Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Canadian Council of Imams and Interfaith Involvement.
Habeeb Alli

I was asked recently at a conference on Interfaith hosted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation about the Council of Imams and their Interfaith involvement and challenges.
This was a national conference. The many invitees included a Professor from Montréal University who is the Chair of Islam and Pluralism. Those in attendance were from the widest back grounds of multiculturalism and Interfaith work across Canada.

People were amazed how an organisation without an official budget and secretariat and one that works with volunteer Imams can do so much for the past 20 years!

I explained that apart from training Imams on the Canadian context and answering policy papers for all three layers of the government, while responding to issues on the media, Interfaith work is integral to the Council. As per se we have Dr Imam Abdul Hai as the official Interfaith Director and Dr Mohamed Al Nadvi who sits on the Forces Interfaith Committee with a number of Imams who are permanent members for many Interfaith committees and initiatives.

Among the programs I mentioned are Habitat for Humanity, Canadian Blood Services, Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Organ Donations, One Match Bone Marrow Transplant, MDGs of United Nations, Education on AIDS and HIV, Canadian International Peace Project, World Religions Parliament, National Muslim Christian Dialogue, Opening the Courts, Interfaith trip to Jerusalem and Turkey, Mayor’s Breakfast with Toronto Area Interfaith Council and Meeting with His Holiness Dalai Lama, Twining of Mosques and Synagogues for last four years, Ontario Multi Faith Council and Chaplaincy Services at Prisons, Hospitals and Universities, Interfaith Dialogues on various issues including 911 anniversary services, Muslim Certificate Program discussions with main stream Universities, working with alliance against Poverty and homelessness, school visits to Muslim places of worship, talking on issues with Mosaic at Rogers TV and Vision TV Programs, member of the OIKOS environmental movement, social justice groups like Pro Life, etc. Membership with International Bodies like World Interfaith Council, etc.

I know these are no way close to the immense other projects, programs and events the members of the Council are part of. However, this gives an insight into the involvement and the Canadian context the Council brings to Islam for the better Canada and the relevance of Islam in the 21st Century.

So how shall we cross these challenges and still remain relevant for the next decade is the question of the hour.

Q 9:94 They will present their excuses to you when you return to them. Say thou: "Present no excuses: we shall not believe you: Allah has already informed us of the true state of matters concerning you: It is your actions that Allah and His Messenger will observe: in the end will you be brought back to Him Who knows what is hidden and what is open: then will He show you the truth of all that you did."

ISACR hosts press conference on poverty

Ontario elections are here. But what are the main platforms? For years ISARC-Interfaith Coalition Against poverty has been at Queens park to remind the politicians of their duty to reduce poverty. I attended a press conference where Jews, Christians Muslims stood at the United Church lawns last Thursday morning in downtown Toronto and placed the lawn signs in black and white reminding the world that Poverty Free Ontario is critical whilst voting. All faiths hold the poor dear and have institutions to make poverty history. Imam Hamid Slimi reminded us that it’s the duty of those in power to reduce this disgraceful situation of thousands of poor Ontarians given the wealth of the land. ISARC has been doing lots more outreach since the new Executive Director joined last year- Michael Skaljin. www.isarc.ca

Muslims host Eid dinners for inmates

Eid is not only for the free. Those incarcerated are fortunate in Canada to have great religious accommodations and Eid celebrations are part of that. This year I organised Eid inside some of the intuitions taking in some hot and spicy beef curry and dahlpuri roti, so a sense of diversity celebration could be experienced by the Muslims serving times as well as some of their colleagues. The Keel Half way house and Brampton hallway house have been very grateful for this experience. Father Harry Nigh was very supportive and loving in partaking with the dinner and saying universal grace. The celebration of Eid in the Muslim world includes all neighbours and goes on for days but in Toronto we still have Eid dinners in the mosques for weeks. So this has been so encouraging given the good news that some of the men and women who have accepted Islam in prison are out and doing well with their Islam; finding jobs, going back to school, reunited with their families and enrolling in their community colleges. The challenges of reintegration for inmates are immense and with such community dinners the opportunities to visit them and interact with others is crucial for a safer Canada. Imam Yasin Dwyer is doing also wonderful job in Kingston area organising Eid dinners and he travels from far. They are others volunteering in the communities and we wish to extend to them our heartiest Eid greetings.

Ahl Bayt hosts Eid dinner

This is an annual ritual. Muslims from around GTA, officials and Interfaith leaders joined the AhlBayt community for  a sumptuous dinner,. This year event at the Woodbine Banquet hall  Sunday evening was specially honoured with the recognition of Ghulam Sajan many decades of outstanding interfaith and community service. A well deserved award. Ghulam has worked assiduously over the many years to build bridges in the communities and despite his recent ailment he has not stopped to fundraised for the poor children in Africa and reach out to all in the communities. The comedian Jaffer Mohamed was in the house entertaining all in loud laughter using his voice skills. Greetings from a number of political and interfaith leaders were part of the evening.

NAMF hosts Interfaith forum on homelessness.

People standing on downtown traffic lights or in Scarborough ramps asking for help. They even accept Visa and MasterCard!
How do you view the homeless? What does the religions say and are doing to solve the 150000 plus homeless Ontarians.

Senator Hugh Seagal was very vocal and strategic in giving insight to to many government policy about homelessness and he referred to Imam Habeeb’s message of self dignity and human respect for homeliness. Many speakers including Shaikh Ala Sayed from ISNA spoke about the importance of building houses of the homeless as well as those living in deplorable conditions- some 1 out of every 5 are suffering and the need of homes for inmates returning to the community that is conducive to their culture and religions was many times sited. Many groups are doing a wonderful job providing services for mental health and drug addictions under one roof. Habitat For Humanity is helping many Muslims acquire homes on interest free mortgages and support for their initiative is crucial. The partners of this imitative was between NAMF, Multifaith Alliance Against homelessness with the St Augustinian Centre for Social Justice. The event was held at the Multi faith Centre, U of T. The need to have more Muslims attending Interfaith events and organising is crucial.

Habeeb Alli

Muslims celebrated two days of Eid at Ontario Place

While Eid was celebrated on two days this year in GTA many Muslims were pleased to find that Ontario Place summer event for Muslims was quite convenient. It allowed Muslims to observe Eid prayers and fun with their families on either days or even both!
With United Muslims putting on the event every year this year was unique on two fronts- its was the 40th Anniversary so passes were free. It was always two days event so Ontario Place agreed with organiser Omar Kalair to have it on Tuesday and Wednesday. The tickets were reasonable and was meant for the rides and movies. Almost two thousand Muslims participated and prayer were lead on both days by different Khateebs. The movie Arabia in3 Max was shown along with good food was on sale. This event will continue once summer and Ramadan coincides!

Somalia crisis moves all

A number of events were organised during Ramadan and after, even at Ontario Place Eid prayers to help the millions affected by the worse drought in the region’s history. NAMF had Mr Farouk Khan and others working on the ground during Ramadan, He said it was quite dangerous- travelling to the Kenya capital Nairobi, organising the purchase of materials and trucking it to the border at Camp Dabab in order to feed the hungry. He saw dying people, people begging for water, people fighting for food and thousands of refuges waiting placement in the camps. Muslims and all others responded generously towards this humanitarian crisis and continues to do so. Among the donors towards the NAMF operations is the Islamic Foundation and Masjid Daruslam.

Muslim cemetery opens

Muslims now have their own place for a cemetery thanks to the good works of a Jewish entrepreneur and some Muslims in the Sunni and Shia communities. Last Sunday was the ground breaking ceremony and friends of both communities were present. Karen Mock, a  hard worker for peace, commented that she saw this a great stride in building bridges as we are not only together when alive but after death! This is Richmond Hill area and can serve some 20 000 Muslims!

Jack Layton funeral was mourned by Muslims

I sat in the Church next to the Roy Thomson hall and became part of history. Jacl Layton was given a celebratory funeral and he was sent off in state funeral style- a rare but deserving respect for a man who worked hard for Muslims and all minorities. He helped the Madina Masjid as it is in his riding. Last Friday Muslims gathered at the Pakistan community centre at Gerard ST Toronto to pay respect to this dear man, Jack.
I read this poem and Olivia  Chow and Michael Layton expressed their sincere gratitude.

Jack you lay before us
A ton of memories riveting
From July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011
The dash is dashing yet sad!

An indefatigable defense of the poor
An unstoppable voice for the voiceless
You made Muslims feel belonged
You stood up against apartheid far and wide

It’s the love story that my eye catches
Twenty six years and still blushing
Where do you find the passion?
I know now- love more than anger!

Somehow Summer 2011 will forever etched
As Ramadan’s breeze overwhelm
A snowbird departs hopeful of the green shower
That the cane dropped, smiling, so reminiscent of Solomon!

Holy Trinity Church hosted 911 ceremony

I spoke at the Holy trinity Toronto about lighting a candle of love and not sending hate messages tot eh word. I was delighted to have some Muslim friends and family present and the kind words of praise for the message and solidarity with Muslims who have suffered during this decade of fear were expressed deeply by members of the church. This is the church that Jack Layton attended.
I read poem there. This poem was written for a similar events hosted by Imam Slimi Masjid in Mississauga.
Decade of Fear
Decade of repair
Tragic act
Memories still intact

How do you not fear?
Traveling you get the stare
In jury box
Islam sits judged and that sucks!

But you can be the victim
Crying foul until end of time
Or you can light a candle
With enlightened acts like Sayyida Khatija Centre

Awake oh Muslims of Canada
Your destiny is safe as in Madina
Islamicism maybe extremism
But extremism is not Islam or any of ism.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tribute to Ustad Bagh Khan

U- You

Ustad you're gone but not away
You rsmiles are here
Your rememberance is just felt everywhere
Your legacy without end.

Half a century and more
From Leguan to Stabroek
From Queenstown to Imdadul
The love of Rasoolollah you emphasized.

Healthy and young
I would ask you your secret
And that Heavenly smile replies
Allah and Love of His Prophet

So I mourn not your lost
I think you deserve O Teacher of Scholars
A standing ovation, for you're my hero
And must be given a celebratory send off

Simplified Arabic
Thoughtful pondering
On the words of the Quran
Never mind the differences

Respect you constantly taught
That's the legacy
By which the globe will remember you by
Ustad, the man of the heart!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book Launch.

MEDIA Advisory
Toronto, ON - August 22nd, 2011- Meet accomplished author, Habeeb Alli
on Wednesday,  September 21st,2011 from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at UIA,
#2-2570 Haines Rd, Mississauga, ON.
His new book, "Intimacy and the Sacred - In Muslim Communities" talks
about sexuality and what the Quran and Hadith have to say about it.
"Oftentimes, as Muslims, we are unsure about what is halal, or sinful
with regards to romance, marriage, and sexuality. These issues have
become ever more cogent in this post-modern era where practices such
as dating, and multiple partnering have become normalized. Habeeb
Alli's Intimacy and the Sacred in Muslim Communities clarifies,
educates, and explains these very pressing matters. He shows that
Islam is far from being a ‘prudish' religion, as it is viewed in some
quarters, and has in fact consistently elaborated upon these topics in
core Islamic literature. His training in the East and living in the
West brings a unique Canadian context to the subject as can be seen on
The evening will include short readings and the opportunity to
personally meet the author and purchase signed copies of his book.
Intimacy and the Sacred in Muslim Communities is now available in
e-book and paperback formats from the publisher, Iuniverse at
1-800-AUTHORS (288-4677), the author's website at
www.muslimsincanada.ca and all major online retailers.
About the Author
Mr. Habeeb Alli is a scholar, author, poet and educator. He pursued
his graduate studies in India after completing Queen's College in
Guyana. He returned to Guyana after graduating with his Masters in
Islam and Arabic Language, along with a diploma in Journalism. He
resides in Toronto with his family. Shaikh Habeeb has authored
thirteen books on Islam and poetry and continues to teach and present
contemporary Islam to Canadians.
Mr. Alli is a member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Theologians,
Secretary of the Canadian Council of Imams, Governor at the Canadian
International Peace Project, and Executive at the Canadian Guyanese
Writers Association.
The author can be contacted for speaking engagements or permissions
through A. Rycman at 416-431-2244 or email habeebbooks@gmail.com.

Poem on 911 10th Anniversary

Decade of Fear
Decade of repair
Trajic act
Memories still intact

How do you not fear?
Traveling you get the stare
In jury box
Islam sits judged and that sucks!

But you can be the victim
Crying foul until end of time
Or you can light a candle
With enlightened acts like Sayyida Khatija Centre

Awake oh Muslims of Canada
Your destiny is safe as in Madina
Islamicism maybe extremism
But extremism is not Islam or any of ism.

Recited at the Centre's Eid dinner.