Parliament of World Religions held in Toronto: the world class Interfaith city

Parliament of World Religions held in Toronto: the world class Interfaith city

By Habeeb Alli – Founder of  One Love Media

Parliament of Religious Leaders

I had the honor of presenting for the second time at the Parliament- a 100 year old Interfaith Institution- on my work as a Chaplain as well as my community engagement work with Toronto’s interfaith bodies. It was indeed a satisfying experience given that Toronto was host to such a global family of some 80 countries from 220 spiritual paths.     

One of the many intriguing wisdom shared by my fellow panelists was the strong sense of peace each faith provides to its followers- the Swami from Hollywood has impacted upon thousands of lives and so has the Buddhist Monk from Toronto and the Satya Sai spiritualist from India. Islam itself means peace and from that derives salam, which means peace. Not always is this the story. Our deliberate efforts over the past decades to share the beauty of our faith in Toronto’s 190 ethnicities makes this world class city unique.

It so happened that the 7500 attendees at the conference weren’t only treated to the wisdom and music of the many spiritual and religious persuasions but concrete ways communities have engaged in peace building. That weekend Nov 1st to 7th thousands joined hands in creating Rings of Peace around synagogues after the Pittsburgh terror attack by a white supremacist. The Ring of Protection was actually started by a group of us- Imams, Rabbis and Pastors when the same brutal fate was meted out to six worshippers at the Quebec Mosque last year.

Among the dynamic speakers that represented Toronto are Dr. Hamid Slimi for his ongoing work with Rabbis and Pastors in seeing to the creation of a better world, Dr. Abulaish Ezzeldin for winning the peace prize after he forgave the killer of his two daughters in Palestine, Dr. Shabbir Ally for his work with the city synagogues and churches in Interfaith dialogue and Margaret Atwood for her unapologetic attitude towards the deniers of social justice and climate change.

When we look at how Toronto sits on the lands of the First Nations and we inherit a land of treaty and occupiers we cannot help admire how much  a strong and respectful presence the elders and youths of the Indigenous people  were afforded at the Parliament- including keynotes and smudge ceremonies and accountability of the Truths and Reconciliation commission. I was touched that the stories shared by young change makers on their journey from trauma to making a better world reminds me as a new immigrant to Canada that I must not sit idle in ignorance whilst enjoying the fruits of our ancestors and not contributing positively towards the alleviation of the First Peoples’ suffering. I was had actually invited Elders to do the smudging ceremony in our One Love Galas more than once and invited  the leader of the Missing Aboriginal Women of Manitoba to address our Ramadan dinner last year because building bridges between Muslims and First Nations is crucial.

Back to where we started- the seven day convention at Metro Convention Centre ended with plenaries and the beautiful dance of one of the many persons I met during the blessed Langar- the Sikhs provided daily free lunches.  The Parliament was the meeting of many faces, many hugs, many traditions, and many more Holi colors but like a dance executed with refinement- we are all just one family living together on mother Earth and Peace is our only glue or we will perish!

As Rumi said: Leave the Circle of Time and Enter the Circle of Love!

Habeeb Alli 

Founder of  One Love Media
Chaplain with BOC
Fundraiser and Author
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Comments

  • Trevor  On November 12, 2018 at 12:32 am

    https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/11/11/ottawa-to-encourage-more-countries-to-offer-contraception-abortion.html
    Bibeau said reproductive and sexual education and access to contraception, and eventually abortion, are important steps in eliminating poverty, especially among women.

    https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/11/11/indigenous-women-coerced-into-sterilizations-across-canada-senator.html
    OTTAWA—When she was 17 years old, Liz was coerced by a Children’s Aid worker into having an abortion and being sterilized at a northwestern Ontario hospital, she says — an experience she’s carried for 40 years.

    “It was a matter of me almost (being) cornered, if you will, by my worker at the time saying, ‘You better have an abortion because if you don’t, either way, we are going to take that child from you,’” Liz says.

  • Trevor  On November 12, 2018 at 12:32 am

    OTTAWA—When she was 17 years old, Liz was coerced by a Children’s Aid worker into having an abortion and being sterilized at a northwestern Ontario hospital, she says — an experience she’s carried for 40 years.

    “It was a matter of me almost (being) cornered, if you will, by my worker at the time saying, ‘You better have an abortion because if you don’t, either way, we are going to take that child from you,’” Liz says.

  • Trevor  On November 14, 2018 at 7:27 am

    The point I’m trying to make is that countries with feminist governments are encouraging activities which are contrary to the religious teachings, and have a subtle racist connection, such as the forced sterilisation of Canadian-Amerindian women.

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