Two Muslim-Canadian entrepreneurs announce their new effort to support Canada’s veterans and military families
Last month’s attacks in Ottawa and Saint-Jeansur-Richelieu, Que., which each saw a Canadian soldier lose his life, were committed by individual extremists bent on creating divisions between the communities of the world. As we processed the implications of these attacks, and the fact that, yet again, extremists were obscuring the true nature of the Islamic religion, we discovered we shared a common desire: We wished to provide greater exposure to Muslim peoples’ true character of giving and generous support for this wonderful country.
Together, we approached the True Patriot Love Foundation (TPL), which works to support Canada’s military and veterans. We are proud that TPL has partnered with us to create a new fundraising vehicle specifically aimed at Muslim business leaders — the $1-million Salaam-TPL Fund to support veterans and military families. We’ve donated $100,000 to begin the funding drive. Now, we’re challenging our fellow Muslim business leaders to direct some of their charitable giving to support broader causes that affect our fellow Canadians.
Muslims in many countries across the world engage in the practice of zakat, which entails donating 2.5% of one’s wealth to a charitable cause. Discussions with leading Canadian imams, and our review of the fund-raising activities conducted in mosques across Canada, reveal that most of the money that Canadian Muslims donate to charity stays within our own community. The donations address poverty and related issues in many Muslim countries, whether that’s Bangladesh or Pakistan, Lebanon or Iran.
Once upon a time, that was as it should be, or was at least to be expected. Until recently, most Muslim-Canadian families were first-generation immigrants. They did not have the resources to send money elsewhere when it was enough of a struggle to support our own community, whether in our home country or within our new communities in Canada.
Thanks to a lot of hard work and the opportunities provided by life in Canada, many of us have done well in our new home country. Take Mohamad’s story. He arrived in Canada in 2001 from Lebanon to find a better life for his family. His first job here was at a Tim Hortons. Then he bought a Middle Eastern restaurant that was on the verge of bankruptcy, and soon turned it into a thriving business. Paramount Fine Foods now has eleven locations, 800 employees and $32-million in annual sales.
Other Muslim-Canadians are more like Kashif. Born in Canada, Kashif watched his immigrant parents work hard to create a life for their family in their chosen country. His parents’ labours instilled in Kash a strong work ethic — and an entrepreneurial spirit that today allows him to successfully operate Ritchies Auctioneers, as well as several other businesses.
Many first- and secondgeneration Muslim immigrants have shared our success. They’re lawyers and doctors, entrepreneurs and business executives. But a gap has existed between the causes supported by Muslim-Canadian immigrants and those supported by the broader Canadian public. Now, we’re challenging our fellow Muslim business leaders and professionals to widen the scope of the charities our community supports and help narrow that gap.
This is why we’ve partnered with TPL. In its six years of existence, TPL has been an enormous source of support for Canadian soldiers, veterans and their families. Specifically, the Salaam-TPL fund will support the needs of military children, including children with special needs, tutoring for military children struggling at school, and such community programs as youth drop-in centres and camps.
Since we launched our fundraising drive, we’ ve heard from many successful members of the Muslim community — and they share our sentiments. The Salaam-TPL fund is acting as a catalyst to encourage our fellow Muslims to support broader Canadian causes.
The fund also provides the Muslim community with the opportunity to demonstrate their pride of, and support for, Canada’s military families and veterans. Such donations, from successful Muslim-Canadian business leaders to Canadian charities like this, signal to our fellow citizens that we are enthusiastic and vociferous supporters of the democratic and diverse ideals that Canada represents, and those who defend them at home and abroad. Fellow Muslims, please hear our challenge and give what you can.
Source: National Post (25 nov. 2014)