Archive | Holidays & Occurrences

A Jolly Time to Make a Change

Posted on 30 December 2011 by admin

“Why do people need an occasion to set goals for themselves? Shouldn’t the fact that they have something they want to change be motivation enough?”



It has come that time of year again, that festive time when everybody starts stuffing their stockings and decorating their trees. Kids have time off school, and adults from work. Along with the gift giving and holiday cheer also comes time for serious thought. Once again, it is the time for New Year’s resolutions. People must think of the one thing they are going to do differently in the new year. Whether it is losing weight or finding a job, there is a change that people desire to make in their lives.

After speaking with thirteen different people about their previous New Year’s resolutions of 2011 and their planned resolutions of this coming year, I have heard some interesting things that they had to say.  Nineteen year old, Samandeep Sahota explained that her resolution last year was “to go to all of my classes, during the end of the semester I start to skip a lot of lectures”. Upon asking if she had fulfilled her promise, Sahota replied with “for the most part. I mean, I probably should have made a more realistic resolution since I forced myself to go to classes when they really weren’t necessary or when I was sick.”

Sahota was not the only one who dreaded last year’s resolution. Twenty-three year old, Bhaven Kapadia, explained that his resolution last year was to gain weight and become more fit. “My resolution was more frustrating than it was motivating”, he explained. “When I got through half the year and realized that I still hadn’t reached my goal, I just gave up. I think that New Year’s resolutions just give people high expectations that disappoint them when they aren’t reached.” I asked Kapadia what his resolution would be this year, he replied with “nothing, I don’t really think I accomplished anything this year, it’d be pointless for me to try again.”

Surprisingly, not everyone viewed their New Year’s resolutions as negatively as Sahota and Kapadia. Adarsh Kaur, forty-five year old woman, explained that her resolution last year had been achieved. “I wanted to spend more time with my husband and son. I find that I work a lot and with my son graduating high school soon, I should devote more of my time to him.” Kaur explained that her resolution was quite well thought out as she was able to fulfill it, and it benefitted her family and herself. Besides Kaur, another person who provided me with positive feedback was fifty year old, Joga Riar. “My main goal of the New Year was to volunteer more around my city when I got the time.” Riar continued to explain that his resolution proved to be both rewarding to himself and helpful to his community. “Resolutions should be a reflection of who you are as a person. As long as you want to achieve something that is meaningful to you, you should have no problem fulfilling them.”

Hiren Rangunwala and Neil Khatri both had similar resolutions last year; to do well in school and on tests. Rangunwala, twenty-three year old male, was concerned with passing his United States Medical Licensing Examinations to get placement after completing medical school. “The pressure was so high”, Rangunwala explained. “Since I’d made it my New Year’s resolution to get placement, I guess that I had more motivation to study harder. I didn’t want to let myself down. Once I got the notice that I’d done well on my tests and would be starting my rotations, I attributed my success to my resolution.” Like Rangunwala, eighteen year old Khatri explained that the most worrying thought he had last year was whether or not he would make it into the university of his choice. The difference between these two individuals is that Rangunwala gave the credit of his achievement to his resolution, whereas Khatri explained that “the resolution was just there as a guide, I know that I accomplished my goal on my own merit and hard work.”

Not only did people tell me about what their resolutions were last year, they also revealed to me their resolutions for this coming year. Twenty year old, Janki Kapadia, explained that although she did not have a New Year’s resolution last year, she made one for 2012. “I really need to learn to cook. I never thought it was necessary before when I lived with my brother and parents because I always had people to do it for me. I think the ability to cook is an essential skill for one to have if they are living on their own.” Kapadia is not the only one wishing to make a change involving food. Twenty year old Manpreet Jhass also has a food related desire. “I need to eat healthier. Whenever I come home from work or class, I just grab whatever I can get my hands on. Chips, soda, cookies, anything really.” Jhass recognizes that there are many people who wish to lose or gain weight. “I don’t necessarily hope to lose weight. I just want to live a healthier lifestyle.”

Fifteen year old Simran Uppal has made her resolution far from anything relating to food. Uppal explains that her one goal is to control her temper. “Lately I’ve noticed that I get angry really easily, especially with my older brother. My anger makes everyone in my family stressed out so I think I should learn to control it. For a teenager, Uppal seems to be quite sensible, a lot more than I was at her age.

Parag Khatri, at thirty years of age, is making his New Year’s resolution all about his personal life. “I think I need to settle down”, stated Khatri. “I need to stop focusing so much on going out to parties, and focus more on my career.”  Twenty-four year old Bindya Bhundia, like Khatri, defined the importance of her career. “I don’t know what to make my New Year’s resolution this year. I think it should involve me finishing school and starting my career, though. I’ve been in school for over twenty years, I think it’s about time I started the next chapter of my life.”

The last person I spoke to about the upcoming New Year was Ram Pyari, seventy-six year old woman. Pyari explained firstly that she does not make resolutions. “Why do people need an occasion to set goals for themselves? Shouldn’t the fact that they have something they want to change be motivation enough?” Pyari’s comment is interesting as it represents a completely different opinion than all others I had spoken to. It is open to interpretation, do you find New Year’s resolutions straining, encouraging, or do you find them needless altogether? Either way, remember to think carefully about what your resolutions will be this year, but in the process, don’t forget to have a Happy New Year.

By: Gagan Batra


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Another New Year, Another New Resolution!

Posted on 30 December 2011 by admin

With large amounts of scrunched up wrapping paper, turkeys  and eggnog cartoons finally laid to rest in recycling bins or bulging bellies, holiday fans are slowly snapping out of their Christmas food coma’s to realize that 2012 is already peaking its head from around the corner.  In anticipation of the official ten second ‘countdown,’ many holiday celebrators often take this brief intermission between Christmas and New Year to assess the success or failures of the resolutions they’ve made only twelve months ago.


Whether it was a promise to lose weight, quit smoking, or to merely spend less, the long list of the usual resolution topics has floated around consistently from our interviewees into three common areas of interest: health, finance and kicking bad habits. As many of these resolutions are frequently derived from a necessity to self improve and change one’s lifestyle, it is not surprising that New Year promises are often formed with the overall betterment of oneself in mind rather than others.  For many, it is merely a reminder to put yourself first.


For 25 year old Sharda Persaud making resolutions was never a tradition she followed or even cared about trying until after graduating college. “The necessity to buy my own things and do my own things is what motivated me” explains, Ms. Persaud. “When I started working after college, I said that every year that I would start saving more and more money, so I don’t have to rely on my parents and I can pay for my own things.”


Much like Ms. Persaud, Michelle Sankar, describes her initial resolution blossoming from an overall need to make a change in her life. However, for Ms. Sankar the need to change arose not from financial reasons but from a more personal need.  “My first resolution was made at the age of 24 (kind of late I know). I was prompted to make the resolution due to feeling dissatisfied with myself and wanted to develop my personal interests further. I followed through because I had recently gotten out of a relationship and realized that I had lost my own way of life and was living my ex’s life which was sedentary and unhealthy. I wanted to change that and be totally different. I wanted to have something positive that would take a large portion of my time.”


As both Ms. Persaud and Ms. Sankar relay the success of these resolutions to our Generation Next reporter, their success is not often shared by the great many that are often unable to complete their resolutions.  Pat Lekhraj, an Executive Assistant and a mother of three, explains that her hectic work and home schedule often affects her goals each year. “Every year I make the same resolutions. Get my driver’s license and lose weight and I never make the time to accomplish any!” As Ms. Lekhraj continues to make the same resolution each year since she was 25 she chuckles lightheartedly about her determination to keep on trying as the necessity to change still remains. “Put it this way, I am 39 and I still don’t have a driver’s license!”

Ken Katryan, a 28 year old Horse Trainer and Owner describe similar feelings of just being too busy to carry through on his resolutions. “I’ve made a New Year’s resolution before but never kept one of them” replies Mr. Katryan to Generation Next. “I don’t know what makes me do resolutions each year but I do. It was a couple of years ago that I started making resolutions when I started to put on some weight.”


For many like, Ms. Lekhraj the failure of following through on a resolution is not what any person really hopes for. The initial passion to complete a resolution is often carried through and often gradually lost over time. Mr. Katryan explains that “I would usually follow through on my resolutions for the first month, then with work and not going to the gym and being busy prevents me in the end.”


As the constant failure of a resolution can eventually become depressing or discouraging for some, it is sometimes better to pick a more short term and simple resolution. Mr. Pokhrel, a 28 year old Social Service Worker reiterates his belief in making goals that are not only doable but easier to accomplish each year. “I was 17 years old when I made my first resolution. I had just come to Canada from Nepal. I never made resolutions in Nepal, only when I arrived here in Canada. It is a more popular tradition here. Some of the resolutions that worked for me like applying for college, and keeping my grades up were some of the more successful resolutions I made.” With keeping his goals to more practical and specific targets, Mr. Pokhrel is able to use his smaller achievements as platforms for some bigger resolutions he has his sights on. “It’s all about focus. If you focus on what your resolution is and not feel restricted to a year to achieve it, then it is possible.”


As 2011 slowly expires with each passing day, the pressure for new beginnings and promises are in full effect for the upcoming 2012 year. Whether it is to shed a few pounds, build up your bank account or merely kick that annoying habit the common advice offered from all our participants was unanimous regardless of age and sex: whatever you make for a resolution, make sure that it keeps you in mind first because in 2012 you’ll need it!

By Anna Katryan

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Holiday: A Season to Give Thanks

Posted on 21 December 2011 by admin

With their signs littered across the GTA, many residents have often identified Homelife Maple Leaf Realty Ltd. agents solely from the familiar names seen hammered firmly into the front lawn of a neighbours house.  As many happy property owners can affirm, choosing a Homelife agent provides comfort in relying on an organization that has already become a force to be reckoned with within the industry.

With their independent agents usually hard at work throughout the year, it was a pleasant reunion for many in attendance Friday evening at the annual Homelife Maple Leaf holiday appreciation event held at the Versailles Convention Centre.  Agents shared with utter delight through friendly whistles, clapping and loud cheers as peers were awarded throughout the evening with a much deserved trophy or plaque.

Mohammad Rafi, a rookie agent with Homelife for nine months was one of many awarded recipients at the event. He gladly reflects with our Generation Next reporter on the overall importance of being appreciated as a fairly new agent within a competitive industry. “At the end of the day you want appreciation and these kinds of events are always good to have. However, deep down inside only you will know what you are capable of.”

As new agents were honoured for their vast accomplishments achieved within a short time, Homelife also acknowledges those agents whose success has earned them great respect within the industry.  Nav Sidhu, a well known veteran agent within the Homelife Maple Leaf Realty organization was a proud recipient honoured within the evening as well. As an agent who has been around for many years Mr. Sidhu extrapolates on the importance of choosing a knowledgeable agent . “[An experienced agent] has a good reputation and is known which is why it is important to make sure you are getting the right experienced agent. Knowledge is very important, and experience really counts, people look for experience.”

Narender Sehgal, the enthusiastic host of the evening expressed to Generation Next his belief in these agents will continue to do well in the housing market for 2012. “The market is going to stay solid. As far as the CMAC is concerned they said that the year 2012 is going to show a 8-12% higher result than 2011. For the condo market, there are some predictions but we will wait and see.”

When asked if he believes the South Asian community will have a stronger role within the housing market in 2012, Mr. Sehgal was quick to express a high expectation from the South Asian community. “I can assure you one thing. The South East Asian community has been the force in the residential and commercial market. You can see the share [they] capture in the market and I think [this share] will continue to increase day by day.”

As many of the Homelife Maple Leaf Realty agents end their 2011 year on a high note of sucess, Mr. Sehgal like many others throughout the evening maintain that 2012 can only get better. As Homelife looks to expand their number of agents in the coming year, readers can be assured that signs will be out in full force once again bearing the all too familiar Homelife Maple Leaf slogan for 2012.

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Santa or Scrooge? Which holiday shopper are you?

Posted on 21 December 2011 by admin

It’s that time of year again. Restless shoppers’ break out the wallets and rev up their rusty credit cards, holiday bonuses, and paychecks hoping to find that perfect gift for the many beloved names etched onto their holiday wish list.  With Christmas only a few days away, the commercial galore within the GTA is in full effect for shoppers who have become frantically obsessed with ‘gifting’ their feelings through tokens of appreciation. For many seasonal shoppers, the desire to appease both the commercial and personal pressures of the holiday season is usually a tricky feat to manage.

Alliyah Khan, a 27 year old chartered accountant explains to Generation Next that her shopping ritual is often driven by multiple motives that can be broken down into two distinct categories: obligation and tradition. “I feel a sense of obligation towards my boyfriend’s family because I feel like I have to get them something and because his mom always gets me something. With my boyfriend and my friend, it’s a tradition. We’ve kept this up for quite a long time and I don’t want to end it.”

Buying gifts out of obligation for extended family, co workers, and casual acquaintances can often add to the stress of budgeting over the holiday season.  For Ms. Khan, the overwhelming need to buy gifts has compelled her to shave off the names that are no longer a necessity. “I don’t give gifts to anyone else because I hate shopping and I hate thinking of gift ideas. I used to get gifts for my siblings as well but now that we’ve all grown up, I find it’s harder to think of what to get them. Most of the times, they can’t even think of what they want or if they even want it [and if they do] they would probably go buy it themselves.”

Reducing the size of your shopping list is often a great way for shoppers to maintain their holiday budget and make each gift more meaningful.  For Swechchha Pokhrel, a 23 year old student and Early Childhood Educator the role that her holiday budget plays each year ultimately dictates who makes or does not make her list. “I don’t usually have a budget but if I know I can afford certain things then I will buy it. It all depends on how much I earned. Having a full time job will mean I have more money to spend, but since I am still  a student and part time worker, I am not left with very much choice.”

Another great and trendy option for those hoping to survive the gifting frenzy is seen by those willing to purchase items online. Although, this method may take some pre-planning strategies it allows many budget conscious buyers to seek out the best web deals and save the stress of standing impatiently behind a ridiculous cahier line up. Lemar Kumar, a 26 year old banker, reiterates the growing appeal of switching shopping methods. “I do most of my shopping at the malls because I [usually] start shopping too late to wait for online deliver. If I had enough time I would do all my shopping online.”  For online shoppers, placing their trust on the postal system is merely small price to pay to avoid the madness that fills the local malls at this time of year.

Audrey Lau, a 27 year old Executive Assistant and HR Coordinator describe the relief that buying online has given her especially within her busy work schedule. “Ebay for example is wonderful because you can get a good price for most things and they will ship it right to your door! No line-ups and I can do this in the comfort of my own home.” For many young professionals like Ms. Lau saving time through easier shopping methods can only enhance the holiday giving experience. After all, as Ms. Lau states, “a little festive spirit during the holidays is a nice reminder to show appreciation.”

Here are some helpful shopping tips our shoppers had to offer to maximize your shopping experience:

  1. Do your holiday shopping early! You can avoid the stressful crowds and not get sucked into spur of the moment purchases while waiting in lines.


  1. Create a shopping list. It can help keep you on track with a budget and keep you focused on the people you value most.


  1. Do your research. Look for good sales via online and in flyers to ensure you are getting the best prices for your items.


  1. Although some feel strongly against it. Re-gifting items that you will not find useful can save both money and offer a better home to that unwanted item collecting dust in your closet.

By Anna Katryan





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Five Tips to Save Money This Holiday Season

Posted on 21 December 2011 by admin

1. Make a list, and check it twice. Did you know that research has proven that people who shop at the grocery store with a list spend between 30% and 40% less than those who don’t plan their purchases? The same can be said for your holiday shopping. Make a list for everybody before you hit the malls, and avoid making impulse purchases at all costs.

2. Stash away a little extra cash. Even when you’re great at sticking to a holiday shopping budget, often the spirit of the season causes generosity to beat out frugality. Pad your available cash for the holidays a bit by setting aside a few extra dollars a few between now and the end of December. This will help you avoid, or at least reduce, the amount you use credit cards to make holiday purchases.

3. Hunt down online deals, especially for big ticket items. It’s unusual these days to find big ticket items like jewelry, computers, or electronics in stores for less than you can buy the same product online. If you plan on surprising somebody special with a gift that costs more than $100 this year, keep browsing the Web for the right deal. One tip: A long-time favorite Web store of high-tech professionals, e-store offers some of the best prices on hot consumer electronics like digital cameras, laptops, and mp3 players. New customers can also enjoy either $5 off $100 on anything or $5 off $75 on $5 OFF the purchase of $75 of music, movies, or games.

4. If you must use a credit card…Your monthly budget is already stretched thin. If you haven’t been saving for holiday gifts all year, you’ll end up using credit to make the purchases. Using credit cards for the holiday’s isn’t ideal, but so long as you’re good about paying off those balances in a few months (not a few years) I don’t think it’s a cardinal sin.

If you do use a credit card for your holiday shopping that you don’t plan on repaying immediately, get a card that offers a 0% APR on purchases for 12 months.

5. Finally, if you need to travel this holiday season; book now if you haven’t already! (Then, book now for next year, too). The days before Thanksgiving and Christmas are the biggest travel days of the year, and carriers jack fares accordingly; the fewer seats left, the higher the cost of the ticket. It’s hard to spend money on an airfare weeks or months before you’ll use it, but doing so could save you hundreds.


Gift giving spend decreases while holiday entertaining increases

According to the BMO 2011 Holiday Spending Outlook, global economic uncertainty doesn’t seem to be putting a damper on Canadians’ holiday spending plans. In fact, on average, Canadians expect to spend $1397 during this holiday season – up from $1305 in 2010.

Holiday Spending Allocation – Year over Year Comparison

Purchases 2010 2011
Gift Purchases $613.50 $582.70
Trips $356.50 $359.80
Entertaining $203.80 $307.30
Other $131.80 $147.50

Holiday Spending Across the Country

2011 Avg. Spend (Total) ATL QC ON MB/SK AB BC
Gift Purchases $582.70 $715.20 $483.30 $616.10 $443.30 $731.30 $573.40
Trips $359.80 $312.70 $403.50 $342.20 $198.10 $374.40 $423.30
Entertaining $307.30 $276.40 $321.40 $291.90 $273.60 $376.10 $303.60
Other $147.50 $115.00 $113.90 $171.60 $117.80 $117.00 $197.50

To help shoppers make sense of their money, avoid overspending and save more this holiday season, BMO Bank of Montreal offers the following tips:

  • Set a Budget and Stick to It – Build your budget as early as possible and revisit it often to lessen the impact of the holiday spending surge. Using online tools, such as BMO MoneyLogic, to set and track spending limits can help keep you on track.
  • Get a Head Start – According to the survey, while the majority of Canadians plan weeks or even months ahead for their holiday shopping (81 per cent), one in 10 consider themselves last-minute shoppers. By waiting until the last minute to get your holiday shopping finished, you risk over-spending, going over budget and sometimes missing out on the gifts at the top of your list.
  • Spend Smart – Get the most out of your purchases this holiday season by using a credit or debit card that offers rewards for purchases at multiple retail locations. Combine this with programs such as the AIR MILES® Reward Program to accelerate your rewards earnings by allowing you to double dip, essentially earning rewards twice on the same purchase.



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Celebrating International Volunteer Day

Posted on 02 December 2009 by .

International Volunteer Day takes place on December 5th each year and is celebrated in a majority of countries throughout the world.  Its main goal is not only to thank volunteers for their efforts, but to encourage everyone to get involved and make a difference in their own communities.


The day has been observed since 1985, when the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution marking the global celebration.  For the past quarter century, governments, businesses and non-profit organizations have contributed to International Volunteer Day through a host of activities, including community projects, parades marches and rallies, award ceremonies for volunteers, and of course, volunteering activities.

Many counties have also utilized International Volunteer Day to focus volunteers’ time to help achieve the targets of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which aim to combat hunger, poverty, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.  Representatives from the media and academia, faith groups and even sporting and recreational organizations are often involved as well.

This makes International Volunteer Day sound like a celebration where only the big players are involved.  But don’t let this stop you from getting together with your friends and volunteering or holding an event in your own community, because the bulk of the day’s activities really take place at the local level.  Small groups of people all over the world will be volunteering their time in a variety of activities.

How about yourself?  What will you and your friends and family do this December 5th?  Volunteer with a local non-profit organization, a hospital, or environmental group?  Hold your own event to raise funds and awareness about an issue you care deeply about?  There are a number of groups in your community that need your help.  They’re just a phone call away.  If you’re not sure who to contact, simply go online and look up some of the non-profit organizations in your town or community.   

In fact, why stop on December 5th?  For young adults, there are opportunities to travel abroad and work with non-governmental organizations and charitable groups.  I have had the pleasure of travelling and volunteering in places like Latin and South America, south-east Asia and central Africa.  And believe me, it is a pleasure.  You’ll have the chance to take on once in a lifetime experiences and meet people from all over the world.  What else could you ask for?

This year’s International Volunteer Day has a very special theme.  Just two weeks from now, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to discuss solutions to global warming, air pollution and other serious environmental problems.  Recognizing this, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is inviting everyone to join the “Volunteering for Our Planet” campaign and volunteer their time this December 5th to help clean up the environment.  There is more information about the programme at

As I’ve written many times before, volunteerism shouldn’t really be considered “work,” mainly because it’s so much fun!  So start making plans for December 5th and get ready to make a difference.  



 Author:Bilaal Rajan

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Hajj and Spiritual Enhancement

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

In this statement of prayer made by Muhammad, God’s Messenger, there is an overflowing offering of the self in the presence of God. To sincerely acknowledge the Almighty as Provider and Maintainer, Creator and Supreme Lord, is to realize and affirm one’s reason for existence—to live in the humble servitude of God. There is no meaning in existence, if the presence of God is denied and rejected. Life is not simply a time of merriment and pleasure, where nothing matters except the prevalence of human desires and wants.

According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

 In fact, life is a time of responsibility and obligations, a time when the sacred “trust” is completed and the obligation for the devoted service to God is fulfilled. In this context, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) is a good paragon for representing pristine human obedience and devotion in the fulfillment of God’s commandments.

 According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

There is much merit and limitless blessings associated with the pilgrimage or hajj. The Prophet stated that: “If anyone performs the pilgrimage for God’s sake without talking immodestly or acting wickedly, he will return [pure] as on the day his mother bore him.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

As an important practice of faith, it becomes essential for all Muslims to be able to complete the hajj at least once during their lives. According to the Prophet: “The pilgrimage should be performed once, and if anyone does it more often, he performs a supererogatory act.” (Ahmad, Nasa’i, Darimi) The question arises regarding those who cannot for some reason complete this important practice.

In a narrative from Ibn Abbas, the merit of the pilgrimage can be passed to someone who cannot perform it when another person fulfills the requirements instead. Thus, “A woman of the tribe of Khatham asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah! The ordinance regarding the pilgrimage made obligatory by Allah for his servants found my father a very old man unable to sit firmly on a riding camel, shall I perform a pilgrimage on his behalf?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And this happened in the Farewell Pilgrimage.”

On another occasion, Ibn Abbas told of a person who came to the Prophet and stated that his sister had taken a vow to make the pilgrimage, but had died. The Prophet asked whether he would pay a debt, supposing she owed one, and when he replied that he would, he said, “Well pay the debt due to God, for it is the one which most deserves to be paid.” (Bukhari and Muslim) 

As for the actual etiquette of the both genders performing the pilgrimage simultaneously, the hadith narratives again provide directives. According to the following tradition, “Ibn Juraij reported that when Ibn Hisham forbade women making circuits along with men, `Ata said: ‘do you forbid them, while the wives of the Prophet made circuits along with men?’ I said, ‘Was it after the verses related to the curtain [were revealed] or before?’ He said, ‘By my life! I found this after the curtain verses.’ I said, ‘How did men mix with them?’ He said,’They did not mix with them; A’isha used to make circuits remaining aside from the men, not mixing with them; … but when they intended to go into the Sacred House, they stopped before entering it till the men were turned out.’” (Bukhari)

The practice of both genders to simultaneously perform this ritual, consolidates the idea that in Islam all people have equal dignity, prestige and respect. One gender is not more superior to another. Despite biological differences, spiritual obligations are the same. Hence as directed with wisdom by the Prophet, men and women were to acknowledge the presence of God as a unified community, with equality and harmony.

The sacred Ka`ba, is a gift to be cherished and respected by all Muslims, and commemoration of the ultimate sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim is formally concluded with the Hajj. The actual existential fulfillment of this sacrifice by all Muslims is to be of service to the creation of God– and willingness to make the peaceful sacrifice of time, resources and energy. With Eid al-Adha we celebrate the human destiny to truly live when we bequeath in peace.


 Author: Dr. Habibeh Rahim is the Professor of Religion at St. John University.

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Remembrance Day

Posted on 11 November 2009 by .


What is Remembrance Day?

Every year on November 11, Canadians pause in a silent moment of remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace. We honour those who fought for Canada in the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World War (1939-1945), and the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as those who have served since then. More than 1,500,000 Canadians have served our country in this way, and more than 100,000 have died. They gave their lives and their futures so that we may live in peace.


Why Remember?

We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument.

We often take for granted our Canadian values and institutions, our freedom to participate in cultural and political events, and our right to live under a government of our choice. The Canadians who went off to war in distant lands went in the belief that the values and beliefs enjoyed by Canadians were being threatened. They truly believed that “Without freedom there can be no ensuring peace and without peace no enduring freedom.

Whom Do We Remember?

As the artillerymen swung three abreast down Main Street, traffic stopped and people watched from the sidewalks. Some stood in silence. A few wept. Some cheered a bit or called out to soldiers they knew – to an officer who had for years devoted his spare time to the militia battery, to a genial giant from the slums, to a farmboy from Taylor Village, to a man with a police record, to a teenager leaving the prettiest girl in town.3

When war has come, time and again Canadians have been quick to volunteer to serve their country. From farms, small towns and large cities across the country, men and women signed up, motivated by reasons like patriotism, ideological belief, family tradition, the seeking of adventure, or just to escape unemployment. They join Canada’s war effort prepared to defend, to care for the wounded, to prepare materials of war, and to provide economic and moral support.

How Do We Remember?

In remembering, we pay homage to those who respond to their country’s needs. On November 11, we pause for two minutes of silent tribute, and we attend commemorative ceremonies in memory of our war dead.

Poppies are worn as the symbol of remembrance, a reminder of the blood-red flower that still grows on the former battlefields of France and Belgium. During the terrible bloodshed of the second Battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, wrote of these flowers which lived on among the graves of dead soldiers:

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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Remembering the Fallen, Protecting the Living

Posted on 11 November 2009 by .

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, Germany signed the Armistice, ending one of the deadliest conflicts ever that cost the lives of 15 million people, World War I.  What was to become Remembrance Day is observed throughout the British Commonwealth and dozens of other countries to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces as well as civilians in times of war.


On this day, we remember those who have fallen on the battlefields, whether on land, in the air or at sea.  Yet in honouring them, we acknowledge the importance of creating a more peaceful world, so that their deaths are not in vain – and that no one should ever have to die in war again.

Although World War I was supposed to be “the war to end all wars,” battles raged throughout the 20th century and took the lives of 85 million additional people.  “War is hell,” once wrote William Sherman, a Union General in the American Civil War.  What on earth could really be more catastrophic than people utilizing deadly weapons to kill other human beings on a massive scale? 

Not only does it destroy life and waste resources, it squanders the talents of young people who would rather be learning, creating, enjoying life with friends and family, and helping to create a better world in their own right.

As South Asians, it is especially important to remember those who are sometimes forgotten by history books and the mainstream media.  During World War II, for example – and despite Britain still refusing to grant India independence – millions of Indians and Pakistanis of all religious backgrounds joined the armed forces to fight the Empire of Japan.  Some of these veterans later moved to Canada to tell their story, yet far too little has been written of them.  Once again, this is not to celebrate war, but to remember those who fought and gave their lives against Fascism and tyranny.

Very seldom are wars waged by people.  They are almost always propagated by leaders to want to enhance their prestige and power and desire for more of the world resources.  Knowing this, it is important to create conditions that will make war unnecessary. 

This inevitably means creating societies throughout the world where children are taken care of, growing up in safe and loving environments, going to school, having a home to live in and a doctor to go to when their sick.  It means protecting the rights of girls and ensuring gender equality.  It also means giving young people the opportunity to live their dreams and succeed in whatever they want to in life, to ensure that when they turn 18 years old, they pick up a first-year university textbook and not a rifle.

On November 11th, we remember those who have given their lives in battle for the principles of freedom and democracy, but we also protect the living by helping to ensure that no one has to see the horrors of war ever again.



 Author: Bilaal Rajan

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Labour Day – in a South Asian way

Posted on 12 September 2009 by .

It was all about the celebration of workers’ solidarity. Well I am talking about Labour Day. It originally gave workers the chance to campaign for better working conditions or pay. Most workers, public or private, are entitled to take statutory holidays off with regular pay on this day. Though some businesses remain open on holidays, such as medical clinics and some stores, restaurants, and tourist attractions, it is also the time of the year again, when schools reopen and people return from vacation.

What Happens on Labour Day?

Traditionally, this day was celebrated to campaign and celebrate workers’ rights by parades and picnics organized by trade unions. Though these still play a major role on Labour Day, many people today, take it as an opportunity to celebrate a long weekend with their friends and families. People head up north to cottages or campsites or their country cottages. For professionals, it is an opportunity before the beginning of the year to realize and to prepare them for back to work after what could be slow summer for many. For teenagers and other students, the Labour Day weekend is the last chance to party.


The origins of Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for worker’s rights.

The objective behind this demonstration was to release those twenty four leaders of the

Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day. Striking was considered as a crime and Trade Unions were considered illegal, in those days.

A few months later, a similar parade was organized in Ottawa. Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John Macdonald was the one who promised to repeal all Canadian laws against trade unions. This led to the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1883 and Labour Day was made an official holiday in Canada on July 23, 1894.

The South Asian Way:

“Whatever one does, it is definitely a precious opportunity to spend quality time together with your family and friends before the unending streak of work and the start of the academic year,” says Madina Madda, student.

“I do respect the movement that was started in Wellington and I also take part in fairs sometimes. But what I really enjoy on this day is the fireworks. They are amazing,” says Shreya Shah, Mehendi Designer on Dundas.

Author: Staff Writer

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