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Children from the Sri Lankan community singing O Canada at the opening of the event.

Alhamdullilah, the annual celebration of the Islamic History Month in Canada hosted by the Sailan Muslim Foundation of Canada took place on the 24th October at the Islamic Institute of Toronto multipurpose hall in Toronto.

Over 450 guests attended the event which had Islamic Scholars, activists and academics who delivered insightful and inspiring talks. The speakers featured were Dr. Abdul Hakim Quick, Mufti Abdul Mannan, Dr. Kathy Bullock and Br. Abbas Kassim and the topics ranged from the “History of the early muslim settlers in North America and their contribution” to ” A critical analysis of Islamaphobia”. The program also featured recitation and translation of  verses from the Quran by Hafiz Taib ibn Zubair, a nasheed by the Jannah sunday school students, the national anthem of Canada sung by children of the Sri Lankan community and an inaugural speech by an executive committee member of the Sailan Youth Forum , Rashiqah Ridwan following the welcome address by the President of Sailan Canada Br. Ifthikar Hassen. The MC duties were ably performed by Br. Rimzy Kuthubdeen with the assistance of members of the Sailan Youth Forum. As an organization working for the development and unity of the community we were heartened by the confidence and enthusiasm projected by our youth in the very first year of their engagement in event participation.

The new liberal party federal MP for Scarborough centre, sister Salma Zahid who was a VIP invitee  delivered a brief address and thanked the crowd for voting her in to parliament. The new Consul General for Sri Lanka Br.U L M Jauhar also among the VIP invitees introduced himself to the audience and said a few words of assurance.

The theme for this years event was “Diversity & Inclusivesness” and the speakers too touched upon this concept in their talks. By selecting a theme for the event SMFC endeavours to showcase the importance and significance of key success anchors for the community to reflect and act upon in its pursuit to build a vibrant and united ummah.

The event culminated with a vote of thanks by Br. Sameem Mohammed and dua by Imaam Abdul Mannan following a grand dinner with typical Sri Lankan culinary dishes and desserts which was well appreciated by the guests.

At last but not the least, it should be noted that the success of this event as in previous years is a result of the unified effort of all the directors, executive committee members of SMFC and volunteers which in itself is a testament to the strength of unity working among the community ranks represented through the six associate member organizations within SMFC and InshAllah we trust and pray that such a coordinated show of coming together will manifest in all areas of the community and the goals and objectives of SMFC will be realized through this selfless sacrifice of time and display of unity.

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Dr. Abdul Hakeem Quick delivering a talk at the Islamic History month celebration.

 

The President’s welcome address at IHMC -2015

In the name of Allah most Gracious  most Compassionate.

Assalaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah( peace and blessings of God be upon you)

A very warm welcome to the Islamic History month celebrations to all on behalf of SMFC and its associate organizations. Thank you all for gracing this event and showing your interest and support to this significant event in our calendar.

Alhamdullillah this is the 3rd. year in succession that we are celebrating this event which was a consequence of a motion passed  in Federal parliament  to mark the significance of the muslim contribution in Canadian history. SMFC is pleased to celebrate this significance by bringing the community and wellwishers together and inviting speakers who we believe will inspire us, add to our knowledge and make us reflect on the role muslims have contributed in the past to the rich diversity of Canadian history and can play in shaping the future course of  Canadian history.

A brief word about SMFC, besides being an alliance of all the Sri Lankan muslim organizations in Toronto, we are all about unity and preserving unity is our essence. Through the strength and blessings derived from this unity we harness the resources of the community to realize its full potential .

SMFC recognizes that in todays challenging and diverse environment unity does not mean conformity but being able to manage and channel differences positively towards a larger goal.The theme for this year event is “diversity and inclusiveness.” Diversity in the sense  not just limited to the physical or ethnic differences among us but diversity in opinions, ideas, cultures, personalities , education and more. This rich tapestry of diversity is found in no more abundance than in this great land of ours we call Canada. If diversity were the ingredients of a great human recipe for success, peace and social justice then inclusiveness would be the method of blending it all together.

I believe all muslims in Canada should take heart from the words of our new prime minister when he declared that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. Every Canadian has free choice in practicing his or her faith so long as it is within the normative boundaries of civic justice and not according to an arbitrary and divisive “barbaric practices act”  imposed on a countries citizens.

However a vital pre-requisite to embracing diversity and practicing inclusiveness is the  importance of using reason and our creative intellect to bring understanding and steer away from extremism, pride and divisions amongst us. Until there is a collective effort to seek knowledge on the part of every Muslim and use their faculties of reason, the ummah will always be subject to ignorance, nonsensical disagreement and internal strife. As one great scholar of the Quran put it  religion becomes a hollow shell of its former self when mindless ritual remains and thoughtful reflection disappears. It is also equally important that we have and get direction from sound scholars who can guide us through the complex nuances of the post modern world and Alhamdulilla we have many of them with us in Canada. Sadly, we have seen what becomes of communities that do not have proper trained scholars as they end up in a mire of self destructive madness and extremism as we witness in the likes of ISIS.

In fact as I speak now, one of our eminent scholars  Dr. Shabir Ally is engaged in a dialogue tonight at a downtown church with a pastor and an atheist on the conditions for a good or righteous society and in his Jumma sermon yesterday he mentioned the 3 Cs in Islam that are a necessary condition for this, compassion, courage and commitment.

As muslims we know what compassion is from the Basmallah we utter before every prayer and action and we have to extend that in to action as we reach out to those in need. We have to practice courage as we stand as a witness to all nations just as our beloved Prophet (PHUH) is a witness over us.We have to be courageous to take truth to power and say the truth even if it goes against our very kith and kin.

As to commitment , what greater force to commit than the piety that results from Taqwa and we do not follow our desires but are guided by the ideals of Islam and remain committed to it for we know for sure that there is a reckoning to come in the hereafter where every action will be brought forth for judgement.

Towards this end  Sailan Canada  stress on our youth to dream big and strive for excellence, as individuals to reach out  and show compassion, as  organizations to build bridges within and beyond the community and as a community to be the voice of reason and justice.

We hope and pray, InshAllah, these elements would build  the infrastructure intellectually, materially,socially and spiritualy for a community to awaken and realize its potential.

Sailan Canada launched the Sailan Youth Forum last year as an initiative to empower our youth and build future leaders and activists in the community and it gives me great pleasure to hand over the stage to a member of our youth forum Rashiqah Ridwan who chairs one of the committees in the youth forum to  share some of their insights and goals.

Assalaamu Alaaikum wa Rahmatullah.

Ifthikar Hassen, President SMFC 2015