TORONTO: Muslims should build schools, universities, educational institutions under a structured curriculum and system, and develop an Islam town in Toronto, said Sheikh Bilal Philips, a noted scholar of Islam and the Founder and Dean of Islamic Online University (IOU). He stressed the need of structured educational and training programs. Sheikh Philips said that lectures, seminars, and occasional workshops couldn’t be the replacement of an organized, structural, and curriculum-based education system.
Sheikh Bilal Philips was addressing the topic “Dawah (Preaching Islam) and Handling the Opposition” in Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Canada East Region’s second annual “Carry the Light Dawah Conference” held on October 13 at the auditorium of Medical Sciences building of University of Toronto. He said that we were experiencing the same seventh century Islamophobia at this age. He asked Muslims to make our life more relevant to current situation. “The best example we find in the life of Muhammad and that is the Quran and Sunnah.” He said that after getting Prophethood, Muhammd (s.a.w.) invited his close relatives and clan members and listened patiently and didn’t say anything in the first meeting. In the second meeting, he said everything in summarised form. He said that the prophetic strategy was to know first with whom you are you dealing and communicating and then tell your basic and fundamental principles without any compromise. He got some supporters and many opponents. He faced political, physical, and military opposition. He collected his companions in Dare-Arqam for the training. Sheikh Philips stressed the need of structured educational/training programs. Lectures, seminars, and occasional workshops can’t be the replacement of an organized and structural education program. He said that Muslims should build schools, universities, educational institutions under a structured curriculum and system. He said that Muslims of this age have failed in this area of prime importance. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) established it from the very beginning, Dare Arqam. He said that we should do an effort similar to Hijrah here in Toronto, in Canada. We need to build and develop a town named Islam Town. We see that Ismailis are doing it, Qadiyanis are doing it; why can’t we mainstream Muslims do it? “ If we have China town here, why not Islam Town?” he asked. “The Islam Town should not be an ethnic town like Pakistani or Arab town, he emphasized. It must be an Islam Town of all colours, races, and ethnicities with a common bond and fraternity of faith where we can establish a real brotherhood, sisterhood, peace and harmony in the community.” He says that actions speak louder than words, and establishment of Islam Town in Toronto will give the message of Islam better than mere empty words.
Another noted scholar Abdul Hakim Quick presented his journey of Dawah to Iqaluit, capital of Nunavut, a neglected territory of Canada, and asked the audience to help to build Islamic Center and dawah project in Iqaluit (www.Iqaluitmasjid.com)
“Muslims are living there with a temporary Masjid at this time.” He explained the rich history, great culture and extreme weather (covered with snow in the month of May) of the area. He told a story of dedication and hard work of the recent immigrant Muslim community, particularly a Pakistani Muslim Col. Syed Asif Ali, who is the chief boiler inspector (heating system) of whole territory.
In another lecture, Abdullah Hakeem Quick asked Muslims to work to revive the system of awqaf (trust), similar to prevalent in the golden period of Muslim world. He said that it is the only way to counter poverty. He said that Canada is moving fast towards a major recession. We should develop the system of awqaf to benefit humanity as a whole, to prevent hunger, to equip the people with necessary skills to survive in business/job market.
Shaikh Abu Hafsa Abdul Malik Clare, a blind Muslim scholar, talked on the mercy of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and how he was so kind to humanity. He told several stories: a woman of the neighbourhood had been throwing garbage on the head of Muhammad every day when Muhammad (s.a.w.) was leaving home and passing in front of her home. One day when the lady didn’t throw garbage, Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), became suspicious about her health. He (s.a.w.) went to her home to ask her if anything was wrong with her. Similarly, when Muhammad (s.a.w.) went to Taif to give Dawah (the message of Islam) to the elites of Taif, the Taif tribal chiefs asked their violent youths to throw rocks at the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). He was bleeding from head to toe, and his shoes were full of blood. Even at this time, he was praying for the guidance of Taif’s people. This was the character of Muhammad (s.a.w). “We should be true representatives of Muhammad (s.a.w), “ he said. He shared the experience of Malcolm X, when he went to Hajj pilgrimage. When he saw the international brotherhood and sisterhood of Muslims of all nations, colours, ethnicity, and cultural background, he was amazed. “MalcolmX (Malik Shabbaz) became a true practicing Muslim blessed with the mercy of Hajj,” he said.
Shaikh Abdullah Hakim Quick, Shaikh Munir El-Kassem, and Sheikh Musleh Khan responded to questions in the symposium “carrying the light as Ummah of Muhammad (s.a.w).” The issue was “our responsibilities in current situation.” Most of the Q’s were geared towards satanic Youtube documentary and Muslims’ responses worldwide. The speakers’ response was “channelize your emotions in proactive and constructive way. It should be focused, creative, and intelligent response instead of reactionary, violent, and angry.”
Sheikh Alaa El-Sayed presented the history of initial stage of Dawah of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and early adopters of Islam. He said that the Messenger of Islam spread Islam and managed a training of his companions three years in secrecy.
Sheikh Musleh Khan explained the Quranic last Ayahs of Surah Nahl with pictorial detail to explain how to invite Muslims and non-Muslims with Hikmah (wisdom). “ Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out: but if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient. And do thou be patient, for thy patience is but from Allah; nor grieve over them: and distress not thyself because of their plots. For Allah is with those who restrain themselves and those who do good (16:124-128).”
Sheikh Navaid Aziz a youth leader addressed how to prepare our youth to carry the light of guidance. He asked the youth to ask these things before choosing the right career path: 1. What is your talent? 2. How passionate are you with that career path? 3. What is the need of the community? He said that it takes at least 10,000 hours study to specialize and become top ten and get perfection in any subject. He asked youths to strive to be rich but spend all their extra money in the way of Allah, as the most rich Sahabas (companions of the Messenger of Allah) Usman Ghani and Abdur Rahman bin Auf (r.a.) did. He said that we have to implement Islam as a way of life and in all spheres of life. We must think beyond the fiqah of salah, wadoo, and taharah, and implement Islam as a practical way of life covering all aspects of the contemporary world.
Anwar Arkani , a Burmese Arakani Muslim activist, told the tragic story of ethnic cleansing of Arakan Muslims of Rohingya Region in Buddhist Burma. He said that “they say that Buddhists are the most “non-violent” religious group. “However, our experience proves that they are worst violent group on the earth.”
Br. Arakani said the detail of the story of attack on the Masjid. Akyab Jame Masjid was attacked, and its 1800 books (Quran and Hadith) were burned. Buddhist government massacred and raped thousands of Arakan Muslims. He said that approximately 10,000 Muslims were killed; more than one hundred thousand became refugees and hundreds of thousands are homeless in their own land.
Sheikh Adnan Sirajuddin presented Arabic Nasheed in his beautiful melodious sound in an entertainment program using only one instrument “daff.” He offers three months course for singing “Nasheed.”
Mohammad Abdul Wadud, President of ICNA, presented the ICNA’s dawah work and its various dawah related activities in Canada and raised some funds for its Dawah projects.
It was a family convention, and a large number of sisters and youth boys and girls attended the conference. There were two parallel sessions for youth and children.