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Muslim Coordinating Council making slow but steady progress

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The following is an open letter to the community from outgoing Muslim Coordinating Council president, Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful

With Allah's help and the efforts of many brothers and sisters the Muslim Coordinating Council of the National Capital Region has built a solid foundation. Insha Allah (God willing) a new team of dedicated, wise, patient and visionary people will carry on the task and serve our community and our country. As my term ends, I pray to Allah to bless you for your support.

Our goal was to have a joint annual dinner of all Muslim organizations in the area, a joint newsletter and joint approach to the governments and the media. But it was suggested that we try to induce all Muslim organizations to work together to uplift the community ”“ especially the most vulnerable, like those in detention, the ill, mentally ill, women victims of violence, youth, new immigrants, refugees, new Muslims, seniors, single parents, widows and widowers, etc. ”“ and build bridges with fellow Canadians of other faiths to promote human rights, dignity, equality and justice for all Canadians.

While the foundations have been laid mashaAllah (praise be to God) of Muslims' unity, uplift and a healthy relationship with fellow Canadians, a great deal of hard work lies ahead if we are to truly succeed.

Our progress has been slow but steady. Almost all sections of the community have joined hands in the council, including 40 organizations. Several volunteers are working diligently for the community. We have also tried new approaches. For example, 

  • We have tried to conduct ourselves according to Islamic teachings
  • We have brought diverse sections of our community together with the help of Allah
  • Our minutes and reports go to everyone to maintain transparency and accountability
  • Our meetings are open to all
  • We consider all suggestions with respect and attention and accept them when warranted.
  • We try to reach out to all sections of the community respectfully
  • We respect our sisters and youth and treat them as equals
  • We have kept our bylaws simple and revise them as desired with experience
  • We have limited terms of office so that the organization gets new leaders, ideas and initiatives and does not become elitist
  • We require all officers and committees to report regularly so that everybody knows what they are doing, or not doing
  • We do most work electronically to avoid making excessive demands on people's times, taking them away from their families and work

Some of our successes:

  1. Our emails, under the dedicated work of Sr. Sarwat Humayun, have become, like those of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, a prime source of information for the community.
  2. Our bylaws committee, chaired by Brs. Tariq Ahsan and Atiqur Rehman, keeps making improvements and Br. Atiq also got us registered with Industry Canada. They are now seeking to get us tax-exempt status.
  3. Our web committee, under the leadership of Sr. Dima Khanafer and Br. Shahzad Khan and with the able support of Brs. Fadi Eltibi, Anwarjee, Mohammed Master and Yahya Abdul Rahman and Sr. Faizah Kandar is making progress and is assisting Sr. Sarwat with e-mails. Br. Qais Ghanem had started it but turned it over to other dedicated people as they became available.
  4. Vice-President Mahmoud Abed consulted the community and agencies and is initiating the Muslim Family Services to serve the community in all areas of need. The groundwork was done by former Vice-President Mohammed Said, who also organized our successful function on Muslims in detention. He remains available to guide Br. Mahmoud. It is his responsibility to put this in place and work very closely with the Sadaqa Food Bank, which is a council member.
  5. Br. Qais is piloting our bridge-building program and has established links with Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Aboriginal and other communities. We hope to make Muslims a vital part of the mainstream. Br. Qais is busy with his own website and Dialogue with Diversity radio program, for which he has won prestigious awards, but he initiated the project to get it started.
  6. Sr. Iman Ibrahim represents us in commendable initiatives, such as promoting the concept of a Department of Peace, making Muslim voices heard.
  7. A steering committee, led by Brs. Mohammed Master and Anwarul Haq, is seeking to build a structure to enable the council to be effective while avoiding confusion that might arise because we represent numerous organizations and aspire to meet all the needs of a diverse community. The committee has received valuable suggestions from Br. Samir Ahmed.
  8. A grants committee led by Br. Atiq and including Brs. Salim Jam and Noor Hasan, is collecting information on sources of funding for the council. It has received valuable input from Sr. Ruba.
  9. Youth from Carleton and Ottawa universities have pledged to work with us for our common goals.
  10. Vice-President Jaffar Hashmi arranged a highly successful Milad function at the Parliament.
  11. The media committee is exploring ideas and Sr. Aisha Shirazi, with Br. Ihsan Gardee, Sr. Julia Williams and Br. Yahya Abdul Rahman, plans a workshop on writing for the media in cooperation with the Ottawa Citizen.
  12. The Muslim Link newspaper led by Br. Mohamed Dourou and Al-Houda TV represented by Br. Bilal Sabra have consistently informed the community of our activities and work.
  13. The Council of Muslim Women gave us a donation, with which we will open an account when the new executive assumes leadership. Br. Anwarul Haq has promised a donation and treasurer Br. Ahmed Syed has pledged $1,000 when our account is opened. May Allah bless them.
  14. The election committee, chaired in the past by Brs. Naeem Malik and Aly Nawwar and including Sr. Dahlia Nawwar consistently organized elections efficiently. This year's chairs Brs. Naeem Malik and Akram Khan planned a trip and Brs. Nazih Nasrallah, Br. Tariq Ahsan and Br. Mohammed Master and other committee members are filling in for them.
  15. Our bylaws provide for a Conciliation Committee which will decide on all differences that may arise. Its decision will be final, ensuring that all disagreements are resolved speedily and justly.
  16. The government is beginning to take notice. On Eid-ul-Adha we received greetings from the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism on his own behalf and that of the Prime Minister.

While the foundations have been laid mashaAllah (praise be to God) of Muslims' unity, uplift and a healthy relationship with fellow Canadians, a great deal of hard work lies ahead if we are to truly succeed.

We have to:

  • Attract dedicated, wise people to our executive committee and other committees.
  • Streamline ourselves to provide maximum service to the community.
  • Get the e-mails of the entire community, to keep them updated and to assist with regular          publishing of a Muslim directory, including yellow pages, possibly electronically.    
  • Put devotion to our community and country ahead of egos, closed minds and rigidity.
  • Invite all Muslim organizations of the area and individuals to work together as a team.
  • Arrange a major inaugural function.
  • Launch a drive to attract members to the council so that it represents all Muslims of the area in the pursuit of their aspirations, and best interests, and serves them in their hour of need.
  • Liaise more effectively and regularly with governments, public figures, academics and the media.
  • Set up task forces in other areas of need ”“ recognizing good work, recommending suitable Muslims for awards, honoring deserving youth, encouraging and respecting sisters, attracting the best minds of the community to guide us especially youth, empowering Muslim media such as the Muslim Link, facilitating publishing of Muslim directories, organizing Muslim professionals, businessmen, physicians and others to strengthen themselves and serve the community and our country more effectively, strive for stronger relations with fellow Canadians of other faiths, build ties with Muslim missions and institutions, and set up a system of regular consultations with Muslim organizations throughout Canada to meet common challenges.

All of this can be done and has to be done if our community is to be respected and become a leader in all aspects of life in Canada. This is our country and serving it is an act of worship.

I thank all of the people who are working with so much dedication to serve our community through the Muslim Coordinating Council of the National Capital Region. In particular I thank the leaders of our founding organizations for building our council  ”“ Br. Saeed Bokhari of Islamic Society of Cumberland, Br. Naeem Malik of Ottawa Muslim Association, Br. Sharafeldin  of Muslim Association of Canada, Sr. Farhat Rehman of Canadian Council of Muslim Women, Sr. Nazira Tareen and Sr. Shano Bejkosalaj of Ottawa Muslim Women's Organization, Imam Anver Malam of Jamiatul Muslimeen (Jami Omar), Br. Nazih Nasrallah of Ahlul Bayt Centre, Br. Jaffar Hashmi of Shia Ithna Asheri Association, Br. Emdad Khan of South Nepean Muslim Community, Br. Riad Tallim of Guyanese-Caribbean Muslim Association and Br. Azfar Ali Khan of Muslim Professional Network.

The support of these founding members from the very start made the council what it is today. Darussunnah, Assalam Mosque and Gatineau mosque were also founding members, but they ceased participation in order to focus on their own projects. We wish them well and our doors remain open.

Now forty organizations and several individuals have joined us and are strengthening the council. Inshallah by working together constructively we will help Muslims throughout Canada to become productive, respected and valued citizens of our country.

As my term ends I thank all of you for your assistance. I also seek your forgiveness for my mistakes and shortcomings. I am confident that if the community supports the council, and volunteers step forth to serve Islam and Canada, the council will make a huge contribution to the Muslim community and Canada in the times to come inshallah.

Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
November 25, 2010

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Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired journalist, civil servant and
refugee judge. He has received the Order of Canada, the Order of
Ontario and the Queen's Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals for his work as a journalist, leadership of Muslims and efforts to promote understanding between Canadians of diverse backgrounds. He founded the Muslim Coordinating Council of the National Capital Region which seeks to uplift the vulnerable in the community and also work with other Canadians to promote human rights, dignity, justice and equality for all Canadians.