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Muslim prayer. Photo: CIJnews

Ontario Human Rights Commission: Schools must accommodate “congregational prayers”

On March 31, 2017, Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) issued a statement clarifying its position on religious accommodation in schools.

The following are excerpts from OHRC’s statement:

The Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) has always recognized the importance of protecting religious freedom….

Education providers are responsible for accommodating creed-related needs to the point of undue hardship. However, some degree of hardship is acceptable.

The Code lists only three considerations when assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship:

  • Cost;
  • Outside sources of funding, if any; and/or
  • Health and safety requirements, if any…

The duty to accommodate creed beliefs extends to situations where prayer observances conflict with regular daily routines or school hours…

Sample accommodations include designating private areas or a room for prayer observances; permitting use of a private washroom, or, if not possible, identifying a washroom within the school for washing before prayers; not requiring participation in school activities during obligatory congregational prayer observances; and allowing students and staff enough preparation time to observe Sabbath, especially during days when the sun sets early.

Religious and creed observances sometimes take communal forms. An education provider may consider offering on-site space to observe congregational forms of worship, as an inclusive design approach, where people require accommodation during normal school hours to fulfill congregational worship needs

When accommodating or inclusively designing to meet the “needs of the group,” education providers must:

  • Make clear to all involved or affected that this is not an organizationally sponsored activity or endorsement of a particular creed, but rather a way of meeting individuals’ religious accommodation needs
  • Be aware of how the participation of persons in positions of power or authority may be received, avoiding exerting indirect pressure, or appearing partisan
  • Be as inclusive as possible in developing and providing the accommodation, by consulting with as many directly affected parties as possible, and being attentive to internal group dynamics and differences in accommodation needs
  • Treat members of all creed groups requiring accommodation equally, including minorities within creed groups, neither privileging nor disadvantaging, endorsing nor condoning any one over another
  • Maintain an environment that is free of pressure or compulsion in matters of religion and belief
  • Not interfere in, or become entangled in, what are purely religious or creed matters.

The OHRC will continue to use the full breadth of its mandate to ensure that Ontario is a place where everyone is valued and treated with equal dignity and respect. We call on all Ontarians, and the institutions representing them at the local, municipal and provincial levels, to work towards this vision of a society where everyone can fully participate, no matter what their race, ancestry or religious beliefs or practices.

For more information click HERE.

PDSB-approved Friday prayer warns Muslims of Jews and Christians

On January 10, 2017 the Peel District School Board (PDSB) reversed its decision that forced Muslim students to use a limited number of pre-approved sermons for their Friday prayers.

According to the revised Religious Accommodation Operating Procedure for prayer, including Jummah [Friday] prayer for Muslim students in public school:

  • All prayer spaces will continue to be supervised by school staff.
  • Prayer will be led by students only, on Friday, for Jummah prayer.
  • Two or more students can pray together on any other day but prayers would not be led nor include a sermon.
  • Students may write their own sermon (khutbah} or can use a sermon (khutbah) from a bank of prewritten sermons, obtained from the school MSA [Muslim Students Association] or a local faith leader.
  • Sermons will be presented in English, except for any verses quoted directly from the Quran.
  • Sermons must comply with the school code of conduct, the Education Act, its Regulations and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  • As with all student activities in schools, appropriate disciplinary and corrective action will be taken where there are any contraventions of the Ontario Human Rights Code or the school code of conduct.

During the open meetings of Peel District School Board, representatives of the Muslim community in Peel Region demanded more accommodating arrangements for Muslim students at public schools to allow students to pray in groups at school any day of the week and to write and deliver their own sermons.

Other members of the community asked the Peel District School Board to keep religion out of the public schools. Some warned of the “infiltration” of a radical Islamic ideology into the educational system. On Saturday, March 11, 2017 a few dozens from Mississauga and Brampton gathered at Square One protesting against any religious practices in schools.

Linda Jeffrey, the Mayor of Brampton, Ontario announced her support of religious accommodation at Peel District School Board (PDSB). In a official statement (March 9, 2017), Jeffrey said that public schools must respect any religious requirement, including Muslim prayers, unless there is a financial burden as a result of it. Jeffrey claimed that the opposing voices to the Friday prayers in the public schools are fed by “misinformation, fear mongering, and outright falsehoods.”

The Islamic Prayer – Background

The Muslim prayer (aslo known as salah, salat or namaz) is one of the Five Pillars in the faith of Islam and an obligatory religious duty to be observed five times a day for every Muslim who has reached the age of puberty. On Fridays, the noon congregational prayer (salat al-Jum’a) substitutes for the regular noon prayer, and it includes the Khutba, or the Friday sermon, by the imam (religious leader) who gives the congregants guidance in Islamic teachings. The purpose of the prayer is to demonstrate a total submission to Allah and a commitment to follow his path unconditionally.

At the start of each unit of prayer (rakah), Muslims must recite Surah (chapter) al-Fatihah (“The Opening”), the first chapter of the Quran. In total, Surah (chapter) al-Fatihah is recited at least seventeen times a day by a practicing Muslim. The prayer also includes supplications to Allah.

Surah (chapter) al-Fatihah

The following is the translation of Surah (chapter) al-Fatihah as provided by Omar Subedar, Imam at at Brampton Makki Masjid, The Islamic society of Peel, Vice president of Mathabah Institute and CEO & Founder of Bukhari Publications:

  • [In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful]

  • All praise is for Allah, the Sustainer of every creation
  • The Most Merciful and the Ever Merciful
  • Master of the Day of Compensation
  • It is only You who we worship and only You Who we seek assistance from
  • Guide us to the straight path
  • The path of those you bestowed favours upon, not those who have incurred [Your] wrath and those who have deviated

Subedar: The Jews are “those who have incurred the wrath of Allah”

The following is Omar Subedar’s commentary to the verse: “The path of those you bestowed favours upon, not those who have incurred [Your] wrath and those who have deviated”:

Peace and the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you, brothers and sisters it’s Imam Omar Subedar here once again here once again in Tafsir [commentary of the Quran] in Five. Today inshallah we’re going to be covering the concluding verses of Surat al-Fatihah [the first chapter of the Quran al-Fatiha], particularly the seventh verse, in which Allah, glorified and exalted be He, tells us to ask him to save us from putting us on the path that was followed by a particular people in the past that unfortunately did not succeed in treading this path and that was simply because of their own actions. What we’re talking about here is – if you notice in the first two verses we’re asking Allah (swt) to guide us to the straight path, and then that path has been identified as a path that has been treaded by the prophet, peace and blessings be upon him (pbuh), the people who are firm in their faith, the people who have given their lives for Allah, the shouhada [Arabic for martyrs] particularly and that the people who have committed to a path and a lifestyle of piety a-Saliheen [Arabic for pious]. Allah (swt) then brings to our attention that – do not tread the path of those people who were put on this particular road, this highway to heaven, but then they had exited this particular path, because of their own actions. The first category Allah (swt) identifies is the ‘those who have incurred your wrath’ and the second category or the second group of people he identifies is ‘those who have deviated’. First I’m going to recite the verse. I seek refuge in Allah from Satan the accursed. In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful. Not the path of those who have incurred Your anger or the path of those who have deviated, who have fallen astray. Now, who are these people? Whom are these categories Allah (swt) is referring to? The first group, the prophet (pbuh) has identified as the Jews (اليهود), and the second group ‘those who have deviated’, the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, has identified them as the Christians (النصارى). This is clear in the hadith [collections of narrations attributed to Mohammad] and the question we want to ask ourselves is: What did the first group do to yield Allah’s (swt) anger and what did the second group do to deviate from the straight path? Well there’s something Allah (swt) explains in other verses. When it comes to the first group ‘those who have incurred your wrath’ the prophet (pbuh) has identified as the Jews. Allah (swt) tells us in Surah Aal Imran [Chapter The Family of Imran in the Quran], chapter 3, verse 112, four different things this community had done due to which Allah (swt) became angry with them. The first thing is that they were selective in their beliefs. They would believe in whatever they wanted to believe in and if something was not suitable to them they would just discard it. ‘We believe in some and disbelieve in others’. So what Allah says: These people would now disbelieve in the verses of Allah (swt). This is the first thing that had angered a Allah. The second thing is you have a community from that particular nation, known as the rabbinical community, and since there were the illuminated and the enlightened ones, people obviously would look to them for guidance and they would have the masses under their hands. So whenever there was a threat to this power by new leaders coming in town particularly the prophets , peace and prayers be upon them, the first course of action these people would resort to is eliminate that threat, and that would be by unfortunately killing the prophets, peace and prayers be upon them. Allah identifies that in this verse by saying: They would kill the prophets, peace and prayers be upon them, unjustly. Allah (swt) then tells us about their regular actions and He says: They would also disobey and it would not but just be occasionally. It would be frequently. It would be habitually. They would habitually transgress the laws of Allah (swt). So now since this is the part of their system to her habitually disobey Allah (swt) be selective in their beliefs and if anyone is being sent for their guidance they would just eliminate that individual, this ultimately had now directed Allah’s (swt) anger to this community for the rest of eternity basically. So Allah (swt) says: Those who have incurred Your anger. Yes, Allah (swt) clarified that they’re not all the same in the subsequent verse of the Chapter of The Family of Imran, Chapter 3, verse number 113, Allah says: They’re not all the same. So we can’t paint everyone of with the same brush, but the thing is that this was something that was dominant in that community due to which Allah’s anger had descended on them. So Allah (swt) is telling us that after you’ve been put on the path be steadfast on it and do not do things that would now throw you off that path. And that’s why we ask Allah’s (swt) protection from such outcomes. We ask Allah (swt) that He keeps us steadfast on the path and make us reach our goal of paradise. May Allah reward you [with] goodness. Until next time Peace and the mercy of Allah be upon you.

Subedar: The Christians are “those who have deviated”

The following is Omar Subedar’s commentary to the verse: “The path of those you bestowed favours upon, not those who have incurred [Your] wrath and those who have deviated”:

Peace and the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you, brothers and sisters, Imam Omar Subedar is here once again here once again in Tafsir [commentary of the Quran] in Five. Today, Allah Willing, we’re going to be looking at the final portion of the final verse of Surah [Chapter] al-Fatiha, specifically ‘those who have deviated’. This is a group of people, Allah (swt) has instructed us to ask him to steer us clear from following the footsteps of, and we want to understand who these people are. Our beloved prophet (pbuh) has identify them as in the Christians (نصارى), which we pointed out in the previous video, and we want to understand what these people did due to which Allah (swt) has described them as such. For this Allah (swt) tells us in Surah al-Nisa [chapter The Women in the Quran], chapter 4, verse 171 where he’s addressing this community with the words: يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لاَ تَغْلُواْ فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ إِلاَّ الْحَقِّ [O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth]. Allah (swt) is telling them: Do not exaggerate things in the religion. Do not say things which are untrue out of extreme love or out of extreme admiration and only speak the truth about Allah. وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ إِلاَّ الْحَقِّ [do not say about Allah except the truth]. If you want to say anything about Allah, make sure it’s accurate. Now what was going on in this particular community when it comes to the Christians? They were ascribing divinity to other entities. They were extending divinity which is exclusive for Allah (swt) to the creation, and particularly when it comes to the prophet Jesus (عيسى), peace be upon him, you had one of three notions that we developed that either Jesus (pbuh) is God in person or Jesus (pbuh) is part of a trinity or Jesus (pbuh) is the begotten son of God. And in all cases divinity is being a scribe to Jesus (pbuh) and this is something Allah (swt) is disapproving of, but since they were committed to this, and at the same time they were steadfast on these beliefs, this belief itself is what had steered them clear from ‘the straight path’, made them exit the ‘the straight path’ due to which Allah (swt) categorized them as ‘those who have deviated’. Allah (swt) tells them that: don’t say things which are inaccurate, don’t make things up. And he also clarifies after that: إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ [The Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word]. Issa (pbuh) if you want to know his position, he is simply as he is saying الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ [The Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah], he is simply Allah’s messenger and the word of Allah. And how is he the word of Allah? He is created by the word of Allah, which was casted in his mother Maryam (pbuh) and he is created as Allah says in another verse: إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِندَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ [Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was]. Jesus’ (pbuh) example is like that of Adam (pbuh) who Allah had created from dirt, but what’s a commonality between these two? Allah said to them be and they were. And that’s why Jesus (pbuh) is known as the word of Allah. So if there’s anything we want to say about anyone it should be accurate, and if we’re not going to say accurate things that it’s going to now put us on the path of deviation, something that we do not want to obviously experience in any shape or form. So hence this brings this particular Surah [chapter] which we’ve covered in quite a few videos to an end. We ask Allah (swt) that the these videos serve as a means for us to develop a stronger connection with Him, a greater appreciation for Him, and at the same time give us the ability to continuously connect with His word, avail from it and thus acquire paradise through it. Until next time may Allah reward you [with] goodness and Peace and the mercy of Allah be upon you.

Muslim Prayer Handbook

CIJnews obtained a copy of the booklet: “Muslim Prayer Handbook For Beginners” which is being handed out at the Islamic booth at Toronto’s Dundas Square. The booklet is printed and distributed by the Walk-In Islamic InfoCenter located at 2535-1 Dundas Street West, Toronto.(www.collectfreequran.org).

It introduces the daily prayers for Muslims. In some of the supplications dealing with the “Kafiroun,” the disbelievers or infidels, Muslims are ordained to ask Allah to help them overcome and defeat their enemies who are identified as the disbelieving people.

The following are the recommended daily prayers for Muslims in which the disbelievers are mentioned:

P. 4

Du’a [supplication] to overcome enemies

“…Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions, establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (3:147)

P. 13

“Say: O disbelievers! I worship not which you worship. Nor will you worship what which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. to you be your religion, and to me my religion.” [109: 1-6]

“Note: The Prophet [Muhammad] PBUH used to recited Surah al [chapter of the Quran] Kafiroon [disbelievers] in the first rak’ah [an individual unit of prayer] and Surah Al-Ikhlas [The Sincerity] in the second rak’ah of the sunnah [Islamic normative way] of Fajr (dawn) prayer (صلاة الفجر). (Muslim).”

P. 23

The Witr (The Last Night prayer)…

P. 24

“O Allah, we seek Your help and request Your forgiveness and believe and trust in you and we praise You in the best manner and we thank You and we are not ungrateful to You, we also abandon and reject anyone who disobeys you.

“O Allah, we worship nothing but You, and we perform prayers for You, we Prostrate to You, and we hope for your mercy and we fear. Your punishment surely overtakes the disbelievers.” (Baihaqi)

P. 32

For patience and endurance

“Our Lord! Bestow on us patience, make our foothold sure, and give us help against the disbelieving folk.” [2: 250]

The most comprehensive Supplication

“Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget, or fall into error. Our Lord! Let not on us a burden like that which You laid on those before us. Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us forgiveness . Have mercy on us. You are our protector, and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” [2:286]

“The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever recite the two verses [2:285-286] at night, it will sufficient to protect him from misfortune.” (Bukhari)

24 Hours With The Prophet”

The booklet “24 Hours With The Prophet,” which was also picked up at the Islamic booth at Dundas Square, introduces the daily prayers for Muslims.

The book’s publisher is the Pakistani Islamic Communication Trust and it is distributed by the Walk-In Islamic InfoCenter located at 21 Dundas Square #910 (www.collectfreequran.org).

In some of the supplications dealing with the “Kafiroun,” the disbelievers or infidels, Muslims are ordained to ask to Allah to help them overcome and defeat their enemies who are identified as the disbelieving people.

The book also explains that “Islam is not only a religion, but a complete way of life” and that it is obligatory upon Muslim to spread Islam by inviting the disbelievers to embrace Islam.

The following are excerpts from the book:

P. 2

What is Islam?

“Islam is an Arabic word which means ‘surrender’. This means to accept the oneness of Allah (S.W.T.) (The Exalted and the Great) and to follow His Commands. Islam is not only a religion, but a complete way of life. This means that it shows us how to live all aspects of our lives in the best possible way.

“A Muslim should always think good of another Muslim. He should not be jealous and should not hate others. Muslims should treat other Muslims like brothers and sisters.”

P. 11

The Only Unforgivable Sin polytheism

“Polytheism, which is the opposite of Monotheism, is the belief in, or worship of, many gods, Islam rejects this concept totally and the Prophet PBUH spent his entire life opposing it.

“Polytheism is the only sin that will prevent one from entering Paradise. All other sins, no matter how big they are, can either be forgiven by Allah, if He wishes to do so, or He may punish the person accountable for the sins and then admit him/ her in Paradise…”

P. 12-13

“Say (O Muhammad PBUH)… ‘Come not near to Fawahish (lews sins) whether committed openly or secretly; and kill not anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for a cause (according to Islamic law).This He has commanded you that you may understand.” [6:151]

P. 57

“Surah Al-Kafiroon

“Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which you worship. Nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall mot worship that which you are worshipping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. To you be your religion, and to me my religion.” [109:1-6]

P. 71-73

The Witr (Night Prayer)

“… O Allah, we seek your help and request Your forgiveness and believe and trust in You and we praise You in the best manner and we thank You and we are not ungrateful to You, we also abandon and reject anyone who disobeys You.

“O Allah, we worship nothing but You, and we perform prayers for You, we Prostrate to You, and we hope for Your mercy and we fear Your punishment. Your punishment. Your punishment surely overtakes the disbelievers.”

P. 114-115

Inviting others to the way of your Lord

Allah says:

Invite (mankind) to the way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom and fair preaching, and reason with them in a way that is better. Truly, Your Lord knows best who gone astray from His path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.” [16:125]

The word invite ادع is an order given by Allah. This means that it is compulsory on all muslims to give Dawah (propagate Islam) to Non-muslims, and to remind Muslims to practice Islam according to the Sunnah of the Prophet PBUH.

This obligation becomes even more important for those Muslims who live in Non-Muslim countries, where the Non-Muslim outnumber the Muslim population. Not only must the handful of Muslims give Dawah to the Non-Muslims, but they must also protect their Deen (belief in Islam) by enjoining each other towards Islam.

It is a good idea to set aside a few hours every week (especially on weekends and holidays) for this cause. Start with your friends, co-workers, and neighbours. A friendly chat or distributing Dawah literature (which is easily available free of cost at Mosques and Islamic Centres) is a good way to begin.

Tell Non-Muslims about Islam, the Oneness of Allah, Prophethood, and the belief in life after death, as follows:

Islam:

Islam is the total submission, surrender and obedience to Allah. It also means “peace” – of mind, body, heart and society.

P. 120-121

For Patience and endurance

Our Lord! Bestow on us patience, make our foothold, and give us help against the disbelieving folk.” [2:250]

The most comprehensive Supplication

…Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget, or fall into error. Our Lord! Lay no us a burden like that which You laid on those before us. Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector, and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” [2:286]

The Prophet PBUH said: “Whoever recites the two verses [2:285:286] at night, it will sufficient to protect him from misfortune.” (Bukhari)

P. 122

To overcome enemies

Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions, establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” [3:147]

P. 124

Protection from oppressors

…Our Lord! Make us not a trial for the people who are Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) (i.e. do not make them overpower us). And save us by Your Mercy from the disbelievers.” [10:85:86]

P. 133

Some Major Sins

HomosexualityLying about Allahoffending and abusing MuslimsWife’s bad conduct

P. 156

Protection from the enemies

O Allah, we beg You to restrain them by their necks and we seek refuge in You from their evil.” (Abu Dawood)

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