Time to convene Canadian Muslims

By Muneeb Nasir

(July 10, 2009) – The Canadian Muslim community needs to develop an independent identity from the American Muslim community.

Canadian Muslim history is different as are our issues and challenges.

One way of nurturing identity is to convene the diverse communities of Muslims in the Canada on an annual basis.

This realization became quite evident after the recent Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention in Washington DC.

One of achievements of the ISNA (US) convention over the years is that it brings together American Muslims who are actively engaged in their communities, and as such, there is a vibrant feel to the gathering.

The 46th Annual ISNA convention was recently held in Washington DC and thousands of Muslims from across the United States attended.

In contrast, Canadian Muslims have no such gathering as that there has been no sustained effort to gather leaders and activists from across the various provinces and to develop a Canadian Muslim profile that is independent of the US.

All the current Muslim conventions in Canada have been far too reliant on external speakers, bypassing Canadian activists, speakers and leaders and they are primarily talk-fests and revival meetings with no serious discussion about vision, strategy and challenges faced by the Canadian Muslim community.

ISNA has essentially become a US based national organization, although it nominally states that it is a continental organization, and this was quite clear at its recent convention in Washington DC where Canada was not even mentioned. (The Canadian based ISNA Canada has regressed to be a local suburban mosque just outside of Toronto).

It is time for a regular national gathering of Muslims to discuss issues related to Canadians, network leaders and activists, and get down to task of documenting our histories and narratives.