October 2007 - Shawwal 1428 www.MuslimLink.ca Volume 5 ~ Issue 4
Islam to the
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
offering Canadian researchers grants
of up to $5,000 as an added incentive
Muslims where they are welcome
regardless of their age, background,
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 www.islamichistorymonth.com ■ “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
Photo Credit: Montreal Muslim News
Dr. George Sawa at Ottawa’s City Hall, playing the qanoun, a stringed instrument from the
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 email@example.com ■
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 www.alfitrah.org ■ “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
www.muslimlink.ca | firstname.lastname@example.org 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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Volunteer Writers & Editors: firstname.lastname@example.org content and advertisements cannot be reproduced in any form without the permission of the Muslim Link..
NEWS Shawwal 1428 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. 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
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
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 email@example.com (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. ■
If you are
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 firstname.lastname@example.org ■
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 ess.com/2007/05/niqab.jpg
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.
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 www.eltoc.ca 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
NATIONAL Shawwal 1428 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. Page 5
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 @gmail.com ■
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
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?
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
• 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
• 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 email@example.com ■
Shawwal 1428 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. Page 7
Page 8 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link INTERNATIONAL
King reigns in Morocco despite moves towards democracy
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
impossible for any party to obtain the outright http://www.maroc-hebdo.press.ma
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 www.muslimlink.ca
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. 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?
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: http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/
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 email@example.com
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
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
*Part I appeared in our August issue, available
online at www.muslimlink.ca ■
Page 10 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link
11 .::. October 2007 .::. Muslim Link Shawwal 1428 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. 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
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.
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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Baby_in_ultrasound.jpg 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 (http://www.octorber15th.com/).
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: www.islamfortoday.com
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.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org become an integral part of the Canadian mosaic.■
LEISURE Shawwal 1428 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. 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."
“… 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 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. 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 Raghad.Ebied@ottawa.ca 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 www.cordovaacademy.com
Academy also co-hosted a day-long calligraphy or call 613-263-0313.■
workshop with Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang, a world
Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah's
“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 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. 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 islamonline.net): 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: http://www.qantara.de 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
www.MuslimLink.ca strange men. That may include
separate entrances or the like.■
LAST WORD Shawwal 1428 .::. www.MuslimLink.ca .::. Page 19
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
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 - email@example.com. "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 - firstname.lastname@example.org. The neighborhood I live in, their friends—it just wouldn’t
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