(March 14, 2011) – North American Muslims have fallen short in addressing disability issues in their communities according to Imam Zaid Shakir.
Imam Shakir made the remarks during his keynote address at the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities (CAM-D) ‘Building Opportunities for People with Disabilities 2011 Gala Dinner’ that took place on Sunday, March 13.
He called on the audience to be actively engaged in helping those members who are on the margins of the community.
“If we are not assisting them, can we expect Allah to assist us?” Imam Shakir said. “Religion is not talk.”
Imam Zaid Shakir is a prominent American Islamic Scholar, writer and co-founder and faculty member of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California.
“We sometimes look for the causes of our problems outside of ourselves,” he added. “But the first place to look is in the mirror, at ourselves.”
The dinner event, which drew 400 people, took place at the Candles Banquet Center in Mississauga and was chaired by Rabi Khedr, the Executive Director of CAM-D and the visionary behind the organization.
CAM-D is a non-profit association of Muslims with disabilities whose vision is to create a global village that includes full access for persons with disabilities.
The organization also distributed its first annual CAM-D awards during the program in recognition of individuals and organizations that are at the forefront of raising the quality of life for people with disabilities in the Canadian Muslim community.
The Olive Tree Foundation was recognized for its ongoing commitment to advancing disability rights and awarded the CAM-D Toward An Inclusive Society Award 2011.
The Islamic Foundation of Toronto was given the CAM-D Accessible Facility Award 2011 for its mosque design which makes it easily accessible for people with disabilities.
MAC – Masjid Toronto was recognized with the CAM-D Accessible Service Award 2011 for hosting classes for deaf Muslims.
Shaikh Abdool Hamid, an Imam and lecturer at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, was given the CAM-D Accessible Champion Award 2011 in recognition of his exemplary work teaching Muslims with Disabilities.
“CAM-D must be commended for its excellent work in raising the awareness of disability issues in the Muslim community,” Muneeb Nasir, President of the Olive Tree Foundation commented. “We are indebted to them and, most especially, to Rabia Khedr for the leadership she has provided in this area.”
The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David C. Onley, sent greetings to everyone attending the Gala.
“As the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and the first with a physical disability, I have taken on “Accessibility” as the over-arching theme of my mandate,” David Onley wrote. “Accessibility to me means that which allows people to achieve their full potential – those with not only physical disabilities, but also non-visible ones.”
The Lieutenant Governor also sent his congratulations to the award recipients of the CAM-D awards.
“As The Queen’s representative in Ontario, I congratulate this evening’s honourees: the Olive Tree Foundation; the Islamic Foundation of Toronto; the Muslim Association of Canada – Masjid Toronto; and Shaikh Abdool Hamid,” he wrote.
The evening’s program concluded with a fundraising appeal by Shaikh Abdalla Idris and an auction of art items. Many organizations, businesses and professionals supported the event through sponsorships and donations.
CAM-D offers a number of programs including special projects with mosques such as Access Islam 101 in ASL (American Sign Language), residential planning for individuals with severe disabilities when caregivers pass away, activity nights for youth and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, as well as, ongoing public education.
(Photo credits: Umar Nasir)
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