Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 141, Issue 41

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker

Ottawa Annual Milad Celebration

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, the Prophet Mohammed, may peace be upon him, said: “Seek knowledge even unto China… Acquire knowledge, for he who acquires it performs an act of piety; he who speaks of knowledge, praises God: he who seeks it, adores God.” He also declared: “The ink of the scholar is more precious than the blood of the martyr.”

On Wednesday, May 5, the Ismaili Muslim Community of Ottawa held their annual Milad celebration on Parliament Hill. Senators and parliamentarians from all political parties joined with ambassadors and members of the Muslim community to celebrate the life and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

This year, Professor Azim Nanji of Stanford University, a leading Islamic scholar and Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, provided the keynote address to commemorate the life of the Prophet Mohammed. Professor Nanji has authored, co-authored and edited several books including The Muslim AlmanacMapping Islamic Studies and the Encyclopedia of Islam.

Professor Nanji is currently a visiting professor at Stanford University and is preparing the Historical Dictionary of Islam to be published by Penguin.

In reflecting and celebrating the teachings of the Prophet, Professor Nanji emphasized three themes. First, in light of the troubling worldwide events of the past few years, he said that we must commit ourselves to the pursuit of knowledge and learning as a catalyst in the search for harmony and understanding among peoples and society. As we celebrate the Prophet’s life, his example must serve as a model in times of crisis and conflict, not only to Muslims, but also to all Canadians. The message of peace must outweigh the message of conflict.

Second, the Prophet taught and institutionalized the value of pluralism, insisting on an inclusive framework for building society and reminding us that we build on the best of the experiences and knowledge of each other. Canada, Professor Nanji emphasized, embodies these principles and must serve as a model for the rest of the world.

Third, the Prophet taught the importance of caring for the underprivileged and marginalized, particularly women, and emphasized the value of instituting sustainable patterns of law and support for them.

Professor Nanji emphasized that Canada embodies many of the messages and teachings of the Prophet. We represent a country that embodies the principles of pluralism, diversity, multiculturalism and inclusiveness. Canadians, therefore, have a duty to embrace these values not only within Canada’s borders, but also must be ambassadors of these values. Canada must not imprison these values within its own borders; rather, it must pollinate them across our global landscape.

As I leave for Sudan tomorrow, I will be sharing this message of Canadians with the people of Sudan.