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Women's Interfaith Forum Discusses Citizenship


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
A symposium organized by a Muslim women's group brought women from a variety of faith traditions together last week to share views on the topic, "How does my faith guide me to contribute to Canadian society?"

The panel of speakers was composed of four University of Alberta students representing Sikh, Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths. Each woman spoke to an audience of about 140 women about how she blends the teachings of her faith with participation in and contribution to Canadian society.

The interfaith symposium is an annual, women-only event held at the Bait-ul-Hadi Mosque, 7005 98th Ave. Organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association, this event aims to connect women under the banner of faith, understanding and respect.

This was the first year that the panel was composed of students, not theologians or scholars, moderator Denise Davis Taylor pointed out. The audience appeared receptive to the student perspective, welcoming a fresh approach to faith and community.

"Listening to such articulate, thoughtful young women has increased my optimism about the future of our society," one guest commented.

Speaking for the Jewish faith, Alison Mazoff described how God created the world to fill with light or goodness, and that is what we, as Canadians, should aspire to do.

Sikh speaker Simran Jassar told how her family upbringing enabled her to find her own balance between the teachings of her faith and her responsibilities toward her community. Kelsey Earle, outlining the Christian perspective, shared how her understanding of her faith guided her to be welcoming of diversity and contribute positively to her community.

Ayesha Mian, sharing the Islamic perspective, talked about how prevalent misconceptions about Muslims and Islam have led to a distorted perception of Canadian Muslims.

Mian emphasized how Islam teaches a peaceful way of life and guides Muslims to be actively involved not only in their own communities, but also the nation in which they reside. She encouraged Canadian Muslims to stand up and spread the true teachings of Islam to dispel negative stereotypes of Muslims.

The organizers of the symposium are committed to developing understanding and establishing a sense of community among women of all faiths.

On her feedback form, one guest wrote, "This is a fantastic initiative on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association and it is so good to see this kind of communication between faiths, and I'm speaking as an atheist!" Another guest commented: "If there were more events of this sort we might finally have peace."

The Ahmadiyya sect of Islam is one of 73 denominations. With branches in more than 190 countries, Ahmadi Muslims are strong in their rejection of terrorism and commitment to education, charity and humanitarian efforts.

For more information, please visit ahmadiyya.ca and alislam.org. For information on local events and to be notified about next year's symposium, contact Samina Mian at amian@ualberta.ca