By Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
15 November 2013
The last Eid Al-Adha was observed in Ottawa on two different days to Muslims’ dismay. It also brought them ridicule; some children took off from school one day and others the following day, suggesting that Muslims keep quarreling. If eight imams cannot agree, what message are they sending to Muslims and to other Canadians? Fortunately, there is a brighter side.
•Two years ago eight Toronto Muslim organizations pledged $250,000 over five years in response to an appeal to help build a hospital - Ahlul Bayt Assembly, G.A. Paper International, Imdad ul Islamic Jamat, Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat, Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque, Organization of Islamic Learning, Talim ul Islam Community Center, Taric Islamic Center and Ummah Nabawiya Masjid. They gave $50,000 last year and plan annual contributions.
• Winnipeg’s Zubaidah Tallab Foundation has helped Canada’s Aboriginals since 2008. This year Hussain Guisti drove for two days to Timmins airport to deliver 4,000 pounds of meat, produce and 70 boxes of diapers for the Attawapiskat reserve, where Aboriginals live in dire poverty.
• Ottawa’s Muslims donated $43,150 this year to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario through their imams.
• The imams further pledged to provide a meal once a month to the Ottawa Mission which feeds and houses the poor. Jamia Omar gave the food in September, Bilal Masjid in October and the Gatineau mosque in November. The South Nepean Muslim Community will do so in December. Muslims also provided new socks in October and mittens and gloves in November.
• Ottawa Muslim Association and other organizations arranged regular blood donation clinics winning Canadian Blood Services’ applause.
• Sadaqa Food Bank has provided food and clothing to the needy for years. More than 1,550 people receive help every month.
• Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization has arranged annual dinners since 2002. Funds raised are given to hospitals, universities and multifaith housing. OMWO also gives $1,000 annually to the Ottawa Westend chaplaincy for three food banks, $300 to Sadaqa Food Bank and meat to another food bank.
• President Zakaria Khan of the Muslim Coordinating Council, National Capital Region spends two days every week at Ottawa’s detention centers and another day to help the sick.
• Through Ontario Labor Minister Yasir Naqvi, MCC-NCR recommended 25 Muslims for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award. A dozen received the medals.
• Parliament, on Honorable Mauril Belanger’s motion, designated October as Islamic History Month in 2007. Now it is observed annually in many cities. In Ottawa Imam Mohamed Jebara’s five-year-old daughter sang the national anthem at this year’s inauguration.
• Ottawans raised $12,000 at the second annual reception for the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital in cooperation with the St John Ambulance. The Jerusalem hospital, with mobile clinics and branches in Hebron, Anabta and Gaza, is the only charitable eye hospital in occupied West Bank and Gaza. About 111,498 Palestinians received treatment in 2012. Nearly half of Palestinians live below the poverty line. Their blindness rate is ten times higher than in developed countries.
• In the last two months Human Concern International has helped earthquake victims in Pakistan, refugees in Syria, street children in Bangladesh and the needy in Egypt. It is collecting emergency relief for the Philippines. It is also arranging a gala with Youth for Northern Communities to help build Ottawa’s First Aboriginal Education Center. HCI has provided $100 million to 29 countries since 1980.
• Ottawa’s Islam Care, which helps the detained, Aboriginals, new Muslims and others, arranged a function to enlighten Canadians about Aboriginal history.
• Muslim Association of Canada’s Abrar School is the tops in Ottawa while the Islamic Foundation School in Scarborough is the best in the province.
• A $3 million Ottoman-style Intercultural Dialogue Center has opened in Ottawa after painstaking work by scholar Edip Yavuz Zeybek and contributions by Turkish Canadians.
• Ms. Rana Bokhari, 36, has become the youngest person and the first of Asian descent to be elected leader of Manitoba’s Liberal party.
• The New York Public Library has chosen Toronto writer Rukhsana Khan’s Big Red Lollipop as one of the 100 Great Children’s Books in 100 Years. She is the only Canadian woman so honored.
• The University of Winnipeg has joined several universities in providing Muslim students a room for prayers and intercultural dialogue. The University of Regina has installed two washing stations for Muslims where they can sit comfortably and wash their hands and feet without inconveniencing other students.
• Twenty two years ago, teacher Ed Mahfouzi started to provide a free turkey dinner served by student volunteers to needy people on Thanksgiving. Teachers and parents assist. Sometimes they serve up to 1,000 people.
• The Kanata Muslim Association presented $2500 to the City of Ottawa to help build a recreation complex. The city decided to name the kitchen in the complex after KMA.
• Muslim Family Services of Ottawa is working with the Children’s Aid Society in whose care neglected or mistreated Muslim children end up. This project aims to prevent domestic violence that endangers children and to help those in Children’s Aid Society’s care.
• The Syrian Association of Ottawa was formed two years ago and has since raised $100,000 to supply food, blankets, medicines and other goods to the Syrian people.
• A Canadian Muslim publishes Muslim Link every month and distributes it free to keep the community informed and in touch.
• Bilal Masjid bought a property next door for parking and other uses. Within three months it raised more than half a million dollars in grants and loans and completed the deal. So it goes. Grateful Canadian Muslims are striving to make a great country even greater.
Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian journalist, civil servant and refugee judge.