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Muslim Voice Volume XVII issue 1

Islamicism : a threat to Canada?

Interview with the cast of Little Mosque on the Prairie

[ SPOTLIGHT ] Revolution : How it affects the world around us

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From the Editor’s Desk

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t’s easy to forget yourself when it comes to the idea of organized religion. There are strict rules and you’re expected to follow and not question. Losing your personality, however, is the worst way to live life. So is thinking of something so personal as religion a matter of public opinion. Yes, I’m Muslim and he’s Christian and she’s Jewish and he’s Buddhist. How does that change the fact that we’re all human beings? Only when we look at similarities can we get over our differences. “Be yourself ” is a phrase that you’ve probably heard hundreds if not thousands of times in your life. It’s thrown around so much that it’s become a cliché. Which is a shame, because it’s a wonderfully honest phrase. All it says is to always remember who you are and stick to it. We tend to believe that a choice in faith alters the person. This is untrue; for all a choice in faith alters is the person’s lifestyle. Religion is as personal as anything gets, which is why it’s different for everybody. One person could take 3 steps to get to a level where another person takes 5. And that’s OK! Because they’re not the same person, so how can we expect the religion to apply to them the same way? We tend to strive for perfection, but when it comes to matters of the faith, perfection generally means being robots, which is another way to completely disregard your own person. If you’re a robot, you’re given an input and you provide an output and that’s the end of

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it. As a live, breathing, freethinking person, however, the in-betweens in life are the most important parts. Being true to oneself doesn’t come easy, of course. Not only do we have a tendency to be our own worst critics but also there’s the added pressure of friends, peers and society. We often think of certain topics, but keep it to ourselves lest our friends exclaim how inappropriate our thoughts are. We silently question some parts of our belief system, but never let anyone know in case they demote us to being second-rate believers. We stay away from things considered taboo to save ourselves from the potential backlash from the community we live in. So where does it stop? When do we finally realize that we have warm blood coursing through our veins and that we have more than one emotion? When do we stop and take off our horse-blinkers and take a reality check? When will we become sure enough of ourselves to finally use our voices? When will we be OK with the fact that these voices can say different things and have different opinions? The Muslim Voice started out as little more than a newsletter. It has gone through decades of different styles of leadership and has often struggled to find its ground, its vision, and its stance. The simple answer? This publication is about you. It’s about what you want to say and how you want to say it. All it does is provide a venue. A safe venue. A venue where you can voice your thoughts regardless of how much

they conflict with everyone else’s. Because in truth, we’re all different. Yes, we’re one united body of Muslims (or we’d like to be), but that does not mean we stop being individuals. That’s the beauty of communities: religious or otherwise. There are standards that come in to play, of course; standards are OK as long as they don’t stifle creativity – at least in my point of view. The Muslim Voice has raised the bar a little more this year. We are actively looking for original pieces, original artwork, and original writing written especially for The Muslim Voice. You won’t find reprints of online posts, or other reused media in here. Everything contained within this magazine is content created from scratch by students and especially for students. The contributors in this issue come from a variety of different backgrounds and from a whole range of different worldviews. They have very generously offered their honest perspective on a multitude of topics: from a history of art and its relation to Islam to personal views on the lifestyle within and outside of the Muslim community, comics on myth busting to beautifully crafted short stories, political commentary and breathtaking photos. There is, of course, always room for improvement and we would love to hear what you think about the magazine. Feel free to drop us a line at tmv[at]uoftmsa[dot]com. Huda Idrees Editor-in-Chief


Content LETTER FROM THE EDITOR huda idrees

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REVOLUTION, REFORM, DEMOCRACY hirra sheikh

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SMELL OF BREAKFAST DREAMS asma elhayek

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LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT khalid khan

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ISLAMICISM: THE BIGGEST THREAT? sagal dirshe

ART DU NATUREL abdullah al-biruni

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH MUSLIMS & DOGS? nameera shariff ISLAMOPHOBIA WITHIN MUSLIMS shaham farooq

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF HUDA IDREES

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YET ANOTHER HIJAB DEBATE hannah ba’abad

DEBUNKING MYTHS annie idris

LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE INTERVIEW

SHE IS NOT ONE OF US farhia farah

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LAYOUT DESIGN YUSUF J. AK TONY CHEN COMMUNITY MANAGERS FARAH AL KAABI HIRRA SHEIKH HIGH SCHOOL LIAISON ABDALLAH AL-RASHID PHOTOGRAPHERS ISHRAQ ALIM CHRIS FAISAL FARHIA FARAH HAROON RASHID CONTRIBUTORS ABDULLAH AL-BIRUNI FARAH AL KAABI HANNAH BA’ABAD SAGAL DIRSHE ASMA ELHAYEK CHRIS FAISAL FARHIA FARAH SHAHAM FAROOQ ANNIE IDRIS KHALID KHAN CATALINA RADULESCU NAMEERA SHARIFF HIRRA SHEIKH SPECIAL THANKS TO CBC RAMEEZ MAHMOOD NOOR BAIG RIFA TAHSINA ALI SAAJIDA KHADIM CONNECT WITH US ONLINE TMV.UOFTMSA.COM TMVMAGAZINE.TUMBLR.COM TWITTER.COM/TMVMAGAZINE FACEBOOK.COM/THEMUSLIMVOICE

FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/TMVMAGAZINE

YOUTUBE.COM/TMVMAGAZINE

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Art Du Naturel

by Abdullah Al-Biruni

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he human form has fascinated many an artisan throughout the history of art; from Paleolithic cave paintings to sculptures in the halls of the Metropolitan Art Museum and statues in Ancient Rome. As prolific as nudity is as a genre of art, however, it hasn’t been without controversy

I came across a beautiful painting of pain and misery that contained about eight nude men amid the gaze of a crowd. While my friends were quick to avert their gaze and hurry away, I could not help but stare at this work of art. This painting was a story contained in one frame. In

difference between a nude and the naked form in a painting. There are typically stylistic and staging techniques that are used to distinguish artistic elements of innocence and theatrical elements of being nude rather than a more provocative state of being naked.

Naked is a human commodity. Nudity is God’s art.

from different cultures. Muslims, for one, have an interesting perspective when it comes to nudes. A trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) accompanied by other Muslims exposed me to how there’s an air of panic once their eyes do so much as glance over the canvas on which these nudes appear. This phobia of nude art, though stemming from good intentions, is incredibly uncomfortable for those of us who simply don’t see it as that big a deal. Personally, when looking at a nude depiction of the human form in a painting or sculpture, I don’t see it as a sexual image but rather as an appreciation or a study. Leonardo da Vinci was just as much an artist as he was one of Europe’s greatest anatomists. When viewing some of his work both, the mind of an artist and that of a student of medicine can agree: it is beautiful. These depictions are not meant to bring sexual arousal to the viewer but rather to arouse their mind to the beauty of creation. A nude in a painting is simply a skinscape; like trees and lakes in a painting form a landscape. To see a nude as simply the nude on the page takes the art out of the work. While realist paintings tend to be literal, there are a great many stories that lead to and occur after the freeze frame of a painting. During my visit to the AGO,

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one corner: a woman crying with her child. In another: a well-dressed man on a podium, beckoning the audience to raise their voices with bid increments. If one was to deem the painting vulgar based on the nudes, one would miss the pain of the woman who seems to be losing her husband as well as the auctioneer onstage selling these men. The nude in said art plays a significant role; it tells a story. Having said that, there is a stark

The nude has held a place in art since the first humans put their art on a cave wall and though Muslims don’t have to include it in art or even care to view such pieces, there is room to accept its place in art as a theme and an enduring genre for thousands of years and the reality of nudity in story telling. Instead of discounting it as something offensive, nudity in art should be realized for the capture of beauty of the Creator in an artistic manner.

“The Slave Market” by Gustave Boulanger


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es, Muslims are advised against having dogs as pets, but I find it frustrating that people translate this as having to dislike them as well. It’s quite amusing when there is a cute puppy and people fail to acknowledge that it’s adorable, because they don’t want to come across as someone who loves dogs, as to them it correlates to being a bad Muslim. Yes, I agree we are not to have dogs as pets (unless it is for security purposes) but that doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to dislike them. There is absolutely no inner hate requirement in this clause. Take it for what it is, don’t keep them as pets

and that’s all. Let’s face it, puppies are adorable and acknowledging that is not a test of faith; disliking dogs does not in any way make you a better Muslim. Being a Muslim myself, I find it a little ridiculous when people walk around dogs with a (metaphorical) ten-foot pole and jump atop table tops to avoid dogs being near them. Seriously, not only do you look crazy to other people, you’re just taking it to an extreme you don’t need to. If a dog slightly brushes against you as it’s walking by, Chill out! Unless you’ve got slobbered by it, there really is no Najs on you. I am not trying to point fingers, as I do understand where you are coming from. I am terrified of dogs and animals in general. I’ve been that person who avoids dogs and runs in the opposite direction. A fear is a fear, it is irrational and I have no justifications. I find animals very unpredictable, and that scares me. But this is a personal dilemma, not a religious obligation. Fearing or disliking dogs is not in any way a religious recommendation. In fact our

deen preaches compassion to all creatures. The Prophet (PBUH) treated animals with the utmost kindness. The following Hadith is an example of such a circumstance Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “One day a man became very thirsty while walking down the road. He came across a well, went down into it, and drank and then climbed out. In front of him he found a dog panting, eating the dust out of thirst. The man said, ‘This dog is as thirsty as I was.’ He went back down into the well and filled his show, putting it into his mouth (in order to climb back up) and then gave the dog water. Therefore Allah thanked him and forgave him.” They said, “Messenger of Allah, will we have a reward on account of animals?” He said, “There is a reward on account of every living thing.” (Sahih al-Bukhaari, 2363) In this narration the man was not only nice to the dog; he in fact touched it in order to give it water. For this action of his he wasn’t punished but rewarded. Don’t get me wrong, I am, in no way, asking you to go out of your way to pet and cuddle every dog you see. All I’m saying it is not okay for us to attribute a dislike for dogs as being religious, when this is clearly not the case. Take a critical look and I am sure you agree that Islam does not in any way encourage Muslims to be “dog haters”.

What’s the deal with

Muslims and Dogs? by Nameera Shariff

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Islamophobia within Muslims W

ith the usual media surrounding the Muslims today, Islamophobia has become a barrier against Islamic outreach initiatives. Our message is misinterpreted because some of our community is fearful concerning our beliefs and values. They are fearful about our political involvement, fearful of our schools and institutions, even fearful of our ‘Salam’s. Yet, there is also a fear that lurks within the Muslims, it is the fear of…other Muslims. Pluralism is now an undeniable reality of the world that we simply cannot ignore. Muslims are bound to come in contact with different views that do not coincide with their own. Everyone claims his or her own set of solutions that you may or may not agree with. At times, the solutions of one group of Muslims might be the root problem for other Muslims. This specific struggle to grow alongside conflicting views is very different than most trials in our lives. In any other struggle, there is usually a defined attacker: be it alcohol, drugs, unhealthy desires etc. Yet, this struggle is different, in this struggle; every side is branded ‘Islam’. Consequently, in a diversity of knowledge and interpretations, we’re taught to keep an open mind. But should there be limits to how open-minded we can be when it comes to something so basic to our existence as religion? How do we identify the fine line between balancing and compromising our religious identity? What determines our identity? The answers to these questions will define our interaction with the emerging pluralism in our communities. Unfortunately, the answers from higher levels of authority are 6 / the muslim voice

not in consensus. Different scholars have different opinions on a number of crucial aspects of Islam. This leaves us to choose, hesitantly, which view we should adopt. Due to such a confused state of affairs, I have come across brothers and sisters who, transitioning to the university lifestyle, have adopted a very superficial and narrow view of what it means to have a ‘Muslim identity’. In fact, many of us have already, subconsciously perhaps, categorized certain behaviours to pertain to labels like ‘liberal Muslims’, ‘conservative Muslims’, ‘traditionalist Muslims’ etc. While there is nothing directly hazardous about such categorization, it is the actions that follow that diminish the health of our community. Segregated into our groups depending on our opinions on lifestyle choices, dress codes, politics, and social interactions, we begin to feel distant from fellow Muslims who hold the light of Islam. Due to our separation, we begin to fear all of the other groups as possible threats to our ideas of an idealistic Muslim community. When we don’t feel like we have a common goal or objective any longer, a very uncompromising, tense, and unproductive environment is created in which the Muslim body cannot function as a whole; this is the challenge of pluralism. Some are stricter, some more lenient, some focus on the outward actions, others more so on the inner intentions. Regardless of our focus, we tend to think our ideas are best, or at the very least, better than the rest. This conflict has caused many to think it is best to simply stick to our own mentalities and leave others to theirs. After all, isn’t it Allah who guides mankind? This, while seemingly a very practical solution, is anything but practical. Allah reminds us of the qualities of

by Shaham Farooq

those who are not in loss, they are “Those who have achieved faith, have performed righteous deeds, and have emphasized to each other the teachings of ‘Truth’ and the value of ‘patience’” (Quran, 103:3) How can you expect Muslims to stay quiet when it comes to the matter of Truth? It is our duty to enjoin the good and forbid the evil and it is our duty to convey the message of Islam in its true form. Even from a rigorously academic study of Islam, it has always stood out for its practicality throughout history. Left in the theoretical sphere alone, religion can be twisted and turned to suit ones needs and wants. Islam however cannot be taken in theory alone; when a Bedouin told the Messenger of Allah that he had simply left his camel outside trusting in Allah that it will not run away, the Messenger ordered him to tie the camel and then trust in Allah. So you see, practically, you cannot expect Muslims to simply sit idle while they see other Muslims practice what they believe is not true. When it comes to dealing with pluralism, we also must look at another practical side; at our approach. Unfortunately, some Muslims have a misconception that if it’s the Truth, it doesn’t need to be, or shouldn’t be, presented in an appealing manner. We have a notion that simply because one is pious and practicing, it is a simple matter of just ‘telling’ others the truth. However, don’t be fooled that the love of God grants you access to people’s hearts. As the renowned Eastern Poet Iqbal relates in a couplet, “the lovers of God are in thousands, roaming around in eras here and there, but I will adore the one who will love the people of God.” Did Allah not order Musa (Moses) to go and talk to a man metaphorically referred to as the devil in a ‘gentle


manner’? Allah even said to his final Messenger, Muhammad, “And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you! So pass over their faults, and ask for Allah’s forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs.” This wasn’t a command concerning the prophet’s interaction with non-Muslims, but rather, it was concerning fellow Muslims. So we must understand that while pluralism is not entirely comfortable in a sense to many of us trying to wholly submit to Allah, we still have to look at the core traditions of our Messenger and how he interacted with people. Coming back to the couplet of Iqbal, as Muslims, while our love of God adds to our sincerity, it does not allow us to bypass human nature. In other words, we must be gentle and appealing in our approach to others and interactions; we cannot shun all those we believe are in the wrong. For even the truth, that magnificent light of Islam, presented in an ungentle and harsh manner might very well repel an individual more than it attracts him. As the hadith of the Messenger goes, “Gentleness never accompanies anything without enhancing it, nor is it ever removed from anything without demeaning it”. Beyond the approach, we also should not mix sincerity with validity. We are usually aware of the ‘Islamic view’ of what is right and wrong in a situation when it comes to our daily lifestyle. But many times, when we reach out to other Muslims and act out of an intention to do something for Islam, we automatically assume that it is valid. While in actuality, the same rules apply; we must always refer back to the Quran and Sunnah to distinguish right from wrong. Sometimes, due to our love of Allah or the Prophet, we experience a heightening of our emotions and act out of impulse because we assume since the

intention is Islamic, the action must also fall under that category. There is no better example that comes to mind than the example of Umar dur-

forget the very core of Islamic teachings no matter the situation. To express our love of Allah and his Messenger, we must do it through their

When we don’t feel like we have a common goal or objective any longer, a very uncompromising environment is created in which the Muslim body cannot function as a whole; this is the challenge of pluralism.

ing the signing of the treaty of Hudaybiya. Muslims were upset that they had come prepared for pilgrimage to Mecca yet had to compromise with the Quraish and delay their pilgrimage. Umar, in his deep love for his religion and his Lord was angry and prepared to fight the Quraish head-on; because Umar had a very strong trust in Allah and high aspirations for the Deen of Allah. He approached Abu-Bakr impassioned and attacked him with questions, “Are we not on the right path? Is Muhammad not the messenger of Allah? Are they not the enemy? Are we not we on the just cause?” trying to make it clear that this compromise with the Quraish by the Prophet was unnecessary since Truth was on their side. Abu Bakr in his calm and composed manner, exhibiting no less love for his Lord and Messenger, repeated to Umar his own question in another perspective, “Is Muhammad not the messenger of Allah? Then is it not better that we follow him?” Abu Bakr with his profoundness and wisdom reminded Umar that one must not

obedience, not from our passions. The most important knowledge to gain from the pluralism in our communities is the value of guidance. If supplicating “Guide me to the straight path” to Allah at least 17 times a day in daily prayers seems redundant or purely ritualistic, you really haven’t been exposed to the variety in Muslim thought. As Imam Shafa’i said, “those who are sincere are always in a state of worry”; they are always concerned if they are following the straight path, these are the types of people who never take their belief for granted but reflect constantly. So the sincere person will always respectfully listen to another, anxiously waiting to catch maybe even a glimpse of the Truth. This is the time in which we should interact with pluralism rather than idealistically pretend it doesn’t exist in Islam. When two children enter a conflict concerning their views, the average child displays persistent stubbornness and separates from the other, refusing to listen to anything he/she has to say. Don’t be that child. the muslim voice / 7


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o. Not really. This is not another hijab debate. It is, however, a discussion, since we all agree that the issue of hijab has been a hot topic around the world for centuries. And while it has a high shock value, plays upon the emotions of many, and makes for a newsworthy piece, the debaters of this issue have succeeded, in, quite frankly, beating a dead horse. I hear about endless speeches and debates, read countless essays and articles, and tire from having to bear through the occasional movie or news piece, all about how this one piece of cloth can liberate, how it oppresses, how it purifies how it disenfranchises, how it unites, and how it separates. Wow, that is one powerful garment to be able to do all that! While I can assure you that, that last comment was written with more than a hint of sarcasm, I will graciously acknowledge the one power this four foot length of fabric has: it’s might as a grand and all encompassing symbol. Much like a flag is internationally recognized and can bring people to tears or turn them into political pyromaniacs, the hijab also speaks an international language and is able to trigger a myriad of emotions. Unfortunately, however, there are some slight disadvantages to carrying the flag of Islam atop your head. First of all, in this Canadian society, the hijab is a billboard advertising the religion of Islam, which, in many cases, is equated with conservativism, backwardness, and oppression. From personal experience, non-Muslim Canadians have an inclination to both pity us hijab wearers and to think that we are somehow less educated and weaker; after all, all those years of being forced to birth babies and massage our husband’s

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Yet Another Hijab Debate feet, how much could we know about books, and science, and skydiving, and travelling, and engineering machines, and building houses…? On the other hand, if the purpose of the hijab is to pro-

when a hijabi does falter or errs, the Muslims see it as a double infraction since we have not only strayed from the path of Islam, but we have brought shame upon the symbol of the hijab. Thus we like

by Hannah Ba’abad

go swimming, hijabis who never want to get married or have children, hijabis who support the LGBT movement and who stand up against all discrimination, hijabis who march and speak out,

To be human is to live and to err. To be strong is to recognize your weakness. To be powerful is to not rely on a length of cloth to delineate the boundaries of who you are. Don’t give in to double standards, but most importantly, don’t enforce these double standards on others.

tect one from unwanted attention, sometimes, our trusty head-gear does just that, and repels all attention. While this is good in some cases, like on the subway, it’s not so good when you’re trying to find a job or give a presentation. Yet some girls find the inner strength to keep on wearing their hijabs. And while I respect these brave women for standing straight in the face of not only gender and racial discrimination, but Islamophobia as well, this strength does not embody perfection. This brings me to my next point. The hijab does not make us perfect. While it takes guts and determination to wear it in a culture that equates hijab with oppression, it does not mean that you don’t struggle to do so. Unfortunately, the scarf can sometimes undermine our inner struggle since many of the Muslims who see us wearing it refuse to believe that we can, just like everyone else, fall prey to temptation. And

to believe that all hijabis are alike: perfect and pure, the ultimate Islamic ideal. I realize that we always preach and dream about the unity of our ummah, but in doing so, we forget its pluralism. We forget that our community is as diverse as any other, and not just culturally or racially; but also in levels of iman, in dreams and aspirations, in family situations, and personal struggles. And yet, when we look at the female half of our community, only this simple dichotomy comes to mind: “hijab” vs. “no hijab”, which translates into “good Muslim” vs. “bad Muslim” or “flawless vs. flawed”. I don’t mean to say that hijab makes you good or bad. I just want to point out that there’s a grey area which comprises about 90% of Muslim women. I want people to understand that there are hijabis who struggle with fasting and their daily prayers, hijabis who feel jealousy or resentment, hijabis who want to play music or

or hijabis who are simply jaded by having to follow all the rules. It’s okay to be one of these people. To be human is to live and to err. To be strong is to recognize your weakness. To be powerful is to not rely on a length of cloth to delineate the boundaries of who you are. Don’t give in to double standards, but most importantly, don’t enforce these double standards on others. We all have dreams and aspirations, needs and wants, or fears and weaknesses. In this way, a woman is no different than a man, and a Muslim woman is no different than a non-Muslim woman. We are all defined by one principle: we are human; and therefore, we should judge each other according to only one measure: our humanity. All other judgment we can safely leave to Allah the All Mighty for only He will be our ultimate Judge.

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An Interview with the cast of CBC’s hit TV show

LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE TMV: This is the last season of the show. DM: It is available on the web. That’s the Do you feel it has done it’s job or could it beauty of the Internet. The thing with have done more? US – if they like a show, they want to take it and make their own kind. Same ARLENE DUNCAN: Six seasons thing happened with The Office, they is a nice long time for a show here in made their own version even though Canada, but I think it has told all the the British one was so popular. They stories it could. It’s a good time for it to have missed the boat now. It wouldn’t have ended. seem cutting edge any more. So in answer to that question, ‘We remain a DEB MCGRATH: It wound down in little miffed in the Prairie’ a natural way and came to a beautiful end. ZS: We’re just miffed Muslims. Interesting to know that FOX bought ZAIB SHAIKH: Endings are always the rights. Did they buy ‘em to put on bittersweet. That’s what you relish a show or did they buy ‘em so nobody about them. What’s wonderful about else could buy ‘em? Knowing what we LMOTP is that it gets to tell its final know about them. story. The bitter part is that we will miss being on set. In terms of the show, it’s AD: In the States, if something is changed the world. When you change different it’s an “other”, whereas the world, you want to make sure the in Canada, we’re all part of one change is imprinted. Now it’s time microcosm; one organism. for Canada to produce the next game changer. ZS: What’s interesting to note is that Americans are more reverential about TMV: Is there a place on the market for the show than Canadians. I was at the another show like that? Harvard Leadership Conference in the states and talked about the success of ZS: It depends on the kind of show that Little Mosque and the success of the arts comes up. Should the conversation that in building bridges amongst cultures. Canada is diverse end here? It’s a great These conference was attended by country and it should continue to be students from the Harvard Kennedy so in the future. So now LMOTP has school, business school, department ended, but who knows what’s to come! of Divinity etc. Whereas, Canadians in their typical fashion think ‘Oh, but of TMV: We’ve heard talk of a US version course we’re tolerant so of course this of this show. Is that something you guys show is Canadian’. Increasingly, the are aware of? world is on the brink of potential lack of tolerism. It’s seen as a game changer AD: I believe in the third or second in the US and they speak of it in awe. season, they sold the rights to US for When you’re at Harvard speaking their own version. We’re in over 80 about LMOTP but not a Canadian countries as is and the closest the US university talking about the show, has is their reality show “All-American then that means someone has more Muslim”. Their license may have appreciation for the show. expired by now. AD: I don’t know if you are aware that 10 / the muslim voice

we’re in the Museum of Radio and Television. ZS: Yeah, we’re in the Museum of Television and Radio Arts in New York and LA. Shows that change the world are inducted into that museum. The whole cast went and that was in our 5th episode and we’ve won humanitarian awards that Bishop Desmond Tutu and Mohammad Ali have won. And you’re seeing now that we’re still so proud of. AD: Other people being more appreciative of the show is a given. It comes with the territory. Canadians– when other people appreciate our shows can pat themselves on the back and we’re more ‘Oh! I guess it is a pretty good show’. But to a Canadian, it’s just a Canadian show. TMV: As a non-Muslim, what was your reaction when you got a role to play a Muslim on the show? AD: When I found out she was going to be a Nigerian Muslim, I had to do a lot of research and learn the accent. I’m a Jamaican-Canadian girl from Oakville. I had to learn about the culture. I wanted to understand what was covered up, why I was covering up parts, why I was doing things, and how to relate to people. It’s been an education and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s nice to learn about other cultures. TMV: If you hadn’t told us, we would have never guessed you weren’t a Nigerian Muslimah! AD: Thank you! TMV: Faith-wise, was your character very different from who you are personally?


DM: The mayor comes from the protestant egg-salad sandwich arena. But as Deb, it was fascinating for me because I go to a United Protestant Church and my son, during the course of Mosque, was going through a confirmation. His class chose to have a different day in a different faith’s worship. So they did an orthodox temple, they went from mosques to a church called “God Talk” for people who have served time or those with mental disorders. And I loved it. For me it was a peek inside a world I knew nothing about except what the press was bashing us over the heads with. So my knowledge was one of confusion and fear and I knew nothing. I fell so in love with this faith [Islam] and the source of it and what it meant and from different perspectives – from orthodox like Babur to very liberal and everything in between. We normally think that Muslims are one singular thing and what I learned from this show was that in fact, Muslims are a million things. There’s a whole range to them. TMV: Zaib, growing up Muslim, was it easier for you to play the character of Ammar? ZS: At the end of the day, I grew up Muslim but I didn’t grow up to be an Imam. That’s a responsibility that Zaib Shaikh has learned by researching and learning to play Ammar. Are there similarities? Yes, because Zaib grew up Muslim and Ammar grew up Muslim and we grew up in Canada and we’re from Toronto. Where we differ and what I’ve learned about Ammar and playing his character is being a person who is always an ambassador for their faith and culture. To me, that means being Muslim, but also being Canadian. When someone sees you on the street and wants to talk to you about the show, they’re talking to Ammar Rashid. As an actor, you always hope to be talking to a lot more people than just…

the mirror. So it’s a very humbling scared about what you’re finding out experience and I hope that I’ve done it and make sure you’re not afraid to justice and that everyone loves it. speak up. The reason Muslims are in a bad state that they’re in is because the TMV: The Muslim Voice magazine is for 1% is louder than the 99% and the 99% the students at the University of Toronto of all faiths that preach peace, love, co– students who are not only Muslim, but habitation need to speak up. University Canadians as well. LMOTP preaches students are in the best place to do that coexistence of different faiths in a light- because they are the next generation of hearted manner. Is there any advice leaders. So speak up and get to know you would give the youth of today on each other! approaching sensitive issues in the same way that the show does? DM: I consider myself a Christian and I am very much into outreach, but I go ZS: Our show starts from a base that to the United Protestant Church so I’m lacks fear and ignorance. We show a barely in there. I hear people talking characters with fear and ignorance about Christians in a horrible bad way: because everyone does but the basis the right-winged, scary, naked, flying of the show is confidence without fear up in the air, everyone else burns in and ignorance. When a culture can hell. I deal with it myself. I speak up. speak from that point of view, you have And I don’t let people say, ‘Oh the a better chance of getting your message Christians’. Well, wait a minute; there across. When you hold back because of are as many factions of Christians as fear and don’t do research because of there are within Muslims. You need to ignorance then you can’t understand stand your ground. Sometimes, there what the other side of the coin is. As has to be a compromise because it’s a young people, as Canadians who will new world and if we don’t learn to live be the next leaders of our nation who together then we’re going to kill what are from such different faiths and we’ve got. You’ve got to speak up; state cultures, you have to make sure that your case, and then you’ve got to find a you don’t come from a place of fear little wiggle room. Because otherwise, and ignorance. You can’t say things off hate bashes heads with the hate. So I the cuff and make assumptions. And would say, add a little compromise to if you make assumptions, you have to the mix. I know it’s tough, because these follow them through to find out what are religions that are millions of years the truth is and make sure you’re not old, but we’ve got to. Obviously what we’re doing isn’t working! That’s my two cents.


Keep your bags low and out of sight, make sure they aren’t visible from the windows, it’ll cause nothing but trouble” our driver warned us as soon as we stepped inside the cab from the airport. As we drove through the heart of Lahore city at that odd hour of the morning, we could see empty, deserted roads, vacant gas stations highly lit up, and sporadically, spotted along the side lines of the road standing in the dark, men. Men who were fully armed, with huge rifles across their chest, “Look, Hirra over there! Why are they armed like that in the city?” I heard my brother exclaim. “There’s been way too many suicide bombers these past few years”, responded the driver non-chalantly.

What of the people that lived their entire lives here, or in other countries, which were in worse conditions? Through no fault of their own, these people had simply fallen victim to the life they led. It’s just how it worked. I can’t speak to what went through their minds as they went about their daily lives, but I can say this much: the very slight thought of being in potential danger took you down, took the entire excitement of a vacation out of the picture. What had caused such violence? What could drive anyone to blast themselves into pieces, taking along hundreds of innocent lives with them? These people weren’t aliens who had completely different emotions; they were just as human as we are. Watching the news of political

and skewed history, the current political situation, and recent public uprisings. What was really going on? The answer isn’t quite simple, and it probably isn’t possible to understand all the reasons behind the historical and current situations in the region. What my travels to Pakistan taught me was the reality of it all beyond the television screen and gory photographs the media presents us with. Following the return from my trip, I enrolled myself in an in-depth course on the Middle East to gain an understanding of how it all began. I can’t say I found all of my answers; it would be unrealistic to believe that I did. In particular, I questioned why the Middle East is under such crucial attention today, with frequent foreign

Revolution: How It Affect We drove by locations that had been bombed, burnt and destroyed. I had only seen such sights in pictures and television broadcasts. Looking at the remains made me believe it had actually happened. It was real. For the first time I felt like I understood the feeling of living in constant fear. Knowing that the horrifying blasts had happened where I was now made it easier to believe they could happen again. I found myself becoming fearful for my own safety; what if I were to find myself in that situation on my trip? Then the thought occurred to me, I’d probably just drive by these supposed “high risk zones” into the smaller city, living a ‘foreigner privileged’ two weeks and then head back to Toronto, after which I’d probably never have to think about being in such an environment ever again. 12 / the muslim voice

turmoil in other nations on a TV screen, mass killings and bombings, all seemed like distant tales of distant lands that were unknown to me. Sitting in a lecture hall at University College taking a course on the history of the modern Middle East, I had reflected on all of the information that had almost seemingly jumped at me throughout the semester. Despite becoming aware of the existence of such vital facts and questions to gain a greater understanding of the environment of the Middle East, I was still stuck in the numbers, the facts, and the quantifiable statistics. As a Torontonian in my first year of University, I found it difficult to picture a world that existed outside the university campus and the Bloor-Danforth subway line, let alone awareness of the Middle East, with all of its nations, rich

involvement. I went into the course with certain assumptions such as the need for oil in a world that has limited resources. Prior to WWII, and the following years, the entire region of the Middle East was quite evidently of little interest to foreign powers. There was the exception of Great Britain, which had secured treaty relations to safe guard its route to India for colonial and trade purposes. At the time, there were a few western companies looking for oil, however nothing extracting significant foreign attention. Surprisingly, within the span of roughly 3 decades the region housed states that achieved the highest per capita incomes. Middle Eastern oil-producing states were now becoming crucial participants in the global economy. Neighboring states, less fortunate in their


resources were compensated and kept from rivalry by providing them with financial aid, as a way to make up for the lack of military strength of the oil rich nations. Notably the Saudi monarchy felt threatened, seeking aid from the United States in time of need of unexpected military support. In the year 1933, Saudi Arabia made its first oil concession to the Standard Oil Company of California, which later came to be known as the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO). The concession gave ARAMCO the right to extract and transport whatever petroleum was found in exchange for the construction of a refinery and providing payment to royalties. The terms of concession were highly

would always be readily available to them at the price they desired. During this time we see the world powers quickly becoming dependent on oil extracted from Saudi Arabia in particular, via the United States. One can only imagine the revenue and power the United States quickly attained, simply by taking ownership of this resource that had rapidly become the lifeline of rich and industrialized nations, located literally thousands of kilometers away. Could it be that the incentive of maintenance of such revenue and power through autonomous control of the petroleum resources of the oil-producing states may just be enough to cause unrest and militant aggression? Imperialism can very readily be the incentive for battles

of regime in the nation for the good of its own people. However UN inspection teams failed to uncover the existence of any such programs. Despite the lack of evidence, the United States continued with its plan to take military action against Iraq. Coincidentally, Iraq just happens to be a nation with possession of one of the world’s largest oil reserves. This could have risked the US control over the oil market, as the consumers could potentially have an alternate supplier, setting its own prices. Hence we see United States’ occupation of Iraq in an attempt to create another oil price swing state. I would not argue that the nation could benefit greatly from a change of governmental regime, but through what means, and at what cost?

cts the World Around Us by Hirra Sheikh

in favour of ARAMCO, making it a giant that had control over refining, exploration, marketing, extraction, and pricing of Saudi Oil. In an attempt to gain control of the pricing, Arab oil exporters formed the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC). Oil resource was abundant and hence the OAPEC nations, including Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, failed in persuading western oil companies to increase oil prices. Bounteous and inexpensive supply of oil was what, in essence, fueled the postwar recovery of Europe and Japan so quickly and ensured the economic supremacy of the United States. These nations that were being supplied with abundant low cost oil began shifting from using coal as their primary energy source to oil, in the deceived belief that oil

and wars such as the Gulf war of 1991. It’s more than just a coincidence that when Iran had a changing political environment, rapidly rising, and growing out of its self-enforced isolation, enthusiastically in search of foreign investment, the United States claimed that the nation would accrue weapons of mass destruction justifying the placement of sanctions. Further, any foreign companies investing more than $20 million in Iran would also have sanctions authorized against them. To many, that just seems like the perfect strategy to maintain power over oil pricing, distribution and revenues by terminating any potential competition. Post 9/11, we see the occupation of Iraq justified by the alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction and the required change

In March of 2011, I had the chance of stepping out of a closed box, from which, I was viewing the world from a restricted quantified lens. The question for me isn’t if imperialism or economic growth are concepts that are good or evil; it’s a question more of, to what extent, and to what costs is it that they are worth pursuing. The costs being lives of people who just want to be able to provide a substantial meal for their families; communities that are just as human as we are despite the differences in language, etiquettes, culture or colour. It’s a question we’ve asked for centuries again and again: in times of slavery, colonialism, and indentured labour. Was the price of innocent lives really worth the benefit attained through the injustices? It isn’t the result I question; it’s the means through which we pursue it. the muslim voice / 13


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dvertising on Facebook gets you pretty far. So I started a new page. “Selwa’s Sweets: Opening Day This Sunday! Come for the sweets, stay for some more!” 8 attending, 24 not attending, 291 awaiting reply. OK, maybe not that far. It’s a work in progress. Today is Sunday. Opening Day. I’ve been open for half an hour. No customers yet. Just waiting. “Do not worry, my sweets. They will come.” I got this place for its view of the river. It’s undeniable. When I first walked in and looked out that window, I could just imagine the current carrying the smell of my sweet bread throughout the town, and in the neighborhoods the children would wake up, drag their parents out of bed, and as they trek the 6 minute hike, the smell will get stronger. Still sweet bread, but mixed with other things too. Namoura. Hulba. Mamoul. All you can eat baklawa on Tuesdays! Everyone will discover breakfast isn’t about the hummus and falafel. It’s about the sweet taste of a happiness that leaves your fingers sticky. Still waiting. The TV is faint in the background. News. More coverage on the revolution. I decide to wipe the display case one more time, as

The Smell of Breakfast Dreams

by Asma Elhayek

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if the only reason customers haven’t come in yet is because cleaning it four times already isn’t good enough. I’m not obsessive. I call it being metho— ding! A customer? A customer! My very first. Deep breaths. Act natural. Play it cool. You can do this. Yes, it’s opening day. “Salaam Selwa, good morning.” “Salaam, Abu Yehya. How are you this lovely fine fresh morning?” Lovely fine fresh morning? You idiot. We exchange pleasantries while he decides on his order. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him. He was an avid masjid-goer before, but now mostly spends his days at home. Hasn’t been the same since he came back from Cairo. I see in his eyes the memory of his son. I’m heavyhearted just standing here. That’s the thing about the revolution in Egypt. It affects you even when it doesn’t. It’s the world’s business now. The media doesn’t let us forget it. A ding! brings me back to this time and place. Second customer! Think before you speak. “Salaam.” Smooth. “Hello.” Hello? Smooth feeling gone. “Uh, hello.” Good recovery. Second Customer turns to Abu Yehya. “Hello.” Second Customer is perhaps no older than I. There lingers a Canadian air about her. Abu Yehya. “Hello.” You wouldn’t hear the sadness in his voice if you didn’t know it was there. But maybe it was the beginnings of a tear in the

corner of his eye that gave it away. “I saw your Facebook page. It’s nice that you opened here.” “Well that’s kind of you.” She looks at the TV. “Is there anything I can get for—” “Can you believe it? Nothing but violence in the Mid-East. They just can’t be satisfied.” Abu Yehya and I look at each other. Did she really just say that? “Yes, can I get some of these cheesy looking things?” I go to reach for some parchment paper, but then I come to my senses. “I’m sorry but do you have any idea what’s happening in the Middle East right now? Or any history of the Middle East for that matter? The people are revolting against their government. People who won’t sit by idly and watch their country fade away in front of them.” I try to be strong and stare her down, but I know Abu Yehya is looking at me. I know that I shouldn’t be aggressive in the face of his sorrow. I’m uneasy now, yet I can’t help but notice the TV screen reflecting in her bright blue eyes. “Well most of those countries are third world countries. They should be happy with what they’ve got and zip their traps.” No she just didn’t. “With all due respect lady—” it’s hardly due, “you shouldn’t argue on a side that you don’t completely understand. These protests aren’t just cries. They’re stands.” “Well, you shouldn’t think that I don’t understand. Egypt started a revolution and look at where it got them. Nothing but violence, like I

said. Do they really think they can make a difference because they have a couple of hits on Facebook?” “That’s exactly what they think. It’s the power of social networking. People coming together for the greater good. It’s a new age, and it belongs to the people.” “You want to know what I think?” Not really. “I think I best take my business elsewhere.” And with that she leaves. Goodbye Second Customer. Parting is such sweet sorrow. I turn back to Abu Yehya. His strength astounds me. He looks whole, but at the same time, something is missing. I ponder. Maybe Egypt didn’t start a revolution in the Middle East. Maybe it’s bigger than that, something none of us can fully understand. Egypt has given voice to all those unheard. Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Libya... voices are louder than ever. And why shouldn’t they be? People the world-over have the right to stand up for their rights. They say good things come to those who wait. I say better things come to those who don’t. You want something, you take it. Egyptians wanted their Egypt, they took it back. It’s our turn next: the liberation of Palestine. I can sense Abu Yehya’s discomfort. I’ll probably never start a revolution, nor can I do anything to bring back his son, but if I can make his day a little sweeter with a few pieces of hulba, I’ll take it. I put his order in a bag, which reads, “Sweet Breakfast Dreams.” He leaves. I am alone again, wondering if Egypt knows.

the muslim voice / 15


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ou will die. As every second your existence furthers, you creep closer to death. What we hold dear to us: our homes, our wealth, our blackberry’s, we will take nothing in our inevitable passing. Young, old, healthy or sick, death is the uncomfortable creeper behind the morgue, waiting. If I have not thoroughly depressed you into reading more, Congratulations! You will soon come to realize what is important in the world; the metaphysical. The parts of us, which will live on despite our physical beings’ fate. First, are our deeds; for the great creator of the worlds creates with purpose, and to him shall we return. The second that will live on past our death, is our legacy. What we leave is also what we take. What I mean by this is that the lessons we left our children, our siblings, the good or bad that remains as a result of our existence, will be brought to question by the purposeful God. Have we used our time to better ourselves and the world, or has it gone to waste? Our deeds and legacy are immortal. The physical aspects in life occupy us. Think of your daily routine: You wake up, you may check Facebook, Twitter. Then you turn that objective box in the corner of your room. Do we ever stop to think where we’re going? What the purpose of life is, that it is not just to feed your hedonistic body. No, life is a temporary test, in which we have

16 / the muslim voice

a reason, a purpose. That purpose being to worship god. Worshipping God is not limited to how many times you open your Bible, Quran and/or Torah. It is not limited to how you try with rituals, to connect with the great force. It is also in fact, what you make yourself. Giving charity is an act of worship. So is sharing a smile. Worshipping God is making yourself a good force in this world. For that is what God is, the force of good in a pessimistic world. Our deeds have impacts. Good or bad, these deeds make up our socioenvironment. Hence, what we leave is immortalized. We could choose to leave behind a school, a hospital, nourishing minds and bodies for the betterment of the world. Or we could leave behind a Facebook status with 35 likes. How we treat one another is also essential to the test. We can spread what we know and create more good or we could be selfish and keep the knowledge to ourselves. We can spread good, spread the wisdom of religion or spread good by spreading the wisdom of the elders, the wisdom of academia. At the same time we must always know our own place. As wise as you may be, and as immature another may be, every person is unique and in some cases, better than another person in some aspect. How to treat people is a simple matter. The golden rule in all faiths is to treat others how you wish to be treated. It is empirical to re-

member the contrast of significance with God and ourselves. How can you treat someone to be less than you, when you yourself are an iota among billions. How can you feel better than someone, while knowing the good in you is all of God’s teachings of wisdom, and only the faults are yours? The majority of us lead a hedonistic lifestyle. The Ancient Greeks called it Epicureanism. Epicureanism bases its belief that we need to limit pain and maximize pleasure. On the face value, there is no wrong to that. However this way of life centralizes your efforts on yourself. You are more worried to increase your own wealth, that you disregard others. By taking this approach we forget the millions, if not billions suffering worldwide. Which leads us to subsequently forget our inevitable end. The important thing to remember is that there is little point to pursuing life solely for oneself, for the body that you pamper today will be buried in the ground tomorrow, while the metaphysical aspect of ourselves, is immortal. Are you starting to think I’m painting an overtly pessimistic view on life? Consider the fact that we, as a society, have billions of dollars that we spend on frivolous things. I speak of temporary entertainment, tabloids that penetrate into the lives of celebrities, and products we have little or no need of. Granted, we may spare a coin or two for the donation


box every now and then for the sake of appearing charitable in front of our friends. All the while, knowing that there are over 20,000 children who die every day by preventable causes. Yet this fact lies submerged in our minds, covered up by how much Kim Kardashian spent on her weeks-lived marriage. I accept blame upon myself here. I am not impervious to hedonism. Neither are you. Nobody will ever be perfect, but that is no reason why we should not try to better ourselves. Not try to better the world like a certain man from Mecca has done for 1.2 billion of us today (S.A.W) Death is something we should not be afraid of. It is a universal truth that we should never forget. It is proof of our body’s insignificance, and the immortality of morality. In the course of the universe, the planet that we call home is but a pale blue dot. So when you peel yourself away from this magazine, remember your discourse. Remember to be productive and to put things in perspective. Because the clock in the exam room is ticking, and when it goes off, all you have is what is on that paper.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat. by Khalid Khan

the muslim voice / 17


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tephen Harper sparked immediate controversy in an exclusive interview with the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge last month, when he declared that Canada’s biggest threat is “Islamicism”. There has been a strong backlash against the Prime Minister’s comments, which many feel are offensive to the Canadian Muslim community. Although there is an ongoing debate as to whether or not it is a real word, what exactly does he mean by “Islamicism”? Was he going for Islamism, which is roughly defined as political Islam which aims to create pan-Islamic political unity, revive Islam and end the non-Muslim control/influence of the Muslim world? Or did he simply use this term as a synonym for Islamic fundamentalism. According to former French ambassador and journalist Eric Rouleau, “The indiscriminate use of terms such as Islam, fanaticism, terrorism, fundamentalism, Islamism as if

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they were interchangeable leads at best to confusion and may even serve to exacerbate anti-Muslim racism…. Western leaders and media luminaries…..downplay the terrorists’ political motivations and instead emphasise their religious identity, drawing on the muddled terminology they profess to avoid” Harper’s supporters have jumped to his defense and claimed that what he meant by Islamicism was in fact terrorism. And while Harper himself has in the past professed his belief that not all Muslims are terrorists, he reinforces the notion that all terrorists are Muslim by using the word Islamicism. The PM’s word choice creates a space for a problematic situation, where Muslims are alienated and inadvertently set up as this country’s enemies. The post 9/11 world has definitely produced an us-against-them mentality which undermines Canada’s proud history as a multicultural nation and its acceptance of diversity. Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. The Canadian government claims that the 1971 Multicultural


Policy of Canada “ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging. Acceptance gives Canadians a feeling of security and self-confidence, making them more open to, and accepting of, diverse cultures.” But how can we foster acceptance and feelings of security when one makes Islam/ Muslims/Islamism/Islamicism synonymous with terrorism? Harper’s controversial claim has refuelled debates surrounding Islam’s role in fostering terrorism and the reluctance to label nonMuslim terrorists as such or connect them with their religious beliefs. What might be of more importance however is an examination of how Stephen Harper came to his conclusion. Is Islamicism Canada’s BIGGEST threat? Although Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have tried to assure Canadians of Canada’s overall economic growth and ability to protect itself from the effects of the global recession, they seem to be out of touch with the problems of everyday people. An offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement has made its way to Canada’s largest

city in the form of Occupy Toronto. Other such movements have taken over Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal. While the demands made at the Occupy rallies are numerous and varied they often revolve around the call for more jobs, lower tuition fees, a stronger economy, better environmental standards, and the end to the privatization of the health care system. The Occupy movement definitely has its supporters and detractors but regardless they have become a good indication of the problems faced by the working class. While Islamic terrorism may take up more space than the economy in Stephen Harper’s mind, according to respected U.K risk analysis company Maplecroft, when it comes to terrorism in Canada there isn’t much to worry about. Among the major western economies Canada ranks the lowest in terms of risk of terrorism. While Canada does have a history of terrorism, mainly involving the Sons of Freedom, the FLQ, Direct Action, and the bombing of Air India flight 182, no one has ever died of a Muslim terrorist attack in Canada. Terrorism is a matter for concern, we live in a world where it

has become a fact of reality. People die of terrorist attacks every year in different parts of the world, no one can deny that. But how we choose to address this issue is equally important. As our Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks for all of us as Canadians. Canada is an inclusive nation where Canadian Muslims are just as equally apart of society as other groups of different beliefs. Terrorism is terrorism and any form of it should be eradicated, one classification of it should not be prioritized over another. And as a politician and the leader of this nation, Harper should be clearer with his words. When one makes such a serious claim as this they should take care to not use murky terms such as Islamicism, which runs the high risk of offending and implicating an entire community in a heinous crime. Instead of concerning ourselves with matters of questionable merit that put a spotlight over one minority group in the mosaic culture that is Canada, maybe we should be worrying about the country’s divisive politics and the environment of fear and war we currently live in.

Islamicism: a Threat to Canada? by Sagal Dirshe the muslim voice / 19


g n i k n u Deb W

e’re no strangers to myths about Islam. All Muslim men have long beards, all Muslim women stay at home and care for families and can’t talk in public and are never educated and are forced to cover their faces etc. This is a small attempt at busting said myths with a dash of humor.

What people think an average Muslim man looks like

What people think Muslim marriage is like 20 / the muslim voice

MY THS

What an average Muslim man actually looks like

What a regular Muslim couple is like


If a Muslim woman is forced to comply with a male chauvinistic society and wear a veil in obedience, however would she be allowed to do anything fun?

When Muslims on the BBC News are shown shouting “Allahu Akbar!” at some clear Middle Eastern sky, we westerners have been trained to hear: “We hate you all in your British sitting rooms, and are on our way to blow ourselves up in Lidl when you are buying your weekly groceries -- Lauren Booth

Too many people focus on the don’t and not enough on the do. Yes, the religion comes with rules - which one doesn’t? And yes, there are plenty of restrictions, but there are also a lot of possibilities. Judging a book by its cover is easy, it’s the journey of unlearning cultural norms and perceptions that is the difficult part. This doesn’t only apply to Muslims, it applies to every minority. Now that the world is moving towards globalization, let us choose to become global thinkers. Let’s leave the ways of the past behind and take people for who they are. Not what they look like. It could be a beautiful thing! If you would like to contact the artist of this post, you can do so by:

Sending her an email me[at]annimation[dot]ca Or follow her on twitter @anniekunwar the muslim voice / 21


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ijabi, non-hijabi, nigabi, jilbabi, skirt-wearer, pants lover, fashionista, tomboy, all pitted against one another. Each interprets Islam a different way. Each has their own story; their own religious experience. One decides to wear the hijab (the Islamic head gear) after years of not wearing it. One takes it off after having a two decade affair with it. One adopts the niqab (the Islamic veil) into her lifestyle. Despite a different journey for each woman; they all identify themselves as Muslim. Therefore, each woman is Muslim. I grew up in many parts of the world and became friends and lived among different nationalities, religions, traditions and understandings. I wore my hijab

something that defined me. The fact that I wore a hijab and skirt made me religious, strict, close-minded, unfunny, backwards to some and religious, modest, pure, innocent, a role model, a practicing Muslim sister to others. I became defined by this piece of cloth I chose to don and it became apparent that, to some, the outer appearance was an important tool to judge future friends, to judge personality, to judge piety. Don’t get me wrong. I love my hijab. I love being Muslim and having the hijab identify me as that but it opened up a world which I didn’t realize existed, especially in the past few weeks. What I witnessed was a great deal of division, a great amount of Muslim sisters disconnecting themselves from one another due to

became a game of Solitaire in which one interpretation of what modesty and hijab is trumps another with no room for a medium. Hijab is an aspect of Islam that is required of females. However, while covering our physical bodies is one requirement, there is another requirement- the hijab concerning our spiritual and internal bodies. It addresses one’s behaviours, manners, speech in public. One may wear the physical aspect of hijab but have a crass attitude, judgemental behaviour that goes against the teachings of Islam or not wear the hijab but have a modest appearance and a good moral conduct. This can also be vice versa. Therefore, proper conduct, lowered ego, good intentions and kind words are a form of hijab that is also required

since I was young and it was never a problem for all those who knew me. Yes, I wore hijab, but that was it. It did not change who I was. My personality, my actions, my successes, my failures, my good and bad characteristics were all attributed to who I was, and the piece of cloth on my head was a way for me to express my religion. So, when I started university and work, I took my experience of my hijab being in the background for granted. I entered a place where my hijab singled me out. It created a barrier between people I interacted with and myself. My hijab became

one’s appearance. While this is not true for all, it seems that there has been a hierarchy created based on the hijab. Those who cover from head to toe are better than those who just cover their hair. Those who cover their hair and wear only hijab are better than those who do not wear hijab. Skirt wearers are better than those who wear pants, but ultimately abayas trump all. There is also another hierarchy, in which non-hijabis are at the top, and the more one is covered up, the more backward and traditional they are, thus making them to be at the bottom. The concept of hijab and covering

of us. That is why it important to never judge someone by their appearance. Wearing hijab does not automatically make me religious. It does not make me worse than a sister who covers every physical part of her body but better than a sister who does not cover her hair. It does not make me more or less knowledgeable. It does not me I am the epitome of Islam nor does it show the true me. It does not mean that I am wearing it for cultural reasons or that it was forced upon me. It does not mean that I am a role model for Islam. It also does not

SHE IS NOT

22 / the muslim voice


advice, do it in secret. Advice should be a reminder, not a punishment, not satisfaction to inflate one’s ego on who and what constitutes a good Muslim and who goes to hell. It should be kind and be addressed with mercy for do we not hope for the same when our weaknesses and sins are addressed? Do not slander her, do not ruin her reputation, do not scold and do not judge on what shall happen to her in the afterlife. In Islam what Allah requests of us to do or not to do are important for us to follow. However, it seems that this clash due to hijab has made sisters forget the idea of community; of unity. We live in a world where we are pitted against one another based on class, race, culture, education, ethnicity and so on. Do we really need another issue

Do we all not wish to receive this blessing from Allah on the Day of Judgement? My intention with this article is to address this issue that I feel is splitting the community of Muslim sisters apart. Why does it matter on who appears more religious or not, who is modernized or not, who is better or worse? Each person has a story not expressed. Allah sees our intentions, what is in our hearts, our level of piety and our level of sins, our good deeds and bad. Only Allah knows what tribulations one is going through, the intentions behind their actions, the battle each person is fighting each day and so instead of attacking one another and creating distances and differences, let us try to create a united Muslim front. Let us help one another for the

forced her to take it off, or she belongs to a non-practicing family? What if a sister is not able to wear a skirt for medical reasons or does not want to wear pants for personal issues? We are all humans, and thus we all sin. We all struggle with different aspects of what has been asked of and so it is important for us to remember this. We should remember to not judge or reproach each other harshly when giving someone advice concerning an issue in which they might be wrong. Do not shame a sister for not following Islam the way you perceive it to be and if you sincerely want to give her

to separate us from being an ummah? The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was reported to have said the following, “On the Day of Judgement, Allah, the Most High, will announce, ‘Where are those who love each other for the sake of my pleasure? This day I am going to shelter them in the shade provided by me. Today there is no shade except my shade.” (Muslim) and “The Muslims in their mutual love, kindness and compassion are like the human body where when one of its parts is in agony the entire body feels the pain, both in sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

sake of Allah. How can we expect to be respected by non-Muslims when we cannot respect one another based on our differences? Allah is the only judge so let us all refrain from putting forth our judgments first. In the end, hijab is a part of Islam, but it is also not the sole criteria on piety. So the hijabi, non-hijabi, niqabi, jilbabi, skirt-wearer, pants lover, fashionista, tomboy, do not let yourselves be pitied fight against one another. It is the work of the Shaytan to see this Ummah not receive the blessings stated above and to become split apart into tiny fractures.

ONE OF US

by Farhia Farah

mean that I cannot be a role model. What it does mean is that the hijab is a personal issue, a personal choice in which you shouldn’t judge me by. It shouldn’t be the basis for others to judge one’s piety. In Islam, we are supposed to give our brothers and sisters seventy excuses if we believe they are sinning because we are not God and so do not know what is in one’s heart, their level of piety, their background. That is one fact that most people forget because no human has the ability to see inside the heart of a believer. What if the sister decided to wear niqab, not because her husband forced her to, but that she reached that level of Iman in which she wants to wear it for the sake of Allah? What if a sister does not know hijab is an obligation, or her family has

the muslim voice / 23


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24 / the muslim voice

TMV volume 17 issue 1  

First issue of the 2011-2012 academic year

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