Kanata Muslims Welcome New ImamWritten by Farah Amir
Imam Sikander Hashmi is the new imam in Kanata. Born and raised in Montreal, Imam Sikander is also a journalism graduate from Concordia University and a happily married father with two energetic children. He has written for the Toronto Star and Montreal Gazette, and has worked as an Imam in Kingston.
What drives you to work as an Imam, as you’re a journalism graduate?
I did not set out to be an Imam – I learned a lot during my time at Cornwall, and Concordia, and I was involved in the community because I wanted to help out anyone who needed help; especially in matters of faith in order to serve Allah (Subhana Wa Taala, Glorious is He and He is Exalted, SWT). And I believe that Allah (SWT), the best of planners, led me to this path of serving the Kingston community as an Imam. I enjoy serving the community and working with people to solve problems facing the community, not just people who come to the mosque, but everyone in the community.
What are your immediate plans as you take the reins as Imam at the KMA?
My immediate plans after I settle down are to get to know the area and the community. I want to understand how things are working, where the community’s needs are, and work with the brothers and sisters, youth, and families in the community to serve them insha’Allah (God willing), by understanding their priorities. I want to get to know my neighbours, and connections with the people of the larger Ottawa community. It is important for us to have a clear vision of who we are serving, and why, and how we can connect with people in a friendly and inclusive way to make a positive difference in the community.
What are some challenges you face?
We all face challenges. For me the challenges are to learn from my mistakes. My parents were always my supporters, and my family is very important for me. My parents were my role models growing up, and that helped me overcome the challenges of youth.
Do you feel you are stereotyped because of your appearance; that some people may find you intimidating or hard to approach?
Stereotypes exist everywhere – the way I dress or my appearance can lead people to ask me about it. More importantly, the way I behave, the way I speak. When I speak to people, I try to approach them in a respectful manner. Over time, people get to know me and become comfortable. The youth in our community have been very comfortable and friendly with me. I am there to help them and guide them as a friend.
What message do you have for youth who want to learn more about faith in a balanced way as Canadians?
This is an important question because we must look within ourselves to establish a solid relationship with Allah (SWT) – that must come first. We can have a schedule of having time devoted to God alone, to give you guidance by making Du’a (supplication). And, young or old, take time to learn the Quran by reading the book and understanding what it’s saying from a reliable translation if you need. And look for the qualities of the type of people that Allah (SWT) praises in the Quran, and have a list, these are the qualities that are in the ideal person. And look at the qualities of the person that Allah (SWT) does not like, so make those lists. Look at the life of the prophets, look for people closest to the qualities of the prophets, people you can interact with face to face, people who you know in the community. Find people who fit into this criteria, and make friends with people who are working positively in the community. You want to find your path to get closer to Allah (SWT). And try to maintain a balance by thinking about what are most important for my short term and long term future. Make friends with people who are positive and take time to learn about faith gradually; I am still learning every day.
What are your expectations from the sisters in the community? Will you improve upon existing programs to help women engage in the local musalla (mosque) and contribute positively to the local community?
Sisters are very important ̶ the most important members of the community. I am a big believer of participation by sisters in the community. The sisters in Kanata have been quite active as well. I am not looking to change things that are working; I am available to help them as needed, or brainstorm as needed, to bring more programs to the community. I am there as a servant of the community, and I want to work to help the sisters, the brothers, the families, the youth, with their needs to the best of my abilities insha’Allah.
What are your prayers for Ramadan?
I always pray to Allah (SWT) that He makes this coming Ramadan our best one yet, make us feel it, so we want to see it again, Ramadan is not just a ritual, but asking Allah (SWT) so that it becomes a catalyst for positive change for all of us, to accept our deeds, and bring peace to our brothers and sisters everywhere.
You can find Imam Sikander on Facebook, at http://www.sikander.ca, and at community events.
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