In early March, the Director of the Islamic Centre, Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali, travelled to Canada to attend a number of programmes in different cities over a period of 12 days. The first was held at the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary on March 2nd. This was a follow-up of a meeting held a year earlier. The topic of the discussion was: ‘Muslim Shi‘a position on Ahl ul Kitab‘ (The People of the Book).
Dr Shomali explained the etymology of the term Ahl ul Kitab (The People of the Book), underlining how according to the Holy Qur’an, the People of the Book also includes Muslims and that in reality there is only one Book sent by God in ‘different editions’, essentially containing the same message. He stressed the point that there is One God, One Religion, One Book and One Humanity. The presentation was very well received by an engaging audience. Before the event, Dr Shomali had a meeting with some of the university’s professors and the principal. The staff of the university and members of the Muslim Shi‘a community shared lunch together. During the Q&A, there was a request to plan for a third event to be held in the future.
The next stop on Dr Shomali’s visit to Canada was the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His last visit to this university was in March last year (See islam today issue 35 p. 4). The topic of this public lecture was advertised by the organisers as an opportunity to converse with an Iranian Shi‘a Muslim cleric, therefore questions were broad, ranging from the Shi‘a theological position to Iranian politics all the way through to interfaith dialogue. In a separate session, Dr Shomali was also invited to participate in classroom discussion on interfaith dialogue.
On Friday 3rd March, Dr Shomali was asked to give a speech in the chapel for staff and students of the university as part of their religious mass. Dr Shomali had the opportunity to expand on the meaning and concept of ‘light’ in the Qur’an.
On Sunday 5th, Dr Shomali was invited to address worshippers during the education hour at the Mennonite church attended by Professor Harry Huebner where he introduced a few concepts on Christian – Muslim Unity. Dr Shomali took the opportunity to present his understanding of ‘God’s Plan’ for the future. This was a very engaging and interesting session. Dr Shomali also held a meeting with the heads of CMU summer school, where he has been invited to teach a module on Peace resources in Christianity and Islam at the Canadian School of Peace (CSOP). Another objective of Dr Shomali’s visit to the CMU was to discuss plans for the forthcoming 7th round of Muslim Shi‘a and Christian Mennonite dialogue which will involve a delegation of Shi‘a scholars from the Seminary of Qum – Iran.
During his trip to Canada Dr Shomali also visited the local Shi‘a community in Winnipeg, Toronto, London and Montreal. In Toronto, he delivered a lecture for the community at the Masumeen Islamic Centre of Brampton on the 7th March. The theme of the talk was on community building and practices, delving further into the concept of a Social Wilaya in practical ways. This topic shall be addressed in more detail in future issues of islam today. Dr Shomali also had a meeting with the KLC students where he discussed the first part of Dua of Makarim al-Akhlaq (Noble Traits of Character).
Dr Shomali also visited a Mormon Church in Hamilton. This was followed by a further visit to London, Ontario, where Dr Shomali was invited by the Western University Thaqalayn Muslim Association to give a talk on current issues faced by Muslims. Later he spoke at the local Al-Mahdi Islamic Center on ‘The Waiting for al-Mahdi (atf)’.
His final engagement was in Montreal for another interfaith meeting with members of the Christian Mormon Church in which a number of topics where discussed and presented by both sides.
On Saturday 11th, Dr Shomali met members of the Shi‘a community in Montreal where he delivered lectures centered around a commentary of the well-known supplication Makarimul Akhlaq (The Honourable Morals). On Sunday 12th, Dr Shomali met KLC students from Montreal and Ottawa and continued the discussion on Dua of Makarim al-Akhlaq.