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MUSLIM VOICE Muslims of the World Distant Neighbourhoods


What’s Inside? FROM






Rizwan Shaik

Asim Ashraf Ruba Ali Al-Hassani Rabia Mohammadi

SECTION EDITORS Ruba Ali Al-Hassani Tazeen Siddiqui Javeria Ahmad ADVISOR Hajera Khaja

Abeer Chowdhury Sharifa Khan Asmaa Hussein

Rifa Tahsina

Asna K. Ahmad Asmaa Hussein Sharifa Khan Johanna Kristolaitis Haroon Siddiqui

Javeria Ahmad Humairah Irfan Faisal Khutty Ali Manek


Rabia Mohammadi


Mike NL - Cablanca, Morrocco

The Muslim Voice is a nonprofit magazine published by the Muslim Students’ Association at the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus and sponsored in part by University of Toronto’s Student Union.

The Muslim Voice c/o Muslim Students’ Association 21 Sussex Avenue, Suite 405 Toronto, Ontario, M5S1J6 416-946-7788

DISCLAIMER The ideas and opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of The Muslim Voice or the Muslim Students’ Association.

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From the

Editor’s Desk Not a long time ago, I had to make one of the biggest decisions of my life. Which university would I attend? The University of Toronto made its way on the list of my top three choices. Despite the various reasons for or against one university or another, the decision to attend this university has had its consequences on my perception about myself, my community and the world at large. Every student on campus is daunted by the enormity of Uof T campus where we run to and from classes. At times, we even gamble the idea of missing a lecture because of the acrid weather and the travel from Northrop Frye Hall to Earth Science Centre. I know even thinking about the walk is frightening. Yet, the fact remains that many do make these arduous trips to lectures, labs and seminars on a weekly basis. With the large landscape and the packed lectures, it is hard to make friends. But, it is not hard to recognize the diversity of the student body. From a multitude of different backgrounds and experiences, we manage to sit beside one another and participate in a class discussions. Although we may disagree, we are trained to at least appreciate the beauty of a well formulated argument or rebuttal. We appreciate our academic rivals because they make us strive to compete in order for our own abilities to grow. For those who can serendipitously encounter those class rivals on the way to class, it is those discussions that are remembered even past university life. In the previous issue of The Muslim voice, we stemmed out of defining the individual to finding out ways in which a person can affect positive change in their community. No matter the size of the community, there are those key people, told and untold, that make everlasting impacts. It is an overwhelming idea that it takes only a few people 2

to impact a growing population. A people that are rich in diveristy and ever-changing circumstances. This dyanmic continuously checks those movers and shakers towards new solutions of unique problems. The Muslim communities across the world are addressing different issues respective to their location and problems. What are those problems that face our brothers and sisters in far off places? How do they come to a solution, and is their process different than our own? What is their experience to, say, modernity and technology? The simple answer to these questions is the fact of Islam. A faith that provides all the answers to everything, where the Prophet, peace be upon him, was one who shook entire disparate nations into a unified whole. However, this is not so today. Living as absolutists is as difficult for us as it is for our fellow brothers and sisters. The title of this third issue is Muslims of the World: Distant Neighbourhoods. It is in hopes that in reading the subsequent articles, the reader will get a glimpse of the various Muslim communities that are unspoken of in mainstream media and then be able to ask more questions to beget more answers. In finding out what other Muslims are facing across the great wide world we live in, maybe we too can learn from their trials and tribulations. If we begin to make ties with our Muslim brothers and sisters, who are our rivals per se in the hereafter, maybe we too can save ourselves from making similar mistakes, being able to do good and better our host society, Canada. We all walk down that same path of life, we all must taste death. Once we connect, talk and be together in our shared mission then our chances of success will skyrocket.


Religion without Borders Of a population exceeding two million people, there are approximately five thousand Muslims in Jamaica. For the first nine years of my life I experienced little conflict stemming from my identity as a Muslim Jamaican. What I have learned since then, however, is that Muslims who do not fall into mainstream media categories are often met with surprise, and sometimes even skepticism. This is disconcerting because the representations of Muslims in many popular media outlets do not reflect the diversity of Muslims around the world. The result is an incomplete picture and often at times leads to gross misunderstandings of Islam.

the hijab b. I think a short analysis of some of the more common reactions I receive from being a Jamaican Muslim will suffice to demonstrate the misconceptions and diminutive categories allotted to Muslims by much of society.

While I was in my former homeland, my Jamaican identity was never doubted. I was relatively young and did not observe the hijab (headscarf). My mother, however, despite being born and raised there, was sometimes confused with being a foreigner. She observed the hijab b. I believe it is safe to say that had we not moved to Canada, I would eventually have had similar experiences in Jamaica. Since I have been away from Jamaica for the past nine years, I cannot justly give an account of Islamic life there. However, I would like to share some of my experiences because I believe it’s it s important to correct the noti tion tha hatt Isllam is tied to certain nationalitie ti ies, s, o or oth her such social categorizations. In do doin ing th his, I ho ope tthe h rea eade derr will better ap ppr prec ecia iate the ed div iver ersi sity ty of Isllam m wh whic i h attests to iits ts unive vers rsal alit ity. B By y realizing th this is fact, t I trrus ustt more non-Muslims willl ex exam a in ne Isllam more closelly and d come to th their ow own n co conc nclusions abou outt ou this th sw way y of life e. I also hop ope e th t at a Muslims who oa are unaw awar are e of the great div ver ersi sity ty of their religiion will find fin d a ne n w appreciati tio on for the universalitt y of this deen de en (relligion).

Another response tends to be one of surprise, followed by further inquiry, and then reluctant acquiescence. The typical reply (framed as a question but meant as statement) that accompanies this response is usually a rather feeble, “but aren’t you a Mozlem?” or “but…you have that thing on your head!” Admittedly, after the first few times, this initially comical dialogue would lose its appeal. I confess that in some cases, becoming rather irritated, I would respond in a rather abrasive manner (contrary to the manners promoted by Islam). Alhamdulillah (praise be to God) Go d), I no now w ca c pi p talize on such opportunities e and use the occasion on tto o te teach others about my ow wn fait fa ith. h I ttry ry tto o co corrrect the po popu pular fallacy that there is a neces essa sary ry c cor orre rela lation betwe ween religion and nati na tion o ality. Isllam d doe oes s no nott be belong to a certain group of peo opl ple, e, but but is the e wa way y off life decreed forr all humanity fo ty b by y th the Cr Crea ato tor. Thus, as Muslims, we believe l tha hatt al a l ma m nk nkin ind d wa was create t d to serve God… the Ever Living, th he On One e Wh Who susttai a ns and protects all that exists (Qura an, 2: 2:25 255) 5).

For me, th the e bigger er ““conflict” t” a aro rose se e generally follow owin ing g my my famil ily’’s im il mmi m gr g at a io i n to Canada an nd, mor ore e specifically, after I startted d to observe

Few people register no or very little surprise to the fact that there are Muslims in Jamaica. Others are delighted to receive this information (this group is overwhelmingly Muslim). Upon hearing that my family and I were from Jamaica, a brother once exclaimed, “Muslims in Jamaica? Allahu’Akbar! (God is the Greatest)!”

It sho ho ould ld no ot be b surprising, the en th that generattio ons afte er the th he firstt man and our com ommo mon n ancestor, Ada am, pe am, am peac ac ce be upo p n him, walke ked th ke he Ea Earth, his des scen sc e da antts in n alll tth heir various colou ou urs and with all


their different languages would still be engaged in fulfilling the object of their creation. Worshipping Allah, Glory be to Him, and acknowledging their Muslim brethren world wide, 1

And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except that they should worship Me (Alone) (Quran, 51:56). The response which I find most upsetting is when I am told that I cannot be Jamaican. I find it offensive because I know, were it not for my Islamic dress, I would be more readily accepted as a Jamaican. The oft-repeated, “you don’t look Jamaican” now (usually) makes me laugh. A classmate of mine was one of the most ardent rejecters of my “dual” identity. Apparently, her intimate knowledge of the different groups (racial, ethnic, religious, national or other categories) in our community left no room for interlopers. After not seeing her for a few years, she found it necessary to comment once more on the (seeming) contradiction between my religion and my country of origin. I now use similar situations to challenge these socially construed borders, particularly with the intention of trying to better inform others about Islam. I find being a Jamaican Muslim is an asset in such exchanges, as it is a great conversation starter and often, effectively forces others to (at least temporarily) reassess some of their notions of Islam and Muslims (even if they don’t admit it!). My hope is that they will be curious enough to investigate Islam for themselves, and that, by the

“being “bein ing ng a Muslim Mu usl slim sli lim im Jamaican Jam Ja ama mai aiican iss important imp im mportant tan ant nt to me, me e, not no because be becaus cau use e of any an ny nationalistic nat na ationa nal ali listic ic zeal, zeal ze al, but ut because bec cau use it highlights hig hi igh ghl hli lig igh ghts the ght th he e universality uni un niv ive verrs rsali allit ity ty of this thi th his most mo ost blessed re bl rel religion” liigi lig gion ion” ”


Will of Allah, Glory be to Him, they will fall in love with the deen, as I did when I truly began to study and consciously practice Islam. I do not place excessive nationalist sentiment on my country of origin. I am appreciative of the experiences I have gained from my background, but I am most grateful for the opportunity it gives me to bring others out of the common Muslim stereotypes. I feel some non-Muslims (and sadly, certain Muslims) believe exposure to their concepts of freedom and democracy will lure Muslims out of their religious shells and show them the superiority of a secular lifestyle, where little or no importance is placed on “institutionalized religion”. I point to my own experience to counter this assertion. Despite living closely with non-Muslims and being constantly presented with various elements of a non-Islamic lifestyle (and many Muslim brothers and sisters raised in Canada and other Western nations can identify) I have chosen to live my life as a Muslim. This conviction is not owed to coercion or ignorance, but rather to observation and analysis of the various lifestyles (Islamic, alternative religions, secular) I have experienced as a result of my background. In this sense, being a Muslim Jamaican is important to me, not because of any nationalistic zeal, but because it attests to the universality of this most blessed religion and thus provides an opportunity for all to realize that the borders often drawn around this way of life simply do not or should not exist. Islam is an open invitation to the truth for all humanity.

O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa2. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, AllAware (Quran, 49:13). REFERENCES 1. Jinn- A creation, created by God from fire, like human beings from dust and angels from light. 2. Taqwa – God consciousness, piety.

Sharifa Khan is a first year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto (St. George campus) majoring in History and Political Science.

O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the Most Honourable of you with Allah is that believer who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Quran, 49:13)








Y 5



It was 10AM on Wednesday morning. I was hurrying, I was scurrying, and I was stumbling over my things. I was rushing to get ready and at that time, the only thing on my mind was: “I must catch the next bus or I’ll be late for my test!” I was then out the door and about to reach the bus stop … when the bus just zoomed by me ahead of schedule! In such a situation, what should I have done? Should I be swearing? Should I be exploding at others out of my anger? Or, should I just be shrugging it off saying: “Oh, I’m just having a bad day!” What should I really be doing right at the time when facing a hardship?

… but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.). Who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and those are the followers of the right course (Quran, 2:155-157). Umm Salama, the wife of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying: If any servant of Allah who suffers a calamity says: “We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return; O Allah, reward me for my affliction and give me something better than it in exchange for it,” Allah will give him reward for affliction, and would give him something better than it in exchange. Umm Salama said: When Abu Salama died I uttered these very words as I was commanded to do by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). So, Allah gave me better in exchange than him (i.e. she was taken as the wife of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). (Muslim)


Hence, one must remain calm and recite on the onset of any problem regardless of how major or minor it is: Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raaji’oon (Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return). O Allah, please grant me something better in return! At the onset of missing the bus, I was able to recite this dua (prayer) by the Grace and Mercy of Allah, Glory be to Him. However, at this point, throughout the course of the hardship, one must continue to submit him/herself to Almighty Allah and patiently await His Promise:

Verily, with the hardship, there is relief (Quran, 94:6). Yes, pain and tears did flood my heart. That was alright. However, I knew I couldn’t complain as to why this happened. I comforted myself. I patiently waited for Glorious Allah’s Promise of receiving ease after grief (and of getting something better in return). Two or more jam-packed buses passed by into which I was unable to enter. Even when it seemed that definitely I will be late for my test, I still continued to recite the dua and put all my trust in Him.

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, … (Quran, 2:155). Subhan’Allah! (Glory be to God). Even when an express bus was not scheduled to come, Glorious Allah made it appear out of nowhere, it surpassed all the earlier buses, and I got to the test location on time! I can’t even express how thankful and grateful I was, and still am,

to Him. I was completely awed by witnessing His Powers. Allahu Akbar! (Allah is the Greatest).

Allah the All-Knowing tests all His believers to see how true they are in their obedience to Him. We get tested only to the extent that we are able to bear, which is according to the level of our Iman (faith):

Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope… (Quran, 2:286).

Now the question arises: How should one really submit him/herself to Allah the Most Kind during any difficulty?

And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi’un [i.e. the true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings (Hell, etc.)] (Quran, 2:45). In the course of any hardship, it is of utmost importance that one must seek help from Allah the Wise Alone and only look toward His Promise. One should sincerely submit him/ herself to Allah, Glory be to Him, by guarding his/her prayers, continuously asking for His forgiveness, being thankful for what one has, as well as remembering not to complain about why he/she is undergoing such an affliction. In one’s sincere submission to Him the heart then continuously cleanses and thus Iman increases. Hence, it becomes easier for one to develop and practice patience in any difficulty. Therefore, one continues to gain nearness to Allah the Majestic by sincerely obeying Him and remaining

patient throughout a hardship. Closeness to Allah the Protector helps one to become aware at all times that His best Promise in return of a hardship is nothing but Jannah (Paradise). So, His true believers then experience enjoyment in any difficulty since they are always able to crave Jannah with His closeness. Allah, the Most High, wants the best for us:

Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you (Quran, 2:185).

Even when things might seem difficult at first we will find that all along they were for the best. Such incidences, like the one that happened to me, help to increase our Iman as we witness His Powers. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “A strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than a weak one, and both are good. Adhere to that which is beneficial for you. Keep asking 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 (thoughts).” (Muslim) Whatever happens, happens for the best. May Almighty Allah help us to remember Him in both easy and difficult times. Ameen.

Asna Khadija Ahmad is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto (St. George campus) specializing in Life Sciences (Health and Disease).


THE UNIVERSAL LESSONS OF HAJJ Millions of pilgrims from all over the world converged in Mecca last month to retrace the footsteps of millions who have made the spiritual journey to the valley of Mecca since the time of Adam.

Hajjj literally means, “to continuously strive to reach one’s goal.” It is the last of the five pillars of Islam (the others include a declaration of faith in one God, five daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting during the month of Ramadan n). Pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those who have the physical and financial ability to undertake the journey. The Hajjj is essentially a reenactment of the rituals of the great prophets and teachers of faith. Pilgrims symbolically relive the experience of exile and atonement undergone by Adam and Eve after they were expelled from Heaven, 8

wandered the earth, met again and sought forgiveness in the valley of Mecca. They also retrace the frantic footsteps of the wife of Abraham, Hagar, as she ran between the hills of Safa and Marwa searching for water for her thirsty baby (which according to Muslim tradition, God answered with the well of Zam Zam m). Lastly, the pilgrims also commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for the sake of God. God later substituted a ram in place of his son. Yet, the Hajjj is more than these elaborate rituals. The faithful hope that it will bring about a deep spiritual transformation, one that will make him or her a better person. If such a change within does not occur, then the Hajj was merely a physical and material exercise devoid of any spiritual significance.

creatures in that we possess an essence beyond the material world. Indeed, this is why all great religions have a tradition of pilgrimage. In the Islamic tradition, Hajjj encapsulates this spiritual journey toward this essence. The current state of affairs - both within and outside the Muslim world - greatly increases the relevance of some of the spiritual and universal messages inherent in the Hajj. As Islamic scholar Ebrahim Moosa asks rhetorically: “after paying homage to the two women Eve and Hagar in the rites of pilgrimage, how can some Muslims still violate the rights and dignity of women in the name of Islam? Is this not a contradiction?” Indeed, the Quran teaches:

As all great religions teach, we are more than mere physical

I shall not lose sight of the

labour of any of you who labours in my way, be it man or woman; each of you is equal to the other (Quran, 3:195). Clearly, the white sea of men and women side by side performing tawaf (circling) around the kaaba (the stone building Muslims believe was originally built by Adam and rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ishmael) should lay to rest any claim that Islam - as opposed to some Muslims degrades women. The fact that millions of Muslims transcending geographical, linguistic, level of practice, cultural, ethnic, colour, economic and social barriers converge in unison in Mecca, attests to the universality of the Hajj. It plants the seed to celebrate the diversity of our common humanity. Pilgrims return home enriched by this more pluralistic and holistic outlook with a new appreciation of their origins. One of the most celebrated Western Hajjis (one who has completed the Hajj) is none other than African-American civil rights leader El-Hajj Malik El Shabbaz, more commonly

known as Malcolm X. The man who was renowned for preaching that whites were “devils” - especially the blond, blue-eyed ones - profoundly reassessed these views during the Hajj. This transformation, of course, sealed his break with the Black nationalist movement of the Nation of Islam.

Upon returning to America, he embarked on a mission to enlighten both blacks and whites with his new views. Malcolm X understood that in order to truly learn from the Hajj, its inherent spiritual lessons must extend beyond the fraternal ties of Muslims to forging a common humanity with others.

Contrary to the teachings of the Nation, he concluded that Islam encompassed all of humanity and transcended race and culture. Malcolm X later said, “In my 39 years on this Earth, the holy city of Mecca had been the first time I had ever stood before the Creator of all and felt like a complete human.”

In fact, as part of the spiritual experience, the pilgrimage links people across religions through a past shared by several Abrahamic traditions. This combined with the Islamic teaching of the common origin of humanity holds out much hope. Indeed, the Quran teaches:

In Mecca, he discovered himself mixing with, “fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was whitest of white.” Malcolm X was so inspired by what he witnessed, that, in letters to friends and relatives, he wrote, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.”

We created you from a single pair of a male and female (Adam and Eve), and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other and not that you might despise each other. The most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you (Quran, 49: 13). This is a great celebration of the differences and at the same time unity of all of humanity. Another




message of the Hajj is one of humility to God, Glory be to Him, and His supremacy and control over all that we know. The multitude of people and their inner beliefs and practices are all to be judged by God and God alone in His infinite wisdom and full knowledge. Indeed, as the Quran insists,

The result of a successful Hajj is a rich inner peace, which is manifested outwardly in the values of justice, honesty, respect, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and empathy. And it is these values – all attributes of God Almighty - that are indispensable to us all if we are just to get along in this world.

Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith, truth stands out clear from error

Faisal Kutty is a lawyer, writer and doctoral candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. He is also vice chair of the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations. His articles are archived at This article first appeared in the National Post.

(Quran, 2: 256).

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The Job Interview

knowing yourself and your potential employer Q. I recently started looking for work after being out of the workforce for many years. I’m most worried about the job interview. I’m wondering if the structure and the types of questions have changed much over the years. Also, how should I prepare, other than being comfortable with my history as presented on my resume? A. You are not alone in finding the interview the most daunting aspect of the job search. The interview is about selling yourself as the best candidate for the position, and many people find singing their own praises a bit nerve-racking. Having a thorough knowledge of your own resume is a good start. However, you may have hidden skills and abilities to bring to the table. It is important to think of all the work-related skills you have, even if they were not gained through employment, and imagine how these can be transferred to various jobs. To build on this, consider putting together a portfolio of achievements. You can include anything related to the field of your job search, from past letters of reference to a volunteer recognition award to a project done on your own time that you are especially proud of. Bring the portfolio with you to your interview to serve as proof of your skills. Even if the employer does not look at the material, having it with you will show initiative and putting it together will help you become more articulate in describing your abilities. As you have not really been in the workforce, you may be asked about the gap. Find the most positive way possible to describe your


time away from working. If you were in school or took classes more casually, out of interest, describe these. Bring up any community or volunteer involvement during this time, even if it was simply helping with a bake sale or school outing. Should an illness or injury have contributed to your leave, communicate how obstacles were overcome or new insights gained, and express your enthusiasm for being able to return to work. A large part of the employer’s concern is likely about training you for the modern workplace, so anything you can say to alleviate this concern is worth mentioning. You should also be aware of behavioural questions, which are now widely used. These questions draw out past experiences related to specific skills, often beginning with a phrase like “Give me an example of a time…” The best way to frame your answer may help you remember it: describe the Situation and Task, the Action taken and its Result, a method referred to as STAR. Whether or not behavioural questions are asked, using these examples can strengthen your answers. Comb your history for examples of skills such as teamwork, conflict management, efficiency, and critical thinking. Remember, they may not all come from previous employment.

be more common when there are a number of openings with one company. More commonly, you will face multiple interviewers. Though this can be intimidating, it is important to remember that a panel is made up of individuals. Address them all through eye contact and body language; if possible, get business cards from each panel member and address them by name. For phone interviews, speak more slowly, have a glass of water on hand, and smile, even though the interviewer can’t see you, to maintain a positive tone of voice. For mealtime interviews, choose an entrée that can be cut into small pieces, to avoid being caught with your mouth full. Be polite to everyone, and remember it is an interview: everything said is on the record and about the job. Overall, every interviewer wants a sense of your personality to determine how you’ll fit with coworkers. Take a deep breath to help dispel the jitters, and be prepared to be yourself.

Johanna Kristolaitis is a writer with the DiversityCanada Foundation. Visit for more career tips and job postings.

Preparation also involves research into the company. Visit their website and their business location, and pick up any pamphlets related to the business. If at all possible, conduct informational interviews with current employees and/or companies having a relationship with your potential employer. The more you know about them and the position in question, the better you can tailor your responses to what they need. As for interview structure, variations abound. Apart from the typical one-on-one interview, occasionally, a multitude of candidates will be assessed simultaneously. This places interpersonal skills at the forefront, and may


The Rich

and the


A Story from the Streets of India During my visit to India in January 2006, I spent one week in capital of Delhi, while volunteering at a small local orphanage and working for the Muhammad Abbas Foundation. One evening, I visited Jamma Masjid, a popular Muslim Mosque and tourist site. It was around 7PM when herds of impoverished locals had gathered at the local restaurants next to the mosque to receive a free daily meal paid for by contributions made by the Muslim community towards the poor. As I stood watching this phenomenon, hundreds of families gathered on the road outside, eating their meals on large plates that were being shared by three or four people 14

at once. I was in shock for a moment and realized, as I stood pondering, that I had made eye contact with a man who was still waiting to be served. He looked remarkably peaceful despite his long, un-groomed hair and beard, his dirty hands and face, and torn shawl draped around his body. I noticed he was smiling at me clearly noticing that I had never seen anything like this before. I approached him and introduced myself. Arrogantly, I decided that I would talk to this man in hopes of getting to know him and maybe teach him some words in English like I had to do with many other locals I met before him. But, the conversation we had was not what I had expected. I asked him about his family and

he pointed them out as they were all sitting together. He had a wife and three children. Knowing that he was homeless, I asked stupidly, “Where do you live?” “Not far – not in a home, but a shelter,” he kindly replied. “What do you do?” “I’m a cleaner, a sweeper. wife sews garments.”


I continued to ask questions unintentionally that were ignorant and arrogant. I asked, “So what brings you here?” as the two of us sat outside a restaurant waiting for his meal. He was such a pleasant person, and did not feel awkward with my foolishness and kindly responded, “This is where we

come to eat every night. Seven years now. This is our only meal, Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God).”

He responded, “I can’t remember the last time I was hungry. We don’t feel hungry. But, during Ramadan we get hungry during the day because everyone else is hungry. They make us hungry.”

“See “Se “S See ee the thhe differ diiffe ifffe fffeer eerence rence re ence nce between be bet etw etwe wee we eeen en mee and and you yoou ou iiss that tha hat at you yo ou need ou neeed nee eed too leave leea leav eav ave ve yo your our ou ur ho home ome ttoo ome find fifin ind greater ind gre gr reeaate reat ateer er ha happiness. app ap ppi pine iinnes neess. ss.s. I don’t don do on’t on’ n’’t’t because beca be ecau caause aus use se I have haav ave ve ev eve everything ver ve ery ryytth thi hin ing ng I need ne nee eed and eed and want waan ant nt right ririgigh ght ht here.” heer ere. rree.” e..

“Do you even think about leaving Delhi to find better work or go somewhere warmer?” “Why would I ever want to leave this? What more could I ask for?”

“Do you think that what you have is better than what I have?”

With a sorrowful look on my face, which I hoped he would consider compassionate and forgive me for asking my pervious questions, I said, “So do you remain hungry all day?”

“Well, I mean, maybe you could earn more in Mumbai?” “I don’t need to earn more. I have everything I need. Why leave when you have so much?” he said smiling as he looked around at the hundreds of peasants eating. I then asked, “Don’t you ever want anything else? Something more than what you have?” I considered this question to be the turning point. I had stopped beating around the bush and asked him directly a question that I knew could have offended him or hurt his feelings. It was a sensitive question to ask, but I felt that his response would lead me for the rest of the conversation - after all, I was in India to help. His response was nothing along the lines of my expectations as he said with a very serious look after contemplating, “Chicken would be nice. But, we get that during Ramadan so the answer is ‘no’.” I stared at him thinking of the response I was expecting compared to what I got. I didn’t realize there was about a 10-second pause before he continued, “You look disappointed”. It was at this point that I knew this conversation was turning into something much more. Either he did not know that there was so much more wealth to be had in this world, or he just did not want it. “No, I’m not disappointed, but surprised – I wouldn’t have thought that.” Then, the interview turned around and he started asking the questions.

In a panic to gather my thoughts, I told him I didn’t understand what he was asking. I realized that he was not so sheltered and that he knew about the wealth that pervades my society – and parts of his. He continued, “Do you live in a home?” “Yes”. “Do you have 5 different shirts?” Not really knowing where he was going with this I replied, “Maybe more than five, why?” “More than five, why?” “I don’t know; I wear them.” “All at once?” “No! On different days.” “So are you happy?” he asked. In an effort to turn this conversation back into an interview I replied, “Yes I am, are you?” He ignored my attempt, and said, “If you were happy then why are you here?” Again trying to gather my thoughts in a sense of panic I replied, “What?” “Why did you come to India if you were happy where you were?” “Well I’m volunteering,” I said but his face looked like he was expecting more, so I continued, “And, I like to meet people and see other places.” “I thought you said you were happy?” “I am!” 15

“Then why don’t you stay where you live?” “I don’t know. I wanted to come and help others – This is what Islam teaches us!” “That makes you happy?” “Following Islam should make all Muslims happy, right?” “So then you, yourself are not really happy.” “Well not so much anymore.” “See the difference between me and you is that you need to leave your home to find greater happiness. I don’t because I have everything I need and want right here.” I realized that he was referring to my questioning him about moving somewhere else to get better work or live somewhere warmer. It hit me at that moment that I was in fact talking to a homeless man who lived in a sheet metal shelter on the side of the road. Yet, he was showing me that he had so much more than I would have ever thought. I tried to ease the mood and said, “Well, what about the chicken you wanted?”


“It will come. Some people will go after something right away to make them happy. Others will wait patiently. But, those who wait get exactly what they wanted – those who rush usually have to make a sacrifice along the way.” He continued as his food was being handed to him and his family. Touching the head of his youngest child he said, “If you give this boy 10 rupees, he does not need it. He won’t buy a house with it, nor will he give it to his family to buy bread. All he wants is a sweet. But, the good sweets cost 20 rupees. He won’t spend it to buy a different less expensive sweet. And, he won’t buy half of the good sweet either. He will wait until he gets another 10 rupees. Then, he will get what he wants. No matter how long it takes him, he has been taught never to settle for anything less then what he really wants.” He paused and then asked, “Why are you here? Here asking people questions.” “So I can… I don’t know… So I can be a better person.” “You need to meet people to be a better person? Why? I thought you were here to help others… like Islam tells you?”

“This man, whom I saw as a HOMELESSS man, was much RICHER than myself. He had what I have been trying to ACHIEVE. He was HAPPY with himself, HIS LIFE, and close to GOD. I realized that that is what I have wanted MY WHOLE LIFE.” “I am... And by learning about people who are different, I can help them. And I can get others to help them as well.” “You think we are helpless?” “No, Sir. But if I can help why shouldn’t I? You would help a brother in need!” “Of course, but who is in need here?” “I don’t know. I mean, don’t you wish things were different? That you didn’t have to sit here eating only once a day? Or, that you had five shirts? That’s what I mean when I say I want to help.” He looked confused like he just did not understand what I had just said. And he questioned, “What would a person do with five shirts?” He said, “I do not understand your thinking. You want to make us wealthier? You want us to waste things? Eat when we don’t need to and have clothes we don’t wear?” I thought he was waiting for me to respond, but before I could muster up an answer to his comment he said, “Why ruin what we already have?” In my head I was thinking that it wasn’t that I wanted to make the poor richer, but maybe slightly more developed by providing more education and opportunities. I finally said, “I’m not trying to take anything from you – just want to help give you the chance to have more!” Even though I don’t completely believe in what I had said, as it seems a bit imperialistic and capitalistic, I was so struck with what he was saying to me, that I realized I was just saying things that I thought a typical, North American volunteer in India would have said at that point. “You’ve come here because you are unhappy. You’ve come here because you think you have so much, and you want to give it to us. But, it’s what you have that is the cause of your own unhappiness. Your own abundance causes you so much unhappiness that you left it all behind to come and share it with me! We don’t want what you have because then we will turn out like you! We’ll be unhappy because

we’ll always be looking for something better than what we have… and when some of us finally get all that we could ever want, we’ll be so unhappy that we’ll leave everything behind to go and give it to other people… and the cycle will never end until we are all unhappy or we are happy with what I already have right here today!” “I just want you to be happy and I want to help you get what you need… That will make me happy…” “That’s very nice of you, but what you don’t understand is that we are happy with what we have. We don’t need you to come here with your money, gifts and language and give us false hopes. We have enough to live humbly.” I couldn’t speak because I had realized what he was saying. This man, whom I saw as a homeless man, was much richer than myself. He had what I have been trying to achieve. He was happy with himself, his life, and close to God. I realized that that is what I have wanted my whole life. “What do I know?” I asked. “Understand and learn. Helping orphans is a good deed – don’t turn that into wanting to change our lives so we can be closer to the way you live. Be proud of who you are – not what you have.” “How do I do that?” “The way the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, did - live humbly. Live with little, but be happy that when your time comes you never had enough of this world to love it to a point where you don’t want to leave it.” He continued, “Live your life – but dream about your death.” “Tough balance.” I said “What is not tough?” and he started eating his first meal of the day.

Ali Manek is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Western Ontario in Political Science and International Development. 17

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Professional Development III:



GOOD USE Whether it’s the workplace, school or home, our emotions are constantly in action as we meet people wherever we go. “She treats me like dirt”. “The professor marked me wrong intentionally. He’s a racist”. “The committee heads never ever listens to me in the meetings. Why do I bother staying on the executive?” And so on. Daily decisions where you interact with people are mostly two-way negotiations, even if it is shopping for something you like. Your emotions can break the deal, by diverting attention from substantial matters. Emotions can also be dangerous, as they can be used to exploit you. But at the same time, they can be a great asset. Should you deal directly with your emotions? That is a complicated task. Two years ago, I met Daniel Shapiro, Associate Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project. He was the keynote speaker at the National Business & Technology Conference in Toronto. I learnt from him about how to put emotions to good use. He and Roger Fisher wrote an amazing book, Beyond Reason, which is my main reference for this article. In order to develop a framework for understanding and dealing 20

with your emotions, you have to analyse them. Fisher and Shapiro address core concerns that are important to almost everyone in virtually every negotiation. They are often unspoken but are no less real than our tangible interests. These core concerns that can blend and merge with one another are: appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status and role. These core concerns focus on your relationship with others, and make up the emotional volume of any negotiation. E XPRESS APPRECIATION: FIND MERIT IN OTHERS. THEN, SHOW IT! Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him advised us: “Shake hands and rancour will disappear. Give gifts to each other and love each other and enmity will disappear…”1 Everyone has a desire to feel understood, valued and heard. If people feel genuinely appreciated, they are likely to be cooperative and less likely to act hostile. You can show appreciation by: • Understanding a person’s viewpoint. Be prepared to listen. Do not ignore ambivalence or resistance. By being aware of a mixed message, you better appreciate someone’s point of view. For example: She hates that colour. [But others don’t] She hates that colour. [She’s probably not going to change her mind easily] She hates that colour. [She hates that colour more than other colours] She hates that colour. [It’s the colour, but she’s okay with the model] • Finding merit in what one thinks, feels, or does. Sincerity is crucial. When you strongly disagree with others, try acting as an impartial mediator, especially if it is an issue of personal importance. Once you find the merit, you will be able to say, “I know you worked harder than any other person in our group on this assignment.” • Communicating your understanding through words or actions. There is no need for flowery language. Your intention should be to recognise the person’s thoughts or actions. Be careful that the other person does not become defensive. Saying, “yes, I understand” is not enough. Make sure you listen actively, with concentration. If listening is hard for you, work on it. One idea is to practice reflective listening. You paraphrase either the factual information or the feelings the other person is expressing. You may not agree with the other person’s viewpoint

and that is fine. However, you can understand it and acknowledge whatever merit you can find. We all become emotionally rewarded when we are appreciated just for who we are and what we do. Here is a potential real-life application. You talked to your father about moving out, and the situation got out of hand. Your father refused to believe that you would be able to manage living independently, and you do not want to give in either. Put yourself in your father’s shoes, and ask yourself: 1. In what ways might your father feel that you do not understand him? 2. In what ways does your father’s point of view have merit? 3. Have you communicated that you understand what he’s saying to him? Your father’s insecurity comes from his role in the family. He wants to make sure that you’re comfortable wherever you are. For question 2, you can tell him: “You are right about my spending habits, but I believe living alone will give me the opportunity to learn to budget”. BUILD AFFILIATION: TURN AN ADVERSARY INTO A COLLEAGUE. The Prophet, peace be upon him, used the message of Islam, and his forbearing attitude to turn many initial idolaters to Islam. Zayd ibn Sa’na came to demand that the Prophet repay a loan to him. He pulled the Prophet’s (pbuh) garment from his shoulder, grabbed hold of him and behaved roughly with him. Umar chased Zayd off and spoke harshly to him while the Prophet (pbuh) merely smiled. He said, “I expect something other than this from you, Umar. You should command me to repay the man well and command him to ask for his debt correctly.” Then he said, “three days are left till it is due.” He told Umar to repay him what was owed and to add twenty sa’s because he (Umar) had alarmed him. This was the experience by which Zayd became Muslim.2 • From the outset, treat the other as a colleague. • Plan joint activities to help you meet the other party in a less formal setting. • Exclude with care; don’t leave others left out. • Reduce personal distance by connecting in creative ways. Wise decisions involve both your head and your gut, and protect you from being manipulated by affiliation. 21


RESPECT AUTONOMY: E XPAND YOURS Use the I. C. N. bucket system: Inform, Consult, Negotiate. The 3 buckets can come in handy for labour-management negotiators and others who work together often in recurring situations. The process also helps those who work together to keep from stepping on each other’s toes without being paralyzed by the need for constant consensus. Whatever your authority, you can always make a recommendation or suggest new options before deciding. Cooperative brainstorming is a practical process for you to invent options for mutual benefit. ACKNOWLEDGE STATUS: RECOGNISE HIGH STANDING Status enhances our self-esteem and influence. During the succession period of Caliph Umar, may God be please with him, Khalid bin Walid, may God be pleased with him, a great commander of a Muslim army was fighting in the Battle of Yarmuk. Khalid was asked to step down in a letter sent to him by Abu Ubaidah, may God be pleased with him, on order of Caliph Umar, may God be pleased with him. Yet, the battle was still not over, and a change in leadership at that stage might have led to disastrous consequences, especially among the soldiers. Abu Ubaidah acknowledged Khalid’s outstanding position and between them they were able to decide to inform the Muslim soldiers of the change once the battle was over.3 Every person has multiple areas of high status. There is no need to compete with others over this. Appreciate the high status of others where relevant and deserved and feel proud of your own areas of expertise and achievement. If you truly appreciate your own status, you can acknowledge the status of others without cost. Treating others with appropriate respect often makes them respect you. CHOOSE A FULFILLING ROLE: SELECT THE ACTIVITIES WITHIN IT. We all have a concern with having a role that is personally fulfilling. We do not want to spend our days and nights playing phoney roles or trying to be someone who we are not. In a negotiation, playing an unfulfilling role can lead to resentment, anger and frustration. A fulfilling role has 3 qualities. It has a clear purpose, it is personally meaningful, and it is non-

pretentious. Every role has a job label and a set of fulfilling activities. Raza works very hard to get through school by working odd part-time jobs. His dream is to get into theatrical production. When he is working in retail, he spends a lot of time analysing his customers, imagining roles for them, and thinking up dialogues. His colleague on the other hand, just pouts about how little his student wage is. Raza has expanded his role to include meaningful activities. Also, appreciate the role others want to play. Your project group has a member who works extremely hard, but at the same time tries to take all the credit. An unfulfilling role leaves us feeling trivialized and unengaged. As the hadith goes, “if you hear about your brother something of which you disapprove, seek from one to seventy excuses for him. If you cannot find any, convince yourselves that it is an excuse you do not know.”4 You should appreciate how the situation looks to your colleague. He’s doing badly in other courses and this is boosting his confidence. Or, he thinks he’ll lose friends if his performance drops, and so on. As we negotiate, we play a role in response to a role set by another person. If the other person makes demands, so do we. If they call us weak, we show our strength. Reshaping your role can take effort. Be persistent. Over time, you can shape your role to your liking. The ideas in this article require a compassionate person to understand and put them to practice. You can act in ways that meet the core concerns in others as well as in yourself. Express appreciation. Build a sense of affiliation. Respect each person’s autonomy and status. Help shape roles to be fulfilling. REFERENCES 1. Muwatta 47.4.16 2. Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hibban, at-Tabarani and Abu Nu`aym 3. History of the Khulafaa taught by Muhammad AlShareef, Al Maghrib Institute 4. Al-Bayhaqi

Humairah Irfan is a University of Toronto Alumna with a BASc in Computer Engineering.


India’s MUSLIMS deemed to be in DIRE Straits

The president of India is a Muslim. The leading tennis star, Sania Mirza, is a Muslim woman. Three members of the national cricket XI are Muslim. So are the biggest stars of the ubiquitous Bollywood movies, as also India’s two leading and world-renowned painters, M. F. Husain and Tyeb Mehta. Yet, in the many paradoxes that characterize India, the 150-million Muslim minority in this nation of 1.3 billion is in crisis, due to entrenched official and social discrimination, according to a federal commission. The Prime Minister’s High-Level Committee, as it was called, was headed by Rajindar Sachar, retired chief justice of the Delhi High Court.

His unflinching report, released two months ago, is under intense national debate. It has international relevance as well: - Many of the prejudices it cites have an eerie echo of the West’s post-9/11 Islamophobia. - The fate of the world’s second-largest group of Muslims, after Indonesia’s 180 million, does matter. For example, Indian Muslim moderation has been held up by both India and the U.S. as proof that a secular democracy is a good antidote to terrorism. That argument gets eroded if such a polity fails the community, as Sachar declares. Historically Muslims have been a minority in the subcontinent, albeit a ruling one for several centuries. But when British India was divided in 1947, Muslims formed a majority in Pakistan. When Pakistan itself got carved up in 1971, Muslims formed a majority in Bangladesh as well. But they are a minority in India where, at times, they have been accused of dual loyalty to Pakistan and targeted in periodic pogroms. Sachar says Muslims “carry a double burden of being ‘anti-national’ and being ‘appeased’ at the same time. They must prove on a daily basis that they’re not ‘antination’ and `terrorists.’ It is not recognized that the alleged ‘appeasement’ has not resulted in the desired level of socio-economic development” for them. During sectarian violence, his seven-member commission says, Muslims are victimized many times over: - By the Hindu communalists who attack them. - By police who side with the criminals and are “heavy-handed” with Muslims, raiding their homes “at the slightest pretext.” - By media, which “overplay the involvement of


Muslims in violent activities and underplay the involvement of others.” By governments that fail to “bring to book the perpetrators of communal violence” and fail to compensate Muslim victims.

Muslims – “fearing for their safety and security” and fleeing “social boycott in certain parts of the country,” where they cannot buy or rent property – are abandoning areas “they have lived in for centuries,” and moving to Muslim areas. “Distress sales” of properties in the areas they are fleeing from fetch them a low price, while they pay inflated prices in the “secure” areas they move to. Worse, Muslim neighbourhoods have become “easy targets for neglect by municipal and government authorities. Water, sanitation, electricity, schools, public health facilities, banking, ration shops, roads and transportation facilities are all in short supply in these areas.” Muslims, clustered in urban areas, are poorer than others. “Their conditions on the whole are only slightly better than those of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes” – those on the lowest rungs of the Hindu caste system and traditionally the most discriminated against. Only 27 per cent of urban Muslims are engaged in regular work vs. 49 per cent for upper caste Hindus and 40 per cent for the scheduled castes, Sachar says. In the coveted public sector, Muslims have the lowest share, 24 per cent vs. 39 per cent for the lower castes. In federal police, the share of Muslims is just 6 per cent vs. 42 per cent for upper caste Hindus and 23 per cent for the lower castes. In defence-related jobs, Muslims have only 4 per cent of the jobs. Muslims are, of necessity, disproportionately employed, as casual labour or street vendors – too, without fixed locations. Yet they do not proportionate access to credit, in part because areas are ill-served by banks.

selfthat, have their

As disheartening as all this is, it is worth noting in the context of Indian democracy that Sachar is a Hindu, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is promising a series of remedial measures, is a Sikh.

Haroon Siddiqui is a regular columnist for the Toronto Star, in which this article first appeared.

Uyghur Muslims of China BACKGROUND Uyghurs are the native people of Eastern Turkistan. They border Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, Tibet, Mongolia and China. The land on which they reside has an area of 1.848 million square kilometres which is four times the size of California. The landscape is quite diverse, comprising of some of the world’s most formidable deserts, greatest mountain ranges, beautiful grasslands and forests. The latest official figure indicates the Uyghur population to be 9.9 million. There are also 500,000 Uyghurs living in Western Turkistan (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) and 75,000 in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Europe and the United States. The language spoken by Uyghurs is a Turkish (or Turkic) dialect.

a nomadic people at first, but eventually settled in the middle of the Silk Road routes. These routes ran mainly through China, Europe, North Africa, Russia, and India. Geographically speaking then, the Uyghurs had been at the centre of cultural interactions between East and West. Archaeological expeditions led to the discovery of numerous cave temples, monastery ruins, wall paintings, statues, frescoes, valuable manuscripts, documents and books. Such discoveries proved that the Uyghurs had attained a high degree of civilization. The first Uyghur literary works were mostly translations of Buddhist and Manicheist religious books. Some narrative, poetic, and epic works were also discovered. A selection of these has been translated into German, English, Russian, and Turkish languages.

Religion CULTURE Uyghur culture has evolved over a two thousand year period as a result of geographical, historical and religious factors. They were


Religion has played a major role in Uyghur culture as well, and has evolved through several transitions from Shamanism, Manichaeism, Buddhism,

Christianity and Islam. Each has added indelibly to the richness of Uyghur culture. Islam was embraced during the reign of Satuk Bughra Khan in 934 A.D. He was the first Turkic ruler to embrace Islam in Central Asia. During Khan’s rule many mosques were built. Almost 300 mosques were built in the oasis city of Kashgar alone. Among them, the most famous are Ihe Azna Mosque (built in the 12th century), Idgah Mosque (built in the 15th century) and Appak Khoja Mosque (built in the 18th century). The Idgah mosque can accommodate 5000 Muslims. Eighteen madrasahs (religious schools) were also built in Kashgar city. These madrasahs taught Uyghur children reading, writing, Islam, mantic (logic), arithmatik (arithmetic), hendese (geometry), hai’a (ethics) astronomiye (astronomy), tibb (medicine) and falaha (agriculture). In the 15th century, the Mesudi Library was built which housed a collection of almost 200,000 books. Hundreds of Muslim students from various parts of the Islamic World came to Kashgar city to study.

CURRENT ISSUES In addition to 9.8 million Uyghur, there are 7.5 million Chinese living in East Turkistan today. Many more Chinese are unregistered residents. This large presence is a result of an occupation of the country in 1949 by the Chinese. Since then, the Uyghurs have been restricted from participating in official capacities. They are further discriminated against in employment, population growth, health care, education, literature and economy. Natural resources available in East Turkistan are one of the most attractive qualities to the Chinese. More than one third of the petroleum reserves and two thirds of the coal reserves of China are in East Turkistan. Gold, uranium, copper, and mineral ores are also abundant. It is the biggest cotton-producing and one of the top three meat producing regions. Despite the wealth, more than 90% of Uyghurs live below the poverty line and unemployment is high. The petroleum industry in East Turkistan, for example, hires close to half a million people, but they hire Chinese workers almost exclusively. Government jobs in the countryside, where virtually no Chinese reside, are given to Chinese soldiers. In addition, Chinese settlers often settle at the upper reaches of main rivers and reduce the water supply to traditional Uyghur farmlands. The rivers have become heavily contaminated. With no room to expand and insufficient water to sustain existing farmlands, the

Uyghur villages have become overcrowded and poor. The Uyghur farmers have no access to electricity and drink from contaminated rivers. As a result, disease is wide spread. A majority of these farmers have no access to healthcare, and cannot afford to see a doctor.

POLITICAL PRISONERS Under Chinese rule, Uyghurs are denied to express their culture or religious beliefs. As a result there are thousands of Uyghur political prisoners. One example of this is Rebiya Kadeer, a successful business woman, philanthropist and community leader for many years. In 1996, she and her husband travelled to America. When she returned in 1997, the Chinese authorities placed her under surveillance and confiscated her passport. In March 2000 and at 60 years of age, she was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, two years of which were spent in solitary confinement. She was charged with “providing secret information to foreigners” under Article 111 of the Chinese criminal law. The allegation stemmed from her husband’s activities as a broadcaster with two radio stations, Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA). She was released to the U.S. in March 2005 for medical reasons and intensive international pressure from the U.S., E.U. and human rights organizations. Since then, she has been campaigning for human rights and democracy for the Uyghurs. She has founded the International Uyghur Human Rights and

Democracy Foundation, and was elected President of the Uyghur American Association and the World Uyghur Congress. In recognition of her work, she has received many awards and twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. To retaliate, the Chinese government has destroyed most of her property and frozen her funds. In June 2006, three of her sons were arrested and her daughter put under house arrest. Ms. Rebiya Kadeer continues to fight for the rights of her people and to restore their rich cultural, religious and economic heritage. In December of last year, she met with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to raise awareness about the plight of the Uyghur people. Also, she asked for support in the release of Uyghur Canadian Huseyin Celil who is still in Chinese custody. To get more information about East Turkistan and the Uyghurs, visit the Uyghur Canadian Association’s website at: The association is a non-profit organization based in Toronto. They were established in March 2000 and work to promote Uyghur culture, support the community in peacefully and democratically determining their own future, lobby the Canadian government to protect the rights of their people and help new Uyghur immigrants settle in Canada.

Javeria Ahmad is a student at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education.



Trip to I blink a wish into morning in a chore, I enter the bus daylight tearing the horizon to lighten my awaited seat. Wishing of what could be in this metal mobile cage with strangers of old who sit alongside the window. “Send me away from here give me breath instead of this and show me your path towards this light of day� I pray Then sleep takes me in all my attempts to read wisdom makes me weary my eyelids fall, darkness awaits. Suddenly awoken, yet not at my stop, night encases me and this bus, bus still moving when and where have I come? Black all around me, the inside lights are off, yet the bus driver remains steadfast to drive forward into night. Panic attacks my heart, I know nothing of this place the seats are cold and I am frightened by the landscape. I have been given my wish to awaken to this locale where confusion, chaos and constriction are my friends. Wishing I was home now to that proper, known place to that rigid lifestyle, and away from this bewildering route. The bus stops, and the driver vanishes into the air, I am still cold in my seat, hoping for a rescuer to enter the door. The doors open, and like gates they set me free to the unknown world that is now set in front of me. Asim Ashraf


Allah Knows My heart had a visitor today, grasping wilted flowers in his hands. It took him longer to get here than planned. I gathered trampled petals from the empty garden, wet and soft in my palms breathing memories of a softer past. Secret glimpses into his words: a man with the softest palms leads me by the hand to paradise. Asmaa Hussein


BUILDING NOAH’S ARK TODAY And the Lord spoke to Noah and said, “In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all flesh is destroyed. But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on the earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark.” In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark. In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark. “Remember,” said the Lord, “You must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year.” Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping. “Noah,” He shouted, “where is the Ark?” “Lord, please forgive me!” cried Noah. “I did my best, but there were big problems. First, I had to get a permit for construction and your plans did not meet the codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans. Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a sprinkler system and flotation devices. Then my neighbors objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission. Then I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark, because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife

Service won’t let me catch any owls. So, no owls. The carpenters formed a union and went out on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or a hammer. Now I have 16 carpenters on the Ark, but still no owls. When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They objected to me only taking two of each kind aboard. Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn’t take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the Universe. Then the Army Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood plain. I sent them a globe. Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking godless, unbelieving people aboard. The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I’m building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes. I just got a notice from the state that I owe them some kind of user tax and failed to register the Ark as a “recreational watercraft”. Finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional. I really don’t think I can finish the Ark for another five or six years!” Noah wailed. The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine and the seas began to calm. A rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up hopefully. “You mean You are not going to destroy the earth, Lord?” “No,” said the Lord, sadly, “I don’t have to. The government already has!”

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252 Bloor Street W. 8th Floor, Rm 136

MULTIFAITH CENTRE (MFC) Opening soon! VICTORIA COLLEGE Emmanuel Building 75 Queen’s Park Cresent East 3rd floor, South End

HART HOUSE Jumah Prayers Only 2nd floor, Debates Room


33 St. George Street, 3rd Floor

40 St. George 1st floor, RM 1255

WHERE CAN I PRAY ON CAMPUS? Regular prayers are offered at two locations around campus:

FRIDAY/JUMAH PRAYER LOCATION Main Jumah: Hart House 12:20-12:50 PM, 2nd floor, Debates Room Second Jumah: Hart House 1:20-1:50 PM, 2nd floor, Debates Room Please make every effort to attend the second Jumah!

ZUHR/MAGHRIB SALAT 1) International Student Centre (ISC) 33 St. George Street, 3rd Floor 2) Bahen Prayer Space 40 St George St, 1255 1st Floor (across the Megabits Cafe) Visit for more info and updates!







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The Muslim Voice - Vol XIII Issue 3  

The February 2007 issue of the Muslim Voice.

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