A Reply – TDSB and Muslim Prayer Service- A Muslim Perspective
I was just on Twitter and it buzzing about the Toronto District School Board not only allowing a prayer service in the cafeteria after lunch on Friday’s but using a “halal” menu for snacks. As I read the comments on Jihad Watch and Blazing Cat Fur I couldn’t help but need to respond and in more then just a comment.
You see I am a Muslim Mom. I am also a Canadian Muslim Mom. I am a 10th generation Canadian, who’s family settled in Ontario when Canada was a dream. My grandfather was one of our POW’s in WW2. So I am not some immigrant choosing to bring and force something on somebody. My grandfather and most likely many of my readers grandfathers fought for one thing: For Freedom to choose.
Choice is one of the reason many come to Canada, because they have choices given here. WE ALL have the rights of worship, we all have the right to eat food that is good for us and I thank God whom I choose to address as Allah.The fact though is some do not think that these choices should be given in a public school setting.
So if Muslim children can not have jummah( the Friday Prayer service that lasts about 30 minutes) in the school are we then ready to take every Christan, Jewish and other religious clubs that now meet in schools at lunch time, before school, after school out as well? These organizations have existed and used the buildings to see that all children who want to fellowship and worship together can.
As for a “halal” menu. I would think you would thank the parents for asking for it. “Halal” simply means not harmful and there are very strict guidelines. Any parent who has volunteered at elementary level with the snack program knows it isn’t farmed out. Most snacks are prepared right there in the cafeteria by parent volunteers. Most snacks in the TDSB have to include at least 2 food groups. There are strict guidelines and safety standards that are met by parents who volunteer time for this job. Most snack programs at are managed by parents in the case of this school most of these parents ARE Muslim.
Some interesting facts:
- The area is densely populated with Muslim families who attend the local mosque.
- Before the prayer services were begun Muslim boys especially were pulled from school for the entire Friday afternoon, as in Islam if a Muslim man misses 3 Friday prayers he is considered to of lost his faith.
- Girls, women are welcome at jummah as well, and yes we do sit either at the back of the room,or behind a barrier( I have even seen a table with a rug thrown over it made into a makeshift one), or in another room.
- Girls in Islam are not mandated to attend jummah prayer for them it is optional.
- At that specific school I would guess you are looking at a 50% Muslim student population at least.
- Another fact many TDSB schools also meet “kosher” standards would we get rid of that option as well?
By letting the school community dictate what is best for there individual school we give freedom, something I am sure we all enjoy having here in Ontario. Really some of the comments on Jihad Watch and the Blazing Cat Fur scared me as a Canadian.
Another quick two facts it does not cost anything to have that we bit of prayer time on a friday, nor is it hurting any other child in the school. Facts are in many schools in the TDSB we have students gathering to pray and worship. If one goes they ALL must go. I think prayer is a good thing. I think it should be in the schools any way we can get it in and if you don’t believe in God you simply don’t have to join a prayer group.
Fact two is that much of the money used to by food for the snack program does not come from the TDSB it comes from the Foundation for Student Success who gets its money not only from the province but many corporate givers and charitable foundations including Mazon Canada who are the Jewish charitable arm in Canada that fights hunger. So is it is okay to TAKE money from a religious organization? and not allow religious dietary concerns to be looked at? What do you think? Really this muslim mom who used to help organize snacks wants to know?
Does prayer have a place in the TDSB in any form?
Should dietary laws come into play in any form?
And if you are not a follower of God in any form why do you get to dictate for those of us who do believe?