Balwant (Bill) Bhaneja is author of six books on arts, politics and science. He is a former Canadian diplomat who studied International Relations at Carleton University and holds a PhD from the University of Manchester. .
In 1947, the countries of India and Pakistan were born out of the partition of British India. Millions of people scrambled between the countries, fleeing ethnic and religious violence. Many Muslims fled to Pakistan, while Hindus and Sikhs fled to India. Referred to as Partition, to date, it is the largest migration of humans.
Haroon Siddiqui needs no introduction. He has been a significant contributor towards “challenging the image of Muslims being portrayed in mainstream Media.” He was the Editorial page editor emeritus and a Columnist for the Toronto Star for a number of years. He is also a member of the Order of Canada. He was recently appointed as a distinguished visiting professor in the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Communication & Design (FCAD) at Ryerson University.
Nader Khan is a Indian Canadian singer/songwriter, arts educator and social activist. Over the last 20 years, he has toured and performed across Canada, USA, South Africa, UK, the West Indies, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore in solo performances, and on tours with other internationally renowned artists and scholars. Nader has spearheaded various social justice initiatives that promote local and international relief efforts through Islamic devotional music, arts, youth engagement, and inspiration. In 2013, Nader established #ShareTheProphet, bringing together service and devotion by channeling 100% of sales revenue from future albums into humanitarian causes. His second album, Water was released in May 2015 to widespread critical acclaim. 100% of the album sales of Water will be going to WaterAid Canada. Nader is an Ontario Arts Council Arts Educator, delivering workshops on drumming, Islam and music as well as social justice in schools throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
Muslim Link interviewed Indian Canadian community activist Farheen Khan. Khan is an published author who has written about her personal experiences with Islamophobia and spousal abuse. She ran in the 2015 Federal Election, the only woman wearing hijab to do so for the entire campaign. She is also the founder of the Muslims Actually blog which has now been incorporated into Muslim Link's website.
Imam Mohammed Badat was born and raised in Toronto, Canada to parents who emigrated from Gujarat, India in the early 1970s. His family grew up near their local masjid in York region. “The masjid was our playground growing up,” he shared. Imam Badat began his Islamic Studies there, memorizing Quran and being tutored by the resident imam.
"I grew up in a small, rural village in India. And at the time, education was not easily available. We had to struggle, walk long distances and work hard. Our parents supported us very much. And then, I made it to study at Aligarh Muslim College, a prestigious university in India, and the day before I graduated, my father died. It was so difficult because I had so many plans. I was always thinking of what was after my school so I could support and help them like they did for me in my education. It was very difficult.
When I left India, I was flying to New York City. This was my first time coming to North America. Sitting next to me was an American and an Irishmen. The plane was descending and we could see the cars on the streets as we came close to landing. They asked me what I thought about America. We hadn't landed yet and I had never been to America before but I saw that the cars were driving on the right side of the road. In India, the direction is from the left. So I told them, 'America is always right'!"
In this installment of my column, I interview just one local convert about her experiences raising her children as Muslim while having non-Muslim parents. Dr. Aisha Sherazi was born and raised in the UK, and migrated to Canada in 2000. She hails from a Hindu family, and is of Indian origin. She writes freelance editorials in various newspapers and resides in Ottawa, Canada. She now works as a spiritual counsellor for teenagers and teachers at Merivale High School, and conducts workshops across the city on the dangers of stereotyping. She helps represent the Muslim Community of Ottawa on COMPAC for the Ottawa Police Service and sits on the board of the Islamic Social Services Association of Canada. Happily married with two busy children, she also writes poetry and fiction in her spare time
When Dr. Farook Tareen first came to Ottawa over forty years ago, the Muslim community was small. He joined the Ottawa Muslim Association and maintained the relationship until his death on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. He worked tirelessly to both develop and nurture the Muslim community and to build bridges with the broader community of Ottawa. The following is compiled with excerpts from emails sent to Dr. Tareen's family by those who knew and loved him.
Farhat came to Canada in 1969 to marry and raise a family. Like other immigrants of her age and background she had many aspirations and hopes for her bright children. But in February 2001, her dreams were shattered when her son, gripped by paranoid delusions due to an undiagnosed mental illness, stabbed his friend and mentor of many years who succumbed to his injuries. What began was a nightmare as Farhat struggled with guilt over her son's crime, heartache over the deterioration of her son's mental health, fear for her son's safety in the Ottawa Carleton Regional Detention Centre (RDC), and frustration with a corrections system she discovered to be seriously flawed. But in the process, Farhat became an advocate for the rights' of prisoners and their families and reached out to the support networks that she could find in Ottawa.