabad – a real care for their          hard work you have been putting into producing the        The September issue was very informative and so
womenfolk.                                             monthly paper. It has been a pleasure to read and         professional, masha’ Allah. I am so glad that you are
                                                       there is loads of newsworthy content in every issue.      "back in business," so to speak. Ottawa greatly needs
In fact, I noticed a general awareness of the                                                                    your newspaper.
comforts that women are entitled to, whether at a      In August, there was an article about scholarships
bank, in the marketplace or on the streets. Not        available for Muslims attending Canadian universities,    Keep it up!
once did I witness a man enjoying his seat at the      which brought the Imam Tawfiq Shaheen scholarship
expense of women left standing. I felt that women      to my attention. The article led me to apply for the      Krystal Gebara
were given the same attention and care that we in      award, and alhamdulillah (all praise is due to God) I
the West give young children.                          was awarded two thousand dollars. So thank you
                                                       Muslim Link for linking our community!
Another observation came from the textile
industry. I was fascinated to see that only men        M. Abdallah
were expert in women’s fabric and stitching. I was
told that women did not work in the marketplaces
of Pakistan. Their security and protection is more
difficult to ensure than if they are working in an
office environment.

I know my experience may not be a true
representation of Pakistani society. I interacted
with only a small portion of the communities that
make up Pakistan. But this experience has made
me want to explore other Muslim countries so I
can discover how Islam is manifested in different
cultures. It also made me appreciate the diversity
that we have here in North America, where I feel
we have less pressure to conform to a common
culture. The beauty of it is that Islam gives us
specific guidelines regarding gender roles, but we
implement them differently: many means to the
same end.

  *Part I appeared in our August issue, available
           online at ■
Page 10 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link
11 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link   Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 11
Page 12 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link                                                                                                                    LIFE / LEISURE

How to cope with a pregnancy gone wrong                                                                                    First-generation
Staff Writer                                                speak on the mother’s behalf when she cannot. Prior to
                                                            induction, ask her for her input. Speak to the medical         perspective: Our
Stillbirths are an emotional subject. It is also often
the last thing expected in what would otherwise be a
                                                            staff present, stating her requests. Also ask that they
                                                            discuss any procedures with the mother before                  kids as presenters
                                                                                                                           of Islam
low-risk pregnancy. Yet statistics for stillbirths in the   commencing, to minimize the emotional scars of
US place them at 1 out of about 150 births, with 70         invasive procedures. Ask for a room as far away as
stillbirths delivered daily. It is seven times as           possible from other mothers so that she does not have
common as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).              to hear the cries of babies that have just been born.
                                                                                                                           Nariman Nasef
Causes of stillbirths                                                               Bring up the option of pain
include bacterial or viral                                                          management. Discuss                    Being born a Muslim in a Muslim-dominated
infections, birth defects                                                           holding the baby after                 country does, without doubt, shield one from the
and genetic disorders,                                                              delivery. Sadly, possibly due          diverse experiences our kids encounter in Canada
placental     problems,                                                             to cultural stigmas, many              as second-generation Canadians.
umbilical cord knots,                                                               mothers are not given the
twists or compressions                                                              option of holding their child.         As a young kid, I recall that we didn't have much
and intrauterine growth                                                             At a time of deep grief and            information nor enough contact with people from
restriction. One in four                                                            trauma, this may offer them            other religions. We also rarely met converts to
stillbirths      remain                                                             the greatest comfort: to see           Islam. It was something rarely even heard of.
unexplained.                                                                        the child that had once
                                                                                    kicked inside them. As one             That’s why I appreciate living in Canada because I
For Muslims, from the                                                               mother says, "When I looked            meet people from different and various religions all
time the soul is blown into                                           Photo Credit: at my child, the verse of the          the time. It can be tough, though, to have to
the fetus, at around four Quran: ‘Our Lord, grant us             answer questions that you never thought you
months, the fetus is                                                                from our spouses and our               would ever have to respond to. Back home, being
regarded as a child and In the US, October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss        offspring, such that will be           a Muslim was a fact that was never challenged – a
                            awareness day (
those that lose a child to                                                          the coolness of our eyes,’             person who did challenge it would be met with all
stillbirth are regarded as parents and are awarded        came to my mind. Holding my child gave me peace                  sorts of strange looks and sometimes even
the status as such.                                       and comfort."                                                    resentment.

When a stillbirth happens                                   Consoling the bereaved
Mothers may go into labour naturally, or they may           We all struggle with finding the right words to say, but
be offered the option of having labour induced,             there are no words that can rectify the situation or
which is generally the preferred choice.                    remove grief. Instead, just be there: at a time of pain
                                                            and crisis, the bereaved parents need warmth and
At this stage, it is often difficult for the mother to      care.
make decisions. If a close friend or relative is in a
position to do so, it is wise to have an advocate to        Ask about the baby's name and don’t be afraid to
                                                            speak about the baby. Using the baby's name
                                                            acknowledges that their child lived and existed and that
                                                            they are parents. All mothers speak constantly about                             Photo Credit:
                                                            their children, and mothers of stillbirths are no different.
                                                                                                                           Muslim children growing up in the West will be asked
                                                            Take your cues from the parents. At the same time, it          all about Islam by others. It is their opportunity to share
                                                            may be best to avoid speaking about the cause of the           the true teachings of the faith with their classmates,
                                                            stillbirth, which may be an emotional subject, especially      teachers, friends and neighbours.
                                                            since one quarter of stillbirths are unexplained.
                                                                                                                           Here, though, one has to answer questions like
                                                            Many bereaved parents are told not to cry, as if crying        “why do women pray behind men?” or “what
                                                            is contrary to exercising patience. Tears are a built-in       proves that the Quran is from God?” I had to
                                                            response that unblocks the numbness that can set in            answer those questions when I started my first job
                                                            and releases bottled-up emotions; they are a part of           in Canada, and I had to answer them in English as
                                                            the grieving process. We need to remember the                  eloquently as possible.
                                                            example of our Prophet, who lost all but one of his
                                                            children during his lifetime. When asked about the             Luckily, our children who are born and raised here
                                                            tears he shed at the loss of his grandson, he said:            have a golden opportunity to present Islam to
                                                            "This is the mercy that Allah places in the hearts of his      others, starting in school. In fact, their
                                                            servants."                                                     understanding of the Canadian culture gives them
                                                                                                                           an edge in being able to explain the faith in a
                                                            Later on, while you do not wish to isolate the bereaved        context understandable to the listeners. As our
                                                            parents from social events, allow them the option to           children begin to understand more and more
                                                                                           decline if these events         about their religion, they ask questions similar to
                                                                                           are      focused      on        those they will undoubtedly be asked.
                                                                                           children. ■
                                                                                                                           The first question posed to my daughter was
                                                                                                                           about the hijab. Her friend thought women wear
                                                                                                                           the veil as a fashion accessory. No, explained my
                                                                                                 This Publication          daughter, “this is our way to be modest.” She was
                                                                                                                           so proud to answer this question using her own
                                                                                                was made possible          simple words.
                                                                                                by the advertisers.
                                                                                                                           Our children are constantly thinking and
                                                                                                Call or visit one          questioning everything. They believe in Islam not
                                                                                                                           only because they acquired it by birth, but
                                                                                                     today!                because they understand it and feel the logic in its
                                                                                                                           teachings. And although our children might face
                                                                                                 For advertising           various difficulties practicing Islam in a society
                                                                                               space please contact        whose majority is non-Muslim, by God’s Will, they
                                                                                                                           can contribute by sharing this faith and interacting
                                                                                                                           positively with their communities so that they
                                                                                              become an integral part of the Canadian mosaic.■
LEISURE                                                                                             Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 13
Book Review: In the Name of Honor: A Memoir — By Mukhtar Mai
Reviewed by Sheema Khan                                  Tradition in such cultures has it that an unmarried      Mai has shunned the limelight, and has no immediate
                                                         woman who is raped is expected to maintain family        plans for a book tour. Her last trip to the United States
Her compelling story is one of "Heather's Picks." She    honour by killing herself. Sometimes, in cultures        was fraught with interference from the Pakistani
is a Muslim woman who has suffered terrible violence     where Islam is practiced, a man will kill a female       government. They did not want her airing the matter in
in the name of "tradition." There are few like her who   relative who is alleged to have had a romantic           public. Yet she soldiers on.
have the courage to confront their cultural misogyny.    liaison, to maintain family "honour." Let's be clear –
She has refused to embrace silence and is                any such killing is completely against both the letter   The refusal to address – let alone acknowledge – social
determined to overturn centuries-old attitudes.          and spirit of Islam. And Mai's parents would have        injustices against women will not solve much. These
                                                         none of this.                                            iniquities fester, creating resentment and more social
New York Times columnist                                                                                          ills. Some women abandon their faith, their culture, and
Nicolas Kristof has placed her                           They will not abandon
                                                                            What kept Mai going was her           their history altogether, looking elsewhere for solutions.
in the company of history's                              Islam, nor seek    faith, a keen desire for justice,     However, many, like Mai, find tremendous sustenance
greatest personalities. Gloria                           alliances with those
                                                                            and the support of many good          in their faith. They will not abandon Islam, nor seek
Steinem has lauded her                                   who denigrate theirpeople. Her parents supported         alliances with those who denigrate their core beliefs.
extraordinary character. She                             core beliefs. They her throughout the ordeal.            They believe solutions are found within a rich spiritual
has inspired Muslim women                                believe solutions are
                                                                            Honourable judges and upright         tradition that demands justice between the genders.
who are fed up with the                                  found within a richpolice officials served as a
miserable status quo of their                            spiritual tradition that
                                                                            counterweight to the corruption       As her memoir reminds us, are we as Muslims living up
gender in many Muslim                                    demands         justice
                                                                            and intimidation faced by Mai.        to the egalitarian standard of Islam, or are we clinging
cultures.                                                between the genders.
                                                                            The imam of her village spoke         to customs that are often against the very essence of
                                                                            out in Friday sermons against         the faith? We must stop the stigmatization of rape
Unlike Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she has not rejected Islam, the monstrous act that had been carried out against           victims, and place the shame where it rightfully belongs:
nor made defamatory declarations against Prophet her, in spite of death threats.                                  on the perpetrators of this heinous crime. ■
Mohammad. Instead, she has deepened her Islamic
faith, choosing to tread in the footsteps of the The public outrage prompted the Pakistani                        Sheema Khan writes for the Globe and Mail. A version of this
Prophet. This is the example of Mukhtar Mai.          government to arrest her attackers and provide funds           article first appeared there last May. Ms. Mai’s book is
                                                      to build a school in her village. Mai was determined                     available at the Ottawa Public Library.
Her memoir, In the Name of Honor, was released to combat the enemy: illiteracy. As government funds
earlier this year without much fanfare – in keeping dwindled, she tried to keep the school running from
with Mai's unassuming, self-effacing character. The her own meagre savings. It was clear to her that a
story begins with that horrific afternoon, when Mai child's education was far more valuable than
was gang-raped on the order of a Pakistani village personal wealth.
council. The ruling Mastoi clan had been "offended"
by the alleged actions of Mai's brother; it demanded As her story reached the world, donations poured in.
an apology from her family, who were members of a The Canadian International Development Agency
different clan. She obliged, unaware of the council's and Margaret Huber, Canada's ambassador to
plan to humiliate her clan by raping her and sending Pakistan, were instrumental in providing moral and
her home, debased, in full view of the villagers.     financial support. In her memoir, Mai gratefully
                                                      acknowledges Canada as one of the few nations to
Her initial reaction was to want to end her life. come through in her time of need.
Page 14 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link                                                                                                                     LEISURE

Second-generation perspective – Enriching identities
Sabina Saeed                                          The facts are pretty basic. I’m a Canadian. I’m a Compare this with the following authentic saying of
                                                      Muslim. This isn’t about tradeoffs between one or the the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him:
A few days ago, I was visiting a friend who was       other. It’s about a healthy integration of core values,
having a small get-together at her home. While        which, if one examines them closely, are actually quite "O People! Your God is one; your father is one; there
chatting with the group, I was asked by someone       complementary to one                                                            is no preference of an Arab
where I was from. I always find this question so      another. Take for instance, I believe that I do have a responsibility to neither over non-Arab nor
interesting and slightly confusing. Interesting       the “Equality Rights” detailed
because for many people, I am the first Muslim        in the Canadian Charter of
                                                                                     educate the people around me about who I of a or red over over an
                                                                                                                                      Arab,                black or
they have ever met in Canada, as well as the first    Rights and Freedoms, a           am—my beliefs and my values—and to black over red, except for
Pakistani for that matter. Confusing because my       document that outlines the work to contribute to an overall Canadian the most righteous. Verily
first response is generally Ottawa, until I realize   basic principles of Canadian    culture that thrives on these differences. the most honoured of you
the real purpose of the question is to determine      society:                                                                        are the most righteous."
my “origin.”
                                                        “… Every individual is equal before and under the law       That’s just one example of how I have been blessed
Although I may have been born and raised in           and has the right to the equal protection and equal           to live within a system that is largely in synch with my
Canada and consider myself completely                 benefit of the law without discrimination … based on          religious values. That’s how I see it anyway—as a
Canadian, I do have distinct characteristics and      race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age   Canadian Muslim, of Pakistani origin, living in
beliefs that set me apart from my fellow              or mental or physical disability.”                            Canada.■

But I ask myself: how do those characteristics
mark me? Aren’t I just one component of the
larger Canadian community? After all, I believe in
the human society, where I am just another
individual who has the privilege of living around
so many others of differing backgrounds.

It isn’t enough, though, to recognize the
differences. I believe that I do have a
responsibility to educate the people around me
about who I am—my beliefs and my values—and
to work to contribute to an overall Canadian
culture that thrives on these differences.

My other option, which isn’t much of an option, is
to remain closed and isolated, to the detriment of
Canadian society and to the detriment of my own
personal growth and future here.
SPORTS / BUSINESS                                                                                      Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 15

City of Ottawa                                          Young scholar brings traditional sciences
launches athletics                                      to a new generation     Cordova Academy –
program for                                             Staff Writer
                                                                                                                             Fall semester gets
diverse women                                           What comes to mind when you hear the word
                                                        “Cordova?” The peak of Islamic civilization?
                                                        Knowledge and Islamic scholarship? Religious                   Arabic 001: Beginner course to teach
Raghad Ebied                                            tolerance and pluralism? Ottawa's Cordova Academy              students to read Arabic
                                                        seeks to inspire images of all of these.                       October 20 and 27, 2007
In a bid to provide culturally-sensitive athletics                                                                     This two-day intensive course will take
programs, the City of Ottawa is launching women-        Founded by Imam Mohamad Jebara, a young                        students from zero proficiency in the language
only sports sessions around the city.                   Canadian raised in the nation's capital, the Cordova           to being able to read and write Classical
                                                        Academy has been in operation in an informal                   Arabic.
The program, called “Never Too Late for Sports          capacity since its inception in 1994, and officially since
and Physical Activity,” is an innovative strategy to    2005. It aims to impart the Classical Islamic sciences
introduce sports as a means of increasing physical      to the general public and to train the next generation         Tafsīr (Quranic commentary) course
activity among women in multicultural                   of scholars to serve the Muslim community; in other            Coming soon: November 2007
communities. The project targets those who have         words, “…to honour and emulate the example of                  This weekly course, which will run for one
difficulties accessing mainstream physical activity     historic scholars by providing the highest quality of          year, will introduce students to the basic
programs and services because of religious or           Classical Arabic and Quranic education to an English           components of the science of Tafsīr, such as
cultural considerations. For example, a female          speaking audience.”                                            its definition and scope. It will provide a brief
instructor delivers each session and windows can                                                                       explanation of each Quranic chapter, along
be covered if necessary to provide privacy for the                                                                     with its purpose of revelation. In addition,
participants.                                                                                                          detailed tafsīr of verses related to specific
                                                                                                                       themes in the Qurån such as ‘aqeedah
The program consists of a weekly one-hour                                                                              (creed), events in the life of the Prophet peace
session over five weeks during which a different                                                                       be upon him, dealings between individuals,
sport or type of physical activity is introduced                                                                       and legal rulings, will be presented from
including volleyball, soccer, Frisbee, lawn tennis                                                                     linguistic, historical, spiritual and scientific
and basketball. The focus is on fun, fitness and                                                                       perspectives.
skill building, complemented by relevant
information on nutrition, hydration, proper footwear    Cordova Academy is currently offering classes in
and the benefits of physical activity. The activities   Classical Arabic, Tajwīd (Quranic recitation), Quran           Tajwīd (recitation) course for sisters
are selected based on community feedback.               memorization, Tafsīr (Quranic commentary). In                  Coming soon: November 2007
                                                        addition, courses and lectures on calligraphy, Hadīth          A weekly Tajwīd course, which will run for
Physical activity is shown to improve self-esteem,      Sciences and Islamic History will also soon be offered.        seven months, will cover the basics of
increase energy, reduce fat and promote weight                                                                         pronunciation and articulation of Arabic, rules
control. It is also helps control blood pressure,       Cordova Academy's trademark program is its Tajwīd              of elongation and other basic and intermediate
relieve anxiety and stress, improve sleep, lower        courses, which have taught hundreds of students in             rules of Tajwīd.
blood cholesterol, and promotes social contact.■        the Ottawa area how to read the Quran according to
                                                        the rules of proper Classical Arabic pronunciation and
What: Women-only sports sessions                        articulation. More recently, several of Cordova                Calligraphy workshop
Where: Abraar School Gymnasium*                         Academy's students, who had completed the first                Coming soon: November 2007
When: Wednesdays, starting October 17, for five         stage of the Tajwīd program, began to seriously                This one-day course will teach students a
       weeks                                            memorize the Quran.                                            concise history of Arabic calligraphy and its
Time: 6:30–7:30 p.m.                                                                                                   development over the past 1400 years plus
Cost: $10 for five sessions                             God willing, Cordova’s first female student to                 many hands-on activities for the entire family.
Childcare: provided                                     memorize the Qurān will be completing her
Register: Email or call          memorization this month, and at least four other
          613-580-6744, ext. 15358 and leave            Cordova students are set to complete their
          your email and telephone number.              memorization by the end of the academic year,                   Private tutorial sessions for learning Tajwīd,
          Spaces are limited.                           including one of whom is only seven years old.               memorizing Qur`ān, and learning Arabic grammar
                                                                                                                     are also available for individuals and groups of all
 *Other women-only programs will be held at the         Recent community events have included a one-day                      ages. Ask about group discounts.
Kanata Recreation Centre & R. Byrns Curry Public        workshop held earlier this year called “The Secrets of
 School in Ottawa South. Call or email for details.     Arabic Letters Revealed,” and a community lecture              For more information and online registration for
                                                        about dream interpretation. Last month, Cordova              upcoming courses, visit
                                                        Academy also co-hosted a day-long calligraphy                              or call 613-263-0313.■
                                                        workshop with Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang, a world
                                                        renowned calligraphist.■
Narrated Abu             Hurairah:        Allah's
Messenger said,

“A strong believer is better and
dearer to Allah than a weak one in
all good things. Adhere to that which
is most beneficial for you. Keep
beseeching Allah for help and do not
refrain from it. If you are afflicted in
any way, do not say: ‘If I had taken
this or that step, it would have
resulted into such and such,’ but say
only: ‘Allah so determined and did as
He willed.’ The word ‘if’ opens the
gates of satanic conduct.” (Muslim)
Page 16 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link                                                                        BUSINESS

Hijabs for women on the go
Staff Writer                                             self-trained seamstress. “There was thread
                                                         everywhere . . . That was the hardest part, designing
Welcome to the Queendom.                                 and making the first and second prototypes. After
                                                         that, it was fine.”
In this realm, royalty dons specially made hijabs that
are perfect for a quick game of b-ball. Or, sleigh       So fine that orders for the lightweight hijabs started
rides in the snow.                                       coming in from the US, UK and Europe. Now, on
                                                                         average, her stylized hijabs bring in
And here, anyone can become                                              a steady stream of sales. But she
royalty.                                                                 says she won’t consider herself
                                                                         successful until she can pay out a
Queendom Hijabs is an Ottawa-                                            real salary.
based company started last year to
cater to young women who are                                             For now, she’ll usually ask one or
looking for head scarves that are                                        two local seamstresses to help fill
easy to wear while playing sports.                                       orders that are made on her
A special winter hijab is also                                           website.
available for those who sometimes
need their ears warmed, without                                            And she isn’t just sitting back and
worrying about matching a hat with                                         waiting for those orders to roll in.
their headscarf.                                                           She says she’s always on the look-
                                                                           out for ways to promote her product
The 23-year-old university student                                         whether it is with locally-owned
behind the idea says active women                                          Islamic shops – where graying
have few options when it comes to                                          owners seem taken aback by the
hijab.                                    Photo Credit: Queendom Hijabs unusual style - or among
                                     Queendom Hijabs offers women a mainstream department stores like
“If you have a friend who wants to   variety of lightweight, simple hijabs Walmart and Nordstrom.
buy a sports hijab, where will you   that are easy to use. The one
                                     pictured above is also eco-friendly,
go?” asks the intense young                                                “I’m also talking about getting the
                                     with half of its material coming from
entrepreneur in a phone interview    soy. All of the head coverings are hijabs on the third season of Little
with the Muslim Link. She prefers    made in Ottawa.                       Mosque on the Prairie,” she says
not to publicize her name.                                               with determination.

After realizing a need for simple, pin-less, head        There is no telling what this Queen will do.
coverings, she folded the t-shirt company she had
started and began learning how to sew hijabs.                        To enter the realm, check out
“The first week, my house was a mess!” recalls the
HEART & SOUL                                                                                       Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 17

A new season of scholarship
Raghad Ebied                                              After completing her bachelor’s degree, she married      climate. These days, as a Visiting Scholar at the
                                                         and decided to stay home with her children while          Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s Studies, she is
Dr. Hadeer Abo El Nagah sits by her office window        supporting her husband through his post-graduate          planning to write a book examining the concept of
at Carleton University, overlooking the changing         studies, as well as continue her translation work on a    Islamic feminism and whether or not it ever existed.
leaves of fall as she talks about her new season in      part-time basis. Her desire to learn more and her         She also teaches part-time at the University of
Ottawa.                                                  passion for Islam spurred her to return to Al-Azhar       Ottawa’s women’s studies department.
                                                         ten years later, where she would eventually earn a
But before she can look forward, she reflects on the     doctorate.                                                With five children, a husband and a demanding job,
breeze that brought her here. Years of study at one                                                                Dr. El Nagah says the key to balancing it all is to
of the Islamic world’s most prestigious universities,                                                              involve your children in your pursuits and
Al Azhar, has earned her several degrees in English                                                                achievements so that they understand you are doing
Literature (at the time, the university was renowned
for its English department and translation branch).
                                                         “I felt, ‘How can I waste my                              it because you want to prepare them to do the same
                                                                                                                   when they grow up.
But it was her brush with the works of Islamic
scholars –during compulsory religious classes – that
                                                            time studying anything                                 Having raised her children in the United States for
would change her direction.                                 else?’ So my path was                                  most of their lives, she feels the greatest challenge
                                                                                                                   facing Muslims in North America is in breaking down
“I felt very humbled when reading books of Ibn Al-
Qayim and Ibn Taymiyah, those distinguished
                                                                totally changed.”                                  the barriers between themselves and the society at
scholars who devoted their lives to [the betterment                                                                “When we teach separation from society, we are
of] the lives of Muslims after them,” says Dr. El            - Dr. Hadeer Abo El Nagah, reflecting on the first    developing racial prejudices and growing up in
Nagah.                                                                   time she began to read the works of       cocoons,” she argues. Breaking down barriers does
                                                                                 Traditional Islamic Scholars      not mean that everyone has to agree, but it should at
At 19, after her first month at Al Azhar, she realized                                                             least promote openness and acceptance, she says.
she wanted to devote her life to Islam. “I felt, ‘How
can I waste my time studying anything else?’ So my                                                                 “Dawah (inviting others to Islam) is not something to
path was totally changed,” she recalls now, many                                                                   be taught only at mosques and churches, but the
years later.                                             A new spring arrived when she become a Fulbright          most important dawah that I do is when I go and
                                                         scholar at State University of New York, leaving          watch one of my children’s baseball games with
Perhaps as a visible sign of her re-orientation, she     Egypt’s thick heat behind. She continued to present       other moms and they see me cheering with them.”
would cancel a vacation to the US, opting instead to     Islam at mosques, churches, and libraries.                She may not speak a word about Islam, but by being
use her newly issued passport to perform the                                                                       positive, other women will start to wonder and ask
pilgrimage to Mecca. Soon after, she memorized the       It is this last role that has defined much of her work    about her beliefs. It isn’t that she wants to convert
entire Quran from a teacher whose knowledge could        until now, as she’s published dozens of books and         them, she adds, for that is up to Allah. She says her
be traced back to the Prophet, peace and blessings       articles about Islam including a 10-booklet series that   goal is simply to deliver a positive message about
be upon him, therefore earning her an ijazah*. She       has been translated into numerous languages.              Islam, no matter what the season.
says she was motivated by a firm belief that every
Muslim should study the Quran in some way, every         When her husband was offered a research position          *ijazah – a certificate authorizing one to transmit a subject or text
single day of their life.                                in Ottawa, she too found a way to adapt to the new        of Islamic knowledge■
  - Brought to you by Al-Tilmeedh Publications -
Page 18 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link                                                                                                              HEART & SOUL

                                                                          POINT & COUNTER-POINT
Bring down the barriers in                                                                 The imam responds
communal prayers                                                                           Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salim is imam           they are shabbily dressed" (Abu
                                                                                           at the Islamic Society of Cumberland in     Dawood).
Umm Yezen                                    president of the Fiqh Council of North        Ottawa. In an email to the Muslim Link,     In Ibn Majah, it is reported that a
                                             America, on the topic of barriers. For        he apologizes for the experience            woman dressed and adorned in her
I recently had the opportunity to attend     the full text, go to        described by the sister at taraweeh         finery once entered the mosque while
taraweeh (night prayers) with my                                                           prayers, calling it a “horrible incident”   the Prophet was there. He then
husband and three small children -- no        “Both men and women are allowed to           that he hopes will be addressed once        proclaimed, “O people! Prohibit your
easy task, but well worth the reward,        pray in the mosque in the same                the new mosque in Orleans is built. He      women from showing off in the
God willing! Our mosque in Orleans is        jama`ah (congregational prayer). When         went on to share his views about the        mosque, for verily the people of Bani
under construction, so we prayed at a        men and women are together in the             participation of women in public acts of    Israeel were not cursed until their
nearby, somewhat isolated, community         masjid then we should have first men’s        worship. The following is an edited         women started to wear beautiful
centre.                                      lines behind the imam, then children          version of his counterpoint.                garments and show off inside the
                                             and then women. This is the way                                                           [place of worship]."
Upon entering the centre with my             Muslims used to pray behind the               The meaning of Hijab
family, I was immediately told to leave      Prophet (peace and blessings be upon          Hijab is the Islamic practice of 2) Perfume was forbidden. Prophet
and go through the “women’s                  him). He did not make or ask his              separating the sexes. Every act Muhammed said: "Any woman who
entrance,” out back. It was dark             Companions to have a curtain or wall          undertaken to separate men from applies perfume and passes by a
outside, and dimly-lit, so it seemed         between the lines of men and women            women is an act of hijab. Thus, when a g a t h e r i n g     is     like        an
logical that I take safe measures and        (See Al-Sindi’s Commentary on Sunan           man lowers his gaze to avoid looking at adulteress" (Tirmizhi).
not wander around in the darkness            An-Nasa’i, p. 798).                           an unveiled woman, he is observing
                                                                                           the order of hijab. Similarly, when a 3) When women emerged in those
                                  The quality and availability of prayer space for         strange man comes into the home, and days, they were thoroughly concealed
                                  women has long been a sore spot within modern-           the     women                                                      in their jilbabs
                                  day Muslim communities. In Canada, it was even           s e c l u d e       "Do not prevent your womenfolk ( o u t e r
                                  the subject of a documentary called “Me and the          themselves                                                         coverings),
                                  Mosque,” available at the Ottawa Public Library.         from him, they from the mosque, but their homes which were
                                           Photo Credit: up-         too,        a r e are best for them." (Sahih Muslim) l a r g e
                                      loads/307/160/3fb24c9d68ef4_Lily_Munir3.jpg          observing                                                          garments or
                                                                                           hijab. So it applies to both men and sheets of unattractive colour. Aishah,
                                                                                           women, in different degrees, due to the may God be pleased with her, relates:
looking for the door when I was              “According to the Shari`ah, it is not         differences in their physical features.  "After the Prophet had [performed] the
already inside the building. But the         required to have a partition, neither of                                               morning prayers, the women would
brothers insisted I leave, so I did. My      [a] temporary nor of [a] permanent            Women's worship at the mosque            return thoroughly wrapped in their
husband held on to the children so           nature, between men and women in              There is no denying the fact that during sheets. So thoroughly were they
they wouldn’t have to brave the              the masjid. In the time of the Prophet        the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace wrapped that they could not be
darkness with me. One brother was            (peace and blessings be upon him)             and blessings be upon him, women distinguished from the darkness (the
kind enough to show me the way. As           there was no curtain or partition in his      were allowed to frequent mosques for cloth presumably being black as the
we walked, I thought to myself, how          masjid, although women used to come           salat (prayers). However, this darkness)" (Sahih Bukhari).
odd it is that I have to be escorted by a    to the masjid almost for every prayer         permission was accompanied by a
male stranger to a “women’s entrance”        and for many other gatherings. . .            number of strict conditions.             4) A narration found in Bukhari shows
because I am not allowed to enter                                                                                                   that women at the time of the Prophet
through the main door despite being          “Jama`ah means a congregation of              But first, one must understand that would leave immediately after the
completely covered and accompanied           people who are praying behind one             Islam does not impose prayers in compulsory prayer, while the Prophet
by my husband. This didn’t make              Imam in continuous lines without any          congregation on women whether for and the men would remain seated, to
sense to me.                                 barrier or interruption. . . .                Friday prayers, Eid, or taraweeh. There prevent any chance of intermingling.
                                                                                           is not a single compulsory act of
When I arrived through the entrance at       “The definition of jama`ah that is given      worship connected with the mosque for 5) Mixing was prohibited even outside
the rear of the building, instead of         above is a general one and it is              women.                                   the mosque. In a narration in Abu
finding the large gathering of Muslims,      applicable to both men and women.             In fact, time and time again, Prophet Dawood, the Prophet is reported to
I was greeted by a wall or “partition” to    Only in the case of necessity this rule       Muhammad, peace and blessings be have told women who had come close
separate the men from the women. I           can be relaxed. For example, if the           upon him, encouraged women to pray to the men: “O women move back!
must say I was disappointed again.           masjid was too small and people had           at home:                                 Verily it is not permissible for you to
What is the reason for this wall? Is this    to pray on different levels or in different                                            spread in the road. The edges of the
to discourage women from praying at          rooms to accommodate every person             "The salat of a woman in her bedroom road are compulsory on you." The
the masjid (mosque) by trying to             then this would be permissible because        is better than her salat in another room companion narrating this tradition said,
isolate them, first by making it difficult   of necessity. Muslims should not              of her house, and her salat in the "As a result, the women would walk so
for them to enter the place of worship       deliberately and for no reason bifurcate      innermost recess of her home is better close to the sides that their clothing
and then by cutting them off from the        their congregation in their masajid           than her salat in her room" (Abu would brush against the walls of the
rest of the worshippers? Isn’t Islam         (mosques).                                    Dawood).                                 houses.”
about equality and rights? What is the                                                     "Do not prevent your womenfolk from
reason for wearing my hijab? Is it not       “If there is a concern that the lines of      the mosque, but their homes are best These conditions are impossible to
so that I will not be a distraction? Is a    men and women will mix inside the             for them" (Sahih Muslim).                implement these days for many
woman’s mere presence a distraction?         masajid, then there is no harm in                                                      reasons. Even the leaders who led the
I decided to conduct a bit of research       putting a lower barrier, only to              For women who still wanted to attend Muslims after the Prophet accepted the
to shed some light on this issue. My         demarcate the separate area for               the prayers at the mosque, the Prophet difficulty in enforcing them. They did
hope is that by visiting this topic, we      women. But women should not be put            laid down certain conditions:            not therefore concern themselves with
might make our own community a               in a totally separate room in the             1) Attractive garments were forbidden. remedial measures. On the contrary,
more inclusive and welcoming one and         masajid unless there is a shortage of         Women who came to the mosque were they banned the practice of women
avoid mixing cultural habits with            space and no other proper                     not permitted to don fine and attractive coming to the mosque altogether.
religious observations.                      arrangement can be done for them.”            clothing. It was declared that they had
                                                                                           to dress shabbily and unattractively.    These days, if women feel like joining
Here is an excerpt of what I found.          And Allah Knows Best.■                        Abu Hurairah, may God be pleased the prayers in the mosque, they should
(The following is from a response                                                          with him, relates that the Prophet said adhere to all the conditions which have
given by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi,                                                          ". . . but, they should emerge while been mentioned. At the same time,
                                                                                                                                    everything should be done to uphold
                          Vote Weekly in our Online Polls:                                                                          their modesty, honour and dignity by
                                                                                                                                    protecting them from the gazes of
                                                                                                         strange men. That may include
                                                                                                                                    separate entrances or the like.■
LAST WORD                                                                                                  Shawwal 1428 .::. .::. Page 19

                                                                                                                   Short Story:
 Oct 14 Expo Islamia (Exhibition) - 10am—9pm - R.A. Centre, 2451 Riverside Dr, Ottawa - $5 General Admission        Advice taken, advice refused.
          & Free for Students and children under 12.
                                                                                                                   A Saudi businessman once came from London to see a
 Oct 14 OWMO Multicultural Show, Dinner & Entertainment - 5:30pm - St. Elias Centre Banquet Hall, 750              learned old sheikh in Mecca, Abu Yusuf Muhammad al-
          Ridgewood Ave, Ottawa - $35/person. Contact Ilham Abdo 613-228-2603, Nigar Islam 613-592-0739,           Kareem, in order to seek his wisdom and knowledge.
          Nazira Tareen 613-680-0378.                                                                              After addressing the businessman's concerns, the Sheikh
                                                                                                                   asked him:
 Oct 14 Eid Al-Fiter Celebration - Eid Prayer, kids game, bazaar and food - 8am - Civic Centre, 1015 Bank Street
 Oct 15 Expo Islamia - 10am—4pm at City of Ottawa, R.A. Centre, 2451 Riverside Dr, Ottawa - $5 General             "How are your children?"
          Admission & Free for Students and children under 12.
                                                                                                                   "Alhamdulillah! They're doing very well," replied the proud
 Oct 18 Film: Glories of Islamic Art, Part 1; Damascus and the Umayyads, people of the 9th and 10th centuries -    father. "They get top marks in school! They're sure to be
          6:30pm, Ottawa Public Library, 2516 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa—Admission is Free
                                                                                                                   accepted to good universities, and then insha'Allah
 Oct 22 “Rights and Democracy” - Public discussion with Ms Asmaa Jahangir, UN Special Reporteur on                 maybe become doctors or engineers."
          Freedom of Religion or Belief, on the topic of “Religion and Human Rights” - 7:30pm - Alumni
          Auditorium, University Center, University of Ottawa -                                  "And what about their Islamic education? Why don't you
                                                                                                                   send them to an Islamic university, so that they should
 Oct 25 COVE Colloquium, Bridges of Understanding between Islam and the West - 7:30pm—9:30pm - 2017                grow to be knowledgeable and righteous Muslims?"
          Duton Tower, Carleton University - Speaker: Hadeer A. Nagah
 Oct 27 MAC Give—Snowsuit Fund - 9am—12pm - 225 Donald St., Snowsuit Fund Warehouse and Distribution               "Sheikh, it's a different world today, in the modern world.
          Centre -                                                                            The neighborhood I live in, their friends—it just wouldn’t
                                                                                                                   be right."
  Home Made Saveeyan (Sweet Vermicelli)
                                                                                                                   "Islam applies to all times and places," insisted the
Ingredients:                                                                                                       Sheikh. "The life of this world is no different. You can and
   • 25 grams vermicelli noodles                                                                                   must give your children an Islamic education!"
   • 1 tbsp each of chopped almonds & pistachios
                                                                                                                   But the businessman would not agree. The Sheikh
   • 1 cardamom pod (Ilachi)
                                                                                                                   argued, coaxed and reproached; still the visitor remained
   • 1/4 can condensed milk                                                                                        steadfast in his refusal.
   • 1/4 litre whole milk
   • 1 tbsp butter                                                                                                 "I don't understand," the Sheikh finally said. "Neither I nor
                                                                                                                   my teachers have ever engaged in business. Yet you
Method:                                                                                                            came all the way from England to seek my advice on your
  1. Heat butter in a pan and fry vermicelli until light brown.                                                    most important business decisions. On the other hand,
  2. In a separate pot, bring milk to a boil and add condensed milk, fried vermicelli and                          regarding the education of your children—the field to
    cardamom pod.                                                                                                  which I and my teachers have devoted our entire lives—
  3. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Top with your choice of nuts.                                             you won't accept my advice!"
  4. Serve hot or cold.     Enjoy!                                                                                                     —written by Nuh ibn Zbigniew Gondek

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