Sheikh Ismail Albatnuni was born in 1964 in Tripoli, Libya. From an early age, he sought out Islamic knowledge, memorizing the Quran, and eventually studying Maliki fiqh (a school of Islamic jurisprudence) from local scholars. However, he knew if he ever wanted to take his studies further it would mean having to leave his homeland.
"In Libya at that time, it was very difficult. Qaddafi shut down all of the Islamic universities," Sheikh Albatnuni explained. Instead, Albatnuni made the practical choice to study engineering and computer systems. However, in 1992, he left Libya to study at a branch of Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) because he was "very eager to study sharia." After graduating, he went on to teach Islamic Studies at Khalifa bin Zayed Air College.
"The fact that I grew up in Canada, I kind of grew up with Islamic values at the same time – accepting people, multiculturalism, people from different faiths and that's what Islam really teaches. We're in an environment where people are fundamentally good. Being a Muslim in Canada I see people as generally good and letting everyone have their own freedom."
"Muslim-Canadian is the happiest person in this world. Despite what is happening in the world and how we're being blamed – we are the happiest. Because we know we were created to struggle. Without struggle we cannot enter the highest paradise with our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). He was the best example for us. He was the one who faced the most difficulties in this earth."
"Being Muslim, Canadian and Palestinian is in many ways a microcosm of Canada as a whole, with its beautiful capacity for coexistence and constructive integration. My personal ability to seamlessly be all three is nothing but a proof that Canada is the best place in the world. Being Muslim is about God and about giving to humanity while making the world a better place. Canada gave the world things like insulin, sonar, and the prosthetic hand. If we are good at something, it's improving the lives of people. Being a Canadian Muslim is a unique privilege and offers a huge opportunity for adding good to the world, through our Canadian values, and through Allah's spiritual guidance. I think in many ways, being Canadian has made me a better Muslim."