Smartphone applications connect Canadian Muslims with Islam

CBC News – July 31, 2012


More and more Canadian young people receive reminders of the five daily prayers on their smartphones. Many use iPray — an iPhone app — that is among a host of smartphone offerings that aid Muslims in the observance of Islamic rituals. “We can be connected and are able to look up something, such as text from the Quran, at a moment’s notice, and anywhere,” says Ahtisham, the co-chair of the youth committee at the Muslim Association of Hamilton and a recent McMaster University graduate.

Fahad Gilani, operations manager and lead developer at Guided Ways Technologies, says downloads of Islamic apps during Ramadan rises upward 10 times the ordinary rate. Though, the smartphone apps are not solely to mark Ramadan. For believers, there are Islamic apps that help its users learn accurate Arabic pronunciations of a daily prayer, locate the nearest restaurant offering Halal foods or pinpoint qiblah, the direction that Muslims face when engaged in prayer — all on a smartphone.

Similarly, smartphone apps exist to enable believers of every religious stripe to read holy book verses, receive prayer reminders or locate the precise direction of prayer. Gilani says their suite of smartphone apps is available in at least 14 languages, including English, Urdu and Farsi. Yet for all his enthusiasm, Gilani acknowledges limiting factors still exist. He recalls the early years of the app development and worry over preserving the sanctity of Islam.

Mosque in Gatineau, Quebec attacked for second time

News Agencies – January 5, 2012

A second attack in three days on a local mosque is prompting renewed calls for a hate-crime investigation from a Canadian Muslim organization. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the move after the mosque was found spray painted with hate messages earlier this week. The attack follows the smashing of windows at the mosque and an attempt to torch two cars in its parking lot.

The organization says it is not the first time the mosque has been the target of vandals and it cites similar attacks on mosques in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Waterloo and Vancouver. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also condemned the attacks.

Columnist Haroon Siddiqui responds to latest demographic forecasts in Canada

Statistics Canada has released its population projections to 2031. The population of visible minorities is expected to rise from one in every five Canadians to one in three – potentially to 14.4 million. In 2031, the Toronto CMA (census metropolitan area, Oshawa to Burlington) would be nearly two-thirds non-white – 5.6 million. Among them, South Asians would have tripled to 2.1 million. Chinese would be 1.1 million. Vancouver also would be almost two-thirds non-white. Montreal would continue to lag in diversity. Only one in three would be non-white. Blacks (mostly Haitians, like Michaëlle Jean) would double to 381,000.
While immigration would remain a big-city phenomenon, mid-size cities would change as well. “VizMins” would double their numbers in Barrie, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, Oshawa, Peterborough, etc. Similarly, there have always been two Canada’s – urban and rural. What is different today is that most non-whites live in cities. Lastly, immigrants and visible minorities will remain better educated than the native-born and also much younger

Largest mosque in Hamilton, Ontario firebombed

Shock and anger is spreading among Hamilton’s 20,000 Muslims after the city’s largest mosque was firebombed. The mosque includes the Islamic School of Hamilton which has about 200 students from kindergarten to Grade 8. Attackers had used a large rock to smash a hole in a front window at the mosque and then lobbed in what police are calling an “incendiary device.”

The Molotov cocktail did only minimal damage to the Stone Church Road East mosque, approximately $3,000 CAD. The Hamilton police hate crime unit and chief arson investigator Sgt. Tim Bower are leading the investigation. Premier Dalton McGuinty, Hamilton Mountain MP Chris Charlton and the Ottawa-based Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations were among those who condemned the attack. “Ontario’s diversity is our great strength,” McGuinty said. “So when a mosque or other place of worship is desecrated, it is an attack on all Ontarians.”

The same mosque was damaged in 2001 when vandals destroyed its front lobby by smashing windows with beer bottles in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Muslim girl sues school disallowing her to wear the veil

Even as the ‘burqa’ issue is still hitting the headlines in the UK, a 12-year-old Muslim girl has reportedly sued her school, in Buckinghamshire, for barring her from wearing the ‘religious full-face veil’ in school. In a statement, she said that wearing the veil was a “sign of her faith” and that she felt it was compulsory to wear it. “I view the naqab as part of my identity. Nobody’s forcing me to wear the naqab, it’s something I choose to wear and something I am proud of,” she said. According to the Dawn, her lawyers have condemned in the High Court the decision of the school calling it as “irrational”. Justice Silber was told that the high-performing school in Buckinghamshire had permitted, for nine years, all the girl’s elder sisters to wear the naqab. Despite just 120 of the 1300 pupil-school being Muslim, the girls said that the school had been “very supportive of them as devout Muslims and the way they expressed their faith”, Dan Squires, counsel for the youngest sister, told the court. All girls had achieved high A-level results – one gaining four A-grades – and at least two had gone on to university, which demonstrated that it had not impaired their learning, he said. As a result, Squires argued, the ban on the youngest girl from wearing the veil was not only against the principles of rationality, but thwarted a “legitimate expectation” that she would be allowed to wear it and breached her right to freedom of “thought, conscience and religion” under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court heard that the 12-year-old, known only as Claimant X for legal reasons, had joined the grammar school in Buckinghamshire in September 2005. But after reaching puberty the following summer, she returned to school wearing the naqab. Three days into the new term, the headmistress contacted her parents. She was removed from the selective state school in October and moved to an alternative school where she could wear the veil. Although uniform rules are clearly laid out for most pupils, the dress code for Muslim girls at the school is not written down. In a statement, the headmistress, who took up her post in 2003, said that Muslim pupils understood that the scarf or hijab was acceptable, as long as it was in the uniform colours. During the hearing, Justice Silber asked the barristers to address the issue of school security and whether the veil hindered their need to see pupils’ faces. Referring to the 1996 Dunblane massacre – in which Thomas Hamilton, shot dead 16 pupils and their teacher in Scotland – he said: “Everyone knows these days how security-conscious head teachers have to be at school. They have to be able to glance around and recognise who’s there.” The Muslim Council of Britain has said that the policy of allowing the hijab headscarf is “quite sufficient to meet Islamic requirements” and the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford has emphasised that not all Muslims agree with wearing the naqab.