By UNVER SAAD
Name: Masjid Qurtuba, North America Muslim Federation
Address: 4140 Finch Avenue, East Toronto, ON M1S 3T9
Tel: (416) 299-1969
Founder: Kabir Farooqui Imam & President: Sheharyar Sheikh Executive Directer: Farooq M. Khan
Board of Directors: Nadeem Shami, Ruhi Talib, Niaz Khan & Aleem Dar
SHEHARYAR Sheikh, the President and Imam of the Masjid Qurtuba, a young voice was delivering lecture on knowledge and five stages of life. Life before birth, life in mother’s womb, life of this world, life of barzakh (in between death and resurrection in hereafter), and life hereafter, the Akhirah (life started from the day of judgment). The language of Khutba was English.
There was a mixed crowd of Muslims of different ethnic backgrounds in Jumuah prayer on February 5 when I attended. It was a positive experience. Masjid Qurtuba is definitely a good place to offer Jumuah prayer.
Masjid Qurtuba, located at 4140 Finch Avenue, is a new project (est. December 2007) of North American Muslim Foundation (NAMF). NAMF, originally founded in 1975, that got its charity status in 1979, was established and founded by a dynamic and futuristic Muslim activist Kabir Faruqui.
Kabir Faruqui has been living in this country since 1973. He was the employee of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). Br. Faruqui initially started this organization to help the needy students in Hyderabad, India, and Karachi, Pakistan, in the field of education. He promoted the idea to pay per person per dollar per month to pay the poor students’ fees back home. He was so dedicated in this project that he often spent more than $20 to reach the donor to collect $1 promised by someone. Donors were so inspired to see this dedication that they became life-long donors of several thousands in a year. His organization distributed 40,000 to 45,000 bursaries to poor students. “In the beginning, I was going to door-to-door and begging $1.00 per month. I collected $115 in the first year and $1,000 in first three years,” Br. Faruqui recalled those difficult and painful days.
NAMF expanded the scholarship programs from India, Pakistan, to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Lebanon. Br. Faruqui is in a wheelchair and has extremely limited mobility, but he is happy and seeing the fruits of the tree that he strive hard to grow. He said that in Hyderabad Deccan, after 18 years, the local organization had been established with our continuous support, and they were raising up to Rs. 500,000 locally. Despite his success story, Br. Faruqui strongly believes that Muslim community is the worst donor in comparison with Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, and Jews. "Muslims mainly donate only for Masajid but still far behind from other communities. The religious places of other communities are much bigger and richer than Muslims. Br. Faruqui said that Muslims living in North America are living much better life than Muslims of rest of the world; they take best food, live in best homes, use best means of transportation." “However, they are weak in observing the rights of people (Huqooqul Ibad) and spending the wealth for the cause of people and community development, Br. Faruqui said.”
One of the minimum criteria to get students bursary from NAMF is to memorize 30th Juzz of Quran and 12 Surahs with the meaning. Br. Faruqui wants to make sure those students who are receiving scholarship should be good Muslims and will be the future leaders.
In December 2001, Kabir Faruqui found a human resource professional Farooq Khan and hired his service as an executive director. Khan has given a new look and new direction to the organization. The vibrant organization started looking at local projects and developed several new institutions.
In 2004, Islamic Academy, a school has been formed that is growing annually. Currently it is KG to grade 9, and soon it will be a high school (adding one grade every year). Islamia College is also under plan that will offer 4-year degree programs and that will be associated with any International University like Al-Azhar, International Islamic University, Islamabad or International Islamic University Malaysia. The purpose of founding the school is to produce local scholarship and Islamic leadership. “The Islamic scholars and leaders must be equipped with the grass root knowledge of Canadian environment, culture, history and society,” Farooq Khan said.
Every Sunday, after Zuhar 1:45 to 3:00, the Imam conducts a Quranic tafseer class.
One of the important aspects of NAMF is to organize quality events, fairs, and speech competitions. Recently, on the Family Day: February 15, 2010, NAMF organized a Family Fair, a full day of fun and activities for the whole family. In the fair, there was food bazaar, Islamic art exhibition, games and a lot of fun for kids. The Centre’s Jamil Dar Convention Centre serves the purpose of organizing all kinds of events and Jumuah prayer. Jamil Dar Convention Centre is available for public on rent for events and parties.
“It gives me self satisfaction for volunteering myself for NAMF. The race for this life will not end till the death. Working something for hereafter satisfies my inner self,” said Talib Ruhi, a member of the board. Talib Ruhi, a real estate sales representative, helps in organizing fund raising.
Speech competitions, debates, interfaith dialogues, youth leadership program, summer Islamic camp, family picnic, and matrimonial services are some of the main features of NAMF. Last year NAMF organised a Walk for Orphans from Scarborough Community Centre to NAMF Centre. About 60 to 70 youths participated, and the purpose of this walk was to make awareness in the public for orphans’ support.
NAMF has a Quranic Madrasah, adult education, Arabic language program, and day care services. “NAMF is a multi-dimensional and multi-faceted organisation. We participate in worldwide relief activities, from development program in Baluchistan, orphan supported program in Kashmir, to recently participated-in Haiti earthquake relief activity,” said Farooq Khan.
The center uses the media services, press releases, press conferences on major issues of concern and also to introduce the program and activities in the center.
This vibrant and active community center with full activities adds a rich religious and Islamic culture life to Torontonian Muslims.