Author of THEIR JIHAD…NOT MY JIHAD, Raheel Raza is an Inter-Cultural & Inter-faith Diversity Consultant, Author, Public Speaker, Film Maker and Journalist. Growing up in a culture where women were supposed to “be seen and not heard”, Ms. Raza turned to writing at a young age, addressing issues of race, culture and gender. A fervent advocate for human rights, Ms. Raza believes ignorance is the biggest enemy and has taken on the challenge of helping to create an ongoing dialogue between communities in the interest of world peace. Ms. Raza bridges the gap between East and West, promoting cultural and religious diversity through a variety of mediums. Being an International traveler, she brings a fresh global perspective to her mandate “there is unity in diversity”. Her specific strength lies in the combined talent of being an award-winning writer plus an acclaimed and well respected public speaker. Ms. Raza has appeared in print, on television and radio throughout Canada, to discuss diversity, harmony and interfaith. For her untiring commitment towards building bridges of understanding, she has received many awards. She is a recipient of the City of Toronto’s Constance Hamilton award and is the first South Asian woman to narrate a CBC documentary on “Passionate Eye”. In a presentation at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ms. Raza received a standing ovation for her speech called “Celebrating our Differences” … (full text).
Raheel Raza – Pakistan and Canada
… Some Canadian Muslims believe that the community’s homogeneity is polarizing. “Diversity is the backbone of Canada and the value of living here is that you get to mix and mingle,” said Raheel Raza (left), an author who has lectured at York University about the portrayal of Muslims in the media. “Especially after 9/11 when we see more polarization of Muslims, it’s important to be seen as part of the community” … (full text).
… Raza is an immigrant from Pakistan, settled in Canada since 1989. Married with two grown up sons, she is a polyglot, an award winning writer, public speaker, media consultant and interfaith advocate. In her book, entitled “Their Jihad… Not My Jihad”, she has put together a collection of her newspaper columns in the Toronto Star over the past five years arranged in themes. The first theme is “Political Jihad – A Struggle for the soul of Islam”. The second theme is “Gender Jihad – A Struggle for Women’s Rights”, while the last one is “Spiritual Jihad – A Struggle to Know Each Other” … (full text).
She says: … “It had been happening here in Canada to the extent that hate was being spouted through places of worship and by people who make it their day job to incite young people in this hatred. Towards what they perceive to be the imperial powers, the western occupation of parts of the world”. Raza says parents are the first line of defence when it comes to making sure their children aren’t susceptible to an imported hatred of Canadian values … (full text).
She writes: This year marks the 20th anniversary of my arrival in Canada. People who have been here for less time are busy trying to change the face of this wonderful country I call home. Not to be left behind, I take this opportunity to look ahead another 20 years: There will be a separate school at every corner. Each religious and ethnic community will have their own school so there will be Sikh, Jewish, Hindu, Christian and its denominations plus Muslims and their 72 sects, to name a few. Since it’s unhealthy for boys and girls to study together, there will be separate schools for those who support gender segregation. Schools will further be divided along the lines of race and colour. White, black and brown schools will take the lead, other colours can follow … (full text).
… Raza told the town hall that the habit of hyphenating nationalities could be divisive. “At what point do we stop being hyphenated Canadians… I don’t want to be a Pakistani-Canadian. I am a Canadian. We’ve got to get rid of the hyphen. It’s only then that I’ll feel a sense of belonging, and perhaps Canada will [feel] that I belong as well” … (full text).
She says also: … “”God does not reside only in the four walls of a mosque,” … “Initially it was shock and awe, especially from the males,” said Raheel Raza, a Pakistan-born freelance journalist in Toronto who has since led congregations of men and women. “Sometimes a person has to do something that is considered radical to get the whole process moving.” After being invited by two Toronto Muslim organizations, Raza became the first woman in Canada to lead mixed-gender Friday prayers in April 2005. Raza had led many interfaith prayer services in churches, temples and synagogues, but never among a Muslim-only congregation. “My idea of doing this was only to set a precedent,” Raza said. “To say that men and women are spiritually equal in the eyes of God. That’s what I got from the Quran.” People who support women leading prayers note that the Quran, the sacred text of Islam, does not forbid female spiritual leadership. Khaled Abou El Fadl, a leading scholar of Islamic law at UCLA, issued a fatwa in favor of women-led prayer … (full text).
She writes also: … Of the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world spread over the globe from Malaysia to Mozambique, approximately half are women who are extremely diverse in their mode of dress. A very small percentage chooses to cover their face. In parts of the Middle East and the subcontinent, a face covering or niqab, is prevalent as a cultural or tribal norm. Some women have exported this practice to the Western world. If this is cultural, then there is dire need for discussion about adapting to new cultures. Cultures evolve and change with time and place. When non Muslims travel to Saudi Arabia for example, they’re not allowed to expose skin by wearing shorts or skirts. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) will arrest them. Many Westerners work and reside in Saudi, so they adapt to the new culture to make life easier for themselves. Similarly when we come to West by choice, we adapt to many changing factors without compromising our religious beliefs. In Canada the Charter gives us religious freedom to practice our faith in any way we choose. However, we need to let go of excess cultural baggage … (full text).
And she says: ”
She writes also: … The situation in Pakistan is more complex than I’ve ever seen. The economy is in crisis with basic food costs so high that one wonders how the ordinary person feeds a family. The elite don’t care because most of them have taken dual nationality and siphoned their money out of Pakistan. The poor keep getting poorer and complain that no one in power has ever cared about them, so why should they care this time? What bothered me most of all was the attitude of educated middle-class Pakistanis. In the past few years I had noticed the rise of religious fervor among previously moderate Pakistanis. This time I was engulfed and bombarded by conspiracy theories everywhere I turned. At times I felt I was an alien in my own land. From media to mullahs, everyone seems to thrive on their version of who the enemy is. A friend (who by the way is a Canadian citizen and extremely well educated) proceeded to inform me “this is the sixth part of the Zionist conspiracy to wipe out Pakistan.” She was keen to educate me on the “other five,” but I excused myself and left — only to find myself at dinner with a group who were convinced that it’s all an Indian plot. The third visit was just as trying because these were my cousins who told me that Pakistan is victim of a triad — the U.S., India and Israel — that was conniving to wipe Pakistan off the map. Everyone is to blame except themselves. By this time I stopped going out and decided to stay home and see what’s happening on TV. Well, that was a wrong move … (full text).
books about ‘The Islamic State vs. the State of Islam‘, on amazon, different authors;
the video: John Tory’s Plan to Fund Faith-based Schools: Threat to Ontario, 78 min, oct. 11, 2007;
WAFA SULTAN – on Al-Jazeera, March 6th, 2006: excerpts from a debate between Wafa Sultan, a psychologist from Los Angeles and Dr. Ahmad Bin Muhammad, an Algerian professor of religious politics. Al-Jazeera TV aired this debate on July 26, 2005;
Barbara Kay, The Islamist elephant in the room no politicians will acknowledge;
Report from the Northern Front: Montreal Redux.