I moved to Toronto almost two years ago from the UAE. Life in UAE and in Pakistan, where I was living before that, was surely different than the one I am leading here. However, living in North America has not been a very disappointing experience for me.
Some of my parents’ major worries were put to rest, to a great extent, when we moved to this area. Contrary to the common perception that people do not practice or respect Islam here, we found this place to be very religion-friendly. We discovered a lot of families practicing Islam and other religions freely. There is no shortage of Halal food here and mosques are abundant. The Eids and Ramadan are given as much respect as in any part of the Muslim world. We are even allowed to take a holiday from school on Eid.
People in our area are truly practicing Muslims. Girls wear head scarves and boys go to mosques for prayers. In our school, which is the biggest middle school of Ontario, we even have the high school students come and lead the Friday prayers.
There are Islamic schools and Friday night Islamic sessions at Masajid all across Toronto. In fact, some of these schools are the best in Ontario. However, since these are private schools, not everyone can afford the tuition.
I feel we are lucky to be a part of this multicultural nation, where people respect each other’s beliefs and opinions, and give you space to practice your religion, speak your language, and celebrate your cultural occasions, without questioning you or doubting your capabilities!
By Muhammad Zaid Sani