We received the following message from one of our neighbours (close to our location on Weston Rd.). Here is what she had to say:
Let me start off by saying I am not a Muslim and until recently wasn't aware that you were a non-profit organization (I thought you were a mosque).
I have lived in the area just a few steps from your door for over 7 years. In my 7 years here I have noticed multiple times families, men, women, children park on my street (Cordella Ave) throughout the week and walk to your front door all wearing their traditional coverings.
Never once has anyone given me a problem big or small. The children are wide eyed and smiling when they see my 2 puppies playing in my front yard and the adults are no different.
Since the Paris attacks I have not seen a single, man, woman or child park on my street or smile at my dogs and then the ugly reality sunk in.
Are they afraid to park here? Has the few ugly hateful people in Toronto terrorized them enough that they can't even go about their day?
This upsets me. I know it's not enough but I am very sorry for the actions of the few uneducated hateful people terrorizing your friends and family. Canada does NOT represent that behavior, or condone it.
My name is [removed] and I live on [removed for privacy]. You are all welcome to park in front of my house anytime you like. The few people that I do know on this street feel the same way as I do but if for some reason any woman or child ever feels unsafe, my door is always open. A safe haven to sit and call the Police until it is safe to go home.
Be assured you are welcome here.
[name removed for privacy reasons]
We responded with the following:
Let me first of all thank you for your kind and inspiring words. Your message was a pleasure to read and reflect upon. You are a very kind neighbour.
We have been present at 874-A Weston Rd. since Jan 1st 2004. We are a non-profit organisation that runs an Islamic centre (mosque), a book store, seminars, classes and other outreach programmes such as our youth community outreach programme and an inmate assistance programme. We are also a book publisher and run two large information-based websites (
is the other).
We are a multi-ethic group of mostly young Muslims. Many of us are of Western origins and converts to Islām (like myself, a former catholic from Ireland).
We are so happy to hear about the positive interactions you've had with our community. I'm sure your puppies have provided great entertainment for passing children. It's good to hear that members of our congregation have exhibited good manners and conduct with our neighbours, this is so important in Islām. Allow me to share with you a few prophetic narrations of the Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him) regarding one's neighbours.
The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stated regarding the rights of the neighbours:
“Jibril (the angel Gabriel) kept recommending treating neighbours with kindness until I thought he would assign a share of inheritance”.
[ref. al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The Companion of Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him), Abu Dharr, reported: The Messenger of Allah commanded me thus, “O Abu Dharr! Whenever you prepare a broth, put plenty of water in it, and and give some of it to your neighbours”.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.” It was asked, “Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “One whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil”.
[ref. al-Bukhari and Muslim].
We are a young group who interact with all members of the community frequently. Thankfully, we have a good repertoire with members of the Weston community and enjoy engaging our neighbours and colleagues regularly. As you alluded to, Canadians are a tolerant laid-back people who are accepting and welcoming.
On the horrible events of 9/11, we were located on Weston/Lawrence, we had a small office at the time. We are shocked and appalled at what happening, allegedly in the name of Islām. We took to the corner of Weston/Lawrence and began to engage the community, giving out pamphlets and chatting with people. One young lady, much like yourself, approached us in tears, she said, "I just wanted to say, I know not all Muslims are like that, I fear for how people will treat you now." We were very much touched by this, much the way we are touched by your kind sentiments, friendliness and support.
We feel very comfortable in the area and we thank you for your kind words of acceptance. We are very busy working on publishing new pamphlets about ISIS and terrorism. Although people who think like this are a tiny minority, we find it incumbent upon us to expose evil and to academically refute extremism. (I have attached some images which have appeared in a former message to you).
Please thank the other neighbours for their kind thoughts. We hope to have an open-house someday soon and invite people in the area to meet us and get to know us.
PS - If you ever need help of any sort, moving something, a tyre change, any sort of assistance, we would be more than happy to offer our help. The same goes for anyone on the street. Just pop by and see us.
Thanks again, and we hope to meet you one day soon.
This interaction should serve as positive reinforcement that good manners and conduct, displaying the beauty of good Islamic behaviour is the best form of daʿwah (invitation) and despite ugly events that have happened and have been ascribed to Islam and Muslims, it can be overcome with goodness.
We concluded our response by sharing images of the following flyers we are working on: