Saturday, March 22, 2014

Migrant Workers In World Cup Host Qatar 'Enslaved,' Living In Squalor: Report

The Huffington Post | by Dave Jamieson -- March 21, 2014

After visiting labor camps near the Qatari capital of Doha, an international federation of trade unions has issued a blistering report chronicling the labor and human rights abuses unfolding in the host country of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Drawing on data from the Indian and Nepalese embassies, the International Trade Union Confederation estimates that 4,000 more workers could die before the World Cup gets underway in 2022 if the workforce grows as expected.

The group calls Qatar a country with only "a facade of government," and says that impoverished migrant workers from abroad are living in squalid conditions while beholden to employers who control their identification cards and exit visas. Working in "unbelievable heat" six days a week, such migrants are now dying in "unprecedented numbers," according to the report's authors.

"Grown men said they were treated like animals, living like horses in a stable," the report states. "Tragically a small number of Qatari power brokers have chosen to build the trappings of a modern economy off the backs of exploited and enslaved workers."

The report follows Amnesty International's call earlier this week for FIFA to address the apparent human rights abuses surrounding the construction of the World Cup facilities. An Amnesty representative said FIFA, soccer's international governing body, was "involved" in the mess "whether it likes it or not." READ MORE.......

Hugh Adami: Man languishes in West Bank as wife, daughter wait return

BY HUGH ADAMI, OTTAWA CITIZEN MARCH 21, 2014


OTTAWA — Mohammed Abdalmajid doesn’t really know if he is any closer to being reunited with his family in Ottawa after wasting the last 18 months of his life in the volatile West Bank.

The 29-year-old is weary, anxious and depressed as he languishes in the village of Abud, near Ramallah, awaiting word about returning to Canada as a permanent resident.

He is worried — for good reason — that his stay will be much longer in the landlocked territory, which contains Palestinian settlements and some Jewish ones. Abdalmajid’s case before and after he was deported from Canada in October 2012 was riddled with blunders by Canadian authorities.

Yet Immigration isn’t showing any sense of urgency to reunite Abdalmajid with his wife, Saly Rasheed, and their three-year-old daughter Lamees.

There is also misinformation being provided about some of the circumstances of his case, Abdalmajid says. For example, Immigration says Abdalmajid refused to leave Canada after all legal avenues to his failed refugee claim were exhausted. As a result, it says he had to rounded up before his deportation.

In reality, says Abdalmajid, just hours before he left the country on Oct. 22, 2012, he arrived at the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) offices on St. Laurent Boulevard — just as he had been ordered to following the Federal Court’s refusal to review his refuge claim. That’s where he last saw his wife and daughter.

Abdalmajid constantly checks on the status of his wife’s sponsorship application. There always appears to be a hitch or little progress. So far, he has medical clearance, but the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv is still waiting for his security clearance to come through. He paid the required fees and submitted the required fingerprints and police documents months ago, he says. Then, because he was deported, there is the matter of getting what is called an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC). Who knows how forthcoming that will be? Immigration says Abdalmajid “must demonstrate that there are compelling reasons to consider ... when weighed against the reasons for (his) removal.”

Abdalmajid also worries that if he isn’t back in Canada by Aug. 28, he will be forced to undergo another medical, likely adding months to his stay in the West Bank.

Lamees, who turns four this summer, has the usual questions about her father’s return: Will he back for her birthday? For Father’s Day? But lately, Lamees asks her mother whether she is really telling the truth about her father ever returning.

Rasheed, 24, maintains her job as a driving instructor, ferrying Lamees between day care and the child’s maternal grandparents, with whom they live in OrlĂ©ans.

Abdalmajid says life in the West Bank continues to be unsafe and unstable — much like it was nine years ago when he moved to the U.S. and was eventually granted a temporary Green Card — a last step before American permanent residency. He met the Iraqi-born Rasheed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2006, and then followed her and her family to Ottawa after they moved here in 2008. They were married in 2009.

Though Rasheed qualified for refugee status and eventually permanent residency, Abdalmajid’s refugee application was rejected, eventually leading to his deportation in October 2012. Having a temporary Green Card hurt his case before the Immigration and Refugee Board as it was deemed he did not need protection as he could return to the U.S. But when he checked to see if could return to the U.S. while his wife tried to sponsor him, he was told his card had expired.

Abdalmajid, a former shoe-store manager at Billings Bridge Plaza, says he doesn’t wander far from his parents’ West Bank home because he is fearful that the tiniest miscue will cost him his return to Canada. He says Israeli soldiers come into Abud from time to time, and when they do, trouble with the Palestinians is inevitable.

“I’m living a completely isolated life, sitting at home, not going out at all. I’m avoiding any kind of contact with anybody because sometimes there are clashes between the Israeli soldiers and the Palestinians in my village. So I don’t want to be held accountable for one of those stupid things.

“If someone says, ‘We saw Mohammed at that,’ it’s pretty simple: the Israeli soldiers come to my house, (arrest and jail) me.”

Is something bothering you? Please contact: thepubliccitizen@ottawacitizen.com

Friday, March 21, 2014

DAY of GENUINE APPRECIATION

-Imam Mohamad Jebara-

MARCH 21ST, 2014 (OTTAWA): Most people are quick to communicate concerns but seldom communicate admiration, appreciation and love. If you admire, appreciate or love someone, or have been positively, or deeply touched, or influenced by someone, you should muster up the courage to communicate your feelings and tell them. Your words of encouragement may be the very thing that person gravely desires and needs. Indeed, there is not a sin greater than ingratitude! Ingratitude to God, then ingratitude to His creation

God (Most (Glorified and Praised) advises us saying:

"Publicly proclaim your gratitude for all of God's favour's upon you!"

Indeed, for public deeds of righteousness, if done with the intent of encouraging others, are greater and more esteemed than those done in private. The great Islamic Maxim, based upon the words and example of the prophet of Islam, states:

"Show gratitude to those, through whom God bestowed His favour upon you!"

When looking at the Qur`an, we see something quite remarkable; It commences with the words Al-Hamdulillah, meaning 'Be grateful to, and praise God'  its middle word is Yatalattaf, meaning 'be gentle' and concludes with the word Naas, literally meaning 'all that you can see'.    Therefore, the Qur`an can be summarized as, be grateful to God, then grateful and gentle with all creation.

Thus, it was narrated in the tradition of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny):

"One who is unappreciative and ungrateful to people is likewise ungrateful to God!" 

As such, we have declared March 21st, of every year, Universal Genuine Appreciation Day.  The purpose of this day is to allow people to communicate with genuine words and sincere appreciation, in detail, their feelings for others in their lives.  This will provide them with an opportunity to communicate their genuine appreciation for people they may know, or know of, who have been instrumental in their lives. This could be anyone. Perchance it may be the Janitor at work. Maybe it is a teacher or a boss.  Perhaps a parent or a sibling or anyone one truly appreciates, but have never told them so. Most of us, may appreciate people, in our hearts that is, but seldom do we communicate it with our words and deeds. To say thank you is not appreciation, but to communicate, I mean really communicate, through detailed expression!  Of course, it will be up to the individual how they express their appreciation, and doing so need not cost a single penny for such feeling should come from the heart and not the pocket book. Just expressing yourself with deep sincerity and meaning is all that is required.

That being said, I would like to commence with my appreciation for my beautiful home, Canada, where my flesh and bones have matured, to all my teachers, who have taught me with compassion, sincerity and mercy.  I also appreciate my respected teacher Ian Demone, for the wisdom he has imparted to me. I appreciate my dear friend Alan Dufore, for being a shining example of humility, sincerity and genuine devotion. I appreciate my student Naima Sidow, for her unrelenting devotion and sincerity over the years.  I appreciate my neighbor David Young for being there to keep my back strong with his encouraging words, when times were tough. I appreciate my dear wife Shifaa Moharram for bearing with me for the past eight years.  I appreciate my dear friend Idrees Ali for his love and for believing in me.  

I have a dream, and that is to see the multitudes rise to moisten their lips with the words "I appreciate!"      

I pray our Most Compassionate God, our Wise Lord and Benevolent Master to bless Canada, our beautiful home, protect its people from harm and guide its rulers to govern with benevolence, wisdom and justice.  I pray for our government, and prime minister to be guided by the Grace of God, and for mercy and compassion to become deeply-rooted in their hearts.  

I also pray for all my enemies, who hate and despise me, seeking God's forgiveness for them, replacing the hatred in their hearts with love and compassion.    

Amen   

God bless you!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Transplant patient and donor stories event to be held at Carleton University Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Ottawa March 20, 2014: More than 85% of Ontarians are in favor of organ donation. Despite that overwhelming support, as of December 31, 2013, only 2.84 million or 24 per cent of Ontarians have registered their consent to save lives through organ and tissue donation. Although this is an impressive number, more people are needed to sign up to donate their organs. 

The sad reality is that there are over 4000 people across Canada waiting for an organ transplant, with 1500 of those being in Ontario alone. 

It has been established that one donor can save up to eight lives and improve life for up to 75 others.

To discuss this important topic, a panel discussion will take place on Tuesday April 1, 2014 at Carleton University, Ottawa. The title of the event is "Who is Your Hero? Transplant: Patient and Donor Stories."

Panelists include:

Dr. Maureen Rae
Organ Donor Family Member

Hiba Yusuf
Kidney Transplant Recipient

Mr. Emile Therien
Organ Donor Family Member

Opening remarks from community leaders including:

Dr. Roseann O'Reilly Runte
President & Vice Chancellor, Carleton University

Imam Dr. Mohamad Jebara
Cordova Spiritual Education Center

Jagdeep Perhar
President, India-Canada Association

Reverend Dr. Anthony Bailey
Parkdale United Church

Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka
Chair, Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN)

The event is co-sponsored by the Carleton University Students' Association (cusaonline.ca) and Be A Donor (beadonor.ca).

The building and room location is;

Tory Building Room 360
Doors open at 6:00pm
Event starts at 6:30pm

The event is open to the public and all are welcome.

People can also RSVP via facebook:


Media Contact

Maher Jebara
Vice President, Internal –
Carleton University Student Association
401 Unicentre Building 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa On K1S 5B6
T: 613-520-2600 ext. 1607
F: 613-520-3704

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Donate blood --- please!

I just booked an appointment to donate blood with the Canadian Blood Services. Will you also donate? 

Visit www.blood.ca or call 1 888 2 DONATE

Approximately every minute of every day, someone in Canada needs blood. In fact, according to a recent poll, 52 per cent of Canadians say they, or a family member, have needed blood or blood products for surgery or for medical treatment.

The good news is that one blood donation - in just one hour - can save a life. And Allah says in the Quran, "And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people...." (Qur'an 5:32)

Procedures. Units Needed.
(One unit of blood is the equivalent to one donation)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stand Up!


A Paradox of Religion & Tradition: Homosexuality in Islam

March 18, 2014 




“So, what about gay and lesbian Muslims?”

The last time I taught my course on Women in Islam, we were working through Amina Wadud’s argument in Quran and Woman that equality has both cosmological and eschatological grounding in the Quran and in Islam when a student asked this question. It was in response to Wadud’s study of the sacred text which states that God’s creation of the nafs and its zawj (the soul and its partner) establish a basis for male/female equality. (I’ll share a Twitter conversation with her on the subject soon.) The question was, then, does that presume a heterosexual model for all human partnering?

I didn’t have a great response at the time, not being an Islamic studies expert and not having explored that topic in depth yet.

I hadn’t yet found Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle’s 2010 book Homosexuality in Islam. Subtitled “Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims,” the book was probably just newly out the last time I taught this seminar. Thankfully, a former student alerted me to it last year and I’m prepping to work through it with a new group of students this semester.

There are so many things to learn from it, some distinctive to Islam, of course, and some that are applicable to anyone working within a religious tradition for progressive theological and social change.

Distinctive to Islam is the history and nature of the hadith as well as fiqh and sharia law. I appreciate Kugle’s clear explanation of not only how hadith emerged (many good texts on Islam do this to some degree) but how their authenticity and authority is evaluated. The method of study that he explains, uses, and even visualizes through several diagrams includes breaking down hadith into the matn (information relayed) and the isnad (chain of narration).

Kugle also carefully explains how the five main schools of Sunni Islamic law emerged, and why each of them approaches key questions differently. Additionally, he argues that flexibility is embedded within the tradition, and that recent attempts to fix the law code are just that … recent.

“It is not until the recent era of Islamic revolutions that Muslims have claimed that thesharia should replace national constitutions, a role for which it is eminently unsuitable and which it never played in the past. This is a role that might, if forced upon it, distort the very principles of flexibility and comprehensiveness that are its classical hallmark.”

As an example to highlight different legal responses within Islam, Kugle uses the seventh century story of Khalid ibn al-Walid seeking instruction from the khalifa(leader) Abu Bakr on how to punish a man, Fuja’a, for “the act of the Tribe of Lot.” Not only does the author explain the five legal approaches (Maliki = law as custom,Shafi’i = law as analogy, Hanbali = law as dogma, Hanafi = law as reasonable analysis, Zahiri = law as critical reassessment), he also points out that interpretation hinges on what “the act of the Tribe of Lot” is exactly. This is referring to the same story as told in Genesis 19, known by many as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

It’s a text that has received ample reinterpretation by Jewish and Christian scholars as well. Along with others, Daniel Helminiak provides a text study showing that the offense was inhospitality, bad faith, and the use of sexual violence as tool of social control. John Boswell’s classic comprehensive study on intolerance within the history of Christianity predates and underlies much of this work as well. Kugle comes to a similar conclusion about what earned this seventh century man his punishment.

“It was because [Fuja’a] had rebelled against the Prophet Muhammad’s authority as delegated to his successors. In short, his major crime was apostasy and rebellion, his other kinds of assault being expressions of this intent.”

Finally, Kugle begins his text with his own experience of having been called to testify in an asylum case about the status of Islam on the question of homosexuality. He comes to a surprising realization that I think ends up to be true for many religious traditions and the lived experience of them:

“In my university classes, public speeches, and published writings, I usually assert thatIslam does not inherently and essentially condemn homosexuals … I take this stance because I believe it to be true … However, in the courtroom I found myself answering questions in ways that led to the opposite conclusion: that Islam is deeply patriarchal and enshrines profoundly anti-homosexual sentiments and enforces legal rulings that severely curtail the welfare and human dignity of homosexuals in Muslim communities.”

In this statement, Kugle points out the difference between the universal commitment and the particular reality. The universal truth of human equality that he argues is present in the tradition and is working to make more true in reality through scholarly and activist work, sits alongside the particular reality of people fearing for their lives because of discrimination and oppression coming from that religion. He also notes that “we Muslims have allowed many distortions of Islam to conform to cultural prejudices that are deeply ingrained but not inevitable.”

And that is what I think that we people of faith have done in many traditions: Allowed distortions to conform to cultural prejudice. Thus Kugle’s study not only illuminates essential depth and complexity within Islam from which insiders as well as outsiders can learn, it also provides a model for engaging flawed religious traditions in full recognition that what we may wish to be true about their impact on the world remains not-yet.

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Women’s Leadership in Islam

March 17, 2014 By Pamela K. Taylor 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/fortheloveofgod/2014/03/womens-leadership-in-islam/

The American Muslim community is eager to promote the notion that Islam is favorable to women’s leadership. We talk about the Prophet and how he encouraged women’s education, and praised his female companions for bravery in times of war. We quote verses from the Qur’an that demonstrate equality between the sexes. We point to Aisha and how she was respected as a scholar, or Fatima and her stand against injustice and tyranny, or Rabia and her devotion to a theology of Divine Love.

We point to strong, brave, powerful Muslim women in the modern world as the proof that our theology does in fact champion women’s leadership, both in a religious setting and in wider society. Women like heads of state Benazir Bhutto and Megawati Sukarnoputri, or Iran’s female police officers and Jordan’s elite women’s soccer team, women’s rights activists like Malala Yousafzai and Mukhtaran Mai and Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim women to win a Nobel Peace Prize. We point to the quiet bravery of young Muslim American women who wear hijab in the face of a culture that is often hostile to their religion and the choice to cover. And we point to the countless Muslim American women who are activists, volunteers, speakers, and leaders in the Muslim community both locally and nationally. Often, these women cite their faith, their Islam as an inspiration to their leadership.

But despite this compelling evidence, dismal examples of women’s disempowerment abound in the Muslim world — from laws forbidding women in Saudi Arabia from driving, to women who are jailed for adultery after having been raped, to a tolerance for domestic violence, to legal requirements to cover head to toe, to mosques where women are not allowed at all, to the simple, daily fact that the millions upon millions of Muslim women live within a patriarchal family and social structure where men have more power and opportunity socially, economically, politically, and control nearly every aspect of their private and public life. And all too often, this disempowerment is based upon interpretations of Islamic law.

It’s enough to make your head spin, especially when you consider that some of the most powerful examples of female leadership come from countries where women have the worst legal status. Clearly, there are a whole lot of discrepancies in the Muslim world when it comes to women’s role in society, family, and religion.

This is, at least in part due to the fact that the Qur’an, and the Prophet, offer us multiple visions of women and our role in the family and in society.

There are verses in the Qur’an that make clear the equality of men and women, like Chapter 33, verse 35 which says, “Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.”

or Chapter 9 verse 71 and 72 “The believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they promote the right and forbid the wrong, establish prayer, pay the poor-due, and they obey God and His messenger. As for these, God will have mercy on them. Surely God is Mighty, Wise. God has promised to believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of God: that is the supreme felicity.”

or the story of creation in Chapter 7, verses 20-26 where Adam and Eve are discussed in Arabic’s dual voice which addresses them as a pair, as equal partners in sin, redemption and forgiveness.

There are verses that posit men and women in egalitarian familial relationships, such as Chapter 30, verse 21: “He created spouses for you from among yourselves that you might find comfort in them, and He put between you love and mercy. Surely these are signs in that for people who reflect.” The word used to describe the relationship — zauj — is an astonishing word, meaning both the pair as a unit, and each half of the pair in relation to one another. Perhaps even more amazing is that there is no bifurcation of masculine and feminine with this most intimate pairing of humankind. The Qur’an never refers to “zauj and zuuja” — husband and wife — in the Qur’an, rather both halve of this pair bond are referred to as zauj of one another. This stands in direct contrast to verses like the 33:35 above where all of life is differentiated by gender — from muslim and muslima, to mumin and mumina, and so on.

And one of the most beautiful descriptions of marriage, “you are a protecting garment for them and they are a protecting garment for you.” (2:187).

Even in mundane issues, the Qur’an provides us with a picture of egalitarian marriage, in Chapter 2, 233:, “(Divorced) mothers may nurse their children for two whole years, if they wish to complete the period of nursing; and it is incumbent upon him who has begotten the child to provide in a fair manner for their sustenance and clothing. No human being shall be burdened with more than he is well able to bear: neither shall a mother be made to suffer because of her child, nor, because of his child, he who has begotten it. And the same duty rests upon the heir. And if both parents decide, by mutual consent and counsel, upon weaning they will incur no sin [thereby]; and if you decide to entrust your children to foster-mothers, you will incur no sin provided you ensure, in a fair manner, the safety of the child which you are handing over. But remain conscious of God, and know that God sees all that you do.”

At the same time, there are verses in the Qur’an that create and perpetuate inequality. Perhaps the most infamous of these is Chapter 4, verse 34. “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).”

Other verses reinforce this inequality, from Chapter 4, verse 11, that tells us, “Concerning the inheritance of your children, God enjoins [this] upon you: The male shall have the equal of two females’ share…” to Chapter 2, verse 282: “Call upon two of your men to act as witnesses; and if two men are not available, then a man and two women from among such as are acceptable to you as witnesses, so that if one of them should make a mistake, the other could remind her…” to Chapter 24, verses 30 and 31, “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: this will be most con­ducive to their purity – [and,] verily, God is aware of all that they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not to display their charms beyond what may be apparent thereof; hence, let them draw their scarves over their bosoms. And let them not display their charms to any but their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ Sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or those whom they rightfully possess, or such male attendants as are beyond all sexual desire, or children that are as yet unaware of women’s nakedness; and let them not swing their legs so as to draw attention to their hidden charms And O you believers – all of you – turn unto God in repentance, so that you might attain to a happy state!”

Perhaps most indicative of the disparity between men and women is the fact that all the people identified as prophets and messengers were male — from Adam down to Muhammad. There is debate about Maryam being a prophet, but even if you side with those who think she is, it is notable that sheis not identified as such by the Qur’an and she is the one prophet who does not preach, who does not deliver her message, but rather has her message delivered for her by her infant son, Jesus.

The Prophet’s life mirrors this dichotomy. On the one hand, his relationship with Khadija seems to be quite clearly a partnership of devoted equals, or even with her the more powerful of the two, given that she was older, wealthier, more socially connected, and his employer. On the other, we have his relationships with his subsequent wives, where he was polygamous with each having him only one day a week, or none at all, as Sauda gave her day to Aisha.

On the one hand, he praised women who were bold in seeking knowledge and parents who educated their daughters, on the other he set aside only one day a week for women to learn from him. On the one hand, he appointed Um Waraqa to lead prayers for a congregation that included men, and on the other, he segregated his own congregation (at least at times) with men in front and women in the back.

What are to make of these dichotomies in the Qur’an and in the life of the Prophet? As a feminist, I believe that these differing pictures of what means to be a man or a woman, what relationships look like, even what our roles in society are, enable us to make the choices that work for us. One of the central tenets of feminism is that each woman should have agency over her own life — that is, she has the right to choose her own life course, including how to formulate her relationships, to husband, to family, and to society. The breadth and depth of egalitarianism in the Qur’an empowers me as a feminist to live in an egalitarian marriage, to treat my children with dignity and respect more akin to that you extend to peers than to minors, to pursue my motherhood and my career and my interests with regard only for my own ambitions, desires and dreams. It also empowers someone who finds comfort and stability and self-expression in a more patriarchal relationship and a more patriarchal society to live as she sees fit, to pursue interests she deems appropriate and satisfying.

The variety of ways the Prophet arranged his mosques provides a precedent to those who find peace in a segregated space, and to those who wish to pray in complete equality, sharing leadership among the men and women in the congregation. So too social matters — amongst the women who went to the battlefield there were warrior and nurses, amongst the companions of the prophet were martyrs, and business women, and cooks, and scholars, and doctors, and… and… and… so many examples of so many different ways of leading good lives that we have a wealth of opportunity for self-fulfillment however we understand that.

In an ideal world, this could be accomplished without coercion, and without disparagement of different life choices. We clearly aren’t there yet. Perhaps the best, first step we can take to achieving is to live up to another precept in Islam — freedom of conscience — there is no compulsion in religion. (Chapter 2, verse 256). When governments do not try to impose one view of Islam on us all, and we do not try to impose them upon each other, only then we will be free to explore the significance the Qur’an has to our own lives and to live by its teachings in truly genuine ways.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Islamic Feminism

Three good videos on Islamic Feminism which deconstructs patriarchal readings of Islam. I can also send many academic references to those who are interested:


Islamic Feminism - some myth busting

Divine will of God or just men's opinions? 

Muslim Women Reclaiming Islam - Understanding Quran for themselves 

Fatima Mernissi's "The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam" and Leila Ahmed's "Women and Gender in Islam." Both works are widely acknowledged classics of contemporary Muslim feminist scholarship. 

I also recommend Amina Wadud's "Quran and Woman" and Asma Barlas' "Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an." Barlas' work in particular is an absolute MUST read. Here is a review of Barlas' book: http://www.unomaha.edu/.../thirdXIV/Williams.BarlasBook.pdf

See also this wikpedia entry which provides a lot of background on the topic of women Imams: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_as_imams

See in particular Laury Silvers and Ahmed Elewa's paper: "‘I Am One of the People’: A Survey and Analysis of Legal Arguments on Woman-Led Prayer in Islam" at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1735071

See also this website looks at what feminism in Islam can mean to different people and how it might challenge stereotypes both in Islam and feminism, as well as the perceived clash between the two: http://www.islamandfeminism.org/


I also recommend the work of Dr. Ziba Mir-Hosseini: http://www.zibamirhosseini.com/

And the work of Musawah, which is a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family: 
http://www.musawah.org/

Sunday, March 16, 2014

First ever Universal Genuine Appreciation Day set for March 21st

Ottawa March 16, 2014 -- The Ottawa based Cordova Spiritual Education Center is pleased to announce the first ever Universal Genuine Appreciation Day.

The date set for this day is March 21st and will be observed every year on that date.

The purpose of this day is that for one day in the year people are called upon to communicate with genuine words, in detail, their feelings for others in their lives. They will communicate their
genuine appreciation for people they may know, or know of, who have been instrumental in their lives. This could be anyone. Perhaps it is the Janitor at your work. Maybe it is your boss, or a parent or a sibling or anyone you appreciate, but have never told them so.

Commenting on this commencement of Universal Genuine Appreciation Day, Imam Jebara, Chief Imam and Resident Scholar at the Cordova Spiritual Education Center, stated, "There are appreciation days for employees, etc. but nothing universal, and genuine."

"Most people are quick to communicate concerns but seldom communicate admiration, appreciation and love. If you admire, appreciate or love someone, or have been positively, or deeply touched, or influenced by someone, you should muster up the courage to communicate your feelings and tell them. Your words of encouragement may be the very thing that person gravely desires and needs," Imam Jebara stated.

He further noted that, "Most of us, appreciate people, in our hearts that is, but seldom do we communicate it with our words and deeds. To say thank you is not appreciation, but to communicate, I mean really communicate, through detailed expression!"

Of course, it will be up to the individual how they express their appreciation, and doing so need not cost a single penny for such feeling should come from the heart and not the pocket book. Just expressing yourself with deep sincerity and meaning is all that is required.

So go ahead, on March 21st tell someone how you feel on the first ever annual Universal Genuine Appreciation Day.

For more information contact Erin Kelly at 1-855-567-3223 ext. 805