University of Alberta campus holds interfaith information sessions

On Islam – November 19, 2011


A University of Alberta center will hold a series of lectures on the relationship between the two main faiths, Christianity and Islam, inside the community. “The interest in Islam has grown enormously,” said David Goa, the director of the Chester Ronning Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life. The center, at the Augustana campus of the University of Alberta, will hold lectures in Calgary, Camrose and Edmonton.

Canadian Imam beaten and arrested in Saudi Arabia

News Agencies – October 30, 2011

Usama Al-Atar, an imam from Edmonton, was beaten and arrested by religious police in Saudi Arabia while on a pilgrimage. His friends in Canada are disturbed by the incident and worried for his safety. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada is aware of the arrest.

Al-Atar is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Alberta where he researches solar cells and nanotechnology. Murphy said Al-Atar makes the hajj pilgrimage every year and hasn’t had problems on any of his six previous visits.

Canadian gay Muslim scholar claims shunning from community

Junaid Bin Jahangir, PhD student at the University of Alberta, claims he is shunned from the Canadian Muslim community because of his homosexuality.

Jahangir has spent two years studying the teachings of Islam on homosexuality and has begun to be recognized internationally for his research.

He argues Muslims misinterpret the Qur’an if they consider the ban on homosexuality to be as firm as bans on alcohol or pork. The common story from which most Muslims draw their teaching is about violent homosexual rape, he says, and it’s time to rethink the possibility of consensual, supportive relationships.

Although his PhD in economics is incomplete, Mr. Jahangir has contributed to a new anthology on homosexuality, Islam and Homosexuality, edited by Samar Habib and published by Praeger Publishers. Jahangir avoids the Muslim community in Edmonton, and any local mosque, too, he says. “I’m a pariah.”

Aga Khan Granted Honorary Canadian Citizenship

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Shah Kari al-Hussayni – the 49th Aga Khan – will receive the rare award of honorary Canadian citizenship to recognize his efforts in working toward that goal. He founded the Aga Khan Development Network, an organization that has brought better health care, education and urban and rural development to impoverished communities in Asia and Africa. Khan joins an elite group of four others who have also been given honorary citizenship. “[He is] a beacon of humanitarianism, of pluralism and of tolerance throughout the entire world,” Mr. Harper told the House of Commons.

In 2005, Khan was named an honorary companion to the Order of Canada. He was also given an honorary doctor of law degree by the University of Alberta.

Obituary: Larry Shaben, Canada’s First Muslim Cabinet Minister

Larry Shaben, 73, was Canada’s first Muslim cabinet minister. The son of Lebanese immigrants, Shaben was born in Hanna, Alberta and eventually settled in the north of Alberta represented Lesser Slave Lake. This article in The Globe and Mail chronicles how Shaben spent much of his youth at Canada’s first mosque, Al Rashid in Edmonton. Shaben became involved in politics early in his life in High Prairie, and retired in 1989 and returned to Edmonton to focus his energies on ecumenical groups like the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, the Islamic Academy of Edmonton and the endowed chair of Islamic Studies at the University of Alberta. The cabinet minister is also known for miraculously surviving a deadly twin-engine plane crash in 1984.

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