This week’s service was a little different. Instead of our usual sermon the congregation invited the Karim family of West Vancouver to come and share their gift of music and to tell us a little of how they live their faith as Ismaili Muslims.
First, nine-year-old Jamil gave a talk describing some of the misperceptions of Islam in the West (see the text of this talk below). Then parents Amin and Nermin, along with Jamil and his older brother Zia and sister Safiya, gave a moving rendition of their song “Generosity” from their CD “and the Light goes on”. They also sang “Raise the Flag” to close the service.
The readings included excerpts from the Muslim Quran as well as from the Hebrew scriptures. Today’s podcast includes an introduction by Cynthia Sedun, the scripture readings, and the Karim’s songs:
For the main part of the service the Karim family joined Dan in a conversation about how they embody their faith, including their main projects: a maternity care and orphanage facility and a school in Chitral in Northern Pakistan. To learn more and to support these worthy causes, please visit the Karim’s website at www.shahada.ca.
There are many misperceptions of Islam, just like there used to be with the aboriginals. The West thought the aboriginals were bad guys. In the movies, long time ago, there were stories about cowboys and Indians. They made the Indians look like bad guys. Now we are respecting First Nations and learning about them. We even celebrated their culture in the 2010 Olympics.
Today we have the same thing with Islam. There are many misperceptions that sometimes come from media reports. Often, people are ignorant about the faith of Islam.
The Quran tells us that mankind was created by a single Creator “from a single soul.” That means we were once all together. It would be nice to go back in time and restructure the harmony. But now all we can do is learn about each other’s common humanity.
Today, people often get carried away with stereotypes that are not always true. For example, some people think that Islam oppresses women. You should talk to my mum and see who is doing the oppressing!
Islam is a faith just like Christianity is a faith. Many people don’t even know that Islam has different cultures in its faith. Everyone knows that Christianity has Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, the United Church and so on. But, who knows that Islam has Ismailis, Ishnashris, Bohras, Sufis, Wahabis and so on?
You know many people in the West didn’t even know about Shia Islam until Iran had a revolution. One quarter of the people of the world are Muslims. And even though so much of human history is involved with Muslims, so many people don’t even know about it.
I read an article that CNN produced that gave some interesting facts. There are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world and 2.25 billion Christians in the world. Did you know China has more Muslims than Syria? And, Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon? Russia has more Muslims than Jordan and Lybia put together. People don’t know that Islam has many cultures and that is a sign of ignorance.
Just like in school we are learning about aboriginals so that we know so many interesting and good things about First Nations, maybe one day we will also learn about great muslim philosophers, muslim history and so on. His Highness the Aga Khan says – and I quote – “ We could also serve the cause of pluralism simply through tolerance, openness and understanding towards other people’s cultures, social structure, values and faiths, thereby setting an effective example in our own society.”