contents 3 Zomaron
As salaam u alaikum. Peace and blessings be upon you. This issue intends to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in us. Presenting hardworking individuals with a brilliant idea that they strongly believe in and strive hard to achieve it ignoring obstacles that come in their way. These people are risk takers, extremely passionate about what they do with an admirable positivity that motivates those around them. Zomaron, Yellow London Taxi, the prestigious Hult Prize winners from McGill university, Haroon Siddiqui and many others in this issue will surely inspire you to do more with your life and time. So let the beautiful colors of fall make us reflect upon our own capabilities to change, move on and dream bigger dreams! Enjoy this issue!
Farming insects for a sustainable future
Dr. Kamran Siddiqui
Empowered, not oppressed
The Muslims are Coming! // App review
Modesty and Morality
Yellow London Taxi
Reflections on Hijab
Highlighting art in the community
Diaries of a mom-to-be
Travel Chronicles of Sara Naqwi
Whatâ€™s on your plate?
Naeema Farooqi founder / editor-in-chief
founder / editor-in-chief: Naeema Farooqi ; business development/advertising manager: Ahmed Javed ; the design team: Naira Ahmed & Lina El-Shamy (studio-noon.com) ; contributors: Leila Almawy; Aksa Mahmood; Aruba Mahmood; Hamza Samin; Anam Islam; Saud Inam; Zeba A. Hashmi; Madiha Salman; Fatima Khawaja; Sara Naqwi; Thasneen Ansi
Cover and content photography: N. Farooqi, Location: Springbanks Park, London, Ontario.
Photo credit: NF
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From left to right: Abdullah, Majid, Tarique, Mounib and Joseph
Zomaron the success story of a London-based entrepreneurship
Tarique Al Ansari, the co-founder and CEO of Zomaron has recently been named as one of the Top 20 Under 40 by Business London. Tarique, a keen businessman with an urge to succeed, started up Zomaron in 2009 with his friends and business partners, making their dreams come true with being listed as Top 50 new growth companies in Canada. Zomaron is a London-based credit and debit card processing company, that was ranked #21 on PROFIT Magazine’s 14th annual PROFIT HOT 50. With a two-year revenue growth of 841%, the team behind Zomaron took the company amongst the definitive rankings of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies. Tarique attributes his company’s success to his team of dedicated individuals who help him take the company to the next level. His brothers, as he refers to them
in this venture, are Joseph Jongsma Executive Vice President (& Co-Founder), Majid Daia - Chief Product Officer, Abdullah Saab - Chief Financial Officer, and Mounib Chadi - Chief Operations Officer. Their passion combined with their sheer motivation and a firm code of ethics enables them to remain successful in these challenging business times. Tarique is a great supporter of entrepreneurship, he feels more parents need to encourage their kids into being more than just doctors and engineers so that they grow up to be job creators rather than just be job seekers. Seeing their successful results, one cannot help but attribute it to the strong connection between team members; there is no doubt in our minds that Zomaron has only begun to taste its fair share of success. The sky’s the limit! —The London Link Team
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Farming insects for a sustainable future
Many of us who live in the developed world, i.e. North America, Australia, or Europe take for granted the privileged lives we lead, especially when it comes to something that seems as simple, yet essential as food. For example, a study shows that the average American consumes nearly one ton of food per year. That is nearly the weight of a small car. In comparison, the average Chadian family lives off of $1.23 of a week’s supply of food. The difference is appalling and disturbing considering the fact that the world produces enough food to feed all of its inhabitants, according to worldhunger. org. These facts are unfortunate, however a change seems to be near. A group of MBA students from the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University recently came up with a social enterprise to secure food for undernourished communities – otherwise known as an initiative to solve world hunger – as part of the annual Hult Prize competition and won. Their idea to farm insects (specifically, crickets) as protein replacements for staple foods was selected out of over 10,000 other applicants’ ideas
Photo courtesy of The Hult Prize. Reproduced with permission from the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Photo courtesy of The Hult Prize. Reproduced with permission from the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
from over 150 countries. Their team is known as the “Aspire Food Group”, which is befitting to their initiative, and is made up of Mohammed Ashour, Shobhita Soor, Jesse Pearlstein, Zev Thompson, and Gabriel Mott. Hult Prize founder and CEO, Ahmad Ashkar and Clinton Global Initiative founder, former President Bill Clinton, presented the prize to the group in New York on September 23, 2013. Ahmad Ashkar, an alumnus of the Hult International School, founded the Hult Prize initiative in 2009, and the Hult family has since funded it. It is a start-up accelerator for budding, young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities, according the Hult Prize website. Additionally, it has been named as one of the top five ideas to change the world by former President Clinton and TIME Magazine. The annual competition aims to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas, which are startup enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people (hultprize.org). In an interview about the Aspire Food Group’s idea to farm insects, Ashkar states that “one
out of every three people in the world are already consuming some type of insect as a regular part of their diet, so our startup proposes to come up with something they call micro-livestock.” In addition, according to the United Nations, insects are eaten seasonally by 2.5 billion people worldwide. Aspire Food Group member Mott adds, “pound for pound, crickets provide approximately equivalent amounts of protein, four times the iron, and at least five times the calcium that can be obtained from eating beef.” Moreover, crickets require much less feed, land, and water than cows, and generate up to 75 times less carbon dioxide per gram of protein than beef. Hence, one of the various ways of incorporating these insects into a human diet is by appropriating them into fortified flour, which Soor explains is “such a low-cost source of protein.” Ashour, a joint MD and MBA student at McGill University and the team leader of the Aspire Food Group, explains how it was never a question of establishing demand, but how to ensure that the people are getting adequate supplies
of these nutritious insects in their diets. Hence, the group has found a solution to empower peri-urban and rural farmers to farm insects on a year-round basis, and have them distribute these insects to the people that need them the most. “Over the next five years, we hope to begin with Mexico and then from there, scale into Eastern and Western Africa,” says Ashour. He talks about hopes of increasing awareness about the nutritious value of consuming insects as well as producing them in various edible forms. Ashour’s role in the initiative is beneficial in that his medical and nutritional expertise is crucial in understanding crickets as a food source. His business background is also valuable for the team’s advancement in this project. Shobhita Soor is a JD and MBA student at McGill University who brings legal expertise as well as insightful ideas to the team. When asked about the possible health threats in farming insects, Soor explained how they “anticipate that the risks are quite low. So, in the case of a breakout – these are species that already exist in the current ecosystem – there really isn’t so much of a risk there. In
terms of health, we’ve looked at the species of edible insects around the world and they don’t have the vectors necessary to pass on pathogens from insects to humans.” Hence, in that sense, it is safe to say that many insects are safely edible. Furthermore, the fact that these five members have gone into vast research on the topic of farming and consuming insects is reassuring in itself, otherwise they would not have been invited to expand on their idea initially. The Aspire Food Group members have traveled to Thailand, Kenya and Mexico in order to gain insight into slum conditions and in order to study the patterns of insect-consumption by humans. Soor has expressed the team’s gratitude towards the McGill community for giving them the resources they need in order to follow through with this project and has expressed her hopes in making an impact on the world stage. With an issue as prominent as world hunger, the problem is in trying to find a high-quality source of protein for hundreds of millions of people that can be raised quickly, without consuming a lot of land, water, and
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other resources (Boston Globe). Hence, the solution involves the production, processing, and promotion of insects for human consumption, which eventually provides access to an efficient, sustainable source of protein and nutrients to the developing world without damaging the environment and without contributing to global warming, as explained by the team. Over the last four years, the Hult Prize has brought together over 24,000 college and university students to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues (McGill). This initiative is now known as the world’s largest student competition for social good. “If you can make money doing social good, entrepreneurs will chase it,” says Ashkar. “What is your company doing to benefit the world? With the Hult Prize, we’ve infected business students around the world to think that way.” To follow the progress of the Aspire Food Group’s world-changing enterprise, follow their blog at insectsftw.org. To take part in the annual Hult Prize initiative, go to hultprize.org. — Leila Almawy
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Energy – we use it every day. From the time we wake up to when we go to sleep and even after that, we continue to use energy. However, because our world is changing and sources of energy are becoming exhausted, we must take steps to ensure future generations can sustain in the world we leave them. Associate Professor of Engineering at Western University, Kamran Siddiqui, has devoted his research to advancing feasible, renewable sources of energy to ensure just that. After attaining his bachelor’s degree from the NED University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi, Pakistan, Professor Siddiqui continued his studies at the University of Toronto, graduating with a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering. He went on to teach at Concordia University in Montreal and has been teaching at Western for the past five years. A large portion of Professor Siddiqui’s research focuses on renewable technology, which he feels is necessary for the future, but is also very costly. Recently, Professor Siddiqui, along with his graduate student, developed a new tracking system
with innovative features not found in any system like it. This system has a load compensator that reduces power consumption and the effects of extreme weather conditions. More importantly, this new system is more economically feasible. In addition to his position as an Associate Professor at Western, Professor Siddiqui is the Associate Chair of the Graduate Research Programs in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. He is also the Associate Director of the WindEEE (Engineering, Energy and Environment) Research Institute at Western. This institution looks at the impact of wind from engineering, energy, and environmental perspectives. “It’s a globally unique research facility, no such facility exists anywhere in the world ... for wind-related research,” says Professor Siddiqui. The institution has a chamber where you can stimulate environmental flows, such as tornadoes and downbursts, and translate them over 5 meters. This one-of-a-kind facility will allow engineers to research and record the effects these flows have on communities and large structures.
Dr. Kamran Siddiqui Photo courtesy of Fahim Khan
While speaking to Professor Siddiqui about his research, his passion for his work is clearly noted when he describes the advances in and benefits of renewable energy. He finds it exciting to see his research develop and “lead to very useful outcomes that can benefit society.” For this reason, Professor Kamran Siddiqui is an active change maker not only for the betterment of our local community, but globally as well. —Aksa Mahmood
Empowered, not oppressed A Muslim woman’s response to Marois The hijab. It has long been a symbol of either modesty and empowerment, or oppression and submission, depending on who you ask. If you ask Quebec premier Pauline Marois, she believes it is the latter. Marois, as most Canadians now know, is promoting her Parti Quebecois’ Charter of Quebec Values, which will bar all public employees from the province, from judges to daycare workers and teachers to police officers, from wearing any “conspicuous” or religious clothing at work. If one is unclear on what constitutes a conspicuous religious symbol, he or she can conveniently refer to the rather condescending illustrations featured in the Charter, which clearly label the hijab, Sikh turban, Jewish kippa, and large crosses as unacceptable, although smaller crosses will be permitted. The hijab in particular is targeted by Marois and her government, judging by comments made by herself and others in her party. In interviews, Marois has stated her personal opinion that a daycare worker or teacher wearing the hijab gives “a connotation of a gap with respect to the equality of men and women, a kind of submission.” The Montreal Gazette, reports that Marois further noted that “the educator could also want to show children she is “a very good practicing (Muslim)” and incite them to religious practice… she is in authority, this woman, with children.”’ In other words, Marois absurdly believes that all Muslim women
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who work as educators and daycare workers (and in Quebec, there are many), are using their authority to indoctrinate students. As for her party’s belief that the hijab is a symbol of submission, this is simply echoing the centuries old Orientalist myth that all Muslim women, particularly those who observe hijab, are oppressed, marginalized, and in need of ‘saving’ from the West. I am not ignorant of the fact that there are Muslim women, like women in every other society, culture, religious group, and nation, who are unfortunately oppressed and facing physical, emotional, and verbal abuse, mistreatment, discrimination, sexism, and limited opportunities simply because of their gender. (Ironically, Marois fails to see how her own proposed Charter would oppress and marginalize Muslim women by forcing them to either remove their hijabs or leave their jobs the public sector). However, it is the problematic, and unfortunately widespread, belief that when it comes to Muslim women, all of them are oppressed and thus, must inherently be in need and want of intervention- intervention which will apparently liberate and free them from the hijab (and other Islamic practices), an act of worship that has long been misunderstood and misrepresented in the
“Taking away any Muslim woman’s right to wear the hijab is no less oppressive than forcing me to wear it.”
West. To give an example, this supposedly altruistic effort to save Muslim women was taken on by Lord Cromor, a British official who was in charge of overseeing his nation’s invasion and occupation of Egypt in 1882. In his writings, he lamented what he saw as the sad state of Muslim women in Egypt, yet in Britain, he “worked feverishly to deny British women the right to vote as a founding member and president of the Men’s League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage” (Kumar, 2012). Marois, like Cromor and countless others, from Ann Coulter to Laura Bush, consider it their right and duty to ‘save’ Muslim women. I cannot speak for all Muslim women (although they apparently can), but I can speak for myself: I believe that taking away my right, any Muslim woman’s right, to wear the hijab is no less oppressive than forcing me to wear it. As a Muslim woman, born and raised in Canada who chose to don the hijab exactly ten years ago, I, like countless other Muslim women who have chosen to wear the hijab, as an act of liberation, strength, modesty, and most importantly piety, do not want, nor need to be saved. It’s unfortunate that this is seemingly so difficult for Marois and others to digest, but it is the truth. — Aruba Mahmud Aruba Mahmud is a freelance writer who is currently pursuing a PhD in Education at Western University
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www.londonlinkmag.com Photo credit: Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad
A Muslim Comedy Show! If you are like me then occasionally its always fun to laugh about common social situations that only happen to you because your Muslim. Wether its not being able to find a parking spot at Jumah, or hunger pains during Ramadan there are always small little nuances in life that one can only appreciate if they are Muslim. The comedy duo Dean Obdealah and Negin Farsad have taken our common daily situations and made them even more outrageously hilarious! The movie documentary The Muslims are coming! is a flat out funny movie tackling one of the main issues in our society Islamophobia. The Muslims are coming! is a documentary shot by veteran comedian Dean Obdealah and Negin Farsad who both co-directed/co-produced the movie that is coming to theaters across the nation. While it might not make it to a nation wide release the message in this small documentary are anything but small! The documentary takes a different tone as compared to others its one that isn’t about showing how the media is wrong about Muslims just that they are misunderstood. It was great to see The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, David Cross, \ Colin Quinn, Lewis Black, Aasif Mandvi and one of favorite all time MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow ask and answer questions on what it really like for Muslims in todays modern society. I feel the films core message is more about freedom of religion in America and that even though we are Muslim we are open to practice our religion freely with many people of
different faiths joining along to support us in everything we do. For people of all faiths I would encourage you to watch this movie not for the comedy but for the underlying message that you cant judge a book by its cover, and the same goes for us Muslims please get to know us first! Having gotten a chance to check it out myself just how much of an importance it can be to educate the populations on just how many Muslims are in the United States and how many believe in peaceful interactions and relations. The movie follows Dean and Negin going around visiting big metropolitan cities and small towns and even villages. They go and ask common questions about how people perceive Muslims in the media and their personal take on Muslims. Its shocking to hear what some people have to say! All this goes back to the idea that alot of what people know about Islam and Muslims is through a third source and most of the times never half true. Society still has some misconceptions about Muslims, but Dean and Negin are doing what they can just to show that they are just like everyone else trying to make it in this world one day at a time all while keeping down to earth all the values that they have instilled for all these years growing up in traditional/nontraditional Muslim households. Regardless of who you are and where your from we can all share the communality of that we are Muslims and we are here to bash any and all stereotypes. So watch out because the Muslims are coming! —Hamza Samin
Learn with Homer App review
My husband and I taught our first daughter how to read before she entered Kindergarten. We used the rather dry, but classical approach contained in The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sarah Buffington. This book worked very well. Layla is now in 2nd grade yet she reads well beyond a 4th grade level. But for those of us who are parents of multiple children, we all know how very different each child is from the next. Rayhan, our middle daughter, made it very clear that she did not want to read so young, “Learn With Homer,” is an app that maintains a step-by-step reading technique while giving the child’s mind room to explore. There are beautifully illustrated stories, interactive learning games and other fun features. Take for example, the “Hat Shop,” Highly recommended by yours truly and all my kids, especially Rayhan, who is becoming a stronger reader each and every day. For more details please search for: “Learn with Homer” on iTunes. —Alexis York Lumbard
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Haroon Siddiqui an interview
Perusing the pages of the Toronto Star, it is usually hard to skip over the twice-weekly musings of Haroon Siddiqui, editorial page editor emeritus. His columns tend to tackle a range of topics including multiculturalism, immigration issues, and public policy. However it is Siddiqui’s distinct approach that never fails to engage his readers and challenge their perspectives. His style is bold, his attitude unapologetic. Most recently, Siddiqui has dedicated many of his columns to defending Quebec’s religious minorities against the recently proposed changes to the provinces Charter of Values. In a move that the separatist Parti Quebecois are calling an attempt to “make the provincial government religionneutral”, the party has proposed to ban symbols of religious faith from public workplaces. The proposal has sparked a nationwide debate on fundamental human rights and has divided Quebecers. Of the critics, one of the boldest and strongest voices has been that of Siddiqui who brazenly states that it is the hijab and Muslim women that are the central target of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois. Of Marois, Siddiqui paints the picture of misogyny and hypocrisy saying, “the Afghan Taliban and the Iranian ayatollahs force women to wear the hijab or the niqab… Marois is forcing Muslim women not to. Misogynists won’t grant women individual sovereignty. Nor does Madame Marois.” Siddiqui, who stands out in the media landscape as an immigrant and observant Muslim, has never shied away from using his platform to challenge the status-quo.
In the days following the 9/11 attacks, when many Canadian news outlets were focused on breaking down Islamic fundamentalists and analyzing the culture of anti-western hate that lead to the attacks, Siddiqui provided quite an alternative voice. In his controversial piece titled “It’s the U.S. foreign policy, stupid”, Siddiqui scathingly stated “either out of ignorance or calculation, the theories on the motives for last week’s attacks avoid the most obvious: America has many enemies. Not just because of globalization and a McWorld in which Coke brings harmony to all. Or because of American cultural domination. Or because America is arrogant and isolationist. Rather, it is due to American complicity in injustice, lethal and measurable, on several fronts.” Siddiqui who is no stranger to controversy draws polarised feedback from the public and fellow journalists alike. Fans of his work say that he is a fresh and much needed diverse perspective in the Canadian media landscape. On the other hand his critics are swift to label him as a “third-world apologist” and an “advocate for Islamists”. “Going against public opinion, which will get you a lot of negative reviews and abuse, but what that really means is that they [the public] want their views confirmed, their prejudices confirmed,” says Siddiqui in addressing his critics. Siddiqui who grew up in Hyderabad, India, the eldest of six, was first exposed to writing crafting letters as a clerk for his father’s construction business. He went on to earn his Bachelors of Science at Osamnia University before an English Professor suggested Siddiqui try his hand at journalism. As a young journalist, Siddiqui served as a reporter for the Press
Trust of India News Agency in Mumbai before immigrating to Canada in 1967- just in time to attend the international Expo 67 in Montreal. Siddiqui’s resume paints an impressive picture of his 45 years of covering Canadian news. Siddiqui joined the Star in 1978 as a copy editor, then served at the foreign affairs analyst, before moving on to news editor, national editor and then from 1990 to 1998 served as the paper’s editorial page editor. On his retirement from that position Siddiqui began writing his twice-weekly column, at the time vaguely defined around public policy. “It [the column] is a great mandate to have. You can write whatever you want to write about. So, I ended up writing about issues that others were not writing about. In a way it’s like an open field- nobody’s there, so let’s go there,” says Siddiqui. Among his professional achievements includes authoring “Being Muslim”, based on Siddiqui’s travels through the U.S., Europe, and Muslim countries post 9/11, in which he dissects the mischaracterization of Islam in Western media. Along with being recognized through several community awards, in 2001, Siddiqui was admitted to the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor and the Order of Ontario, for crafting “a broader definition of the Canadian identity”. When asked about his accolades, Siddiqui humbly replies, “it’s a tribute, not so much to me, it’s a tribute to this institution because they allow me this platform. It’s a tribute to Canada that it recognizes new people, you don’t have to belong to a club.” —Anam Islam // Photo credit: NF
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Modesty and Morality: A Shared Responsibility Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Islam began strange, and it will become strange again just like it was at the beginning, so blessed are the strangers.” [Sahîh Muslim (1/130)] -----We live in often confusing times where basic values, morals and ethics have been forgotten. Universal morals of justice, equality, trust, honesty, freedom, liberty, sympathy, empathy, and the list goes on and on have become more rare as the years go by. Universal morals have become so rare that we actually get surprised when individuals speak up for them or hold true to them in their own lives. We get surprised when individuals demand justice or speak the truth even though it’s unpopular. It indeed is sad how these simple and basic values and morals have become so rare. Yet, we have hope that even though there is so much injustice, corruption and violence in the world, individuals deep down inside have inbuilt into their hearts the goodness and the moral compass to point them towards righteousness and morality. As Muslims, we understand this as the fitrah, (nature) which Allah has place in each and every human being be they a Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist or Agnostic or individual with no faith at all. We must remind the world of their higher purpose and through calling our friends, neighbors and coworkers to morality, introspection and deep reflection. We live in a time where desires and lusts are celebrated and told that following them is considered freedom. We are told that freedom is to follow our desires, lusts and whims. It clearly is not logical, yet societal trends; magazines, TV shows, musicians, and other modes of media encourage these societal trends and make it normal. However, we must ask ourselves, if this is a good or socially acceptable mode of living, where does one’s definition on freedom encroach on another’s freedoms? Let’s use an example to clarify: we’ve all been in elementary school, high school, or college and have dealt with some sort of peer pressure.
Some of the students we went to school with did (or do if you’re still in school) some pretty reprehensible things that they later regretted in later in their lives. They may have looked at you and asked: why don’t you drink? Why don’t you smoke? Why don’t you party like us? The alternate question becomes: why do you drink, smoke and party? Often times the answer is: “we need to let loose to have fun” or “it’s just a social thing.” However, several reports and research have told us the harms of drinking and smoking, so the question becomes why is everyone doing it and why has it become socially acceptable to do so? Also, so what if you don’t drink, don’t party or do any harmful societal practices? Are you not enforcing your definition of freedom upon me? You are free to do or not to do something. Someone forcing a societal trend on you is not really promoting freedom, but is forcing conformity upon you! With all of that said, we come to the issue of the hijab or headscarf that some Muslim women wear. Many individuals may ask Muslim women why they wear the hijab. The simple answer is because God/Allah told women to dress modestly. Let us ask for a minute, what is modesty? Modesty can be defined according to the MerriamWebster Dictionary as: 1. freedom from conceit or vanity and 2. propriety in dress, speech, or conduct. Sounds like a great and noble characteristic right? So why are we so anti-modesty? The concept of hijab seems foreign to some, but it actually is mentioned in the Bible as well, but that’s another topic and discussion. “For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.” (1 Corinthians 11:6) Before we delve deeper, let’s put to rest the notion that men have no responsibility when it comes to modesty and respecting women. In the Quran it is not the women who are addressed in regard so modesty first, but the men. Men are told to lower their gaze and guard their modesty and then the women are addressed to guard their modesty (Quran 24:30-31). Thus, modesty is a shared responsibility by both men and women. Modesty is not merely a
covering of the hair, but also a state of mind and a state of being. Now, many feminists or Islamophobes may say women are forced to wear the hijab by men and it’s oppressive, and Islam is patriarchal, and the list of criticisms goes on. However, living in the West, you merely need to ask any Muslim woman who wears the hijab and she will tell you that she herself made the conscious decision to do so. The moral of modesty is seen as a backwards or archaic moral value, while immortality has become a norm and women’s liberation is defined as women empowering themselves through wearing less, yet through this “liberation” and “freedom” women actually enslave themselves to the whims, desires and lusts of men. If you don’t believe me, you just merely have to look at how important physical features are to female celebrities and how many surgeries they get done to look as perfect as possible. We also have the phenomenon of airbrushed models that look perfect and project an image of beauty and perfection that is impossible to achieve. This has an impact on women who feel they feel inadequate and not beautiful if they don’t look, dress or act a certain way. It also has a harmful effect on men who are given a definition of beauty that is impossible to reach by the average woman. Thus, men when they look at the average woman they’re confused why women they look at don’t look like the women they see in TV shows, movies, and magazines. It is a destructive trend and several conversations have actually begun about the impact of women’s portrayal of women in the media with documentaries like Miss Representation. We fail to realize that real beauty is in the intellect of a woman, her personality and not merely limited physical features only. When we let these false standards and criteria of beauty start defining our views on beauty, then we’ve truly lost ourselves and let ourselves become enslaved to illusions and unrealistic standards. We must remember that modesty is a shared responsibility and a moral value we must stand for and remind our friends, family, neighbors, and fellow work colleagues and classmates about modesty and morality. —Saud Inam
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Yellow London Taxi In 2009, Hasan Savehilaghi co founded a company Yellow London Taxi. London Taxi prides itself of committed drivers because they own a share of the company â€œThis is their company,â€? says Hasan. Savehilaghi has an interesting story, originally from Iran he came over to Canada as a refugee due to a revolution in his home country. With a Masters Degree in Education from Iran, he came to Canada with dreams of becoming an educator, but like many immigrants found it hard to find a job with no Canadian experience. He started working as a cab driver and found out how physically exhausting the job was. Being a hard
worker, he did not give up and brought food to the table for his family while enjoying his work with gratitude. He then formed the London Taxi Association that has grown to represent more than 500 taxi cab drivers. The association was formed to improve the industry and the lives of drivers. His company Yellow London Taxi has now grown to a co-op with a fleet of 150 drivers who take pride in calling it their own business too. Giving immigrant families a chance to get their life going in a new country has remained one of the top priorities of Hasan Savehilaghi, a man who competes with other companies in London with efficient service and safe drivers. Working with many nationalities
from different backgrounds is not always easy but extremely rewarding as right there inside everyone is a human and we are all the same inside and want similar things such as respect and tolerance. â€”The London Link Team
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the Hijab compiled by Zeba Hashmi
I wear the hijab in order to please God. He tells us to lower our gaze and guard our modesty in the presence of men. I couldn’t imagine leaving the house without my hijab. It’s such an important part of me and my way of life. It’s not only wearing the scarf that makes the difference to me, it means so much more. It’s a constant reminder that I represent Islam. It helps me act and speak in a good way. Hijab is not just the scarf; it’s more about how I present myself. I’ve also noticed that after I began wearing hijab, my friends would be more considerate and would watch what they did around me. Before I started wearing it, I always felt obligated to look good and impress other people. It was as though my self-esteem depended on what others thought of me. But it was only after I started wearing hijab that I started to feel the way I wanted to. I could be beautiful, if not to others, at least in the eyes of God. —Tajriyan Mashiyat, age 13, student
I chose wear the hijab because I like the unity I felt among the Muslim sisters and knowing that the hijab is an order from Allah and signifies me as a Muslim every time I wear it. I know that every time I wear my hijab I am representing my religion & re confirming my belief in my religion Islam. I respect my hijab as I do my religion. I feel comfortable and proud as a Canadian Muslim convert to wear my hijab. Canada is so accepting of many cultures. I always appreciate the times when people approach me to ask about my hijab I enjoy educating them, & I like their positive comments. — Erin Khattar, mother It’s not about what’s on your head. It’s not about how you wear what’s on your head. Or how you wrap it. Or how you style it. It’s about a choice. An identity. A part of who I am. To me hijab is one step, of which there are many, to strengthen my relationship with the Creator. I realize the challenges in wearing the veil, especially at a time when one of our provinces is working so hard to ban it from the public sphere. Let us not judge a book by its cover, because hijab is not about what’s on your head. Rather, hijab is the process of opening our hearts to people and their stories. Hijab is to encourage one another to do good. Hijab is the path of continuously seeking knowledge. — Taouba Khelifa, student
The hijab has truly become one of the most controversial topics in the past decade in Canada, and the discussion has filtered into all aspects of our lives whether it be the issue of women’s right to wear hijab whilst playing sports or into the political arena such as in the proposed Quebec’s Charter of Values. When I first started wearing the hijab, I did not fully comprehend why I must wear it – just that I wanted to do it to show my love for God. Now, 13 years later, I not only understand the importance of the hijab, but have realized how such a simple piece of cloth can be so powerful that it can shape a woman’s personality. My Hijab empowers me and grants me confidence. We have always been taught to find our own unique strengths and it was only after wearing the hijab, I truly understood mine. I am now able to communicate my own intellectual thoughts and ideas to others instead of blindly following societal convention. — Hina Islam, mother It amuses me that the Muslim woman’s hijab- this piece of cloth- draws so much attention, unique perceptions and ownership from those who are not wearing it. From religious clerics who feel it is their duty to dictate what the Muslim women should and should not wear to the recent proposal by Madame Marios of the Parti Quebecois to ban the Hijab as a “religious symbol” for those holding government related jobs in the province of Quebec. I wear the hijab because Allah (swt) has asked me to in the Holy Quran, and as a practicing Muslim woman: I hear and I obey. This hijab makes me feel honored, safe and cherished. So do not tell me that you are liberating me by oppressing me and depriving me of my choice to wear the hijab. It is an act of faith and belief, a sign of modesty and dignity as a women. — Zari Hamidi, professional teacher and full time mother
Hijab is my strength. My confidence and my identity. Alhumdulillah it’s been 14 years and not even once have i ever regretted my decision. I wish I could have taken it earlier. No one forced me into it . I had lived in a city Corner Brook Newfoundland for ten years and was the only woman in whole city with the hijab. My hijab has never restricted me from doing anything. I was involved in my kids school activities, volunteering ,sports. I would say hijab is my symbol of confidence and the power which can let me conquer any battle. — Durdana Saeed, mother Photos courtesy of: Ali Islam, Sally AlSabawi, Zeba Hashmi, Brooke Vans, Ayman Khattar
My hijab is an expression of my identity. It is a simple representation of my beliefs and how proud I am to be Muslim. Wearing it alone does not make me a better person. It is a big responsibility that I take very seriously and must work very hard to fulfil. My hijab is part of who I am. It empowers me to do better at all times as it is a constant reminder for me of the virtues of Islam. It is an open invitation for anyone who would like to learn about Islam to ask me about it. I do not agree with people making generalizations about any religion based on the way that people practice it. However, reality is that this does happen. The least that I could do for my religion is to be living proof that it is a peaceful religion which encourages people to seek knowledge, to be down to earth, to be good to one another, and to work towards a better world for all. My hijab is my right. It is my choice. It is what complements my actions. — Najwa Zebian, teacher
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page 14 // volume three, issue six
Meet Safaa Ali, a young author from Toronto Ontario, with a creative writing style and passion for poetry. At the age of 9, Safaa participated in a Canada wide story writing competition, the “Kids write 4 kids creative challenge”. Out of 200 contestants, the stories of four were selected for publication as ebooks by Ripple Digital Publishing Corporation. Safaa’s pourquoi story, “Why Peacocks have colourful feathers”, is among these. Safaa, after receiving two peacock feathers from a family friend, was inspired to write this fable. She starts her story with a beautiful little poem followed by a tale narrating how an ordinary dull looking peacock transformed into a gorgeous and colorful creature. Safaa loves to draw too and has also done the illustrations for the story. Her story is available to download in the form of an ebook at Apple iBookstore and Amazon’s Kindle. The proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to support literacy in Canada. Another of Safaa’s poem has been accepted in a North American poetic contest in Summer 2013. The poem will be published in a poetry anthology later this year. We wish best of luck to this young talented author for her future endeavors.
“Allah has made this world so stunningly beautiful and richly serene that one is inspired to transform the hues and colours of nature onto a canvas”, says Talat Afzaal regarding the exhibition of her paintings at a public library at London, Ontario in September 2013. Talat Afzaal completed a degree in Fine Arts from Punjab University Lahore Pakistan in 1970. Her initial work mostly involved making sculptures, however for her, painting is a relaxing hobby. She has done both large canvas painting and miniature art. After coming to Canada, she was mesmerized by the lavish beauty of the natural landscape and has been transforming it into her artwork. Her paintings are reflective of the splendor of the four distinct seasons in Canada. Whether it is a blanket of snow at a lakeshore, a tranquil spring garden, a vibrant fall morning, or a panoramic view of a sunny afternoon, her landscapes are like dream, a pleasure to the eyes. Her still life paintings are as beautiful as the landscapes, specially the colour coordination is remarkable. Mrs. Afzaal uses different medias in her work, including oil and acrylic paints, markers and colour pencils to create a rich and striking effect.
Young Author Art Exhibition
volume three, issue six
Diaries of a mom-to-be •
However, my experience over the last few months made me realize that this “mommy thing” is not going to be an easy task. And so, I would like to share my list of observations and suggestions on being pregnant:
Enjoy the extra special treatment that pregnancy brings- the adoring looks, smiles and the parking spot for expectant mothers!
Remember to have scripted, quick answers to:
When you first find out that you are pregnant, you will want to tell everyone. I had a smile plastered to my face for most of the day and kept wondering if others around me “just knew.” They didn’t. Better get over yourself. Pregnancy will be a lesson in humility. You will face everything from embarrassing symptoms such as gas, numerous bathroom trips, searching for clothes in bigger sizes in limited styles, weight gain, pregnancy fog brain, ability to cry at small things (or nothing at all), walking like a penguin, not being as self-sufficient, over-eating and more. Hopefully this will be short-lived. Do not anticipate how you will feel. Not only will it be mostly unique to you, but it would also vary so frequently that you would cause the word “inconsistency” to develop an existential crisis. Sign up for a weekly update service for expecting parents, and stay away from Google and selfdiagnosis!
Photo by: Saleme Fayad
I am going to be a “mom” in a few weeks. Impending motherhood is a rollercoaster of emotions: I am excited, nervous, sore, scared, weepy and adjusting to looking the heaviest I have ever been. No matter, though- this is all a means to an end. The pregnancy, in general, has been a surreal journey and the anticipation of finally meeting our little family member is at an all-time high.
Everyone - I mean EVERYONE will have some advice for you. That includes your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, the cashier at the grocery store, the weird stranger or fellow patient in the doctor’s waiting room. Do not stress, pick and choose what you want to follow based on your research and health care provider’s opinion.
a. When are you due? b. Do you know if it’s a boy or girl? Twins? i. If you answer “We didn’t find out”- be prepared for further discussion on the pros, cons and your reasoning. •
Your belly will become a magnet. People will do double takes after they first notice it, and others will think they have a sudden God-given right to touch your tummy. Make sure you take up LOTS of personal space and give any approaching hand a verbal and visual slap.
Be prepared to openly talk about your weight and looks. You may FEEL excited and healthy, but in someone’s eyes you seem “too thin, too fat, too swollen up,” and that implies something about your baby. Smile and move on. Or just let them have the “mama bear” treatment– depends on your mood, no?
Your husband will give you the most quizzical looks ever- as I you’ve grown horns on your head. You might as well not try to explain yourself to him- just demand what you would like and/or think.
Shopping for baby items is unlike any other shopping experience. Do not doubt your shopping skills… there really are too many products. Dive in, research consumer opinions, do price comparisons, and visit the baby section of stores that you never knew existed. Ask others, and do not try setting up the baby registry without pre-planning, and help from experienced mothers.
Although your experience with others can be equal parts amusing and frustrating, nothing can prepare you for the first ultrasound picture of your baby. It looks little different than a white bean on a black and white image. You will stare at it and adore it. I looked at mine at least ten to twelve times that day. The second ultrasound is even more breathtaking. You can see the little one swallow, kick and hear the heart beating loud and clear. You will develop a strong bond so quickly that it would surprise you. This may be the only time that kicks and nudges will make you love someone. At this last stage, I am focused on not worrying about the scary stuff and on leaning on my support network of close friends and family. I am enjoying every moment and marveling at the events happening inside my tummy. The wait is almost over! // Mrs. Dee
page 16 // volume three, issue six
Travel Chronicles Arriving at the village of Askole
Children of Askole
Sights Along the Trek
Hitching a ride out of Concordia
Askole or Askoly is a small town located in the Braldu Valley, one of the most remote region of the Karakoram mountains in Northern Areas, Pakistan.
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BABAZ Chicken Shawerma Plate $10.61 519 204 6703
volume three, issue six
KAROON KEBAB Lamb Shank $12.99 519 472 9292
London Link explored top halal dishes around town! Here’s what we found:
LAZIZ MEATS 14 oz burger combo $9.99 519 685 3625
SULTAN PIZZA 3 toppings: Large pizza $11.99 519 474 1400 (pick up only)
What’s on your plate?
DOLLY SWEETS Crepe Fruits $7.75 519 204 0343
SHIRAZ GRILL Kobedeh Kebob $12.99 519 432 0111
BARAKAT DOWNTOWN Mala Salad $6.86 519 850 4111
ingredients Cauliflower, florets- florets of a small cauliflower Oil- enough for deep frying cauliflower For making Batter Rice flour- 1 cup ( or use all purpose flour) Corn starch- ¼ cup Chilli powder- 1 tsp (or Cayenne Pepper) Dried basil- ½ tsp Dried oregano- ½ tsp Sesame seeds- 1 tbsp Salt- to taste Ketchup- 1 tbsp Water- 1/4 to 1/2 cup (enough to make thick batter) For making stir fry Oil, used for frying- 2 tbsp Cumin seeds- 1 tsp Whole dry red chilly- 2 Onion, chopped small – 1 Ginger-Garlic paste- ½ tbsp Soy sauce- 3 tbsp Tomato ketchup- 2 tbsp Green onions, chopped- 2 stalks Cilantro, chopped- 2 handful In a large bowl, combine all the above mentioned ingredients “for making batter”. Add water accordingly to make a thick batter. Heat enough oil for frying in a frying pan. Dip the cauliflower florets in the batter and fry till golden in color. Transfer the fritters to a paper towel, keep aside. Place a non-stick pan or wok over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp oil used for frying fritters. Add cumin seeds and dry red chilly, saute for a few seconds. Add onion, saute till it turns translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste, saute till onions turn light brown. Add soy sauce and tomato ketchup, combine well. Add the cauliflower fritters, stir fry to coat with the sauce. Add green onions and cilantro, stir fry for a few minutes. Serve on a plate and enjoy.
Recipes — Recipes & photos by Thasneen Ansi www.thasneen.com
Sesame Cauliflower fritters
page 18 // volume three, issue six
ingredients For cooking chicken While cooking Chicken breasts, chopped small- 2 breasts Oil- 2 tbsp Kashmiri red chilly powder- 1 tsp Onions, chopped small- 2, medium Turmeric powder- ½ tsp Ginger-garlic paste- ½ tbsp Garam masala- ½ tsp Green chillies, chopped- 1 or 2 Fennel powder- 1½ tsp Cilantro, chopped- ¼ cup Coriander powder- 1 tsp For making dough Ground pepper- ½ tsp All-purpose flour- 1 cup Salt- to taste Salt- a few pinches Water- enough to make a soft dough (add little by little while kneading) Other ingredients Egg, beaten- 1 All-purpose flour or maida (mixed with water) paste Oil- to deep fry samosas In a saucepan, combine the chicken with all the above mentioned ingredients “for cooking chicken.” Cook covered till the chicken has cooked well and turns light brown. Using a wooden spoon, slightly mash or shred the cooked chicken. Keep aside. Heat a non-stick pan, add oil, let it turn hot. Add, onions chopped small, a few pinches of salt, saute till translucent. Add gingergarlic paste and green chilly, saute till onions turn brown in color. Add the cooked chicken to the onions, stir fry for a few minutes. Have a taste, add more salt or chilly powder/ground pepper for spice if needed Add cilantro, cook for a minute, remove the pan from the heat, keep aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and add water little by little as you knead the dough. Add water till you get a soft and smooth dough. Knead for a few minutes. Make small balls out of the kneaded dough. Place one of the balls on a wooden board or a clean surface, sprinkle some flour over the dough, using a rolling pin roll the dough to a thin round shape. Repeat with other dough balls. Heat a non-stick pan over low heat, place the rolled dough onto the pan, slightly warm up the rolled dough for a few seconds, don’t let it cook. The intention is not to cook the dough it’s just to warm it up. Remove from the pan. Make a paste using 1 tbsp flour and very little water. Using a knife, cut the warmed up rolled dough into 2 halves. Make a cone shape out of one of the halves, rub the flour paste along the edges of the cone and seal it. Add the chicken filling into the cone, don’t over stuff it. To close the cone, rub the flour paste on the edges and glue it together. In a small bowl, beat an egg really well. Using a pastry brush, spread the beaten egg over the samosa dough. This is just optional. Heat enough oil to deep fry in a frying pan, place the stuffed dough into the oil. It should be submerged in the oil. Fry till the samosas turn golden brown in color. Transfer to a kitchen paper towel. Serve warm along with tomato ketchup or chilli sauce.
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Places & Photography // Realto Bridge, Venice, Italy
A Gondola parked in a canal near the Realto Bridge, with the gondolier trying to get some tourists to ride it. The picture tries to capture the aesthetics visible all over Venice. Photograph by Umayr Masud
Book Review // Dharkan —The Heartbeat of a Country Mobeen Ansari’s world view has been shaped from his own life experiences, environment and challenges from a very early age. An attack in meningitis at a very early age impacted his hearing, eyesight, balance and ability to detect colours. Despite this he has faced the world and excelled. His background and environment has inspired him to be very patriotic with a burning desire to have other people see the light where they would normally perceive darkness. The book (Dharkan — The Heartbeat of a Country) is an effort to have people see the essential goodness in his country and the people who have made Pakistan and inspire many of his countrymen in these days of dark challenges.
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