Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 139, Issue 84

Monday, December 17, 2001
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker

The Islamic Faith

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, Canadian Muslims and Muslims around the world have been fasting and concentrating on their faith during the holy month of Ramadan: a time of worship, contemplation and reflection on the need to better understand the faith of Islam. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The month of Ramadan is also when it is believed the Holy Quran “was sent down from heaven, a guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation.”

This week, Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid ul-Fitr, the “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” It is a joyous period in which believing men and women show joy for their health, strength and opportunities of life that Allah has given to them. It is also a period during which Muslims emphasize Islam’s framework of ethical principles of sharing, caring, generosity and service to others.

Honourable senators, there may never have been a time when Muslims in Canada have been more aware of their faith and never a time in which Islam needs to be understood more. The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, explained this need in his address at Brown University in June 1996. On that occasion the Aga Khan stated:

Today in the occident the Muslim world is deeply misunderstood by most. The West knows little about its diversity, about the religion or the principles, which unite it, about its brilliant past or its recent trajectory through history. The Muslim world is noted in the West, North America and Europe, more for the violence of certain minorities than for the peacefulness of its faith and the vast majority of its people.

The words “Muslim” and “Islam” have themselves come to conjure the image of anger and lawlessness in the collective consciousness of most western cultures. And the Muslim world has, consequently, become something that the West does not want to think about, does not want to understand, and will associate with only when it is inevitable.

Islam is not a monolithic faith, just as Christianity is not. Islam is a faith practised by over 1 billion people of different cultures, languages, traditions, geographies and civilizations. Islam is a truly pluralistic faith. This pluralism is grounded in a common religion.

Canada is uniquely equipped and positioned to create the understanding to celebrate that pluralism. I am very fortunate to be able to celebrate and practise my faith in Canada.

I know that all honourable senators will join me in wishing Canadian Muslims Eid Mubarak.