A mosque asking that Canadian workplaces respect a strict Muslim dress code is at the same time disseminating slurs against Jews and Western societies, and warning members against social integration.
The Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque near Kipling Ave. and Rexdale Blvd. serves as the religious authority for eight Somali women complaining to the Canadian Human Rights Commission that UPS Canada Ltd. violated their religious rights at a sorting plant. The mosque, founded in 1990 and serving upwards of 10,000 people, preaches strict adherence to sharia, or Islamic law, and no compromise with the West.
Teachings on the mosque’s website, khalidmosque.com, refer to non-Muslim Westerners as “wicked,” “corrupt” and “our clear enemies.”
Sometimes Jews are singled out.
“Is it permissible for women to wear high-heeled shoes?” begins one posting in question-and-answer format. “That is not permissible,” comes the reply. “It involves resembling the Disbelieving Women or the wicked women. It has its origin among the Jewish women.”
Modern pastimes are condemned.
“What is the ruling on subscribing to sports channels?” another question begins. “Watching some of the female spectators, when the camera focuses on them time after time” stirs “evil inclinations,” the lesson reads. “Some (players) may not even believe in Allaah.”
Mosque leaders refused repeated requests for an interview.
A disclaimer on the website says questions and answers do not necessarily reflect the mosque’s views. But the About Us page says: “All questions and answers on this site (are) prepared, approved and supervised by (the mosque’s imam) Bashir Yusuf Shiil.”
The mosque’s stand on the UPS case also appears contradictory.
In September, a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal heard two weeks of testimony from eight mosque members alleging “Islamophobia” at the company’s west Toronto plant. Three final days of testimony are scheduled for next week.
The eight women, who lost their jobs at UPS, say Islam dictates that they wear a full-length skirt for modesty. The courier company insists that any skirt be knee-length for safety, as workers climb ladders up to 6 metres high.
Under their skirt, the women wear full-length trousers but say they do not want the lower part showing in case the shape of the calf can be discerned.
The complaint originally centred on the company’s use of temporary workers and uneven enforcement of its safety rules.
But the key question remains: Is UPS insisting on shorter hems for safety or is it violating religious rights by denying the women permanent jobs unless they conform?
So far, no Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque representative has attended the sessions, but the women cited the mosque as their place of worship and religious authority, and tabled a letter from its administration. “This is to certify that the religion of Islam requires all Muslim women to cover her entire body inclusive of the legs, arms, head, ears and neck,” the letter reads. “As such, (the women) would not be able to wear pants as an outfit.”
On the other hand, the mosque’s website teachings forbid women to work outside the home in the first place. “It is known that when women go to work in the workplaces of men, this leads to mixing with men,” one such posting says.
“This is a very dangerous matter,” it reads. “It is in clear opposition to the texts of the Shariah that order the women to remain in their houses and to fulfill the type of work that is particular for her …
“We ask Allah to protect our land and the lands of all Muslims from the plots and machinations of their enemies.”
Two of the women making the complaint – Dales Yusuf, 46, and Nadifo Yusuf (no relation), 36 – said in an interview that they live in Canada now, and are free to pick and choose from Islamic law.
“We must work,” said Dales Yusuf. “I’m a single parent raising my kids.” Jacquie Chic, a lawyer with the Workers’ Action Centre representing the women at the hearings, said neither she nor her clients were aware of the mosque’s posted teachings. “I, the Workers’ Centre and these women are concerned enormously about any expression of anti-Semitism or any other form of racism,” she said.
Questions to the mosque about its teachings were met with evasiveness over three weeks.
Mosque chairman Osman Mohamed three times agreed to an interview and three times cancelled at last minute. Imam Shiil was said to be in Saudi Arabia and unreachable. Mosque administrator Abukar Mohamed confused matters further by appearing to agree with UPS, saying: “The Quran says women must be covered – it doesn’t give you the specific clothes. But I am not a religious authority.”