Tuesday, November 8, 2011

OCTober events

IFT Hosts another annual appreciation dinner

It was bigger and better this year! The annual Islamic Foundation appreciation dinner held at the new and impressive Embassy Convention Centre in Brampton, convened with hundreds of people from the across the beautiful Toronto.

The theme this year according to event coordinator Waris Malik is about athletes and sports people who have excelled despite of their disabilities and other challenges.

Among the usual awardees were the Police, EMS and Firefighters who are recognised yearly for their outstanding contribution towards a safer Toronto. The late Sergeant Russell was honoured, who was recklessly driven over in a police and run away driver dangerous incident earlier this year. His wife was there to accept it.

The sportsmen included a man in wheel chair all the way from Pakistan who is a world champion in table tennis! Many Muslim leagues for basket ball, hockey and baseball were recognised for their many years of yeoman service including the female wing of Islamic Soccer league.

The highlight of the evening, attending by almost 800 people form all divides and echeleons of society was the main speech delivered by Khulsom Abdullah, an American Pakistani who wears the hijab and lifts about 110 kg dead weight! She is a world champion weight lifter and has even challenged the World Association of Weightlifting to ensure the hijab is accepted. Kkulsom is PhD in Chemistry and speaks about her mind in challenging the stereotypes Muslim girls wearing the hijab faces in the field of sports and the accompanying social stigma from Muslim peers. She made us proud and is heading for the Olympics. See www,liftingcovered.com
The cuisine was delicious and the camaraderie was so warm that the celebration of that night will be felt fro along time.

Yusuf Day of Hope apreciation

A boy sits in a wheel chair. His nanny tends to him. He seems jovial and alert. The oxygen-giving machine is obvious. He is happy. The scenario is the dinner held to recognise the work volunteers and parents of Yusuf do every year at the annual picnic  in order to raise awareness on behalf of Sick Kids Hospital Foundation. It was at the TARIC Mosque, as the main coordinator is Imam Imran ally and family. The Foundation, the volunteers and donors were recognised for their outstanding volunteer work and the fact that this little Yusuf is alive and as such many others is something worth celebration. The group has passed the 50,000.00 dollars mark and will be incorporated in the Foundation’s wall of recognition. The boy received his successful surgery some seven years ago and like the many are enjoying the fruits of model medical care system of the world!
However, these hospitals are still usually short of funding for equipment and as such our generous gifts go a far way to help. Presently, Muslims in Scarborough are being called to assist with Birchmount Campus- Scarborough General, to secure a MRI machine going at the cost of 5M. NAMF is fundraising for a boy from Pakistan undertaking a complex heart surgery at Sick Kids. The dinner on Dec 3rd will help costs for the boy, his family, accommodation, medication, travels, etc

Masjid Abu Bakr held its first annual Islamic conference

‘Youths need our guidance and help’, sermonised the lead Imam for Masjid Abu Bakr in Scarboorugh in September, Moulana Kasim Ingar. This was at one the Juma after Ramadan of this newly finished Masjid that has ornate Moorish like designs inside its maidenly built Mosque on Lawrence and Midland Ave. The establishment of a yearly conference where speakers from local and abroad may educate the youths and the general masses about Islam was copied from the Youth Tarbiya program the Islamic Foundation established about 10 years ago. Many of the Scholars death with the theme of Prophet Abraham and his life. Named the Pearl of Paradise, the organisers felt the turn out was reasonable with lots of sisters in the sisters only session and lots of interactions from the youths as Imams from USA, South Africa and UK engaged them. President of the Scarborough Muslim association Sal Hafeejee remarked that it’s an achievement to have all these educated individuals and local youths congregate in one spot on the long weekend.


Imams held dinner at Jaffari Mosque on Thanksgiving evening.

Thanking Allah is deep in our conscience. Imams are no different. It was a grand event at the Jafari mosque in Bayview Ave on last Thanksgiving evening when Imams from the Canadian council of Imams had a grand tour of this impressive museum, mosque, school and gymnasium, housed in the lavish grounds of Jaffari Village in Richmond Hill. It was the statutory monthly meting of the Council and this time Shia and Sunni Imams met for a social, talking about shared issues like the school prayer and chaplaincy as well as to learn from their special guests that night- Dr Barbara Landau and Shahid Aktar- coordinators of the Twinning of Mosques and Synagogues project. This is a learning weekend on Nov 15th to 18th to 20th where Jews and Muslims work on a relationship dialogue and get to know your faith events.

The Council has always been non-sectarian with members from diverse Islamic backgrounds and this reinforces the idea that we have common issues and beliefs in many respects.

Ambition Newspaper honours its writers.

Being recognised for one’s volunteerism means a lot. But not always this is so much done. The hadith states he who doesn’t thank the people has not thanked God!
Among those that received a plaque of recognition is Abdullah Sabre, Habeeb Alli, Mohamed Shokr, Munawwar Merchant, etc.
Among the donors and advertisers and well-wishers were Imam Shaikh Abdulrazack and Imran Ally.
Asma Warsi is the Editor in Chief and publisher and has put in to the first Muslim journal for young Muslims in Canada twenty five years!

Islamic History month celebrated at Noor Cultural centre.

On a rainy evening during October, when most people are sipping hot chocolate and sitting in front of Face Book, many others braved their egos and attended the much educative and socially warm evening at Noor Cultural Centre, Toronto, on October 19th.

The guest speaker was Dr Macdonald from USA, former diplomat, who was invited by Dr Wahida Valiante to talk about his book and now a film in making- Lost History. He visited many countries and world organisations, parliaments and embassies where he has presented his topic since 2007. Lost History present the great story of Muslim Spain, and India- civilizations of Islam that contributed science and arts to the West.
October was declared Islamic History month by the Government of Canada and lots more needs to be done educating the world of this Lost History and the new history that Muslims are making in the West everyday.

Interval house hosts reception

Domestic Violence is a scourge on society. But the victims don’t have to squirm for help and be treated as second class citizens. This city provides amazing facilities for women and their children once the call for help is made and are even schooled and helped all the way to regain their lives through jobs, clothing, housing, stipends, children schools, etc

Interval House is among the many outstanding family-friendly homes that provide emergency shelters. I happen to be a donor and was invited to a reception. There are Muslims victims and staff there. Help and love is needed for these generous and professional management folks at the downtown Victorian-style residence. I presented my recent book on Intimacy to the organisers in hope my tiny contribution will remind these sisters that Islam is love and grants you your dignity and the right for fulfillment despite what the cruel other says. There are approximately 14000 cases reported in Brampton and 25000 in Toronto yearly.

Grace on the hill invites Imam to join prayer

An evening of such silence, prayer and lots of good food greeted attendees of the Grace on the Hill Interfaith service. The church is managed by the Anglican Archdiocese and was built around 1874 in the upscale Forest Hill neighbourhood.
The coordinator Bryan Beauchamp warmly welcomed his guests and even provided a room for the Magrib prayer. Imam Habeeb delivered the end prayer and intercession in the form of sura Fatiha and the an English supplication reminding all that we serve the God Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad prayed to. The evening ended with halal/ kosher food in the parish hall with lots of warm tea and questions on Islam and Judaism from Christian participants. This is a great country!

The Archbishop’s Dinner held at Metro convention centre.

The elegantly dressed gentleman wearing maroon robes, hanging all the way to his feet, and a topee-like cap with a cross necklace, smiling with his guests, as they photo in the foyer of the impressive Metro Convention Center is His Grace, Archbishop Thomas Collins. He is greeting the 1600 attendees from the one million members of his Catholic Archdiocese in Toronto at the 32nd annual dinner. This was starred by a Cardinal in order to have politicians, business people and the clergy sit at the same table and raise awareness of poverty, etc. To date the charity ball has raised 6 millions dollars for various shelters, food banks, and social justice organisations. On the interfaith table were Rabbis, Reverends from other denominations and Imams- all invited by the famous personality in Interfaith circles Father Damian Macpherson. Halal and kosher meals were prepared in advance for the special guests. This is Canada’s largest dinner doing the things of large hearted people for large causes! As the Archbishop said in his key note address that in the Bishops retreat in Rome they avoid the media for a one week and reflect deeper of who they are – they are trained to not be afraid but deepen what you are and deeply care about your faith as in the past people use to love people and use things but now it’s the opposite.

Habitat for Humanity held Faith leaders build

Muslims are receiving interest-free housing at Habitat for Humanity various locations and they just repay the principal for market rated, newly built homes. This is a project of love for humanity, and every year we take pride in volunteering faith leaders to help build those homes. It’s a hard one to crack given the indifference the Muslim community has shown to his initiative. Imam Habeeb has invited other Imams and others to join. The donation is at least 150.00 per volunteer and this year he Noor Cultural centre had representatives building along side Rabbis and Pastors. Imam Slimi had a crew of 25 volunteers earlier before he went on Hajj. When 25% of the recipients are Muslims and when this is near Islamic financing then the response should be greater from Muslims knowing that each recipient must give 500 volunteers hours in order to qualify, says Lina a hijab volunteer and lawyer helping the cameras and hammer that day! She shares the concern Muslim recipients have aired!

Seniors are our treasures

The many issues seniors face are ever present in our minds as the baby boomer population quickly rises. What to do with seniors living alone or even living with others but that have poor travelling and language skills, feel alienated from their culture, etc. Like many, NAMF runs a seniors program every Tuesday at the NAMF location at Midland and Finch Scarborough. Among the activities are presentations from various health and city related agencies, religious education and potluck lunch with many outings. The team recently went to Algoma park North pass Sudbury and enjoyed the fall colours at the Love Inn!

Habeeb Alli recently presented to them the intricacies of Hajj and Qurbani and took their many questions that borders between culture and religion on matters of the same. There is among many cultural senior groups the Indo Caribbean Golden Age that caters for both cultural and religious needs of seniors through their various functions. They too want to ensure Muslims are properly catered for and invited Habeeb Alli to enlighten them on this recently at Agincourt Centre.

Thanks for all you do for our mothers and fathers and we would need the same some day.

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