Page 1




RELIGION OF ‘PEACE’? SHOW ME. OMAR EDAIBAT reflects on the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ controversy


3 4 5 7 9 11 13









15 18 19 22 23 23











THE FINE PRINT: The ideas and opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the TMV staff, the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) or the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU).


From the Editor’s Desk WANT TO WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR? Send us your response to this issue via e-mail at:

{  B


Asalaamu Alaikum, We’re here! The Muslim Voice Magazine is back with our first issue of the year, Alhamdullilah. When I took over as editor, I had two goals I wanted to accomplish by year’s end. First, and most importantly, I wanted our magazine to reflect a more serious tone. As students, and as Muslims, it’s in our immediate interests to dialogue with the wider society. With the platform a magazine provides, we have a unique opportunity to engage with contemporary debates by publishing articles on relevant topics. In a very broad sense, I think this was achieved. In this issue you’ll find Ishraq Alim (“The Importance of Being a Good Neighbour�) and Omar Edaibat (“Religion of Peace? Show me�) use the socalled Park 51 controversy to offer two very separate lessons about Muslims and civic responsibility. You’ll find Sameer Zaheer (“Freedom of Expression�) explain tolerance and free expression as fundamental to our Islamic identity. You’ll find Khalid Khan (“Why Pakistan�) discuss disaster relief in Pakistan as imperative, despite the many misconceptions about the country. All of these come in addition to regular TMV features, including articles about education (see Rameez Mahmood’s “This is Cairo�), articles about religious history (see Fareedah Abdulqadir’s “Islam in Africa�) and fiction (see Zainab Asadullah’s “The Quantification of Love�). Our second goal for the year is to establish a strong web presence. In an era of instant gratification and mass information, I understand that producing a magazine two or three times a year can seem irregular, even sporadic considering inevitable delays. Our website – – underwent a design overhaul, hopefully to help facilitate regular online content. Additionally, our Twitter and Facebook pages promise to be more interactive, acting to bridge the gap between readers and our magazine’s staff. Magazines in general, in today’s era, are of little influence without a strong web readership, which we hope to cultivate by year’s end. Both goals, of course, require a fair bit of help. I encourage any interested reader to get involved – there’s plenty of opportunity to write, edit, design, illustrate or even just contribute ideas. Send us an email at, as we’re always looking to expand our team. All in all, I’m pleased that our first issue has come together successfully and look forward to beginning work on our second. I would like to thank the TMV staff and contributors that helped produce the content: your hard work and creativity is what makes a magazine possible. After all, if it were completely left to me, all we would have is an editor’s note. I look forward to a second term where we can bring some of the magazine’s ambitions to life, insha’Allah. Abdirashid Aidid – Editor-in-Chief



This is

CAIRO This, Cairo, is the land of the Muslims. It’s nice here. But this is Cairo from the perspective of two eyes—literally—so let it not be the final sight. Islam is in the air in Cairo. It is the air you breathe and the melody you hear; it is the religion of the people. Hardly any sectors of society and life exist that are not influenced by Islam. Cairo is said to be the city of the thousand minarets, and so it is! I alone have 3 mosques/masalahs within five minutes of walking. Few portions of Cairo exist in a different state. The adhan, call to prayer, is heard as a beautiful, uncoordinated orchestra. In any given position one hears the adhans of numerous mosques, far and close. The sound bounces off the innumerable apartment buildings, echoing the same voices. The styles of giving adhan vary so you experience a splendid diversity; some fast, some slow, but all mesmerizing. Attendance is quite high during prayers following work hours; many fill up to at least half their capacity. Also, most mosques, though not masalahs, have women sections or the ability to just pray behind. The sisters are well taken care of here. Friday is indeed a special day for Egyptians. The entire city comes alive. (Friday here is equivalent to our Saturday). Many popu-


by Rameez Mahmood

people here know their Is“The people here know their Islam. From The lam. From the Al-Azhar Mufti the Al-Azhar Mufti ascending to the Min- ascending to the Minbar, to taxi driver, they both know bar, to the taxi driver, they both know the what it means to be Muslim. Almost every taxi driver I’ve what it means to be Muslim”

lar (generally old) mosques have Quran recitations prior to the sermon beginning, and attendance is praise-worthy. Many mosques get packed prior to the sermon beginning. A truly exceptional mosque on this point is Masjid Al-Hussian, where the supposed head of Iman Hussian is buried. Well before the sermon’s procession this mosque is so crowded you’d be fortunate to find a spot on somebody’s thigh – Thank God for a 1000 year old mosque opposite it (Al-Azhar Mosque).

Egypt is no stranger to history! It lays claim to some of the oldest mosques built. The oldest surviving mosque in Cairo is Ibn Tulun Mosque, build in 880CE! The famous Al-Azhar Mosque built by the Fatimids is more than a 1000 years old. In the same region is Masjid Sultan Hassan, a 700 year old mosque, which looks as though it has never been substantially renovated. There are of course the somewhat more recent mosques like the Mohammed Ali Mosque, a dazzling gem of Ottoman architecture. Cairo’s religious sites are truly a reminder of the grandeur of the once Islamic empire.

engaged, I have come to call a “hadith quoting taxi driver”. It is what it sounds like. The average taxi driver may wow you by their level of knowledge on matters of religion. They can quote verses, hadiths, sayings of scholars, list the halal and haram, know matters of fiqh: it’s extraordinary. Left me dumbfounded.

You get into a taxi and you will often find the radio tuned to either an Islamic lecture or Quran recitation. It ought not shock you if you discover your taxi driver is a Hafiz al-Quran. As a friend of mine attested: “To say you only know 3 juz of the Quran is embarrassing in Egypt”. Regular shop owners you will discover to be graduates of Al-Azhar’s Fiqh College, Hadith College, and the like. Walk around the streets and you will find pictures of Shaykhs or paraphernalia on the walls attesting to the Muslim identity of the people.

Religiosity shines from the people of Cairo. They know they’re Muslim, and they know what it entails. Something that shocks you when you acquaint yourself with Cairo is the sheer number of people whose physical appearance attests to their level of practice. I would say most men bare the sign of prostration on their forehead. It truly is extraordinary to see. On the women’s end: vast majority of women cover up with traditional Islamic attire. In fact, women fashioning jeans constitute a minority.

For a student of knowledge, Cairo is a gleaming pile of unguarded treasure. Too many a learned people are willing to teach you whatever you desire about Islam. Many, if not most, will be offended at the thought of being paid to teach Islam to the seeker. You can learn aqeeda, the four madhabs, hadith sciences, Quranic sciences, you name it. Most do not speak English, however, so having a fluency in Arabic is the one and only key to this treasure, which can readily be acquired with just a year of study.

What is truly extraordinary about this is that Egyptian society is open to all kinds of dressing. You will find women in highly western “summer” clothing in malls and around the streets, and they need not fear discrimination or being accosted. The airwaves in Egypt are free and open and may propagate as they please on this point; yet despite that, traditional Islamic modesty is the norm. Egyptians know what’s out there, yet they choose Islam.

Or one can opt for Islamic teaching institutions, of which there is no scarcity. There is, of course, Al-Azhar University with its 90,000 strong undergrad student body, not all in the Islamic sciences, and not all Egyptians. Al-Azhar, interestingly also has branches for primary and secondary education. The Al-Azhar campuses are home to many different colors and features and ages among its student body, united by the goal of seeking knowledge. As well, there are numerous madrasas one can join to the same end. In Egypt, you know you’re in the land of the Muslims.


a c i r f in  A ccasionally, we listen to lectures or read articles about the O spread of Islam in places like Malaysia, Indonesia, India etc. However, even though many places are mentioned, there is still a tendency for people to think of Islam as a South Asian or Arab religion. There exists a vague knowledge of the diversity of the Ummah but few actually understand that diversity, both locally or globally. Particularly in regards to the continent of Africa, when one speaks about the position of Islam among the diverse peoples of the continent, one is often met with polite surprise and occasionally even skepticism. Partly resulting from the constant and consistent portrayal of Africans as naked people who jump around a lot, there is a deeply ingrained negative view of Africa and Africans. That reality exists among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Unfortunately, as a result, the many cultures of the continent are kept at arms length and thought of as distant, so commonality surprises many. However, the continent and its people have been part of the history of al Islam from the very beginning of the Prophetic Mission. In addition to factual reports we have about African Sahaba, the actual continent was a place of refuge for Muslims. In 615, before the migration to Medina, Muslims migrated from Makkah to the kingdom of al Najashi because of severe persecution from the Quraysh. Al Najashi was a Christian King who was known for his just rule. The Muslims were given refuge and they, as well as


the Message they brought, were warmly received by the King and he embraced al Islam. His status was such that when he died, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed at his funeral. Najashi’s kingdom was in Habasha, present day Ethiopia. However, that interaction was only the beginning of the ancient and persistent connection of the continent and Islam. Included in the many victories of the Muslims was the conquest of North Africa, which occurred only seven years after the Prophet’s (PBH) death. The victories of generals like Amr ibn al ‘As (may Allah be pleased with him) provided physical security and so created a safe environment for spreading the Message. From the North, the Berber people who were among the first to embrace Islam, carried the Message further South. As a result of trade and interaction with the peoples of the Southern desert and Sahel, Islam was carried further and further into the interior of the continent. The success of these interactions was buttressed and advanced by the establishment of Restoration movements, such as that of Al Murabitun in 1070. Furthermore, the impact of reform movements did not die in ancient times. Of the first peoples to come to Islam in the Southern Sahara were the Fulani and Hausa. And it was among the Fulani that in the 18th century the Scholar Shaykh Uthman ibn Fodio led another reform movement that established the cor-

rect teachings of al Islam in what is now Northern Nigeria. And in Eastern Africa, where the interaction between Islam and the continent first occurred, al Islam is described as having arrived as part of the “continuing dialogue between the people on the East coast and traders from the Persian Gulf and Oman” (BBC, The Story of Africa). The area of Africa known as the Swahili coast, which extends from Mozambique in the South to Mogadishu in the North, has been connected with nations from across the Red Sea and beyond since Ancient times. Therefore, the spread of Islam in this region as well as further South to Madagascar and Zimbabwe occurred as part of that continual, symbiotic relationship. Additionally, significant Muslim populations exist in the deep interior of Africa, including the Congo and Central African Republic. They, and the other Muslims on the continent are part of a large and very diverse and ancient community. Therefore, it is no surprise that the African Muslims who first traded with the people of the Americas before and after the arrival of Europeans also established Islam in both South America and North America. Strong physical, written and linguistic evidence have been found which establish the fact of Muslim settlement in the Americas during the time of European settlement and prior. As the Dawah passed from group to group on the Continent of Africa, so too was it passed on when the Africans entered into the Americas. During the time of enslavement, particular attention and laws were implemented with the aim of destroying any presence of Islam (refer to Deeper Roots, by Dr. Abdullah Ha-

kim Quick). Regardless, as the Dawah has gained momentum in modern times, there exists clear evidence that many Black Americans, descendants of slaves and political prisoners from Africa, are returning to Islam. So as the many peoples that make up the Ummah meet and develop in Multicultural societies, such as ours in Canada, we should pay particular attention to not making Islam a Deen of exclusivity. Sometimes, the result of group dominance may be that those people from groups that are themselves minorities among the Muslims are excluded and so may feel discouraged from actively participating in the community, so they become alienated. As a young African who has tried and have seen others blend so seamlessly into the general “black” stereotype, I know that having Iman connected to a solid identity increases one’s love of the Deen. And history provides that solid identity. Because, in reality, wherever members of this Ummah originate from in the world, they have, and have had, an integral part in this Ummah since its inception.



icture yourself on a lighted road in the dark woods that leads straight from your difficult day at work and directly towards your home filled with security and peace where all your loved ones reside. You are driving while your GPS is guiding you on where to turn and how to go where you need to go. Except for this straight path, all the other paths are filled with the darkness or with paths leading to destinations away from your home. On each of these paths, there are things that tempt you to stop, to come their way, and lead you astray and are filled with all manner of evils. However, you have to stay firm and direct your love, efforts and attention towards reaching the safety of your home; your final destination point.   In Islam, when we think about the straight path, we think of Sirat Al Mustaqim which we recite in Al Fatiha, we are asking for something to guide us to this straight path, the path upon which is the grace of Allah and not a path which incurs Allah’s wrath. This is part of the verse that opens the Qur’an before leading to the many different stories about the kinds of people that went astray, and we recite Al Fatiha at the beginning of every prayer no matter what sect a person belongs to. All of us are seeking to walk on the same path, the straight path, that will lead us towards Allah (swt).

Allah (swt)? Than how can it lead you closer towards him when your purpose and destination is no longer Allah? While we are on this straight path the key thing we need to always remember is that when we strive, do deeds or work hard towards a goal, are we doing it for Allah (swt)? Or are we doing it for a worldly benefit? For example, is what we are doing to honor our family, or to follow our parents because we it is the right thing to do that Allah (swt) has commanded.   Keeping clean and clear intentions while in prayer, while in school, while around a group of people, while preaching or discussing religion are all very important because in the end, these are the things that are going to get you where you need to go and keep a clear direction and strong purpose to reach towards Allah (swt). The Quran, finally, is our guide and it is not a weapon for us to use towards other people nor is it a political tool to gain power. It is our guide. There are many examples of prophets, civilizations, individuals in the Qur’an and the examples of those people surround us today in every direction and even though there are wrong things happening around us, a lot of the time these are examples for us on what not to become. The reality is that we need to strive within, find the best examples around us that follow most of the teachings, learn from the example of our Prophet (pbuh) and strive to become like them. Out of mercy we can tell the people around us if they are doing something that is going to lead them to hell or are wrongdoing but only with the knowledge that they are going to listen to our advice or if we have guardianship over them, or a group of individuals striving towards the same goals to learn the correct practice of Islam. However, in the end it is ourselves we are constantly trying to improve. Islam was inspired and not enforced and it is not right to enforce it on anyone. Islam is not a religion that can be successful through enforcing and so we must focus on ourselves and keep our own intentions clear. We shouldn’t be using the Quran as a weapon to prove why a person, or a sect is incorrect or look down upon anyone but we should study the Quran, and follow it to the best of our ability one step at a time because in the end, it is the firm belief in Allah his Messenger and the Five Pillars that are going to guide a person towards their right destination.

“While we are on this straight path the key thing we need to always remember is that when we strive, do deeds or work hard towards a goal, are we doing it for Allah (swt)? Or are we doing it for a worldly benefit?”

`To find this straight path the GPS, which is like our guide that will lead you home, is the Quran, and your destination point is Allah (swt). The path is lighted and it is clear and open. Iblis and his followers try to divert us from going to this straight path. The Quran mentions that there are seven gates of hell in the following verses; “Allah says  ‘This way of my sincere servants is indeed a way that leads straight to Me. For over My servants no authority shalt thou have, except such as put themselves in the wrong and follow thee. And verily, Hell is the promised abode for them all. To it are seven gates: for each of those gates is a special class of sinners assigned.” (Al Hijr; 41-44).    To understand what these shaitans are inviting us towards, we need to understand what the major sins are, and what the straight path is. Righteous deeds would be things like establishing the five daily prayers, respecting your parents, giving in charity, being good to neighbours, helping the needy and keeping a peaceful and clean environment around you where you constantly learn and recite the Qur’an. What the shaitans are inviting us towards may be things such as associating partners with Allah (swt), worshipping idols and false gods, evil within us such as pride, anger, depression, lust, envy, greed or gluttony that cause us to spread evil in the world while being in a state where what is wrong seems fair. Consider when a person is extremely angry, they think it is okay to yell at someone, throw things around and sometimes even cause murder. Similarly when we enter an evil state the wrong seems fair seeming to us. These things divert us from the straight lighted path and into a different dark path in the woods. Consider, when doing something of this nature, are you doing it for

Once we begin to use the Qur’an as a guide, practice the fundamental principles of Islam, avoid the sins and keep our intention clear of what our destination needs to be, than we will be guided to the straight path. I am not going to say that the straight way is easy because the further you go on the straight path, the greater the diversions to lead us astray to another destination, but still, we have to strive towards the right goal to fulfill the purpose of our life.



reedom of Expression is perhaps one of the most fundamental values of the West. It is an important part of Canada’s celebrated Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom is to the West like Islam is to Muslims. Islamophobia is the fear of Islam and Muslims. It manifests itself as speech (e.g. claims that Islam teaches terror), and as policies that aim to discriminate against Muslims, or restrict our freedom to (peacefully) practice our religion. Islamophobia is to Muslims, what antiSemitism is to Jews. Islamophobia and freedom are increasingly intersecting each other in two ways: (1) many Islamophobes deny Muslims’ freedom to express their faith, (2) many Muslims wish to suppress speech that spreads hatred of Islam and/or Muslims. This article argues that Muslims should always fight for their freedoms. However, in opposing those who are intolerant of us, we ourselves should not become intolerant of those who hate us. Such intolerance is contrary to Islam. It also plays into the hands of the Islamophobes who wish to portray us all as extremists. Finally, Muslims must rise up to defend freedom wherever it is under attack.

What is freedom of expression? Freedom of expression is the right to express oneself without obstruction. The “expression” can be via speech, writing, graphics, clothing, posters etc. Freedom is only meaningful when applied to those whom we disapprove of. After all every dictator favours free speech for those whom he agrees with. Hence freedom doesn’t meaningfully exist until it applies to everyone regardless of the views they hold.

Freedom for us As citizens and denizens of Western countries, freedom is our right. We have the right to express ourselves the way we choose. This includes our right to say what we want, and to wear what we want. An attack on our freedoms is an attack on us, because without our freedoms we are nothing. However, because we are Muslims, we should exercise our freedoms in an Islamic manner (each of us must make this choice individually; no one can make it for us). We should always ensure our expression respects others’ feelings. Freedom for them As mentioned before, it is far more difficult to concede freedom to others, especially when they hate you, than to concede freedom to those with whom you agree. There are numerous


examples of when Muslims should have conceded freedom to Islamophobes: Salman Rushdie’s Satanic verses, the Danish cartoon controversy, Geert Widlers’ movie Fitna.

Truth The first reason why Muslims should concede freedom is because we care about the truth. And truth can only be known once everyone is free to express their views and challenge others’. How can we know whether someone is right or wrong, if they are suppressed by the government? And if they are so wrong, what are we afraid of? Falsehood fears the truth, not vice versa. The Qur’an supports this perspective when it says: Let there be no compulsion in religion – Truth stands out clear from Error.

Tolerance The second reason why Muslims should concede freedom to Islamophobes is that the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was tolerant of hate when it didn’t pose a security threat to Muslims. In Sahih Bukhari, the prophet’s wife Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates: A group of Jews asked permission to visit the Prophet and they said [to him], “Death be upon you.” I said [to them], “But death and the curse of Allah be upon you!” The Prophet said, “O ‘Aisha! Allah is kind and lenient and likes that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” I said, “Haven’t you heard what they said?” He said, “I said [to them], ‘Wa ‘Alaikum (and upon you).” Not only did the prophet tolerate this hatred, he commanded Aisha to tolerate hate, pointing out that God Himself is tolerant in all matters. To an external observer reading the story, the morally superior party of the story is clear. Thus, if we Muslims were to tolerate Islamophobes, who regularly preach intolerance towards us, Western society in general would see us as the good, and the Islamophobes as evil.


Counter-productive Advocating the banning of hate speech has backfired for Muslims, almost always without exception. The result has been that not only was the Islamophobic speech not banned, it actually became more popular, and the perception of Muslims became more negative. This is the case for Rushdie’s Satanic verses, the Danish cartoons, Wilders’ Fitna etc. In each of these cases Muslims came to be seen as the intolerant ones. We should have engaged in giving a rational rebuttal to each of these Islamophobic incidents, as opposed to protests/boycotts/calls for punishing the authors.

Freedom under attack Today freedom is under attack in the Western world. Freedom has been threatened unsuccessfully on a number of occasions: complaints against Maclean’s to three human rights councils were unfruitful, and the Muslim Canadian Congress’ call to ban the niqab in public in Canada was ignored by lawmakers. However, more important are examples where, when under attack by intolerance, freedom has not been so successful: In France, Muslim girls who wear the headscarf (and Sikh and Jewish men who wear their religious headgear) are denied their right to education. In Quebec, school-girls who veil their face have been expelled. In Switzerland, the construction of minarets was made unconstitutional. While not an attack on freedom of religion, this is certainly an attack on freedom of cultural expression. Governments should not ban certain forms of art (whether they are cartoons

or architecture) simply because a group finds them “offensive.” The niqab has been banned in public by France and Belgium, and (will be soon banned by the Netherlands). Banning a symbol or expression of an idea in public is the ultimate attack on freedom of expression. Such an attack is all the more outrageous when suppression of freedom is directed against a religious sect in particular, stripping the sect’s members the freedom of leaving their homes and being in public. Further still, there is a fight for freedom ahead. In the aftermath of the 2010 Dutch election, Geert Wilders, whose platform included banning the Qur’an, has been included in the ruling coalition and his popularity has since then increased to rival that of the Dutch Prime Minister. Wilders is also currently standing trial for inciting hatred towards Muslims. How do the Dutch view this? The trial has been a popularity boost for him, since it is viewed that his right to free speech is being violated. In an ironic twist, the man who wants to take away the freedom of speech from Muslims (by banning the Qur’an), is now seen as the “champion” of that vey freedom. Thus does suppression of freedom of expression confuse the victim with the aggressor. If we Muslims want to maintain our freedoms in the West, we will have to fight for them. We will also have to restrain ourselves from attacking other people’s freedoms, as that is both un-Islamic and results in sympathy and media attention for the Islamophobes.


the importance

of being a


good neighbour

by Ishraq Alim


he past few days during the blessed month of Ramadan have been difficult for me as a Muslim living in the West. The news from our neighbours to the south is inundated with stories of protests against mosques and Islamic cultural centres, stabbings of fasting cab drivers and the ever growing fear of Muslims “taking over” America. The cover of Time Magazine poignantly asks: “Is America Islamophobic?.” which leads many Canadian Muslims to say “Thank God we don’t live there!” If we travel back in time almost a year ago to when the Swiss voted to ban new minarets in their country, I am sure many American Muslims would have said “Thank God we don’t live there!” This leads me to question if we as Canadians are immune to this kind of fear-mongering, and, with the recent arrest of a young Muslim Canadian Idol contestant and the proposed ban on the Niqab in Quebec, is the issue of widespread fear of Muslims is no longer a question of if. but a question of when? Many pundits both from inside and outside the Muslim community have accused Park51 as a primary reason for the current climate in the US. For those who don’t know, Park51 is a proposed community centre being built 2 blocks north and around the corner of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan in an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory building. The complex will have a swimming pool, auditorium, gym, culinary school and a prayer space; its advisory board is made of community members of different faith groups and other community centres like the YMCA and Manhattan’s Jewish Community Centre.

As you can tell, I am in support of this initiative and freedom of religion for all in the US, as are many Americans including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann, Fareed Zakaria, Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama. To me this centre has the potential to represent the best the Muslim community has to offer in an area filled with liquor stores, abandoned buildings, strip clubs and off-track betting stores all of which are closer to Ground Zero than Park51. And the argument about being sensitive to the families of 9/11 families falsely implies that all Muslims are collectively guilty of the 9/11 attacks, that all 9/11 families are against this centre (many families have come out in support) and that there were no Muslim victims of 9/11. With all that being said, to me this project was simply the match that lit the fire to an underlying fear of Muslims that has been growing in America. This was bound to happen sooner or later, if not with Park51 then with something else. As Canadian Muslims, we must ask ourselves: How can we prevent this from happening here? Unfortunately, Muslims in the West get stuck in the idea that we must keep our heads down, not interact with too many people outside our community and we must maintain all aspects of our cultural background. This attitude is often exemplified in our religious institutions, particularly our mosques. Although it might seem nearly impossible to prevent backlash like this in our country, there are ways to inhibit the scale of it. Some would suggest giving in, not making it obvious that you are a Muslim, or even sacrificing ones rights as a Muslim Canadian to ensure the happiness of the majority. To me this is giving in to injustice and bigotry, two things that many Muslims are vehemently opposed to. To me the best way to fight Islamophobia is to be the best Muslims we can be in our communities. Now when we look at the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) we see many examples of the importance of being a good neighbour, such as: “Worship God and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet)… Verily, God does not like such as are proud and boastful.” (Quran 4:36)

many gives it the impression that it is an exclusive location for Muslims only. This is in sharp contrast to the Church across the street which has an open garden in the front where neighbourhood children of all faiths play. Next, with the construction of the mosque there was an influx of Muslims in the neighbourhood, which is great, but many of their non-Muslims neighbours began to complain that the Muslims were often unfriendly to them or failed to maintain their property (for those who live in the suburbs, keeping a nice garden in your front yard is a big deal and makes the neighbourhood feel more pleasant). This unfortunately led to an exodus of many wonderful non-Muslim neighbours. And finally. the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was a few years ago at Eid prayers, when for some reason someone at the Masjid decided that the Khutba was going to be in Classical Urdu, a dialect most young Urdu-speaking people won’t understand let alone those of us who don’t speak Urdu. Is there any wonder why the general public has suspicions of Muslims, when so many of us don’t bother to create an unfriendly environment for our neighbours and we often fail to communicate with them? This problem is not in our neighbourhoods but also in our workplaces and in classrooms (particularly at University of Toronto). Think to yourself how often have you said greeted the stranger sitting next to you in class or showed what it means to be a practicing Muslim to your friends, instead of saying “I gotta go take care of some business” as you go to pray Jummu’ah. In this climate of anti-Muslim sentiment, this is the best time for us as Muslims to show our community what we have to offer and take it upon ourselves to reach out to those who may not know about Islam and show them that by having Muslims in our communities is a benefit to all people not just Muslims.

“the best way to fight Islamophobia is to be the best Muslims we can be in our communities”

When we look at the Qur’an verse above it is obvious that those whom we must be good to are not exclusive to those who are your family, or those who are Muslim or even those who live next door to you, but rather being good to those in your community. Unfortunately, Muslims in the West get stuck in the idea that we must keep our heads down, not interact with too many people outside our community and we must maintain all aspects of our cultural background. This attitude is often exemplified in our religious institutions, particularly our mosques. A few years ago there was a mosque built near where my parents live and of course they were quite excited with a mosque closer to home. However, that excitement quickly faded once it was built, when looking at this mosque the first thing you notice is that it is surrounded by these big ugly black gates, which to

In the case of Park 51, community centres like it are what we should be building everywhere to benefit everyone in our community. The Qur’an states: “To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward” (Qur’an 5:9), which should be an incentive for Muslims to move towards being a community that is both faith-based and service-based. Finally, although I do support the Park51 project, I would suggest to their community and our campus community to start today by being productive members of society, don’t wait until a complex is built or for someone to do it for you, but do it today because no one knows what will happen to Muslims tomorrow and only Allah (swt) knows what hardships may come.

8 `

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THIS ARTICLE? Share your thoughts about this and other articles by leaving a comment on our website at:!


Religion of ‘Peace’?

Show me.


SO IT SEEMS ITS OFFICIAL, AND HAS BEEN SO FAR SOMETIME NOW: ISLAM IS THE NEW COMMUNISM, and we have just reached a new McCarthyist peak against everything Muslim. This is the confirmation that one receives after scanning the emotionally charged news media debates over what has been termed ‘the Ground Zero Mosque Controversy.’  Look as you may for a shred of sanity, yet it’s nowhere to be found.  Never mind the fact that the proposed mosque is not exactly on Ground Zero but roughly a couple of blocks away, and that it was initially intended to be a cultural center to promote inter-faith dialogue and understanding! The hate and misinformation by demagogues and political pundits choking our news media outlets has reached alarming new heights. This debate brings back memories of a Larry King discussion with the Queen of Jordan many years ago in which he calmly asked her in seemingly innocent confusion over the chaos and violence emanating from the Middle East something to the effect of “Could it just be that Islam is a religion of violence??” To be sure there is much violence and instability across the Muslim world. But what can be gleaned by any educated person from much of the violence taking place in Muslim countries is a very simple reality: dictatorships that are plagued by

poverty and poor educational systems are breeding grounds for cultures of violence and instability due to the absence of democratic venues to seek justice and redress. It is for this very reason, among others, why many Muslims today have chosen Western nations like Canada as their new home. In light of these poisonous discussions, where the hate and outrage are so palpably felt throughout our news outlets, how have Muslim leaders and intellectuals sought to reassure their Western brethren, that all is ok, Muslims are human too, and yes Islam is a religion synonymous with ‘peace’?  Sadly, while much is written on the topic, it seems that Muslims, for one reason or another, appear ill equipped and lacking in their arguments to put out the fires of hate and misinformation. Perhaps, news outlets are not the best place to have an honest, deep and meaningful discussion in our neurotic age of sound bytes and empty jargon.  And sadly, those who are ill informed of their religion and scripture fear that perhaps after all, there is some justification to what is being said about them. As we look at all the raging debates between the pundits, the demagogues and the academics, it seems everything is up for discussion except for the very answer to the question itself: So is Islam truly a

religion of violence and hate? For some incomprehensible reason, the answer to this question appears to be so elusive to many and rarely is a respectable scholar brought in to provide it. So how does Islam and its Holy Book, the Quran, weigh in on the debate? If we can only show the world what this book has to say, perhaps it will all go away and we can move on to more meaningful discussions.  Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work this way cause the simple truth is that most people don’t care to really know. But below is an effort to let the Quran speak for itself, for the very few who do care to know. Perhaps, God willing, it will send some reassurance and it will be a sane reflection for those who are troubled and confused by ‘the question’ under contemplation. The Quran, as the revealed word of God for us Muslims, offers a comprehensive answer to all our most meaningful concerns. As such, as a living and coherent moral code, it ought to offer a very clear and unequivocal picture on topics of warfare, social justice, and inter-faith relations. However, due to the drastically different social settings and circumstances under which it was revealed, the unique manner of its compilation, and the scattered nature of its injunctions, any comprehensive analysis of its spirit may be

slightly more difficult to pursue, requiring a patient and wholistic approach. Many Orientalist authorities and self-proclaimed scholars on Islam will be quick to tell you that unlike the early tolerance exhibited towards the disbelievers of Mecca, the Quran of the Medina period emphasized the cohesion of the Muslim state and defined relationships with nonMuslims in mainly antagonistic and hostile terms, advising Muslims to not take them as friends or allies (awliya’). Some proceed to provide the following Medina verses as evidence of such problematic hostility towards non-Muslims:  3:28; 4:144;8:72;73; 9:23, 71; and 60:1. Upon a closer analysis of the mentioned verses, one can well argue, however, that their overall thrust is a general warning to avoid befriending the enemies of Islam as allies over Muslims.  These verses are clearly restricted towards groups that are hostile towards the message of Islam and its freedom to operate with dignity in an unhindered social environment. Verse 60:1, for example, is specifically in relation to those who persecute the Messenger and the believers for “their belief in God.”  Verse 9:23 is referring to maintaining an allegiance to parents who have joined the enemy camp of disbelievers.   This verse ought to be understood in light of the Quran’s spirit as a whole and its judgments on Muslims’ relations with nonMuslim parents. Interestingly, verses 29:8 and 31:14-15 of the Quran exhort Muslims to continue their amicable relations with their disbelieving parents so long as they are able to maintain their faith in spite of their parents’ protests.  As for verses 3:28, 4:144, and 8:72-73,once again, they primarily deal with allying one’s self with the enemies of the Muslim community. By failing to take the prevailing social context into consideration, one can easily misrepresent the verses in question.  This is precisely the tactic most widely favored by Islamophobic groups of all shades who pretend to sincerely study the Quran.  To properly contextualize the Quran’s Medinan war verses, however, is to realize that they were revealed during a time where Arab society was undergoing a highly polarized ideological war over the future of

“sadly, those who are ill informed of their religion and scripture fear that perhaps after all, there is some justification to what is being said about them.” the Arabian peninsula. Under a tribal and communal society, where the group or tribe was the vital source of one’s identity and belonging, to declare oneself a ‘Muslim’ was a radical position that essentially entailed declaring one’s opposition to the prevailing order and values of that society.  In such a social setting, a proclamation of belief would have arguably had far more threatening repercussions to the social fabric of society than it would, say, under the context of a contemporary secular society that highly prizes the values of ‘individualism’ and ‘freedom of religion.’

own people. If God had willed, He could have made them overpower you, and they would have fought you.  Therefore, if they withdraw from you and choose not to fight you, while sending you guarantees of peace, then God gives you no right over them (to wage war against them). In yet another example, verse 9:5 on killing the pagans may be mentioned, while failing to discuss the preceding verse 9:4 which establishes the purpose behind the sanctioned use of force in the verses to follow. Verse 9:4 commands the believers to preserve their peace treaty ( ahd) with the pagans who wish to do them no harm.  Hence, the use of force in the relevant verses that follow is unambiguously directed towards the repelling of foreign aggression.   

As can be discerned from these examples, there is a rampant superficiality and lack of basic fairness exhibited when the war verses of the Quran are addressed. So what does the Quran have to say about inter-faith relations with other groups? Again, the answer is loud and clear, unTo declare one’s belief in the context of equivocal to all who have a modicum early Islamic society, was, thus, to mark of human decency and some reason to one’s position under the enemy camp.  spare: Remarkably, despite these prevailing social dynamics of the period, the Quran [60:9] God only forbids you, with regard to left considerable room for exceptional those who fight you for (your) Faith, and cases, favouring to lean towards peace drive you out of your homes, and support whenever the opportunity arose. Indeed, (others) in driving you out, from turning one only need look at the magnificent to them (for friendship and protection). It episode of Hudaybiyyah in the Prophet’s is such as turn to them (in these circum(pbuh) Seerah for such an illustrious ex- stances), that do wrong. ample! In addition to these verses, verse 2:190 of On other verse, in particular, which anti- the Medina period, a simple straightforMuslim demagogues disingenuously rel- ward verse that is all too often ignored, is ish quoting is verse 4:89 which taken out just as explicit in summarizing the condiof context declares “take them and kill tions under which fighting is to be sancthem wherever you find them.” This part tioned: is used by some as conclusive evidence of Islam’s inherent hostility towards non- [2:190] Fight in the cause of God those Muslims.  Sadly, all one needs to do is look who fight you, but do not aggress; for to the next verse for clarification, which God loves not the aggressors. magnificently proclaims loud and clear: Others still may suggest that the Quran [4:90]  Except those who arrive at a people exhibits a lack of overall consistency: with whom you have a (peace) treaty, or certain verses which appear to advocate those who approach you with hearts that peaceful coexistence were later replaced are reluctant to fight you or to fight their or ‘abrogated’ by more belligerent verses,


as the Prophet (pbuh) began to consolidate his political authority and power in Medina. They may, for example, quote the following Medina verses which appear at face value to sanction the use of force against disbelievers without qualification: 9: 5,12, 13, 29, 36, 73, and 123. Verse 9:29, it may be ardently pointed out, is a clear verse sanctioning the use of violence against the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab). Such verses, it may be argued, are clear and unambiguous references from the Quran that Muslims ought to sincerely address if they are to achieve any genuine reform on the treatment of non-Muslims under Shariah law. Once again, such arguments exhibit remarkably poor skill in their ability to contextualize the verses in question by failing to interpret them in light of  the Quranic message as a whole.  Verse 9:29 is a reference to the People of the Book under Muslim rule.  The verse states the following: [9:29] Fight those who believe not in God, nor in the Last Day, nor seek to forbid that which God and His Messenger have forbidden, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are People of the Book, until they agree to pay the Jizya and feel themselves subdued. This verse was an instruction for ensuring that the non-Muslim minorities under Muslim rule paid some form of tax or Jizya in return for their protection and the extension of certain privileges provided

“the Prophet (pbuh) had a humanitarian vision on the conduct of war guided by the spirit of the Quran, preceding the Geneva Conventions by well over a thousand years” to them by the Muslim state. This was no discrimination as Muslims also had their own taxes to pay, namely the Zakat consisting of 2.5% of one’s annual wealth. It is important to note in this context that the verse in question by no means compelled the non-Muslim subjects to change their faith and provided them with the freedom to develop their own beliefs and associated institutions in accordance with other verses guaranteeing freedom of religion (see verses 2:256, 88:22, and 109:16 among other such verses). Apart from the preceding discussion of the Quran, one need only look at the Prophet’s Seerah (pbuh) for clear examples on how he engaged and addressed the issue of war. What emerges from any such honest inquiry is that the Prophet (pbuh) had a humanitarian vision on the conduct of war guided by the spirit of the Quran, preceding the Geneva Conventions by well over a thousand years; Muhammad’s army was ordered to avoid harming innocent women, children, hermits and monks who were not engaged in in any hostilities towards the Muslims. The Muslims were also under strict orders to avoid poisoning wells or cutting down trees.

It is reported that when Muhammad’s (pbuh) army marched towards Mecca to conquer it after years of severe persecution, they passed by a female dog with puppies. In one narration, he (pbuh), commanded his entire army to avoid disturbing the dog and her puppies that lay along the way. Not only did this magnanimous Prophet (pbuh) give orders that the dogs remain undisturbed, but he posted a man to see that the order was carried out, stating “Verily, there is heavenly reward for every act of kindness done to a living animal.” One would think that after years of severe persecution, warfare, and outright hostility waged against him and his community by the people of Mecca, that such a man would have had every right to triumphantly enter the city parading his glorious victory for all to see. Instead, the images drawn from his biography depict a man entering the city with his head bowed down so low in a state of utter humility and gratitude towards his Creator that after all these years, his message of Peace and Love had prevailed over the forces of ignorance (Jahiliyyah) and hate.  Let us draw from this legacy, reflect upon it, and live it; let us continue to spread this legacy of mercy through faith and good action towards our fellow human beings.

8 `

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THIS ARTICLE? Share your thoughts about this and other articles by leaving a comment on our website at:!



OPASDFGHJKLZXCVBN By: Zainab Asadullah Meadfcb I

n the moment before you die, something incredible happens. Incredible and terribly sad. No matter how you die. Whether it is on a hospital bed surrounded by your loved ones, in an empty alley way alone and bleeding, suddenly as the bullet enters your head- we all experience the same infinitesimal and finite event. Everyone relives their life, backward.   We emerge into the world, at our oldest. Most of us are heavy creatures with gray hair and fine lines, and we are clean. Slowly, we are encased in dirt. The water and soaps sucked off by amazing faucets, we  change through a myriad of clothing. Trying, in vain, to find the perfect outfit.  As we walk, sedately, backward we grow bigger then smaller.   Our face changes as we go through life backward. Tears are brought back, pain is kept inside and then taken out. Kisses are taken, instead of given. A lover becomes, initially, a person we have known for ever. Then they slowly forget us, as we forget them. Comfortable silences and hands being held turn into meaningless sex, until one day you pass by each other with no recollection of the other. The terrible thing is, you are aware of this reality and you can not do anything about it.     Perhaps, most interesting of all, is our edification. We slowly, beatifically, unlearn. The words, books, numbers we have internalized are given to our unlearners, previously our teachers. Our brains are slowly wiped and wrung out like sponges to dry. All the accumulated knowledge we come in with, into the world is given back to the world. After all, what use is knowledge where you are going?   And again, we grow younger. Our hair long, short, no hair, some hair.  Our eyes become rounder and rounder, skin smoothes and wrinkles disappear. You use makeup and plastic surgery to look

older. Our children become indifferent adults, to rebellious teenager to the gentle and wonderful time; when they are too young to understand how to hate us. The blood from our various wounds is sucked back inside our flesh, teeth fall out and tiny milk teeth replace them.  And then those melt back into tender pink gums. Our limbs are shortening now much more rapidly. Our view of the world becomes dizzying, and everything is an obstacle to be overcome. Yet we lack independence, and depend upon the warmth of giant hands. Warm and brown, they encase us in a protective steadying way.   Our heads now look to large for our fragile bodies. We can no longer crawl, instead we lay upon our backs the occasional wail that is hanging about in the air, is sucked inside of us.   Now we are covered by warm trembling hands of our mothers, holding us for the first and last time. The world is overly bright and confusing, as disorienting as a gunshot to the head. Though we do not know what guns are, for we know nothing but our death. And then hands move away, we are now sucked back into darkness, the cries of our mother are unheard as she too ages backward. She too will crawl backward into the comfortable darkness of her mother’s  womb.   With out final or conscious thoughts.   But with all the memories of our lived and relived life.   We die.

“All the accumulated knowledge we come in with, into the world is given back to the world. After all, what use is knowledge where you are going?”


Why Pakistan?

By: Khalid Khan


he recent flooding in Pakistan was undoubtedly devastating. A population 4 times that of Toronto were left homeless with their livelihoods destroyed, left to starve and die of thirst or malaria. The government of Pakistan had a slow, to put it lightly, response to the disaster. President Zardari was touring Europe, while managing his own personal investments in Paris and London; he casually made his way back to the crisis struck nation two weeks late. The military of Pakistan is the sole reason why total anarchy has not broken out, thousands of soldiers keeping maintaining relative security, when it could have been much worse. So where was the world in the wake of such a disaster? If the Pakistani government was in no position to tackle the issue on its own, where were the billions of dollars from the developed nations that Haiti and other such nations received? As a matter of fact, Haiti received 200 million dollars within the first five days of the disaster. It took Pakistan close to 5 months to reach that amount. For some context, Haiti’s affected population is an estimated three million compared to Pakistan’s victims hitting 20 million. Anyone who follows world news would know these facts. Why, then, was the international reaction so late and futile? The main reason, perhaps, is the bad reputation Pakistan has. When many Westerners think Pakistan, they think terrorism, anti-Americanism and of religious fundamentalists. This is completely ignorant. Pakistan is at the forefront of anti-terrorism efforts. Every year, Pakistan has death tolls of 9/11 proportions due to terrorist acts. The Pakistani army has deployed 100,000 troops to fight the Taliban, and have lost over 2000 of their brave soldiers to the war. Pakistan had and is paying the largest price tag to the “war on terror,” and the innocent farmers, women and children are starving to death. All for an issue they are accused of, despite the fact that they are fighting it themselves. Why isn’t the media taking a more active role in clearing up the name of Pakistan so the people could get their minimum survival needs taken care of? To put it in a nutshell, Westerners felt that donating to Pakistan’s floods victims would support terrorist activities. This is of course absolutely wrong.

GLOBAL AFFAIRS // reliable? To answer the first question, the most common answer anyone would know is spread knowledge, clear up misconceptions and set a good example. Never has Pakistan ever needed more support more than now, and to hear people accuse the nation of things it is fighting in the first place would be an injustice to the millions suffering. For the Muslim readers, I remind you of the quote in The Holy Quran: “Whoever recommends and helps a good cause becomes a partner therein, and whoever recommends and helps an evil cause shares in its burden” (Chapter 4, Verse 85). What else can we do? Donate! Please do not be hesitant to donate to this cause, it is not funding terrorism, instead it is saving innocent lives of simple farmers and women and children, not mountainous wild terrorists running around screaming death to America. Before I move on to which charities we can trust, I need to emphasize, as many readers may know, that much of the Pakistani population do not have trust in the United States’ policies. As a result, some do have malicious intent towards the West. To explain their mistrust, we must all remember that over 100 non-militant Pakistanis are killed by drone bombings in the north every year, with American attempts to kill the militants. This disaster is the perfect chance for the West to show Pakistan their true intent. As for the organizations that are accepting donations, agencies that are tax deductible are a safe bet. CBC still has donation lines online at, and many other groups are tax deductible like EDHI and The Islamic Relief Fund.

“Never has Pakistan ever needed more support than now, and to hear people accuse the nation of things it is fighting in the first place would be an injustice to the millions suffering.”

Firstly, donations and aid went to groups the Canadian government had trust in, primarily NGO’s who had enough support to be backed by a double donation guarantee by the Canadian government. If Canada’s government itself is supporting these charities, then isn’t that enough proof that the outlet of donations is purely charitable and not funding terrorism? Secondly, many activists and donators such as Angelina Jolie or Pakistan International Airlines stated if one does not want to give cash donations, then donate boxes with blankets, non-perishable foods, medical supplies and other necessities. So in the wake of such a disaster, we ask ourselves what we can do, and how do we distinguish which charitable organizations are

Other than the obvious actions we can take, one action for those who are very proactive in this cause is contact the media. Media affects all Canadians, directly and indirectly. It forms connotations and stereotypes, both good and bad. And right now, on the global stage, Pakistan is at the forefront of criticism concerning corruption and terrorism. Unfortunately accusations may be true on corruption, and ill-conceived on terrorism, but the point of this article is not to clear Pakistan’s integrity, but instead to help the people who are not responsible for the bad name. All the people starving to death have no involvement with the corruption, as a matter of fact many don’t even vote nor have the resources to vote, the only worry they have is to feed their family for the next day. The media needs to make it clear that donation to the country is vital and that the funds given are not supporting terrorism and corruption, but instead saving lives. To conclude, it is imperative that we do the right thing, help the drowning nation and - I speak for the general population not the government - at least survive. FALL 2010/THE MUSLIM VOICE/20

What If the Prophet Added You as a Friend? Would you press accept? Or would you stay awake late at night, pondering it before you slept? Will you be tempted to press ignore? Will you feel at war? Will you feel happy that the prophet thought of you as a part of his ummah, his friend? Will you start to make amends? Or will you be worried about what he will think of your profile? Will it become your biggest trial? Will you finally delete that horoscope application? Will you change your favourite quotes to glorify creation? Will you delete those late night webcam pictures without the hijab? Will you look at your life and feel a stab? As you add the qu’ran as your favourite book Will you feel like a fake, a crook? Will you take a few days to make sure everything is within Islamic law? Will your heart finally begin to thaw?  Will you delete your old conversations? Or will you feel nothing at all and continue following your temptations? Will you press ignore, And not think about it anymore? No reason to worry about that possibility occurring The prophet has long departed  But Allah is always there  Watching you and listening to your prayers You don’t need to add Him as your friend With Allah, you can never hide or pretend He doesn’t need your permission to view  He doesn’t need your permission to view  Your wall-to-walls, your pictures, your comments, and your statuses too


Marwa Saad


The City’s Streets The seasons come soon they will go, As dreams and love dance to and fro. Golden leaves fall to the ground, Perpetuating the blissful mound. Hidden in time and out of sight, Lays in each leaf a glorious light. For each one toasts a unique shade, Such that a smile for all is made. A candle shines brightest in the dark, Just as those leaves leave their mark. They live animated by the great sun, And frost marks an end to their fun. As the leaves live from start to their end, Do they know all the joy their colours lend?

Akbar Khurshid

Freedoom Smokeless fire burns the papers, Of resolutions by blunted pens, Using the ink of united powers, Every verb written in past tense. The one of only three places to be, Is now standing on a corroded stool, Trembling pillars on their very knees, Slowly entering history books in school. Flightless pigeons in barbed cages, With broken wings and grey feathers, Rusted steel surrounding for ages, An untold tale of the silent wailers.

Muhammad Aizan Aslan

Lying on the bed staring at the ceiling, Lying on the floor staring at the stars, Wish to share this comforting feeling, Wish to tell the tales and the scars.


Profile for The Muslim Voice Magazine

The Muslim Voice Magazine Fall 2010  

The Muslim Voice Magazine's Fall 2010 issue.

The Muslim Voice Magazine Fall 2010  

The Muslim Voice Magazine's Fall 2010 issue.

Profile for tmvmag

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded