March 26, 2017

cloudy

Winnipeg
1° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Faith

Guidelines for imams

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/2/2014 (1142 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The author of a new handbook for imams says it provides a professional -- and Canadian -- protocol for Muslim leaders not available before.

"The role of the imam has been constantly evolving in the West," says Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Winnipeg-based Islamic Social Services Association.

Shahina Siddiqui with handbook for Canadian imams: 'The role of the imam has been constantly evolving in the west'

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Shahina Siddiqui with handbook for Canadian imams: 'The role of the imam has been constantly evolving in the west' Purchase Photo Print

"At home (in Pakistan) it is just someone who leads the prayer. Here the role is more."

To address that evolving role, Siddiqui produced a 50-page downloadable handbook for imams addressing topics such as Canadian marriage laws, counselling practices, mediation, domestic violence, care of vulnerable persons, and hate speech. It also provides samples of marriage contracts and certificates and points to further resources.

Siddiqui says the whole handbook outlines best practices for counselling, performing civil and religious marriages, or addressing conflicts.

"The whole handbook deals with social services. It doesn't deal with any theology," she says.

"We have shared what our expertise is, what our mandate is."

While researching and writing the manual, Siddiqui referred to the professional conduct protocols for clergy produced by other denominations, including Roman Catholic, United Church of Canada and Mennonite.

"I knew that churches and synagogues already have these guidelines," she says, referring to guidelines around clergy misconduct.

Thought to be the first Canadian handbook for imans, it is available online at www.issaservices.com and may also be distributed in hard copy if requested, she says.

Memorizing the Qur'an and studying at an Islamic institution was the traditional path to become an imam, says the chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams, a Toronto-based organization with a membership of 50 volunteer and part-time imams.

"Most of imams (in Canada) are coming from other countries. We are in need of establishing our own education (program) in the Canadian context," explains Mohammed Iqbal AlNadvi, a volunteer imam who holds a PhD in Islamic law.

He says Canada has no formal post-secondary training programs for imams, but Muslims can attend a chaplaincy training program in Hartford, Conn.

AlNadvi says some of the material concerning mediation does not apply to the situation in Ontario because imams are not allowed to offer that service, but other information in the handbook will be useful for members of his organization, which meets monthly to discuss common concerns.

In Winnipeg, which has a smaller Muslim community and only a handful of mosques, there are only a few part-time imams, as well as several volunteer prayer leaders and marriage commissioners, says the newly elected president of the Manitoba Islamic Association.

"We'll read them (the guidelines) and I think we'll probably forward them to our prayer leaders and it will be a resource for them. We're also working at moving away from the model where the imam does everything," says Idris Elbakri.

"We've grown as a community but we need to match that growth with appropriate services and make changes as necessary."

That's exactly why this document is important, says Siddiqui, to address issues before they arise so imams and other people in the Muslim community understand the protocols and procedures.

"The community is growing, it is maturing and we're seeing issues we've never seen before."

brenda@suderman.com

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 7:22 AM CST: added photo plus credit

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Photo Store

Scroll down to load more

Top