Toronto’s East End Madrassah School cleared of hate crime charges

News Agencies – November 9, 2012

A Toronto mosque that runs an Islamic school cleared of hate crimes charges this week said it was disappointed at the “rush to judgment and harsh comments” it faced over the controversy. “Our teachings embrace and celebrate the Canadian values of tolerance, understanding and harmony,” Aliraza Rajani, president of the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat of Toronto said in a written statement.

The two-page statement did not address concerns raised by police that the investigation had identified teaching materials that, while not criminal, were produced in Iran, challenged core Canadian values and “suggested intolerance.”

The York Regional Police Hate Crimes Unit launched an investigation of the East End Madrassah, a school affiliated with the mosque, six months ago following complaints by
Jewish groups in Toronto.

Hundreds of Toronto Shia Muslims Commemorate Martyrdom Anniversary

Ahlul Bayt News Agency – August 11, 2012

 

In Toronto hundreds of Shia Muslims  participated in the procession of the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a.s) on August 10th. Despite a rainy day in Toronto, housands of Shia men and women were goatherd in the Miliken park in  Scarborough before start the procession there was a program held in the park in which Molana Sakhawat Hussain Sandralvi gave the speech. After the end of the program, procession was taken out from the park and moved towards Hussainiyah Pasmore after three hours procession end before Maghrib prayer.

Board suspends Toronto Islamic school’s operating permit after row over anti-Jewish curriculum

An Islamic school that had been using teaching materials that dis Jews and encouraged boys to keep fit for jihad has lost its license to use Toronto District School Board property. The board suspended a permit issued to the Islamic Shia Study Centre, which operated the East End Madrassah out of a Toronto high school until an outcry last week over the content of its curriculum booklets.

 

But the school’s curriculum, which it has now taken off its website, referred to “crafty,” “treacherous” Jews and contrasted Islam with “the Jews and the Nazis.” The passages were from two books published by Iranian foundations. Girls, meanwhile, were told to limit their involvement in physical activities and to instead engage in hobbies that would prepare them to become mothers and wives.

Supposed Fatwa against Iranian Rapper Shahin Najafi *”We Will Continue with Our Work”*

Iran’s grand ayatollah has issued what many have interpreted to be a fatwa against the rapper Shahin Najafi, who has lived in Germany for the past seven years. In this interview with Shahram Ahadi, Najafi gives his take on the situation

Shahin Najafi is an Iranian rapper who has lived in Germany since 2005. His songs are known to be critical of socio-political developments in his home country. His latest song, “Naghi”, which was named after the tenth imam in Shia Islam, has caused a stir in Iran. The lyrics call on him in a sarcastic and almost obscene way to come back to life and end the catastrophic status quo in Iran. Iran’s 92-year-old Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani said: “If the song contains any insults or indecency towards Imam Naghi, then it is blasphemy, and God knows what to do.” The Iranian press interpreted the statement as a fatwa against Najafi. But a theologian in Tehran on Thursday, 10 May, put the comment into context: “The grand ayatollah has not issued a fatwa. He was answering a question about the defamation of a Shia saint … “


Report: U.S. Mosques Ethnically-Diverse, Encourage Civic Engagement

(*WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/29/12*) — A comprehensive study of mosques and
the attitudes of mosque leaders in the United States released today
indicates that the number of American mosques increased 74 percent since
2000 and that Islamic houses of worship are ethnically-diverse
institutions led by officials who advocate positive civic engagement.

A coalition of major American Muslim and academic organizations released
the report, titled “The American Mosque 2011: Basic Characteristics of
the American Mosque, Attitudes of Mosque Leaders,”
at a news conference this morning at the National Press Club in
Washington, D.C.

The report is the first part of the larger U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 to be
published. To conduct the survey, researchers counted all mosques in
America and then conducted telephone interviews with a sample of mosque
leaders. (The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.)

The report’s major findings include:

* *The number of mosques and mosque participants continues to show
significant growth*, from 1,209 mosques in 2000 to 2,106 in 2011.
New York and California have the largest number of mosques.
Seventy-six percent of mosques were established since 1980.
* *Mosque leaders overwhelmingly endorse Muslim involvement in
American society*. More than 98 percent of mosque leaders agree
that Muslims should be involved in American institutions and 91
percent agree that Muslims should be involved in politics.
* *The vast majority of mosque leaders do not feel that American
society is hostile to Islam. *
* *The majority of mosque leaders (56 percent) adopt a flexible
approach to interpretation of Quran and Sunnah* (the normative
practice of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad) that takes into account the
overall purposes of Islamic law and modern circumstances.
* *The vast majority (87 percent) of mosque leaders disagree that
“radicalism” is increasing among Muslim youth*. Many mosque
leaders say the real challenge for them is not radicalism and
extremism among the youth, but how to attract and keep them close
to the mosque.
* *Mosques remain an extremely diverse religious institution*. Only
a tiny minority of mosques (3 percent) have just one ethnic group
that attends that mosque. South Asians, Arab-Americans and
African-Americans remain the dominant ethnic groups, but
significant numbers of Somalis, West Africans and Iraqis now
worship at mosques nationwide.
* *The number of mosques in urban areas is decreasing, while the
number of mosques in suburban areas is increasing*. In 2011, 28
percent of mosques were located in suburbs, up from 16 percent in
2000.
* * The conversion rate per mosque has remained steady over the past
two decades*. In 2011, the average number of converts per mosque
was 15.3. In 2000 the average was 16.3 converts per mosque.
* *Shia mosques are also expanding in number*. Some 44 percent of
all Shia mosques were established in the 1990s.

Edmonton imam to keep low profile to end of pilgrimage

News Agencies – October 31, 2011

A Canadian Muslim cleric will have to keep a low profile and stay quiet about being arrested, bruised, bloodied and shackled in a holding cell while he completes a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.  Usama Al-Atar, a well-known Edmonton Shia spiritual leader, was arrested after a clash with Saudi religious police who noticed his group performing supplications at the Jannat al-Baqi, the graveyard near the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.  “I was falsely arrested and held by Saudi authorities for the best part of the previous 36 hours in what can only be described as horrid conditions,” Dr. Al-Atar said in a statement.

The cemetery has long been a place of tension between Shia pilgrims and the religious police, who uphold a strict application of Wahhabist Islam at odds with other Muslim schools of thought. A friend travelling with Dr. Al-Attar said that the Saudi religious police had warned them twice the previous day that they were being too loud. Dr. Al-Atar, a post-doctoral chemistry researcher at the University of Alberta, is familiar to many Shia because he has given lectures around the world. The Edmonton cleric has denounced human-rights violations in Saudi Arabia and in neighbouring Bahrain.

Mahmood Mavani, president of the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Association of Edmonton, a southeast city mosque where Dr. Al-Atar served as an imam, praised the work of the federal government and the local MP, Mike Lake, in pressing for his friend’s release.

Shia-Sunni cemetery to open in the Greater Toronto Area in the fall

Toronto Star – January 31, 2011

A Shia-Sunni Muslim cemetery — the first of its kind in the GTA — is in the works in Richmond Hill, Ontario and could be operational by fall. The Shia and Sunni communities in the GTA bought the 14-hectare site at the southwest corner of Bethesda Sideroad and Leslie St., from Beth Olam Cemetery Corp., for $6.8 million, says Abdulhuq Ingar, who represents the Sunnis’ Islamic Society of Toronto.

The cemetery will cost about another $2 million in development and overhead costs, says Sabi Ahsan, a Shia Muslim who helped coordinate the deal, which he described as a “positive accomplishment” for the Shia and Sunni communities. The land had “become surplus” for the Beth Olam group, he says, which has other cemeteries. The Shia and Sunni Muslims will operate independently as part of the Toronto Muslim Cemetery Corp. and will share resources to minimize costs and maintain the property.

Most Muslims have been buried in sections of non-denominational cemeteries in the GTA, according to certain key requirements such as being buried within 24 hours of their death and having their body washed and buried in a shroud with their face turned toward Mecca. But because of traditional cemeteries’ operating hours, meeting some of those requirements has been problematic.

Commemoration of Ashura in Barcelona

December 17, 2010

On Friday December 17th, about 200 people celebrated the Ashura day in the Arc de Triomphe in Barcelona (near the downtown). The day of Ashura is a Shia Islamic holiday that commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. The most important Islamic Shia community is the islamic center Al Qaim is located in Barcelona although Muslims Shia have a minority presence in Catalonia. This community is formed mostly of people from Pakistan.

The City Council allows this holiday’s public celebration since 2004. However, new rules were imposed. For instance, city government not allows the participation of children, show the back naked or the use of swords or whips that could produce blood. All this things are common during the celebrations in public spaces of many countries where Shiites have a significant presence.

Majority of city council members vote for allowing Shia mosque to be built in Copenhagen

On Thursday April 15th 2010 a large majority of the members of the city council of Copenhagen voted yes to a district plan which will allow a traditional Shia mosque to be built in Copenhagen. It will be the first purpose build mosque in Denmark. Only the members of Danish People’s Party voted no, while the members of the Liberals and one Iranian born member of the Red-Green Alliance didn’t vote. The question about allowing the mosque to be built has created a heated debate and Iranians living in exile in Denmark have demonstrated against the passing of the district plan because they suspect the Iranian government of funding the mosque. Ahlul Bait, which is the organization behind the mosque, says the funding comes from private donors in Iran and fund raising in Denmark.

The site where the mosque will be erected already houses a mosque. However the current mosque is established in an old warehouse and the new mosque will be constructed as a traditional mosque with two minarets and a blue cupola. The purpose of the minarets will only be decoration and they will not be used for calling for prayer.

UK judge convicts Kurd of “honour killing” daughter

A Kurdish father was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murdering his 15-year-old daughter because she fell in love with a follower of a different branch of Islam.

A London judge gave Mehmet Goren, 49, a minimum 22-year prison sentence for his so-called “honour killing” of daughter Tulay, who disappeared a decade ago and was never found. He also was convicted of attacking her boyfriend with an ax.

Prosecutor Damaris Lakin said the fish-and-chip server killed his daughter for having a relationship with a Sunni Muslim. The Gorens adhered to the Alevi branch of the faith, which is linked to the Shiite sect of Islam.