Taha Ghayyur, the new Executive Director of the Islamic Society of North America – Canada (ISNA Canada) believes that the Islamic Law can be gradually implemented in North America.
Assumed office on December 1, 2017, Ghayyur is long time grassroots activist who worked for spreading the word of Islam in both US and Canada.
He introduced himself as follows: “I am a writer, public speaker, community organizer, and marketing consultant. I work as Development Manager with Sound Vision and volunteer my time with DawaNet projects in various capacities. I got involved with MuslimFest in its early years.”
Dawanet is a grassroots organization striving among other things:
- “to create effective networks of communication and media to keep the Muslim community informed and connected”
- “to share and relate the message of Islam with beauty, wisdom, and respect using both traditional and modern means of communication”
- “to offer courses, workshops, and study circles on Islamic sciences and disciplines in the light of Islamic sources (text) and our environment (context), to develop a healthy Muslim identity and citizenship
- “to influence public opinion about social justice issues through artistic expression and media participation”
DawaNet has applied for registered charity status and our application is still being processed. Some of DawaNet’s other community projects include:
- com: A web portal for the GTA’s Muslims.
- Sharing Islam: Regular booths at major malls across GTA, such as SquareOne.
- Understanding Islam Academy: Originating in 2012, Understanding Islam Academy (UIA), a flagship project of DawaNet, is dedicated to making Islamic education accessible, affordable and relevant.
- Canada Zakat – The welfare arm of DawaNet
- MYSpirit – Muslim Youth (MY) Spirit is a movement to engage, educate, and empower young Muslims of Canada through education, art, media, recreation, and civic engagement.
- MuslimFest – Launched in 2004, MuslimFest is a joint initiative of DawaNet, Young Muslims Canada, and Sound Vision, which organizes in Mississauga, Ont. an annual festival to celebrates Muslim arts, education, entrepreneurship, and entertainment.
Based in Chicago, Illinois Sound Vision Canada presents itself as “a pioneer in quality Islamic education and entertainment products and programs for North American Muslims.”
Young Muslims (YM) presents itself as “an organization dedicated to addressing the vital roles the Muslim youth should play in North America” in countering the modern “temptations” by “challenging the youth to take the best of all paths in both this world and in the Hereafter” and encouraging Muslim youths to feel “comfortable with their Islamic identity, spirituality, and heritage.”
In its “Islamic Resource Guidebook for Educators 2017”, the Toronto District School Board provides a list of over 40 local speakers that “are willing to come to schools” to “create a healthy dialogue in order to build bridges between communities.” One of the recommended speakers is Taha Ghayyur.
In an article originally published by Young Muslims website and entitled “Understanding Punishment in Shariah [Islamic Law], Taha Ghayyur explained the rationale behind the harsh punishments in Islam (execution, stoning, cutting off thieves’ hands etc.) and argued that the Islamic Law (Shariah) can be implemented in North America.
The following are excerpts from Ghayyur’s article:
“Abdur-Rahman Doi, in his encyclopedic work Shari’ah: The Islamic Law, suggests that only a total of seven scenarios exist in which Hud [fixed] penalties are awarded in the Islamic law; among the Hud crimes are intentional murder, theft, adultery, and highway robbery.
“Not surprisingly, it is this portion of the Islamic law that often makes headlines in the media.
“According to the Muslim jurists, the purpose of Hud [fixed] punishments is educative, preventive, and, mainly deterrent.
“Punishments are thus designed to keep the sense of justice alive in the community by a public repudiation of the acts violating the limits set by God.
“They are expected to build up in the society a deep feeling of abhorrence for transgression against fellow human beings, and therefore against God – a transgression which, according to the Quran, is the root cause of all disorders and corruption in human life…
“The Hud [fixed] punishment prescribed by the Quran for a theft is to cut off the thief’s hand [under certain and strict conditions]…
“Moreover, one wonders if Shariah can be practically implemented in our contemporary North American context…
“The principles of Shariah are universal and are not bound by the limitations of time and culture.
“It is certainly possible to apply Shariah in the North American society only if three conditions are fulfilled:
- One, when an environment is developed, provisioned with preventative measures, that is conducive to a just and productive lifestyle, which is often not compatible with a consumer lifestyle.
- Two, if the Shariah laws are implemented gradually, accompanied by continuous public education and training on the importance of justice, freedom, and one’s purpose on this earth, the way it was revealed and practiced, as a strategy of pre-crime social reform, over a period of twenty-three years at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the first generation of Muslims.
- Three, if the punishments in the Shariah are given their due place, only to be used as a last resort, and not to be practiced in isolation from the other major objectives of the Shariah.
“If a comprehensive approach to Shariah is not adopted then one may expect to witness horrific images of extremist, selective, and literal application of the Islamic text, the likes of which we have witnessed in recent times.”
In another article entitled “The Sharia I Live”, Ghayyur defended his way of life which is entirely based on the Islamic Law (Sharia):
“The Sharia I live is much bigger than a code of laws, as is usually defined by academia and scholars of Islamic law and jurisprudence… I wish rather than demonizing Sharia as a bunch of barbaric laws through a black and white lens of those who harbor hate for anyone who practices a “different” faith or looks “foreign”, people saw it as a source of inspiration and culture for millions of fellow Muslim citizens.”
Dr. Katherine Bullock, a board member of ISNA Canada and lecturer in the Department of Political Science, the University of Toronto at Mississauga, echoed a similar position on the necessity of re-establishment of the Islamic State (Caliphate) and the implementation of the Islamic Law (Sharia).
According to Bullock’s official bio, her teaching focus is political Islam from a global perspective, and her research focuses on Muslims in Canada, their history, contemporary lived experiences, political and civic engagement, debates on the veil, and media representations of Islam and Muslims. Originally from Australia, she embraced Islam in 1994.
On November 27, 2014, Bullock participated in a panel discussion on counter-radicalization in Canada that was organized by the Muslim Law Students Association of Osgoode, and took place at York University.
In her presentation, Katherine Bullock said among other things that supporting the establishment of The Islamic State, or Caliphate, and the implementation of the Islamic Law (Sharia), is not an expression of “radical” views, but a “normal” Islamic perspective. The following is an excerpt from her speech (24:13-25:28):
“So let’s turn to Canada. I think the domestic policy is slightly different from the foreign policy, but again there’s this cultural and this approach, and it begins with the whole, even the word radicalization is wrong. It’s a problem. Because radicalization is being defined through this culturalist approach. In the United Kingdom, anyone who supports the Sharia is considered to be an extremist. There was a U.K. think tank that with the help of Public Safety Canada did a series of interviews in Canada with Muslim youths about radicalization. They defined a radical as this: 1. someone who desires to install a Caliphate. 2. Someone who wants to impose for an Orthodox Sharia; and 3. the use of force, for example, resisting coalition forces in Iraq. So if you’re an Iraqi nationalist who doesn’t believe that the United States should be occupying your country and you fight against them, and you believe in the Caliphate, and you believe in Sharia, you are a radical you’ve been radicalized. But from an Islamic point of view this absolutely nothing radical about wanting Caliphate or wanting Sharia. These are completely normal traditional points of view.”
The affiliation of ISNA with the global movement of the Muslim Brotherhood was well established by The Department of Justice during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) prosecutions, the largest terrorism financing trial in United States history. HLF officials charged in the case were found guilty on all counts in November 2008, primarily related to millions of dollars that had been transferred to Hamas.
Federal prosecutors implicated a number of prominent United States-Islamic organizations in this conspiracy, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In a July 2008 court filing, the Department of Justice told the court the following:
“ISNA and NAIT, in fact, shared more with HLF than just a parent organization. They were intimately connected with the Holy Land Foundation and its assigned task of providing financial support to HAMAS. Shortly after HAMAS was founded in 1987, as an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, the International Muslim Brotherhood ordered the Muslim Brotherhood chapters throughout the world to create Palestine Committees, who supported HAMAS with ‘media, money and men’. The U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood created the United States Palestine Committee, which documents reflect was initially comprised of 3 organizations: the Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and the United Association for Studies and Research. CAIR was later added to these organizations. The mandate of these organizations, per the International Muslim Brotherhood, was to support HAMAS, and the HLF’s particular role was to raise money to support HAMAS’ organizations inside the Palestinian territories.”.
In recent years three former affiliates of ISNA Canada were stripped of their status as charities by the government of Canada after an investigation revealed links to foreign terrorist organizations and/ or violated the law:
ISNA Development Foundation – According to a press release issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on September 20, 2013, “ISNA Development Foundation had entered into a funding arrangement with the Kashmiri Canadian Council/Kashmiri Relief Fund of Canada (KCC/KRFC)”. CRA’s report noted that “ROKM is the charitable arm of Jamaat-e-Islami, a political organization that actively contests the legitimacy of India’s governance over the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including reportedly through the activities of its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen. Hizbul Mujahideen is listed as a terrorist entity by the Council of the European Union and is declared a banned terrorist organization by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967. Our research indicates that Given the commonalities in directorship between ROKM and Jamaat-e-Islami, concerns exist that the Organization’s resources may have been used to support the political efforts of Jamaat-e-Islami and/or its armed wing, Hizbul Mujahideen.”
ISNA Islamic Services of Canada – The charitable status of ISNA Islamic Services of Canada was revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on May 13, 2017. The following is the summary of reasons for revocation: “The audit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has revealed that the Organization is not complying with the requirements set out in the Act. In particular, it was found that the Organization had failed to demonstrate that it was constituted for charitable purposes, failed to demonstrate that it devoted its resources to charitable activities carried on by itself, failed to maintain adequate books and records, failed to comply with Regulation 3501 regarding the contents of its official donation receipts, and issued a receipt for a gift or donation on behalf of a non-qualified donee. For all of these reasons, and for each reason alone, it is the position of the CRA that the Organization no longer meets the requirements necessary for charitable registration and should be revoked in the manner described in subsection 168(1) of the Act.” According to Global News, “ISNA Islamic Services tax receipts had been issued for collections by a Toronto mosque for the “charitable arm” of a Pakistani group whose armed wing was fighting Indian forces.”
Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation – The charitable status of ISNA Islamic Services of Canada was revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on May 13, 2017, following an audit. Global News reported that CRA records said the organization had “allowed itself to be governed” in the interests of several for-profit Islamic housing co-operatives, including the former ISNA Housing Co-operative. The Islamic Trust was also found to have given $20,515 to three unqualified donees: the ISNA Human Development Institute (a federally incorporated entity that was dissolved in July 2016) and Islamic centers in Brandon and Yellowknife.