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 Muslims in Canada


According to Canada's 2001 census, there were 579,740 Muslims in Canada, just fewer than 2% of the population. In 2006, the Muslim population was estimated to be 0.8 million or about 2.6%. In 2010, the Pew Research Center estimates there were about 940,000 Muslims in Canada. About 65% were Sunni, while 15% were Shia. Some Muslims are non-practicing. The number of Muslims in Canada is predicted to triple over the next 20 years, sparking a debate among moderate Muslim-Canadians about whether the country is ready to deal with the community’s more extremist members.

The current number of Muslims — 940,000 — comprises 2.8% of the Canadian population. A recent report from the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said they will increase both in number and proportion of the country — 2.7 million, or 6.6% of the Canadian population, by 2030. By comparison, Muslims are expected to make up 1.7% of the U.S. population by that time.


Muslims represent the youngest generation in Canada with a median age of 28.1 years. Compared to the Jewish and Roman Catholic populations whose median age is 41.5 and 37.8 years old, respectively? The median age for the total Canadian population is 37 years old.


The Muslim community in Canada is almost as old as the nation itself. Four years after Canada's founding in 1867, the 1871 Canadian Census found 13 Muslims among the population. A great number of Croatian Muslims (from Bosnia) came to American soil much like other Croatian Christians; some came prior to First World War. The first Canadian mosque was constructed in Edmonton in 1938, when there were approximately 700 Muslims in the country. This building is now part of the museum at Fort Edmonton Park. The years after World War II saw a small increase in the Muslim population. Part of it was Croatian Muslims from Bosnia, that were part of Handschar Division and other imprisoned Muslim Croats from Bosnia. However Muslims were still a distinct minority. It was only after the removal of European immigration preferences in the late 1960s that Muslims began to arrive in significant numbers.


Muslim Croats from Bosnia were the initiators and one of the main participants in founding of all first mosques in Toronto. First Masjid, out of which the three oldest mosques in Toronto came were founded by Muslim Croats from Bosnia and by Albanians in 1968. The first Masjid in Toronto was named Jami Mosque (56 Boustead Ave. Toronto). Later, with the action of Dr Qadeer Baig RUA (a professor of University of Toronto), it was purchased by Asian Muslims, while Albanians and Muslim Croats later founded their own mosques: Albanian Muslim Society of Toronto on 564 Annette St. and Hrvatska džamija (Croatian mosque) at Croatian Islamic Centre, 75 Birmingham St., Etobicoke. According to the Canadian Census of 1971 there were 33,000 Muslims in Canada.[17] The oldest mosque in Toronto, with the oldest minaret in Ontario, built in Osmanic style is the one in Etobicoke, that is part of the Croatian Islamic Centre, whose readjustment into Masjid (originally an old Catholic school building) was over on June 23, 1973. Mosque (an Old Catholic school, bought for 75 000 CAD) was readjusted for the Croats of the Islamic faith, with the support of the local Catholic Croat community. One of the co-founders is the world eminent nuclear medicine expert, Dr. Asaf Durakovic. In the 1970s large-scale non-European immigration to Canada began. This was reflected in the growth of the Muslim community in Canada. In 1981, the Census listed 98,000 Muslims. The 1991 Census indicated 253,265 Muslims. By 2001, the Islamic community in Canada had grown to more than 579,000. Estimates for the Census 2006 pointed to a figure of 800,000.


Compared to Muslims in Europe, Canadian Muslims have not faced the same set of problems. The Muslim community in Canada is just one among many ethnic, religious, racial and cultural communities that together make up Canada. Canadian Muslims may be classified as Muslims for official governmental statistical and policy-making purposes.




·         The Muslim population consists of diverse visible minorities, where


·         37% is of South Asian decent,


·         21% of Arab decent,


·         14% is of West Indian decent, and the remaining


·         28% is made up of many other ethnicities such African, Chinese, etc.


·         Half of Muslims in Canada speak a non-official language at home. Compared to 0.32% that speaks both official languages at home.




·         32% of Muslims in Canada have never been married,


·         59% are legally married and living together,


·         2.9% are separated but still legally married,


·         3.5% are divorced, and


·         2.9% are widowed. Also, there are 7, 540 Muslim couples that live as common law partners.


·         There are also 21,145 Muslims in Canada who are single parents.




·         Canadian Muslims have excelled in acquiring a Master’s degree with slightly over 6% when compared with the three largest religious sects such as: Roman Catholics where only 2% hold a Master’s degree, 3.5% of individuals who stated they have no religion and the third largest religious sect in Canada being the United Church has 2.4% of its population holding a Master’s degree, however; 8.8% of the Jewish population in Canada hold a Master’s degree


·         30% Muslims (123,725) Muslims were attending school in 2001.


·         6,310 Muslims have a PhD degree


There are 1.5% of the Canadian Muslim population that have earned doctorates comparatively, 0.3% of Roman Catholics and 2% of Jewish population in Canada have earned doctorates.


Probably more Muslim PhDs in Canada than many Muslim countries.


3.5% (14,520) of the Canadian Muslim have their major field of study in Humanities and related fields


5.3% (21,640) have majored in social sciences and related fields




1.    Canada's Muslims, an international comparison -


2.    Number of Muslims in Canada predicted to triple over next 20 years: study -


3.    Profile of Muslims In Canada -


              Qamrul Khanson
                Sep. 09 - 2005

Some Canadian Muslims are proposing the implementation of sections of Shariah [Muslim law] to settle family disputes outside the court system through arbitration committees/tribunals. Due to provisions of the provincial Arbitration Act, law, resulting in a bypass of the court system, may accept the arbitrated agreements. Former attorney general Marion Boyd's 150-page report favouring the introduction of Islamic Shariah, or "Muslim principles" (in her language), in the proposed Arbitration Board has become the proverbial last straw. To the uninformed, Marion Boyd sounds quite "reasonable" in the way she has argued her case. In her view the "Muslim principles" should be considered an acceptable method of religious arbitration as long as they do not violate Canadian law - very similar to how Catholics, Jews and Ismaeli have made use of a 1991 Act.


British Columbia Muslim Association President Da’ud Ismael said he personally believes it would be good to have Shariah law legally institutionalized under the Arbitration Act. "We have talked about it at the BCMA. We have looked at the benefits. But we think it needs more thorough study before we make a presentation to the attorney-general," said Ismael, whose organization represents roughly 40,000 Sunni Muslims in British Columbia, the largest group among the province's more than 60,000 Muslims.


Even though British Columbia imams are already instituting Shariah codes in their mosques, Ismael emphasized Shariah should never be used in a way that undermined the Canadian Constitution or the courts.


In Ontario, former attorney general Marion Boyd at the request of Premier Dalton McGuinty is conducting the Liberal provincial government’s review of Shariah law. Although it has yet to be formally approved in Canada, religious arbitration of family disputes has been tolerated, even encouraged, by the courts since the Arbitration Act was passed in 1991. The influential Canadian Islamic Congress supports it. But many Canadian Muslim women adamantly oppose Shariah because they have seen how the sometimes-harsh 1,400-year-old rules have been used in some countries to oppress women.


The Muslim Canadian Federation, another major Muslim organization, also says it isn't ready for religious law to be used to settle legal matters, saying it could contravene the Canadian Constitution and stigmatize Muslims who oppose potentially unfair decisions. Aziz Khaki, a Vancouver-based director of the Muslim Canadian Federation, said "the ideals" of Shariah are positive, but Canada should be extremely careful about formally implementing the code.


Imam Shahadat Mohammed of Burnaby, just east of Vancouver, says he hopes Ontario Muslims are successful in their efforts to endorse Shariah so British Columbia Muslims can follow suit. "It would be good. It would be very easy. And it would clean up a backlog in the (civil) courts," Mohammed said. Although the British Columbia Muslim Association has not yet made an official presentation on Shariah to the provincial government, some Muslim leaders say they would like to obtain official government sanction of the arbitrations that Muslim priests are already making for adherents. Although the British Columbia Muslim Association has not yet made an official presentation on Shariah to the provincial government, some Muslim leaders say they would like to obtain official government sanction of the arbitrations that Muslim priests are already making for adherents.


However, some Muslim leaders say a precedent for officially endorsing Shariah in Canada may have been set by the Orthodox Jewish court system- -which allows Canadian Jews to present their disputes to a specially trained rabbi whose decision is binding on the parties - - and enforceable in a court of law. "We hear anything that is brought to us, whether it is a business deal gone sour or inheritance and domestic disputes between a husband and wife," said Teitlebaum, executive director of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council, which has spearheaded the Beth Din courts in Canada.


The Muslims in Ontario in particular and in Canada as a whole must consider certain facts so that we Muslims could come closer to the arbitration of Islamic Jurisprudence for the satisfaction of the families. It is incumbent upon all Muslims to come closer to resolving the Shariah debate rather than prolonging it for a stingy fermentation and confrontation between secular Muslims and religious Muslims:


Islamic Shariah shall be directly from The Qur’an, which is infallible. When it is taken literally from The Qur’an, all sects of Muslims do come under it without any reference to their sectarian laws giving them a sense of unity in The Qur’an and in its commands. The moral principles of The Qur’an outweigh its narrative zeal (for example, while slavery has been tolerated in Islam for a specific historical era, the question of Polygamy is with the need of the time and The Qur’an does not promote or encourage these practices unless needed due to certain circumstances i.e. childless couple, male starved society due to war women exceed in ratio to an alarming state i.e. Bosnia, Iraq etc.


The Islamic Shariah went through major transformation and changes due sectarian divide of the Muslim community, but only up to the 16th century. If Shariah is drawn from the opinion of different scholars then it would remain divisive and unity of Ummah cannot be achieved. Any explanatory and elaborative narration shall come from The Ahadith Nabvi (SAW) elaborated by Ahle Al Bait and As’haab. After that loyalty, it shall come from the opinions of Fuquoha i.e. Imam Hanafi, Shafa’ie, Hanbal, Malik and Jafari (RUA). Within Islamic Jurisprudence, Muslims of different Fiqh could take their arbitration from respective Qadi of Shariah accordingly.

Islam and West

Time for enlightened moderation
Exclusive By Pervez Musharraf, Ex-President of Pakistan
2 June 2004

OUR world is passing through a tumultuous period ever since the dawn of the 90s, with no signs of relenting. The suffering of the innocent multitudes, particularly my brethren in faith - the Muslims - at the hands of militants, extremists, terrorists, has inspired me to contribute towards bringing some order to this disorderly world. It was this very urge, which led me to expound the strategy of Enlightened Moderation.

The world has become an extremely dangerous place to live in. The devastating power of plastic explosives, combined with hi-tech, remotely controlled activation means superimposed by a proliferation of suicide bombers becomes a lethal combination beyond any effective counter. The unfortunate reality is that both, the perpetrators of the crime as well as most of the sufferers from it are Muslims. This has inevitably made non-Muslims believe, wrongfully, that Islam is a religion of intolerance, militancy and terrorism. This thesis is rapidly evolving across the globe: connecting Islam to fundamentalism, fundamentalism to extremism and extremism to terrorism. We can protest, however vigorously, against this labelling, but the reality is that such arguments are not likely to win this formidable battle of minds against us. To compound our apathy further, we are probably the poorest, most uneducated, most powerless and the most disunited in the world.

The stark reality that faces anyone with compassion for this common heritage of mankind - our world, mother earth - is what legacy we want to leave for our future generations? On the other side, the challenge that confronts the Muslims is to drag ourselves out of the pit we find ourselves in, through individual exaltation and collective socio-economic emancipation. Something has to be done quickly to stop this carnage in the world and for the Muslims to stem the downward slide, if we are to prevent ourselves from being marginalized.

My idea for untangling this Gordian knot is the strategy of Enlightened Moderation, which I think, is a win for all - the Muslim and the non-Muslim world. This is a two-pronged strategy. The role by the Muslim world involves shunning militancy, extremism and adopting the path of socio-economic uplift. The other role to be played by the West and the US in particular, must aim at resolutely resolving all political disputes with justice and also assisting in the socio-economic uplift of the deprived Muslim world.

I would like to explain the logic of the strategy of Enlightened Moderation and elaborate on the methodology for the Muslim world to execute its part of the strategy. First of all we need to understand that the root cause of extremism and militancy lies in political injustice, denial and deprivation. Political injustice to a nation or a people when combined with stark poverty and illiteracy makes the explosive mix leading towards an acute sense of deprivation, hopelessness and powerlessness. A people suffering from a combination of all these lethal ills are easily available cannon fodder for the propagation of militancy and the perpetration of extremist, terrorist acts.

It would be remiss if, in defence of the people of my faith, I did not trace back the genesis of the Muslims getting labelled with the extremist terrorist tag. Before the anti Soviet, Afghan War started, the Palestine dispute alone was the cause of unrest or concern in the Muslim world which led to a general unification of Muslims in favour of Palestinians and against Israel. The Afghan war of the 80s supported and facilitated by the West, against the Soviet Union, saw the emergence and nurturing of pan Islamic militancy. Islam as a religion was used to harness mass, worldwide Muslim support. Subsequently, the atrocities and ethnic cleansing against Muslims in Bosnia, the Chechen uprising, Kashmir freedom struggle and invigorated Palestinian Intifada all erupted in the 90’s after the Soviet disintegration. To make matters worse the militancy sparked in Afghanistan which needed to be defused after the end of the Cold War, was allowed to fester for the whole decade of 90s. This festering wound of Afghanistan with fighters from the entire Muslim world existing within the period of upheaval in other Muslim nations turned multidirectional, looking for new conflict zones where Muslims were suffering.

This saw the birth of Al-Qaeda. All this while the Palestinian Intifada kept gathering momentum, uniting and angering Muslims across the globe. Then came the horror of 9/11 and the angry reaction of US against Taliban/Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. All subsequent reactions of the US, their domestic responses against Muslims, their attitude towards Palestine and operation in Iraq led to total polarisation of the Muslim masses against the US. Why this needs to be recapitulated is to prove that it is not Islam as a religion, which preaches or infuses militancy and extremism but the political disputes, which led to antagonism in the Muslim masses. All this is history now. What has been done cannot be undone. But this situation cannot be allowed to fester. For the sake of universal harmony, a remedy has to be found. The cry of the day is for the West to resolve the political disputes enumerated above with justice as their part of the commitment to the strategy of Enlightened Moderation.

I would now like to turn to the Muslim World, for whom my heart weeps. What we need today is self-introspection. Who are we, what do us as Muslims stand for, where are we going, where we should be headed and how we can reach there? The answers to all these questions, I see as the Muslim prong of the strategy of Enlightened Moderation.

We have had a glorious past. Islam exploded on the world scene as flag bearer of a just, lawful, and tolerant and value oriented society. We had faith in human exaltation through knowledge and enlightenment. We exemplified tolerance within ourselves and with people of other faiths. The Armies of Islam did not march forward to convert people to Islam through the sword, despite what perceptions may be, but to deliver them from the darkness they were under, through the visible example of their virtues. What better projection can be found of these deeper values of Islam than the example of our great Prophet (peace be upon him) who personified justice, compassion, tolerance, generosity of spirit, austerity with a spirit of sacrifice, and a burning desire for raising humanity to a better world?

The Muslim world today is distant from all these values. We have been left far behind in social, moral and economic development. Unfortunately during our decline we remained in our own shell and refused to learn from others. We thus reached the present depths of despair and despondency. We need to face stark realities. Is the way ahead one of confrontation and militancy? Will this path lead us to our past glory and also show the light of progress and development to the world?

My Muslim brothers, the time for renaissance has come. The way forward is to head towards enlightenment and concentrate on human resource development through poverty alleviation, education, health and social justice. If this were our direction, it cannot be achieved through a confrontationist approach. We have to adopt the path of moderation and a conciliatory approach to wash off the common belief that Islam is a religion of militancy and are also in conflict with modernization, democracy and secularism. All this has to be done with a realisation that, in the world we live in, the doctrine of fairness is not always available to us. This is our prong of the strategy of Enlightened Moderation, which we need to deliver.

If this were the strategic course to be adopted by the Muslim World, what are the operational parameters to be executed? The OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) is our collective body. We need to infuse life into this body, which at present is in a state of near impotence. It has to be restructured to meet the challenges of the 21st century, fulfill the aspirations of the Muslim world and take us towards our emancipation. The committee of eminent persons being formed to recommend a restructured OIC is indeed a big step towards the right direction. We have to show resolve, rise above self-interests for our common good in the very spirit that Islam teaches us.

The world at large and the powers that be must realise that confrontation and use of force is no more the option available to bring ultimate peace. Justice must be done and seen to be done. Let it not be said by our future generations that we, the leaders of today took humanity towards apocalypse.

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