TMV STAFF EDITOR IN CHIEF
ASSICIATE EDITOR WRITERS
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Muhsanah Arefin Hebah Masood
Aaminah Amin Safwan Hossain Mohamed Ibrahim Khalood Kibria Amal Hirole Nida-Baig Mirza > Head Copy Editor Gulru Inan Halla Ahmed Hina Najam Hirra Sheikh Ammar ElAmir > Head Designer Ammara Wasim > Head Designer > VP Communications Elif Ozcelik Farwa Mumtaz Zahra Abdi
Alisa Dermawan Ismael Ghanim Yasir Mazumder Reem Draz Ammar ElAmir Ammara Wasim
Azizah Arif Nilufer Hoque Amina Mohamed (A)
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Editor’s Address Muhsanah Arefin
What’s in a Name? Muhsanah Arefin
Finding Home Khalood Kibria
The Persistence of Memory Safwan Hossain
Islamic Heritage Month Aaminah Amin
Rip-Out Poster Bigotry in Berlin Hebah Masood Hard Times
Contemplating Intellectual Humility Amal Hirole
Tarnish Our Identity Nida-Baig Mirza
Muslim Students Association NOVEMBER 2016 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | 3
salamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatu, 2016 has been quite the bizarre year. It’s been a year of revelation, of exposure, of anxiety, of despair. In this latest issue of The Muslim Voice Magazine we come to terms with what has occurred in the political world as well as within the realms of social justice and international crises. For this issue we chose the theme of “Reconnecting With our Roots” because we felt that in an effort to understand our present, it would be best to return to the core of ourselves, our ideals, and our faith. This issue is an attempt to reconfigure our sense of self in a world where identity is multifaceted and complicated. We tackle conceptions of roots whether it be the idea of home, one’s struggle against the pains of troubling memories, consulting the path of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions, Muslim-Canadian identity, or one’s name. We also explore the concept of origins and roots in more expansive ways such as through the Muslim experience in Germany during the country’s inception of immigration until today, with the current refugee crisis. Another writer contemplates intellectual humility as it is practiced in our faith and how this may conflict with the university environment. Finally, we present a poem where the writer seeks to take back command of her own narrative. We have also included the new Muslim Students’ Association’s Council photos so that members of the community can reach out to the resources we provide here at UofT all year long. In a fast-paced world where having the space to speak and assert one’s presence dominates the way we view certain demographics, the TMV continues to make the effort to provide a platform for young Muslims to offer their insight on their placement in society. There is no doubt that there is much to be done in this world. I thank you for choosing to pick up The Muslim Voice Magazine to listen to these young voices. As we contemplate the state of our world, hopefully we may begin to understand how we can move forward during troubling times. Muhsanah Arefin Editor-in-Chief
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What’s in a Name? BY MUHSANAH AREFIN My name in Arabic is " ”محصنةwhich comes from the root word “”صان meaning to protect or safeguard. Therefore my name in its Arabic form means something or someone that is protected. Although the meaning is quite profound, the difficult pronunciation of the word has caused me to resent my name for a long time.
said it. That changed one day when two friends confronted me.
It was soon after I started working at the UofT Call Centre. I had completely forgotten that my two friends had never seen me introduce myself outside of the MSA. Like clockwork, I began with “Hello, my name is Muhsanah Within my own household, my name was quickly calling on behalf….” They both looked at reduced to ‘saanah’ soon after I was born. In me and asked, “why don’t you say your my name there were two letters side by side real name?” When I tried to explain “Muhsanah.” that did not exist in the English language myself I had no answer. I tried to “Mooshanah?” and on top of that, they were hard letters remember why and how I became “No, the H is before the S. Muhsanah” even in Arabic. My Bengali side called so complacent. Why had I allowed “Moosaanah?” me “Moosenah” and my Guyanese side people to strip me of my identity, “No, Muuuuuuhhh-ssaaah-naaah” called me “Muksaanah.” For most of allowing them to not even try to “Mu-Moo-Muhsanah?” my childhood I went to an Islamic pronounce my name correctly? “Ya...ya, sure. It’s fine, no one says it right. Not even my school and the Arabic speakers there What had I been so afraid of? family.” tended to get it. Sometimes they would When I looked back at my life, I “Can I call you Moose? Or Apple? Manzana is apple in say “mohsinah” instead of “Muhsanah”. realized I was just tired. I was tired spanish.” I wondered what was even the point of of my name, and how it made me feel “Really, now?” naming me Muhsanah if no one could different. What was the point even? say it right. As a result I begrudgingly introduced myself, mumbling my name, I promised I would start to introduce not caring if anyone, at home or school, told myself using the real pronunciation. After me it was a beautiful name. I never believed them all, I was 21 years old and I was long past being anyway. It was always the comment that followed apologetic about my Muslim-ness. What I did not someone’s struggle and failure in pronouncing my name. expect was how this simple act would cause me to realize how much of myself I had been rejecting for so long. I realized that By thirteen I had switched to public school -a place where name was part of who I was, and that I had become so complacent my name was truly unique- and I became complacent. It was with the idea that people did not have to try to say my name. My routine: spend ten minutes going over my name with every peer name should have been my pride, but I had turned into my shame and teacher I encountered, “oh, what a pretty name,” they would simply because of my own childhood insecurities. I introduced say, I would nod and say, “oh, thanks. I don’t think it’s that great, myself to an all-white group of graduate students using the original no one can ever say it.” This lasted to university. Like a switch, pronunciation. One girl asked, “Is there…a shortened way I could I called myself “Muhsanah” to my non-Muslim classmates and say your name?” I laughed and said, “No, you can keep trying to say “ ”محصنةto my Muslim peers. Most people avoided saying my name my name correctly.” I thought to myself, ‘I believe I deserve that’. altogether. At the ROM summer camp I volunteered for, one my counsellor supervisors avoided saying my name for an entire It is about time I demand people put in the effort to say my week. I always encountered a weird sense of guilt for my name. name. For the first time in my life, I feel good about my name. I always felt so apologetic: “I’m sorry, I know it’s really hard to I know people will continue to mispronounce it, but what’s pronounce.” I didn’t think much of it at the time. I had separated changed is that I now expect people to try. My name is who I am myself from my name, and it did not matter anymore how people and it represents the faith I am a part of. And I’m proud of that.
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Finding Home When people asked me where I was from, I didnâ€™t really have a precise answer. Home was not something I could define. By Khalood Kibria
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When I was a little girl living in Pakistan, my family used to move around all over the country. I was born in a small city known only for its military base. We moved from there when I was one. The next six years of my life were spent in a city near the country’s capital, and the next four in the coastal city of Karachi. My grandparents lived in two small cities near Lahore, the heart of Punjab. So when people asked me where I was from, I didn’t really have a precise answer. “Home” was not something I could define.
Members of diaspora communities can often be heard referring to the motherland as “back home”. We insist, perhaps, that despite the time spent away, and in spite of the hostility we may face from people “back home” for having become “too foreign”, our values “too westernized”, or for maybe betraying those whom we had left behind, the mother country is still what home means. On the other hand, when in the motherland, diaspora members will assert that we are simply visiting from such and such country, as if that is where our home is. Yet sometimes we may feel unwanted in our country of To add to the mix, my family immigrated to Canada when I choice for not having “assimilated enough” or for having values and was 11. At this point, I felt that Pakistan was my home. Moving to a identities that are just too alien. country on the other side of the globe was not easy. In the beginning, I just wanted to go back as I longed for the familiarity of everything In the geographical sense, “Home” thus becomes an that we had left behind. But as time went on and Canada became ambiguous concept, while searching for belonging becomes a form more familiar, the nostalgia for Pakistan faded and I found myself of psychological labour. Some days the feeling of belonging, or lack searching for an identity that I could own. thereof, is stronger than others. Some days we feel nostalgic for our roots, while on other days we are grateful for where life has brought The first time that I went back to Pakistan to visit my family, us. Some days we wish we could be as sure of ourselves as so many I was asked “So, do you like Canada more or Pakistan more?” multiple other people are, and on other days we wholeheartedly embrace the times. People expected me to make a choice, and hoped that I would intricate details about ourselves that make us different. pick Pakistan because my feelings for the country would not have, or should not have, changed. Frankly, I didn’t have an answer. There is no singular or tested answer to be used in the face of the obstacles and complexities that are perhaps an inevitable To me, being a part of a diaspora community has meant part of owning a diasporic identity. The process of learning to live constantly grappling with the idea of space, both physical and with this complicated identity is perhaps perennial but I also have mental. Physically, it has meant finding ways to bridge the miles no doubt that it is one of the most liberating experiences that one long gap created by geographical boundaries between the two places can endure. My diasporic identity gives me dimensions, layers and that define me. Mentally, it has meant struggling to make enough insights that others do not have. I can tap into the realities of two psychological room for both my identities to coexist and continue different countries, I am familiar with two different cultures, and I breathing. speak multiple languages. All of this not only helps me recognize the role I play, or can play, in both the countries that define me, but it also Learning to love and take pride in your roots constitutes enhances my understanding of the world. a long, and often exhausting, journey. It is hard to describe what it feels like when you transport yourself to a place where your culture, My diasporic identity gives me strength because it has language, the colour of your skin and everything else about you that helped me realize that home does not necessarily have to be a place. makes you you is rendered secondary to the dominant, normative I have learned that my Home is my vessel and I can fill it up with culture. This is not to say that Canadians are intolerant or that whatever and whomever I want. I feel at Home when I am surrounded they are racist - most people are anything but that. But despite the by family and friends. I think of Home when I lower my head in “multiculturalism” wagon waving its flag all around the country, most prostration and feel God’s presence around me. Home is also what I of us immigrants can attest to scrunched noses over the smells of our am reminded of when I hear the sounds of rickshaws and honks or food, uncomfortable stares when we wear cultural attire in public, when I sense the watering smell of Biryani. But Home also looks like and casual corrections of our broken English and “funny” accents. the first winter snow, and Home is also walking out into the street and hearing twelve different languages and dialects coming from the It is not a surprise then that a vast number of diaspora mouths of people who hail from all parts of the globe. Finding Home kids choose to distance themselves from their ethnic and cultural I believe is, ultimately a path that leads to the very core of the self and identities, even finding shame in them and uncomfortably laughing everything that makes me Me. along as they are made fun of. Others, like myself, struggle to perform some sort of a fusion in which both our identities will perfectly fit like pieces of a puzzle — acceptance of one’s identity is perhaps the easier part as it constitutes a personal struggle of coming to terms with oneself; the greater challenge, I think, is living with a complex diasporic identity because that involves actually navigating through an incredibly critical society while also staying true to one’s identity.
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roubling past memories often plague minds in moments of quiet solitude, and much of our personal struggles and outward inhibitions can be derived from them. Some we try to bury in a deep recess of our subconscious and others we are reminded of incessantly. These events often leave a lasting impression upon us, and much of life thereafter is reflected through this lens. The simplest events and impressions are cast in a darker shade, reminding us of those difficult times. This leads us to question the nature of the past, and how to reconcile those troubled moments with the present. We may choose to ignore it, hoping to start afresh, or fixate upon it, searching for answers to validate the future. However, both approaches have their flaws and the truth lies in the middle way, in recognizing that the troubled moments of yesterday are interspersed within moments of simple beauty. Because we are weary of what the past has entailed and corrupted, we may choose to ignore it altogether. What would be the harm in breaking from past incidents which now seem meaningless? Just as dawn banishes all darkness and brings forth promise of a worthy day, we believe that a fresh new chapter of our life arises from expelling the past. However, this thought is flawed because we are the product of all that has preceded us. So to ignore the landmarks of our past is to ignore a greater part of ourselves. We risk losing touch with our core ideals and beliefs, being privy to earlier mistakes, and being heedless in making new decisions. Despite our utmost efforts to erase these memories, they may still affect us in unknown ways.
right pieces. However, we do not know what image we are trying to recreate, for our life is not a completed picture. We see in the present, not a new breath or thought, but only reflections of what came before. Imprisoned within the suffocating walls of our pasts, we delude ourselves into believing that these memories somehow constitute all of life. So while the world moves on around us, we become frozen in place. However, we then realize that for all its strength the past is nothing more than memories, and what troubles us now are not moments but the impressions they left. Those memories of sorrow, grief, and dejection are all just that: noteworthy instances in time, ones that shaped and influenced who we are today. However, at their expense, we often neglect many other seemingly trivial, insignificant moments. A walk on a rainy night, a sunrise shared with a close friend, the rustling of autumn leaves on a cloudy, windswept day, the serenity of returning home after a long absence, a delightful smile on a strangerâ€™s face, these and countless others are also of the past. They are moments reflecting the sheer beauty of the ordinary human experience. It is a beauty not reserved for a select few, but rather the gift of Providence unto all peoples. Indeed all of time is filled with such instances, and we will be flooded by them if only we are perceptive.
We often convince ourselves that hope lies in the positive moments of the future: getting a coveted job, obtaining a reputable degree, or marrying someone of our dreams. Much of this is beyond our control. By fixating on them we will miss the innumerable moments of beauty that are flowing around us. It is in appreciating Conversely, we give too much credit to the past. these moments that we shall see the past in its entirety. Upon realizing its effect on our present, we come to Moreover, if we truly are a manifestation of our past, believe that reevaluation will reveal a greater truth. We then a far greater part of us is a beauty reflected from reimagine our difficult moments and consider countless the world. We can find contentment despite the trials new perspectives. We recall people once important now we have faced or will face and find gratitude in the path indifferent, and choices once irrelevant now decisive. ordained by God, for life is filled with beauty in the past, Our lives become a puzzle and we seek to find all the present, and future.
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“Who Is Lord Of The
Heavens And The
“A 10 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | NOVEMBER 2016
Muhsanah Arefin•Areeg Elsayed•Ismael Ghanim•Abokor Abdulkarim•Farwa Mumtaz•Yasir Mazumder•Mubeena Rahman•Alisa Dermawan•Ammar ElAmir•Ifarh Akhtar•Busra Yildirim
“ALLAH.” quran 13 :16
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A Look at Canadian Muslim Presence By Aaminah Amin
arlier this month the provincial government announced that October in Ontario will now be recognized Islamic Heritage Month (IHM). This announcement comes three years after Manitoba became the first province in the country to recognize an IHM. Islamic Heritage Month is meant to be a time to celebrate the rich culture of Islam and explore its history. This month encourages us to reflect on the teachings of the past and gives us an opportunity to share these lessons, and enlighten others and ourselves on the wonderful history of Islam. Islamic Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to honour the heritage of this religion through highlighting the accomplishments and successes of Muslims past and present. It gives us the ability to focus on clarifying misconceptions or responding to questions that so many people have about Islam. Specifically at this time, it is so important for us to use this month to exchange stories with others in our community regarding the Muslim faith. We can better articulate this not just through discussing the basic principles and ethics that we have learned through our practice of Islam, but also discuss the challenges that we believe most presently affect us.
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Currently Muslims make up one of the fastest growing religious populations in Canada, and for the most part have created a great narrative for themselves within the context of Canadian values. A joint study, run by Environics Institute, found that when asked about individualsâ€™ sense of belonging and acceptance within a society, 55% of Muslims responded that they felt a very strong sense of belonging and 39% stated that they felt an average sense of belonging. I think part of the reason why Muslims have been acknowledged on certain scales by the government is due to our commitment to civic responsibilities and a desire to forge relationships with other Canadians. Part of our identity and obligations as Canadians, but ultimately as Muslims, is to do whatever is in our power to elect and promote leaders who are looking out for our best interests, who will allow us to express ourselves, and prosper in other aspects of life. An interesting example of the impact that Muslims can have when we come together was put on display during the 2015 federal elections. This electoral cycle was an example of how Muslim communities helped in electing an appropriate leader to ensure that we
RITAGE MONTH try and build on the heritage of Islam in a similar way to which so many Muslims in the past have strove to build a promising future. Another way in which Islamic heritage and our presence is being felt is through the introduction of petition e-411 by Samer Majzoub which was sponsored by MP Frank Baylis in June of this year. The petition recognized that Islam is a well-established religion that spans across civilizations and it also recognizes misrepresentations of Islam. These misrepresentations can be seen most recently, through numerous terrorist attacks that have taken place across the world and received extensive media coverage. The petition completely condemns these attacks as a distortion of the religion and emphasizes Islam as a religion of peace and unity. The bill ultimately asks for the House of Commons to pass this bill and declare that extremist individuals do not represent Islam and that they condemn all forms of Islamophobia. The petition collected almost 70,000 signatures (Ontario with the highest provincial signatures), which made history as the most signed online petition that has passed through the House.
Unfortunately the petition failed to pass through Parliament this month as it sought unanimous approval from Members of Parliament. Although the motion did not pass, it was reported that it did earn the vote of the majority of MPs in the House. It did not pass due to a small base of Conservatives within the House. What we can take away from this is that the majority of our elected representatives recognize the importance of respecting our heritage and combatting Islamophobia. This attempt to establish an accepting and conscientious society can be traced back to the very essence of Islamic heritage. I think that with the introduction of this petition, and the establishment of this month as Islamic Heritage Month we can see that the Canadian Muslim community is beginning to be respected. As October is now Islamic Heritage Month, we should try to share our faith beyond just this month and continue to enlighten others as well as ourselves about the many layers of Islam.
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SO REMEMBER ME;
I WILL REMEMBER YOU [2:152]
Reflections from my Summ
magine being in a place where practicing your religion is unwelcome and your identity is a bundle of confusion. Such is life for many German Muslims, but the feeling is relatable to Muslims all over the West. This summer I did a course abroad in Berlin studying both past and contemporary immigration and integration policies in light of the influx of refugees. What I found was that everything I learned in my course about political and social climate, I could see right before my eyes. In the 1950s and ‘60s after WWII, Germany sought out migrant workers to help rebuild the country and made a labour agreement with Turkey. Thousands of Turkish labourers arrived on guest worker visas through an extremely discriminatory process to ensure only “safe” and “healthy” migrants entered. Because visas were temporary, no integration process was established. Consequently, labourers were only taught the minimum German their jobs required, yet they are now blamed for not being well integrated. In 1973 Germany did not renew the annual work visas because jobs were needed for returning German refugees, but very few Turkish guest workers left. Instead they brought over their families and established themselves in Germany. During this process the majority of guest workers congregated in specific neighbourhoods like Kreuzberg, both because they could not afford to live elsewhere and because nonGerman tenant applications were denied by many landlords. This resulted in segregated cities like Berlin, but the blame is put on migrant communities for being too concentrated. The migrants’ situation is telling of the nationalism that is so ingrained in Western countries, specifically Germany where nationalism has
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cost them so much. Because of this nationalism, the struggle for integration became contested. Not being German continues to affect whether you attend university and the types of job you get. Since citizenship was granted through the bloodline, Turkish children born in Germany could not receive German citizenship until recently. And until last year obtaining German citizenship meant giving up Turkish citizenship. This tale is not uncommon, but it no doubt impacts Muslim identity in European countries. On my plane ride to Berlin I met a Canadian-German woman whose Turkish boyfriend grew up in Germany since his parents were guest workers. Our discussion started off pleasant, but eventually I could see that she was presenting herself as very liberal, when in actuality she was extremely closed-minded. We got into a very tense discussion about how her boyfriend’s parents should be more integrated—“they eat pork now even though they’re Muslim, but they still don’t know German!” She criticized her boyfriend’s family for not understanding their own religion and painted a very generalistic perspective of Muslim immigrants. She even argued with me about my understanding of the Qur’an, claiming that she understood it better than I did. This perspective is problematic because if someone already believes they’re the expert, they are not willing to listen to other perspectives.
A week later I had just finished running in the Tiergarten
Park with my roommate when a man approached us. He asked where we were from— and other questions racialized people get asked regularly— only to blatantly ignore our answers and ask if we were refugees. After explaining he worked in Morocco as
mmer Abroad in Germany a professional surfing instructor, he talked at length about how oppressed the women there were — leaving me wondering how he knew so much about Moroccan women if they were, in fact, “so oppressed.” He derogatorily tested our knowledge of Albert Einstein and the phrase “When in Rome, act like the Romans,” as if not knowing them were ultimate signs of oppression. Any time we tried to defend ourselves he repeatedly waved his finger and told us not to interrupt him, as if this was not oppressive. But my breaking point was when he advised us to take off our hijabs because traditional Islamic stuff scares Germans. He told me, “If you want to fit in with your brown skin you will have to take off your hijab to assimilate.” According to him, hijab has nothing to do with Islam; it is just a mechanism for men to control women. Finally he claimed this was not his opinion, simply that of the general public in Germany. Despite the fact that I do not live in Germany— and if I did I would have no interest in assimilating— these comments hurt me to my core. I hadn’t realized it was my job to make those around me feel safe or comfortable and that doing so meant giving up my entire identity to conform to theirs. But as much as it saddens me, that is what many nonwhite immigrants have to do just to survive in Germany. This imposition of German nationalism on immigrants causes them to feel they have to choose between their own identity or to adopt the German identity. The majority of the Muslims specifically in Berlin are secularized or radical— there is no in-between, and that is dangerous. Germans fear “radical Islam,” but the potential of it erupting would be far less if there was increased trust between immigrants and Germans, and the solution is proper labour market, housing and social integration.
At the societal level, welcoming is quite minimal, which inhibits effective integration of new refugees. Will they too be forced to secularize in this survival-of-the-fittest way? I spoke to settled refugees in Germany who told me their host families would not let them break fast in Ramadan if it interrupted a tutoring session. They fear failing civic integration exams for incorrectly answering questions about German values, an unclear topic in itself. Restaurants often hide their halal signs because non-Muslims will avoid eating there. Proper integration would reduce these feelings of worry but also decrease potential for extremism, and in turn leave Muslims to practice their religion freely. There needs to be an understanding that most Muslims have a good understanding of their religion, and adopting European identity should not come at the expense of practicing it. Because Western society imposes its own stereotypes of the religion it is nearly impossible for Muslims to control their own narrative. It then becomes easier to lose ties to your roots than to hold onto them while fusing these identities. Muslims need to be able to comfortably practice their religion without Europeans feeling threatened. Otherwise there will be an endless struggle for integration that will continue to negatively impact both sides. Effective integration can only occur if both sides are willing to understand and accept each other, not just at the surface level but a structural level. Western society must abandon their hyper-nationalistic homogeneous ideals in the age of globalization, while Muslims must reclaim their rights to creating their own narrative. Both sides need to take responsibility in building on commonalities and accepting each other’s differences.
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he current generation of Muslims is facing troubled times. Wherever one looks, there is an attack of some sort against Islam in one form or another. What are we supposed to do in the face of these various assaults on our faith? Well the answer is one you may have heard before in your local Jummah Khutbahs: ‘We have to go back to the Qur’an and Sunnah.’ By highlighting the issues that plague us and providing modern tools to assist in this, we can make the adjustments we need. Knowledge was the foundation of who the companions were as they spent as much time as possible with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to learn about Allah's revelation. Many of the Companions were very learned in their deen, furthering their connection with Allah and increasing their love for Him and His Messenger (PBUH). Some Muslims today are unaware of the complexity of their faith. In some cases, a lack of knowledge leads people to have doubts possibly even leaving the fold of Islam. Abdullâh ibn Mas’ûd narrates to us: “When a man amongst us [the companions] learned ten, he would not move on [to the next] until he had understood their meanings and how to act by them.” The companions were dedicated not only to knowing what was being read in the ayat, but also ensuring they acted upon what they had learned. On the other hand, we sometimes simply memorize as much as we can until we come to a stop and feel that there is no need to learn anymore. Therefore, how can a lack of knowledge impact faith? Slowly I find that we have been let-
ting go of faith in Allah and are not relying on Him as much during these hard times. At times calamities befall upon people and they begin to despair. However, this was not the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or his Companions: “The strong believer is better & more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive to do that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless”(Sahih Muslim). This was the attitude of the companions, especially during the early Meccan years in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the companions faced the most difficult hardships of persecution. The Quraysh slandered the Prophet (PBUH) saying that he was a liar and some of the Companions were even tortured. However, they maintained their reliance in Allah regardless of their situation. At a time in which the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Companions were adopting this faith, they were forced to leave behind their family and friends for the sake of Allah: “Verily the Believers are siblings,” is a verse in the Qur’an. This goes to show you that the Companions truly had to love one another in order to grow as a community. Their unity in faith allowed them to help one another in their most dire time of need.
What can we do individually and communally? After reflecting on the companions’ time and considering our present, many of today’s problems can be dealt with in a simple way. Here are some proactive steps I believe we each can take to better our current disposition, particularly through three ways:
Learn about Islam Start with making a sincere intention. Find a local sheikh who possesses the necessary Islamic knowledge, and ask them any questions you may have about the religion. Also, there are many educational programs across the city that you can attend.
Proactive ways to increasing Iman (faith)
Begin with the intention of wanting to draw closer to Allah. Adding some Sunnah prayers or night prayers can be highly beneficial in increasing one’s iman. Read or listen to more Qur’an as it is “a remedy for the chests,” (10:57).
Get involved in the Muslim community
Volunteering at your local masjid from time to time is a great start. Know your strong skill sets, how to best utilize your abilities, and help where you can. Also, volunteer with your local MSA. This helps with making Muslim friends and building relationships. Lastly, Islamic organizations are always looking for people to aid them in their projects. Find one that’s working towards a cause that you are passionate about and get involved. All in all, the Ummah is not going to change overnight. I remember the verse in Surat Ar-Rad, “Allah will not change the state of a people until they change what is in themselves” (13:11). This means that not only the community at large has to change their acts collectively, but that on an individual basis, people change what is in their heart for the better of themselves and others as well. So I pray to Allah that He makes this a means of inspiration to take a step to bettering yourself in knowledge, faith, and community. 18 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | NOVEMBER 2016
CONTEMPLATING INTELLECTUAL HUMILITY By Amal Hirole
he ability to think, reason, and understand is a blessing from Allah (SWT), the Almighty. Mankind has been given intellect to make the best choices, to differentiate between right and wrong, to reflect on the truth, to carry out acts of justice, and most importantly, to seek knowledge which is the foundation of our actions. The way we think shapes our behavior and thoughts about the world around us. The type of environment we adapt to has a huge significance on our moral thinking. This ultimately shapes our attitude towards people. So what is intellectual humility? Intellectual humility comprises of being open minded to new ideas, adding new information to what is already known, and carefully examining theories when confronted with compelling evidence. This is necessary in acquiring true knowledge. Humility is often confused as a weak or submissive trait where the individual exhibiting this form of thinking is deemed less accomplished. In reality, humility is what frees a person from the shackles of arrogance, the barrier of presumptions, and conceitedness. It goes hand-in-hand with having an open-mind and exhibiting amicable treatment towards people. The biggest threat to intellectual humility is arrogance which is like a veil that prevents us from seeing the right direction. When we constrict ourselves to one narrative, we are seeing the world through only one pair of lens and limit ourselves from a variety of opportunities. Knowing our Limits Part of acquiring intellectual humility is knowing the limits of the intellect. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever knows himself will come to know his Lord.” That is if one is able to understand their own incompetence will not rely on their intellect in discerning the truth but seek assistance from the Allah for guidance. The Prophets of Allah (SWT) have been shown realities beyond the range of human discernment. They have been honoured by receiving the revelation and conveying it to the people. The truth of the revelation was supported by their own direct experience of the unseen. A famous example is the Night Journey of the Prophet (PBUH) where he travelled through the seven heavens to meet His Lord, witnessed the existence of Paradise and Hell, and received divine commandment of the 5 daily prayers. However, it’s the opposite in today’s time. Total reliance is placed upon one’s own intellect to distinguish between right and wrong. The modern man would not be able to encompass such an astonishing journey as it breaches human understanding. No science NOVEMBER 2016 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | 19
experiment can prove this because there are no conditions to test its validity. No critical thinking can comprehend the magnitude of this reality. Faith is the only solution to extinguish the burning question “How?” So how can we have so much trust on the intellect when it is limited in its own capacity? The obsession of knowing what is unable to be known will only lead to confusion. The constant pressure to become learned is usually due to satisfying our own egos. We want to seek that which may or may not have any benefit to us. However, when we surrender to the knowledge we don’t have, peace and serenity settles in our minds. Henceforth, the meaning of Islam is “to surrender.” Intellectual growth transpires when we recognize and accept our misinterpretation. The difficulty does not lie in “not knowing,” it is embracing that which we have no knowledge of. In the Classroom Everything we learn in class is not the definitive course of thought. Part of university is critically examining what is learned in the classroom and exploring different views on the same matter. In the university setting, there are times where the instructor may deny a student’s lived experience or personal bias due to their elevated intellectual status. While a student may not be an “expert” in a particular field, everyone still has a right to expressing their own opinions. It is important to listen to others and be more tolerant in opening up to others. An instructor who welcomes student’s opinion and is open to criticism allows the development of an environment where students can not only achieve better cognitive thinking, but also obtain the correct manners in rationalizing evidence and proper etiquettes of discussion. Intellect vs. Wisdom
WISDOM AND INTELLECT ARE OFTEN CONFUSED FOR ONE ANOTHER OR CONSIDERED THE SAME, BUT THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT ENTITIES. Wisdom comprises of distinguishing right from wrong and controlling one’s emotions from overriding good judgment. We obtain knowledge from the people around us and this ultimately shapes our intellect. But wisdom comes from experience and making mistakes. Wisdom is so closely tied to intellectual humility that they both support one another. So how does a person become wiser? Through age or experience? There is no definite answer. What we can do is start by self-reflecting. To sum up, intellectual humility is a massive field of cognitive thinking. It is the foundation of moral intelligence, making of fair decisions, and developing wisdom. Humbling our intellect is a medium used in understanding our own shortcomings and allows us to use reason to overcome ignorance.
Tarnish Our Identity By Nida-Baig Mirza You claim to know me I must not question your existing theories Exclusion from access, silent I remain All of that what you provoke If I show that I am bothered, hurt, or uncomfortable With assumptions and accusations When using my right to free speech It’s wrongfully and not accordingly You show me that I cannot be represented Your agenda does not have room For my visage, entity or mere presence I’m not even a thought of your day Did you go through the light of my story? My life began with pointed fingers at only infancy Innocence wasn’t applicable to me You wrote my narrative without knowing anything You painted me with hues of brown For you didn’t even know My faith was never colour bound Vapid, thin-layered, fruitless are your tattered assumptions Homeland, I know of one far away And one that I am in today, shared with you I’m concerned about caring about this stolen land While you’re concerned about returning me back to the homeland Voices loud, and damn proud Why are you intimidated by our liberation? Do you practice what you preach? Or is it selective equality that you seek? Materialistic desires, and provocative standards You created around the world to corrupt minds But I know of a different high Practiced for The One and Only I find my peace and serenity I found and kept it Take and strip my identity For my perennial identity is attached to it Regardless of your attempts Your nuances and jokes that persist I won’t let you tarnish our identity You are no longer in its narrative
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The pen controlled by my hand Dare to take it Free I am to recreate and rebuild Watch me prevail Turntables of Justice
We asked our council, How do you remember Allah in your daily life? ...
Beauty, in all its shap es and forms.
His immeasurable When reflecting on rosity. blessings and gene
PHOTO // FREEPIK.COM
When reflecting on the past and realizing Allahâ€™s plan unfolded than better th an any of mine. His beau ty is reflected in all things.
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I remember Allah the Almighty the most when I miss my family. It is because I know een though my family is in another continent of the world and cannot be here with me right at this moment, my Allah is with me all the time.
in lessings b s s e l t d n The cou ecause only Go ly b ect , f e my lif e so per m e id v o r could p to my needs. g i accord n
I remember Allah the most when I think abo ut my future.
During exam season.
When I am alone, in isolation .
Think ing of the va stness of God â€™s cre ation. 22 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | NOVEMBER 2016
When overwhelmed and I feel like I’m drowning...but remember “Allah doesn’t burden a soul beyond that it can bear.”
and In my salah eking when I am se . Allah’s mercy
When thinking about our responsibility to treat everyone with beautiful character. And bad hijab days.
When I stop I remember how big yet beautiful the world is. When I am stressed and in a slump but I remember the number of blessings I’ve been given, even the small ones like at least I’ll have a meal tonight alhamdulillah.
I remember Allah the most when I am feeling grateful. NOVEMBER 2016 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | 23
but the uncertainty ll a st id m a st e khair. When I feel lo appens will b h er ev at h w I trust that
When in the presence of beauty.
Souls who are manifestations of His love.
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I remember God when I feel gratefulness in the hardships that are hidden blessings. I find peace in His infinite mercy.
und eople aro p e h t r e pens Whenev me.It hap s s e r p im en. me pretty oft
In times of need.
I think of when I avo God most id a bad s ituation an realize the d extent of h is protectio n. NOVEMBER 2016 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | 25
I remember A llah the most wh en I am stressed out, when I am in a really deep pit and the only out is rememb ering tha take care of t Allah will and everyth will turn ing o u t for the bes Inshallah t.
od that G e v e i l e yb honestl to love me. I ! y l mi th My fa on this ear m e put th
ua. king d . a m m ass Ia When unning to cl t. r I am st and lowes When e y high m t a I am When
When holding on to his [Allah] rope for guidance and light noun l ica ys ph e th of a The phenomen cluding world collectively, in landscape, plants, animals, the d products and other features an sed to of the earth, as oppo eations. humans or human cr
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PHOTO // FREEPIK.COM
A) Emmanuel College 75 Queens Park Crescent East, Toronto, ON Prayer Space: Muslim Prayer Room 1st Floor Basement, Room 006. Ablution facilities: Available on the same floor; Room 004 Estimated Capacity: 50 B) Bahen Centre for Information Technology 40 St. George Street, Toronto, ON Prayer Space: Room 1255, Opposite to the Cube Ablution Facilities: N/A Estimated Capacity: 100 C) Leslie Dan Pharmacy Building 144 College Street, Toronto, ON Prayer Space: 2nd Basement Floor - between student lounge and auditorium. Room B220 & B222 Ablution Facilities: N/A Estimated Capacity: 10
PRAYER SPACES AT U OF T ST. GEORGE
Please note that most of these spaces are shared multi-faith spaces; as a result there may be a circumstance where a space is not available. Descriptions about the prayer spaces and a detailed map can be found on the MSA website. G) Robarts Library 130 St. George St., Toronto, ON Prayer Space: 8th Floor, Room 8045 (Multi-Faith Prayer Room) Ablution Facilities: N/A Estimated Capacity: 40
D) Sussex Clubhouse 21 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON Prayer space: Room 508 Ablution Facilities: N/A Estimated Capacity: 20 Note: Sussex Clubhouse MSA Office is in Suite 505 E) Multi-Faith Centre (Located in the Koffler House) 14 Bancroft Ave, Toronto, ON Prayer Space: Meditation Room on 2nd floor Ablution Facilities: Available on 2nd Floor Estimated Capacity: 20 F) Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON Prayer Space: Room 409, 4th Floor (Multi-Faith Prayer Room)
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grand bazaar :: entertainment :: meet the speakers :: matrimonials :: halal food court :: childrenâ€™s program special tribute to muhammad ali :: a concert with sami yusuf
luminary scholars and speakers
shaykh abdallah bin bayyah (video message) :: prof. sibghatullah mojaddedi :: dr. seyyed hossein nasr :: shaykh hamza yusuf :: dr. abdal hakim jackson :: dr. umar f. abd-allah :: imam zaid shakir :: shaykh abdul nasir jangda :: dr. recep senturk :: imam siraj wahhaj :: dr. jamal badawi :: shaykh sulaiman mulla :: ustadh nouman ali khan :: mehdi hasan :: shaykh muhammad ninowy :: imam suhaib webb :: shaykha muslema permul :: shaykh mokhtar maghraoui :: rabbi michael lerner :: pastor bob roberts :: sister linda sarsour :: imam khalid latif :: ustadha yasmin mogahed :: imam yasir fahmy :: khizr and ghazala khan :: dr. munir elkassem :: junaid jamshed :: dawud wharnsby ali :: shaykh saad nomani
DECEMBER 23RD-25TH 2016 :: MTCC - NORTH BUILDING GENERAL ADMISSION (Ages 12 and over) $60 (before Dec. 4th) $65 (after Dec. 4th)
CHILD ADMISSION (Ages 4-11) $25 (before Dec. 4th) $30 (after Dec. 4th)
ONE DAY PASS (Friday, Dec. 23rd only) $35 general admission $15 child admission
GROUP DISCOUNTS (Minimum 10 Tickets) $50 (before Dec. 4th) $60 (after Dec. 4th)