D’Amato: Doing Islam differently: Mosque fully includes women, gay people

B88374925Z.1_20180920205032_000_GTFB5BSD.2-0_Super_Portrait.jpgAt this mosque, women worship in the same room as the men. They lead prayers and give sermons.

They are not forced to watch the service on television in a different room.

At this mosque, gay people are welcomed.

And there’s no dress code. You can cover your head or not, as you see fit.

This mosque, based in Kitchener-Waterloo, does Islam differently.

“We reject a patriarchal system,” says Fran Pappert-Shannon of Waterloo, who co-founded the mosque two years ago, and co-ordinates its activities.

“We are egalitarian, without a patriarchal hierarchy. and we believe in the concepts of shared authority.”

All of this is very unusual for the religion, as it is often practised in North America.

And so, in order to write about the K-W El-Tawhid Juma Circle, I had to agree not to publish its location.

Some members of the congregation, who are gay and haven’t come out yet, were uneasy about having a journalist around, so I couldn’t observe the service.





A lost city thought to be more than 1,000 years old has been discovered in Ethiopia and may offer insight into Islam’s origins in the country.

The settlement, located near Ethiopia’s second largest city of Dire Dawa, in the east of the country, consisted of buildings constructed with large stone blocks, which gave rise to a local myth that giants lived there. Researchers believe it may date back as early as the 10th century.

Archaeologists discovered a 12th-century mosque in the settlement at Harlaa, as well as evidence of Islamic burials and headstones. The team, from the University of Exeter and the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, also found artifacts from as far afield as India and China, suggesting that the region functioned as a hub for foreign traders.

Prophet Muhammad died in the mid-seventh century, and Islam is thought to have spread to the East African coastline sometime in the eighth century. But an earlier tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad sent some of his first followers to Abyssinia—modern day Ethiopia—in the early seventh century.


Eid al Adha 2018 quotes: What do Muslims say and do on each day of Eid to mark festival?


Islam has its most important holiday of Eid al Adha spread over the next four days and the one billion strong Muslim population is ready to celebrate.

The extended period of Eid officially runs from August 21 to August 25, giving Muslims time to engage in ritual and finery.

Different from the previous Eid al Fitr, the holier Eid is a celebration is one of feasting rather than fasting.

Over the four day period of Eid Muslims will engage in a variety of activities to celebrate, but what will they be?

What do Muslims do on each day of Eid?

Like most religious holidays, Eid al Adha is a time for prayer and the period is opened with an important one.

The congregational prayer is the traditional practice reserved specifically for Eid and is performed in unison as Muslims gather in a Mosque.

Led by an Imam, the congregational prayer opens the period of celebration and is often performed in an open field.

Men, women and children are all encouraged to take part but menstruating women are not.


After hate crime conviction in mosque arson, Victoria’s Muslims balance security and openness

gallery_xlargeVICTORIA — A year and a half after the gold-domed Victoria Islamic Center was torched, Irfan Qureshi, one of the first to arrive at the scene, vividly recalled the surreal horror of that morning, and the comforting aftermath.

“I was scared to my core. We had no facts. All we knew is the mosque is going up in flames. I thought, ‘Is someone coming to kick us out?’” he said of the early morning fire Jan. 28, 2017.

Hours later, as he and others picked through the charred ruins, compassionate strangers began to approach him.

“They were saying, ‘We’re very sorry,’ and handing me cash and checks. You can’t put a price on how much that lifted us up as a community,” he recalled.

On Monday, after a federal jury here convicted Marq Vincent Perez of burning the mosque, local Muslims exchanged emotional embraces. Perez, 26, who had voiced his hatred of Muslims online, faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in October.

“It’s like a load coming off your shoulders. A big stage of this whole ordeal is finished,” said Abe Ajrami, a board member of the Victoria Islamic Center.

Despite the hoped-for legal outcome, Muslim leaders say many in their congregation of about 45 families remain traumatized.

Some members who dropped out of sight after the fire have not returned to worship. Some women have not resumed wearing the hijab, the headdress that marks them as Muslim, in public. And throughout the congregation, a sense of wary anxiety lingers.

Even as a splendid new mosque with an improved security system rises on the site of the old, talk of closure and healing is premature.

“It’s like the church shooting in Sutherland Springs. These memories can haunt us. It happened once. Who can say it won’t happen again,” said Ajrami, 50, who was born in Gaza.

“Especially on Friday when we have the congregational prayers and potluck dinner, with more of the ladies and the kids. I find myself standing with my back to the wall and watching the front door,” said Ajrami who now brings a gun to worship services.


On Richard Dawkins, church bells and the adhan

dbdea9d3b5be49baa7c385989d8561e1_18The sounds of the adhan and the church bell are both beautiful – but one drives the Islamophobes berserk.

I don’t think Richard Dawkins can help himself. He is afflicted with two incurable diseases: He is a racist Islamophobe and he is an exhibitionist. He cannot keep his racism to himself – he must exhibit, stage, and flaunt it. He probably takes some perverted pleasure out of the act. I am only guessing.

In the most recent flare up of his symptoms, Dawkins felt obligated to interrupt a lovely outing he had in a beautiful sunny day at the glorious Winchester Cathedral to tweet: “Listening to the lovely bells of Winchester, one of our great medieval cathedrals. So much nicer than the aggressive-sounding “Allahu Akhbar.” Or is that just my cultural upbringing?”

What sick person would do anything like that – and manage to misspell the thing he wants to insult? Forget about the original Arabic: at least have the decency of spelling the Latinised “Allahu Akbar” properly.

You are on an outing, it’s a beautiful day, indeed the “lovely bells” of a monument to human dignity are in your ears, and you interrupt all of that to stab Muslims on the side and insult their equally glorious acts of worship and call it violent? 

Just a while ago we also learned the equally racist Zionists (but I am being redundant) in Israel did not like the sound of the Adhan either and had ordered Muslim Palestinians to be quiet when they pray to their own God in their own country now under military occupation. Imagine that: In a land Muslims believe their prophet came to ascend to heavens to meet their creator, these barefaced European settlers have the audacity to tell Palestinians not to pray the way they think best!

But why these European racists do such things – and why do they dislike the Adhan? Is that a “European” thing or is that just a plain old racist disease?


Japan: Moving mosque welcomes Muslims

As Japan prepares for 2020 Summer Olympics, Tokyo company creates mosque on wheels to welcome Muslim visitors.

463a2a79271a402ab9305183dabe223b_18A large white-and-blue truck pulls up outside a stadium in central Japan and slowly expands into a place of worship.

Welcome to the Mobile Mosque.

As Japan prepares to host visitors from around the world for the 2020 Summer Olympics, a Tokyo sports and cultural events company has created a mosque on wheels that its head hopes will make Muslim visitors feel at home.

Yasuharu Inoue, CEO of Yasu Project, said the possibility there might not be enough mosques for Muslim visitors in 2020 was alarming for a country that considers itself part of the international community. His Mobile Mosques could travel to different Olympic venues as needed.

“As an open and hospitable country, we want to share the idea of ‘omotenashi’ [Japanese hospitality] with Muslim people,” he said in a recent interview.

The first Mobile Mosque was unveiled earlier this week outside Toyota Stadium, a J-League football venue in Toyota city, which is also the headquarters of the car company with the same name.


Texas Man Found Guilty Of Hate Crime For Burning Mosque

mosque-rebuild-aa052964077e259defdb641448063bba291890c6-s800-c85A federal jury has found Marq Vincent Perez, 26, guilty of a hate crime in the arson attack on a mosque in Victoria, Texas, in January 2017. Perez, who is set to be sentenced in October, faces up to 40 years in prison.

When fire devastated the Victoria Islamic Center last year, an outpouring of support followed, with neighboring Jewish and Christian congregations offering to host Muslim services in their buildings.

“Hate crimes are not only an attack on a specific victim, they threaten the cornerstone of diversity that America was built upon,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner said of the case, according to a Justice Department release. “Perpetrators of hate crimes, like Perez, aim to chip away at our nation’s foundations by instilling fear into entire communities with violence.”

More than $1.1 million was donated to help rebuild the mosque, with the bulk of that money coming just days after the blaze. The mosque’s congregants were also embraced by the small Texas city, as the community held rallies and prayer vigils to reject hate.

According to recent postings on its Facebook page, the mosque has been nearly rebuilt and the new facade around the main entrance includes granite display blocks from the original building.

“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received,” wrote Omar Rachid, who attends the mosque, on the fundraising campaign’s webpage. “The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American Spirit and Humanity at its best with donations coming in from all over the world.”