Salaam, one and all! We welcome you with heart-felt prayers for God's peace and mercy and blessings.

This blog is maintained for the readers of In the Light of a Blessed Tree, as well as for all those interested in the wider work of Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti: including the Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation (IISF, Toronto), which he serves as the Director and Principal Teacher, the Studies in Islam program at Renison University College (University of Waterloo), where he serves as an Associate Professor, and the American Islamic College (Chicago), where he served as the Director of Islamic Studies (2013-2015).

Please stay tuned for new blog entries and announcements for new programs in Toronto and beyond!

New INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM Course for the Toronto Jewish Community (Temple Emanu-El members and friends)

Beginning Sunday, January 9, Dr. Timothy Gianotti will be offering a four-part introduction to Islam at Noor's synagogue "twin" -- Temple Eamanu-El, a  vibrant, progressive community committed to Jewish renewal.  As an extension of our annual November "twinning" of synagogues and mosques, this January course will be followed by a four-part February Introduction to Judaism (for Muslims) course offered by Temple Emanu-El's Rabbi Debra Landsberg at the Noor Cultural Centre.  For details and registration information, please consult the community websites by clicking on the institutional names above.

LIGHT UPON LIGHT Retrospective

On Friday, December 10, we had our final Light Upon Light for 2010.

Devoted to "The Divine language of Signs (ayat)," it blossomed into a beautiful evening of exploring the theoretical, scriptural, and experiential dimensions of God's ongoing disclosure to the creation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who braved the cold and dark December night to gather and add their light and their voice to this circle of spiritual discussion, this evening of sacred speaking and listening.

As the faithful LUL participants know, this series was born of a recognition that, as spiritual beings, we need more than a steady diet of "Hell and Hijab" to live religiously complete and spiritually fulfilling lives.  "Light Upon Light" thus came into being with the hope and intention of reclaiming some of the forgotten and/or neglected spiritual treasures of the faith, and in the hope of opening up a religious space where every voice, female and male, young and old, would be honored and listened to with reverence and respect.  As we enter into a new year, we pray that God will accept what we have done so far and that God will bless and guide our efforts to continue our search for the Divine light of wisdom within sacred texts, within the signs woven into the natural world, and within the signs woven into the fabric of our life experiences.

SELECTED TOPICS (from fall, 2007 until present): Spiritual Knowledge / Love / Tests & Trials / Loving Universally while Living within Particularity (featuring the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook) / On the Importance of Being a Stranger in the World / Dreams, Death and the Journeys of the Spirit / On the Art of Being Grateful / The Importance of Solitude / Core Paradoxes: freedom in servitude, wealth in poverty, life in death, gaining by spending, spiritual advancement through sin / The World of the Unseen / Spiritual Storytelling / Being a Perpetual Beginner / The Poetry of Kabir / "with a little help from my friends..." The indispensability of community for walking the path to God / Rumi & the Wisdom of the Reed Flute / Spiritual Chivalry / Tests and Trials Revisited / Glimpses of the Religious Ideal: Spiritual Masters, Sages, and Other Friends of God in the Jewish and Islamic Traditions (special Muslim-Jewish "Twinning" session at Temple Emanu-El, Toronto) / The Mysteries of Light and Darkness / Pilgrimage / Alchemy / The Balance / The Divine Language of Signs (al-ayat) / 


Inner Battles and Outer Battles 
Struggling with the Language and Imagery of War within our Faith Traditions

November 19-21, 2010

This year, as part of our third annual "twinning" between the communities of the Noor Cultural Centre and Temple Emanu-El, we will -- God willing -- begin exploring some of the difficult elements that make the Muslim-Jewish relationship so complex and uniquely burdened.  One of these elements is the language and imagery of war within our scriptures and larger faith traditions.  To guide and help facilitate our inter-communal conversations, we have invited two prominent scholars, Rabbi/Dr. Reuven Firestone and Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub to join us for the entire weekend.

Dr. Rabbi Reuven Firestone
Professor of medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College,
founder and co-director of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (www.usc.edu/cmje). 

Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub
Faculty Associate in Shi‘ite Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Hartford Seminary,
Professor Emeritus and former Director of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religion, Temple University, Philadelphia (1988-2008)

The events we have planned, including a major event for the general public (free), promise to help our communities grapple with the grim realities of conflict on all levels, from the interpersonal to the inter-communal.  To this end, they will help us explore the ways in which the language and imagery of war within our scriptures and wider traditions have been invoked and continue to be invoked to justify and promote conflict.  How should we understand this?  How can we see these war passages as sacred?  Do our traditions illumine a path beyond conflict, a path where we can be faithful to these texts and traditions without perpetuating and escalating the violence that runs so rampant in the world? Acknowledging that we cannot simply get rid of this element of our scriptures and indeed our lives, how can we witness to these texts and traditions in a healthy way?  For example, are there metaphorical readings and appropriations (such as the Rabbinical sublimation of war within the "Wars of Torah" and the “Inner War” of our mystical traditions) that can open up alternatives to Divinely sanctified bloodshed and all the moral and political complications this brings?

(SEE  www.noorculturalcentre.ca for final schedule)

DAY ONE (Friday, Nov. 19):  
"Inner Battles: Looking at Our 
Foundational Stories of Strife, 
Resolution, and Self-Definition"

1:00 pm

Friday Prayer Service at Noor Cultural Centre, featuring sermon (khutbah) by Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub; coffee, tea and light lunch following prayers

8:00 pm

Shabbat Service featuring sermon by Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Temple Emanu-El, light refreshments following service

DAY TWO (Saturday, Nov. 20): 
"Inner Battles and Outer Battles:  Struggling 
with the Language and Imagery of War within our Traditions"

7:30 pm

PUBLIC LECTURE and Discussion with Dr. Ayoub and Rabbi Firestone, Noor Cultural Centre (main hall)

DAY THREE (Sunday, Nov. 21):
"Making Peace where There is Strife?  Building 
a Relationship Based Upon Our Common Burdens, 
Histories, and Concerns" 

11:30 am

Community continental breakfast and discussion with Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, Rabbi Debra Lansberg, and Dr. Timothy Gianotti, Temple Emanu-El

ANTI-MUSLIM HATE PROPAGANDA (exhibit 3) + Our Response

Once again, this unusually pernicious piece was sent to me by someone who took it very much to heart. Please examine the email and consider our response.

Of course, the response is merely a drop in the bucket, but we act with the hope that heaven is not blind to our efforts and intentions. As Rav Kook (the chief Rabbi of Jerusalem in the mandate period) said so beautifully,

"If we recognize that any time we enlighten our own souls, that we are benefiting not just ourselves but all of existence, then we can bestow perfection and life to all things.Through us, the tzaddikim (righteous) are granted greater power in their service of God. The evil of the wicked becomes moderated and mitigated to some extent. Thoughts of penitence come to them. Even the animals are ennobled, in accordance with their level. Through the beautiful holiness that is added by one soul that truly cares about all of existence, even those creatures that tend to attack and damage are refined. And certainly great light is added to the sublime splendor of the souls, and in all levels of the spiritual worlds, boundless in their beauty and sanctity."

with prayers for peace and God's mercy and blessing upon all,



ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ The following is a copy of an article written by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez and published in a Spanish newspaper on 5-22-07. It doesn't take much imagination to extrapolate the message to the rest of Europe - and possibly to the rest of the world.

REMEMBER AS YOU READ -- IT WAS IN A SPANISH PAPER Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 14:30:20 -0500


I walked down the street in Barcelona , and suddenly discovered a terrible truth - Europe died in Auschwitz . We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned.

And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.

Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition

We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for hoping for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.

What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe .

A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to themselves.

Absolutely No Profiling! Pause a moment, reflect back,
These events are actual events from history. They really happened! Do you remember?

1. 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by A Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40

2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

3. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

4. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

5. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

6. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

7. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens , and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

8. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

9. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

10. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

11. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

12. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against: Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

13. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

No, I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you? So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret service agents who are members of the President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 and 40 alone lest they be guilty of profiling.

Let's send this to as many people as we can so that the Gloria Aldreds and other dunder-headed attorneys along with Federal Justices that want to thwart common sense, feel ashamed of themselves -- if they have any such sense .
As the writer of the award winning story 'Forrest Gump ' so aptly put it, 'Stupid is as stupid does.'

Come on people wake up!!! Keep this going.



From: Timothy Gianotti
Date: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 3:58 PM
Subject: Extreme Concern (Re: Pass it on)

Dear ______ :

I send warm regards and prayers for God's blessing upon you and your
loved ones. I also send extreme concern about the emails that you
keep endorsing and promoting by forwarding them on to your contact
list. These emails, such as the one below, are hateful and
hate-inspiring and would be illegal if they were targeting any other
group. More, they maliciously misrepresent the very diverse Muslim
communities in the west as a monolithic community of evil drones who
love death, live in filth, lack education, seek to live off the labor
of others (when they are not stealing), and hate freedom. Why do you
not see that this is the very kind of propaganda that helped prepare
the post WWI German population to support, or at least go along with,
the holocaust? The only difference is that, now, the pernicious myth
of the "Jewish conspiracy" is giving way to the equally pernicious and
dangerous and baseless myth of 'the secret islamic agenda."

Hate speech leads to hate crimes, ______, and already we are seeing
the swift rise of anti-Muslim violence right here in north America.
In such dire economic and difficult political times, people are
looking for a scapegoat, and Muslims are it. People are now being
attacked for no reason other than they identify as Muslims ( see
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/26/nyregion/26cabby.html); mosques are
being vandalized and defaced (see below). What is next? Where is all
this leading?

Man Shouting Anti-Muslim Slurs Desecrates NY Mosque


Vandalism at Madera mosque called hate crime


Propaganda that plays upon people's ignorance and fear and promotes
the mass incrimination of any particular group, be it racial or
religious, paves the way toward genocide. I cannot believe that you,
just being who you are, would wish this upon any group. What moral
power or meaning does "never again" have when you are actively
promoting discrimination against and the eventual persecution of
another people?

Please, _______, be more thoughtful and more responsible for the kind
of emails you endorse and promote; please, ______, for the love of
humanity, for the sake of our children, who deserve a future free from
prejudice and the violence it engenders. Standing by such a malicious
and dangerous and discriminatory email is only a hair away from
standing by as they take me, my wife and children, and other innocent
Muslims off to internment camps and then to God knows what. Our enemy
is not the religion of Islam; nor is it the Muslims; our most
dangerous enemy is ignorance, and the quickest way to dominate the
ignorant is through fear. That is what these emails seek to do.
Please ask yourself, for what end? when people are ignorant and
afraid and fed lies, they are capable of anything, ______, anything.
The Holocaust has shown us that. Rwanda has shown us that. Bosnia
has shown us that. The "Killing Fields" of Cambodia have shown us
that. Have we learned nothing from the atrocities of the 20th
century? Or do we, like so many before us, think that "it can never
happen here"?


Timothy J. Gianotti, Ph.D. (Toronto)
2008-2011 York-Noor Fellow in Arabic & Islamic Studies
2007-2008 York-Noor Chair of Islamic Studies


Hiding one's head in the sand is the way JEWS were prior to the HOLOCAUST! Today we understand that history can and does repeat itself. I don't offer up
hateful agendas I show pictures and a Presdential canditdate that tells it like it is.
I will stop passing on the truths to you, that are sent to me, as you can not fathom
them. I would appreciate you not siding with the muslims that prefer to rid the planet
of Jewsh People all because we don't LIVE to KILL!  The Muslims I refer to do just that.
I sent similar emails at the time when South Africa was having holocaust mentalities with their
bretheren.  It's pretty awful when an entire planet does NOT learn from the mistakes of the
Nazis. Included in my emailings were the atrocities in  Rwanda,  Bosnia,  and The "Killing Fields" of Cambodia.

 The Muslims have  learned nothing from the atrocities of the 20th  century?  

What the world is slowly learning is that a good percentage of MUSLIMS do not have respect
for LIFE and Family, Not even their own ! There was never a JEWISH CONSPIRACY however ENGLAND and the United States are now realizing that there just might be a SECRET ISLAMIC AGENDA!!!

It's Odd that the muslims that I have met, that ran away from their MID EAST HOMES, confirm
their fears and happen to agree with the communities that they love living in now. 

Please do not preach to me... I have lost most of my family in the so called MYTH of the HOLOCAUST! As have most of my friend's families.

Teach  and preach to your MUSLIM families the right to life and living life with out fear.
I will not email you again nor do I expect emails from you.
Stay well, Look after your family,

Happy New Year (THE JEWISH ONE)



From: Timothy Gianotti
Date: Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 9:44 AM
Subject: Thank you + follow up
To: __________________

Good morning, Dear _______:

As ever, I send sincere prayers for peace and God's blessings upon you
and your loved ones, and i send sincere thanks for getting back to me,
even though your response saddens me.

Please understand that I have never denied the holocaust and hold
nothing but sorrow and compassion for the victims of Nazi atrocities
and for the victims of the countless pogroms your community has
suffered.  In this, I am in agreement with you and always have been.

Please understand that I do not subscribe to the "Jewish Conspiracy"
myth and never have.   This is clearly one of the ways in which
anti-semitic groups within the majority Christian  west have tried to
implicate and incriminate all Jews and so make persecuting the Jews
more acceptable.  Insofar as this idea has leaked into the Muslim
community, I have fought it and continue to stand against it and all
other forms of antisemitism.  Again, in this, we are in agreement.

Your choice of presidential candidate is your own, and I have nothing
to say about this.  In fact, I am puzzled that you even mentioned it,
for this has never been a subject of our correspondence.

In reference to your recommendation that I "teach  and preach to your
MUSLIM families the right to life and living life without fear," I
remind you that this is what I do as my full-time work, both in my
capacity as a professor of Islamic Studies and in my capacity as a
religious educator and imam.  I do not deny that we have serious and
even dangerous problems within the Muslim community, but I do strongly
object to your assertion that  "a good percentage of Muslims" live to
kill, have no respect for life (even their own),  and are part of a
secret Islamic agenda.  These generalizations are, in my experience
(which spans the globe), unfair and extremely dangerous, as I have so
often pointed out to you.

I am grieved that you see a need to sever your communication with me,
but I also understand that it is difficult when someone questions the
"truths" that you believe so zealously and and to which you cling so

If indeed this is my last note to you, please allow me to close with a
much-beloved quotation from one of my greatest sources of inspiration:
 Rav Kook, the chief Rabbi of Jerusalem in the mandate period (perhaps
you know of him).

"We have the power to increase the light in our souls at all times
through Torah, wisdom, mitzvot, prayer, and character refinement. If
we recognize that any time we enlighten our own souls, that we are
benefiting not just ourselves but all of existence, then we can bestow
perfection and life to all things.

Through us, the tzaddikim (righteous) are granted greater power in
their service of God. The evil of the wicked becomes moderated and
mitigated to some extent. Thoughts of penitence come to them. Even the
animals are ennobled, in accordance with their level. Through the
beautiful holiness that is added by one soul that truly cares about
all of existence, even those creatures that tend to attack and damage
are refined. And certainly great light is added to the sublime
splendor of the souls, and in all levels of the spiritual worlds,
boundless in their beauty and sanctity."

I wish you and your loved ones well, _______, and, on this eve of
shabbat, I wish you a blessed and peaceful shabbat.  Shabbat shalom.

with prayers for peace and God's mercy and blessings upon all,


EXCELLENT EDITORIAL About the proposed NYC "Ground Zero" Islamic Center

Please note that Russell Simmons is the Chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which initiated the annual "Twinning" of North American mosques and synagogues, an annual event that brings the congregations of the Noor Cultural Centre and Temple Emanu-El together every November.  Stay tuned for this year's events, scheduled for Nov. 19, 20, and 21.

Ground Zero Mosque: Digging a Hole in the Soul of America 
By Russell Simmons, Chairman, The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
It was a day we will never forget. It was a day that changed the course of this nation forever. It was a day that permanently bruised our hearts, with the potential of healing almost seeming impossible. Yet, with love, faith and compassion, we showed the world and showed ourselves through the promotion of one of our nation's greatest values -- tolerance -- we can overcome fear and hate.

Today, ten years later, I peer through the front windows of my apartment and still see a large gaping hole that once was the home to the World Trade Center. I pass by the firehouse on my block and say hello to the firemen who lost almost all of their guys on that day. This is my neighborhood, my backyard. And in my backyard, I have no tolerance for a new fear-mongering, hateful rhetoric that has sprung up over the proposed $100 million Islamic cultural center that they plan on building blocks away from Ground Zero.

It is not insensitive to put a cultural center of any sort, that has a place of worship, anywhere in our city. This is what makes our country and our city great. As a nation that was founded by men and women who were being persecuted for their particular faith, we should know that the best path to finding freedom is finding freedom for others. We were formed as a pluralistic society and this means we welcome all religions. Islam did not attack the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, sick and twisted men did, who not only hijacked four airplanes but also hijacked a religion. Let us not stereotype the over one billion Muslims around the world because of the evil acts of a few. A decision like this one, to support or not support the construction of this center, defines who we are as a nation. It's at the essence of our values, our freedom of expression, freedom of religion and religious tolerance.

As the Chairman of The Foundation Of Ethnic Understanding, my partner Rabbi Marc Schneier (also the Vice President, World Jewish Congress; Chairman, World Jewish Congress United States) and I have worked tirelessly to promote dialogue among different ethnic groups all over the world, particularly Jews and Muslims. We have witnessed the power of the fostering of this dialogue. We know that we must fight Antisemitism and Islamaphobia together and at the same time. We welcome and support this cultural center, as it will continue constructive conversations around a moderate approach to co-existence between all people, regardless of religious preference. In fact, we strongly feel that this center will bridge the divide that many of our nation's citizens have with the Islamic faith.

There are moments that define our nation. There are moments that test the strength of our character. There are moments that test the essence of our freedoms. Let this be that moment and let us pass this test with grace and dignity. As I will not stand for any sort of Islamaphobia in my backyard.


The Circle's discussions these past weeks (July 16, 23, and 30) have focused on the intertwined mysteries of the nature of God and the true nature of the human being.  The August 6 sessions will, in sha' allah, explore the implications of Qur'anic passages situating the human being within a social context (community).  Please note that the Circle will, in sha' allah, continue throughout the month of Ramadan.

Suggested reading to enrich your reflections in these areas include a wonderful little book entitled, "Major Themes of the Qur'an" by the late Fazlur Rahman, specifically chapters 1-3.

As always, we will begin at noon in the upper teaching space of the Noor Cultural Centre and will close the circle shortly after 1:00 p.m., in time for people to transition downstairs to the prayer area for the jum'ah prayer service if they wish.  As always, people of all ages and faiths are welcome.


Here we find an excellent example of inflammatory, anti-Muslim
misinformation combined with fear-mongering, anti-Obama
propaganda.  It has been circulating around the web and
was sent to me by someone who immediately believed it to
be true. 

Please check it out as well as our response:

begins under this line

Please Read and Forward


Let's take him down through the Internet.. 
Seems the majority of the press are worshiping 
at his feet....

Someone could put this on facebook.. 

 If each person sends this to a minimum of twenty 
people on their address list, in three days, all people 
in The United States of America would have the 

I believe this is one proposal that really should be 
passed around.


[President Obama walking with a book in his hand...]

  The name of the book Obama is reading is called:

The Post-American World,  

and it was written by a fellow Muslim.

"Post"  America means the world After  America! 

Please forward this picture to everyone you know,
conservative or liberal.  We must expose Obama's 
radical ideas and his intent to bring down our 
beloved America!
(end of propaganda exhibit)

OUR RESPONSE (which led to a 
public retraction and apology issued by the individual 
who sent this on to me and to so many others):

Dear ______:

Please check out the book description below.  It's by Fareed Zakaria, a respected mainstream American journalist (editor of Newsweek International and a frequent commentator on CNN), and has nothing to do with bringing down America.  It's about shifts in global power, something everyone is aware of or at least should be. One would expect someone in Obama's position to be reading respected authors and thought-provoking political analysis, such as this.

As is evidenced by the Times Square car-bomb attempt, we live in serious times, and so we have to be serious in addressing the real threats and problems.  This mindless and damaging propaganda is both racist and religiously discriminatory, and it does not help at all.  I urge you to send out an emphatic apology and retraction of this ignorant and shameless propaganda.  This, I feel, is the least any person of moral fiber and conscience would do.  The alternative is to stand by your promotion of the very same racist and religiously discriminatory hatred that you claim to oppose.



The amount of inflammatory misinformation designed to arouse fear, suspicion, and hatred of Muslims is all over the web.  Here we find a particularly pernicious piece that seeks to mislead everyday Americans into thinking that everyday American Muslims support and even celebrate the atrocities perpetrated on September 11, 2001.  To anyone with even a little education in Islamic history or theology, this discriminatory and intentionally misleading email seems too ridiculous to merit a response.  However, for those millions who have absolutely no knowledge of Islam, it seems very real and very threatening.  Such a person sent it to me in a state of tremendous alarm. 

Whatever else can be said about the person who crafted this propaganda, he/she wants us to think that the military conflicts in which America is engaged are part of a larger religious war waged by Muslims everywhere (including within the United States) against the U.S.  More, he/she will use anything and take anything out of context (including the sign cited below) to "prove" this.

(propaganda citation begins below this line)



This is so "Unbelievable"....   
In Houston, Texas 
Harwin Central Mall: The very first store that you 
come to when you walk from the lobby of the 
building into the shopping area had this sign 
posted on their door. 

The shop is run by Muslims

Feel free to share this with others.
In case you are not able to read the sign 
below, it says 
"We will be closed on Friday, 
September 11, 2009 to commemorate 
the martyrdom of Imam Ali"  

[photo of a sign posted in the front window of a shop...]

Imam Ali flew one of the planes 
into the twin towers.

Nice huh?  
Try telling me we're not in a  
Religious war!
  (end of propaganda citation)

OUR RESPONSE (to the person 
who originally sent this to us, a response that was
never acknowledged):

Dear _______:

I send warm regards, along with real disturbance over the kind of mindless, fear-mongering propaganda that you continue to spread and, by spreading, promote.

For the record, Imam Ali has been dead for nearly one thousand four hundred years (he was killed by an extremist in 661 CE).  He was the prophet Muhammad's first cousin and son-in-law, and he is revered by Shi'ah Muslims as the first of the twelve blessed imams, or Divinely-guided spiritual leaders of the Muslims following the death of the Prophet in 632 CE.  The "A.S." following his name means "peace be upon him" and would never be used for any other Ali in Islamic history. 

For the record, in the solar year 2009, the anniversary of his death in the Islamic lunar calendar fell on September 11, and so this Shi'ah-owned shop closed in remembrance of that anniversary.  IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ATROCITIES OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001.

_______, in the name of truth and for the love of humankind, PLEASE STOP SPREADING THIS FEAR MONGERING AND DEMONIZING PROPAGANDA!  This is the very kind of thing that leads to the irrational and unfair demonization of an entire group, the very kind of thing that can lead to mass persecution and even genocide.  It is discriminatory and dangerous, especially in this global climate. 

Please remember, that our greatest enemies are really ignorance and fear, and such emails are powerful weapons in the service of evil plots to spread both.

This is reality!!!


(which was, not surprisingly, also unanswered):

Dear _______:

Again, I send warm regards, along with my sincere hope that you are beginning to grow more cautious about spreading this kind of discriminatory propaganda that plays upon people's ignorance and fears.

As someone who remains confident that you yourself oppose the promotion of slanderous misinformation against any group, I write to urge you to send out a public retraction and apology for this irresponsible and dangerous email.  Our shared commitment to "never again" must include all peoples who are victimized by this kind of hateful propaganda.  Otherwise, we are mere hypocrites who promote some perpetrators while denouncing others.



SATURDAY INTERFAITH PANEL on "Spiritual Fulfillment, Social Justice, and Environmental Sustainability: the case for optimism"

Saturday July 17, 2 to 6 pm - Vedic Cultural Centre, 4345 14th Ave. Markham

Awakening consciousness: Integration of inner peace with universal peace.  What can move us to Unity in Diversity? What has worked during our history? Hope for the future?

Vedic Cultural Centre: 905-475-5778 www.vedicculturalcentre.com, (Pickup from TTC available between 1:30 to 2PM for the Sat Jul 17th Symposium - at Kennedy/Steeles Petro Canada station—call to request)

Featured Speaker Swami Veda Bharati (see description below)

Meditation & Reflections: Swamini Shivapriyananda, Senior Acharya, Chinmaya Mission,Toronto

  • Ervad Dr. Jehan Bagli, Zoroastrian priest, scholar, and scientific researcher
  • Dr. Timothy Gianotti, Noor Fellow in Arabic & Islamic Studies, York University and Noor Cultural Centre, author of Al-Ghazali’s Unspeakable Doctrine of the Soul
  • Chrystal Hawk, Coordinator, Institute of Noetic Sciences, Toronto; Psychotherapist, Healer and Educator
Moderator Rev. Leslie Gabriel Mezei, Interfaith Minister;  Coordinator Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium; Founding Publisher, Interfaith Unity News, past Professor of Information Sciences, University of Toronto

Swami Veda Bharati D.Litt.(Holland), a renowned philosopher acclaimed internationally for his works, has authored a 1,500 page commentary on the first two chapters of Patanjali’s Yoga  Sutras. Chancellor of one of the largest Hospital Trust Universities in India, he has addressed many UN sponsored dialogue sessions on peace, climate change, and sustainable development around the world. He teaches meditation from within the religious, spiritual and literary traditions of different world cultures of India, China, Africa, Europe and the Americas and has a deep understanding of the different schools of Eastern and Western philosophies. www.swamivedabharati.org
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Copies of his new book:  Human Urge for Peace: What’s Right with the World will be available. 


In honor and celebration of the Islamic months of Sha'ban and Ramadan, the Circle of Sacred Knowledge will resume on Fridays, from noon until one, beginning Friday, July 16, and running continuously until Friday, September 3, in sha' allah.  Classes are held in the upper educational area of the Noor Cultural Centre.  All are welcome.

Topic for session 1 (July 16):  God

NEW VIDEOS -- Timothy Gianotti on Islam & Interfaith Relations

These two video segments were filmed by ZEJMEDIA (zejmedia.com) during the recent Elijah meeting of world religious leaders in Israel (October 2009). In the first video, Dr. Gianotti speaks on the Qur'anic articulation of the Divine intention underlying religious and ethnic diversity. In the second clip, he explains how a practice of sincere, moral self-examination can lead to healthier relations with peoples of other faith traditions. Both clips can be found on the ZEJMEDIA website by clicking HERE.  Look specifically under the heading, "Religious Leaders and Interfaith Harmony," or you can access the first clip separately by clicking HERE

Dr. Gianotti can also be seen, with other religious leaders and scholars, speaking on these themes, as well as on the themes of forgiveness and the ultimate goal (telos) of religion, at the very top of the same ZEJMEDIA page (above), specifically under the heading, "Elijah Conference Video Segments."

Let us know what you think!

LIGHT UPON LIGHT continues April 2!

Light Upon Light continues with an exploration of the science/art/philosophy of alchemy, the secret process by which base or common metals (or qualities) are transformed into gold (spiritually understood as wisdom, truth, virtue, enlightenment, immortality). In his popular Persian work, The Alchemy of Happiness, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111) wrote, “Know, O Beloved, that the human being was was not created in jest or at random, but marvelously made for some great purpose…When, in the crucible of abstinence, he is purged from base passions he attains to the highest end, and, in place of being a slave to anger and lust, he becomes endowed with angelic qualities…But the spiritual alchemy that effects this change in him, like that which transmutes base metals into gold, is not easily discovered…”

DATE: Friday April 2, 2010
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Lower level, Noor Cultural Centre

The Light Upon Light Spirituality Discussion Series features a variety of spiritually nourishing subjects in an inclusive space where participants of all faiths actively contribute in a manner that is respectful to all. This series is led by Dr. Timothy Gianotti (2007-2008 York-Noor Chair of Islamic Studies, 2008-2010 Noor Fellow in Islamic Studies at York University).

PREVIOUS TOPICS (from fall, 2007 until present): Spiritual Knowledge / Love / Tests & Trials / Loving Universally while Living within Particularity (featuring the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook) / On the Importance of Being a Stranger in the World / Dreams, Death and the Journeys of the Spirit / On the Art of Being Grateful / The Importance of Solitude / Core Paradoxes: freedom in servitude, wealth in poverty, life in death, gaining by spending, spiritual advancement through sin / The World of the Unseen / Spiritual Storytelling / Being a Perpetual Beginner / The Poetry of Kabir / "with a little help from my friends..." The indispensability of community for walking the path to God / Rumi & the Wisdom of the Reed Flute / Spiritual Chivalry / Tests and Trials Revisited / Glimpses of the Religious Ideal: Spiritual Masters, Sages, and Other Friends of God in the Jewish and Islamic Traditions (special Muslim-Jewish "Twinning" session at Temple Emanu-El, Toronto) / The Mysteries of Light and Darkness / Pilgrimage

Great Books, Thinkers & Ideas of Islamic Civilization Continues!

SESSION 3 Friday March 19, 2010

The Mu’tazilah

This session will explore the philosophical, theological, historical, and political dimensions of the Mu’tazilah, a rationalist theological movement of the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries, CE. Attention will be given to the great theological debates prior to the rise of the Mu’tazilah, the main features of Mu’tazili thought, the brief ‘Abbasid-Mu’tazili political alliance, and the eventual triumph of non-Mu’tazili theologies in the classical or formative period of Islamic intellectual history.

Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Lower social room, Noor Cultural Centre
Admission: $5 per session

Great Books and Thinkers of Islamic Civilization

With Dr. Timothy Gianotti

This new series, open to everyone, calls attention to the rich diversity of the Islamic tradition by showcasing great books, thinkers, and ideas from all over the world and all fields of endeavor, from all periods of Islamic history and all realms and persuasions of thought.


SESSION 1 Wednesday January 13, 2010 Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

SESSION 2 Friday February 12, 2010 Abu Nasr al-Farabi

PUBLIC STATEMENT condemning the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, the bombing of churches in Malaysia, the murder of Coptic Christians in Egypt

Affirming that the Prophet Muhammad was sent, in the words of the Qur'an, "as nothing but a mercy unto the worlds" (21:107), i.e., as a mercy unto everyone -- Muslim and non-Muslim alike -- and unto everything, we categorically condemn the recent waves of violence against Christians in Egypt, Malaysia, and now Nigeria. Understanding that the Qur'an commands us to uphold justice, even against ourselves and our kin (see the surah of women, 4:135), we call upon all Muslims to stand up and condemn the crimes perpetrated against humanity by persons who identify as Muslims, just as we condemn all crimes perpetrated by anyone against any and all members of the human family. More, we ask everyone to pray for the victims and their families and to seek ways by which we might reach out with assistance and support for those whose lives and security has been so viciously violated. May God's mercy prevail and be manifest among us; May God's justice prevail and be manifest in the world; and may God's compassion and grace and healing be with the murdered, the bereaved, the wounded, the violated, the shaken, the downtrodden, the forgotten.

NEW COURSE: Islam & Modernity (open to the public)

a nine-week introductory course
(Sunday, February 14 – Sunday, April 11, 2010)

with Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti
2008-2010 York-Noor Fellow in Islamic Studies
2007-2008 York-Noor Chair of Islamic Studies

Course Location & Meeting Days/Times
Noor Cultural Centre, Sundays, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Contact Noor Cultural Centre for Registration Details

What is Islam? What is modernity? What does one have to do with the other? What are the principal ways in which Muslim thinkers and activists have responded (and continue to respond) to the challenges presented by modernity and by an international order founded upon secularism and modernism? What has been the experience of different Muslim communities and intellectuals (specifically those in the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia) as they have responded to the particular challenges posed by colonization, westernization, modernization, and globalization? In pursuing these and other questions, we will highlight the perspectives of Muslim thinkers, activists, movements, and communities from the current and past three centuries, which have witnessed and continue to witness many kinds of Islamic reform, renewal and revolution in the wake of Western political and cultural domination. We will also explore Muslim voices in Europe and North America and track new trajectories of renewal and reform in the West, where Muslims live as small but increasingly significant minority communities.


♦ February 14
What exactly was the Enlightenment? The “Revolution” of the Enlightenment in Europe and its consequences; Unpacking the Worldviews of Tradition vs. Modernity: a taste of things to come… Contrasting the respective relationships of Tradition and Modernity to Time, Economics, Knowledge…

♦ February 21
The “Discontinuities” [or radical historical changes] brought about by Modernity; The Pace of Change / the Scope of Change / Modern Institutions;

♦ February 28
How does Modernity reshape society and human interaction? “Post-modernity”? Is modernity a quintessentially Western project? Is it the inescapable doom of all traditional ways of life? How?

Secularism; Judaism and Christianity in the Modern World

♦ March 7
The challenges and changes Modernity forces upon traditional religion: How the Enlightenment and Modernity have influenced Christian and Jewish Theology and Community Dynamics


♦ March 14
While the industrial revolution and the “age of the Enlightenment” were taking off in Europe and America European Colonialism and the corresponding “Qur’ānic” crisis of the 18th and 19th Centuries within the Islamic world… Religio-political calls for renewal and reform

Islam and the Nation-State: unique challenges and sticky issues

♦ March 21
Going back to go forward: How do 18th & 19th century Muslim thinkers draw upon the classical Islamic tradition to counter the onslaught of European hegemony? How can they be seen to be adapting to Modernity and the Enlightenment? How do they define the fundamental problem for the Islamic world? Who is to blame for the current state of the Islamic world?

♦ March 28
Islam & Nationalism; Islam & Socialism. Are such couplings compatible?
Islam and Secularism (?); What is the difference between the modern conception of knowledge and the traditional Islamic conception of knowledge? Can there be such a thing as “Islamic” knowledge and/or science?

♦ April 4
Islam and Social Change: should modernity change Islam or should Islam change the modern world? Can we separate the outward form from the inward spirit of the religion? Can Islamic Law adapt? Should it adapt? How can it change if it is Divinely revealed for all cultures and all times? Women and their changing rights/roles within society… must their religious roles also change?
♦ April 11
Islam and the West: A clash of civilizations? Can Western influence be stopped or even contained? Should it be stopped?

Islam and Democracy: are they compatible? Is Democracy the cure-all for the traditional, Muslim world?

Ethnicity, Nationalism, Pluralism, and Religion: what does Muslim identity mean within a globalized world? Final thoughts and questions...