The Islamic Society of North America – Canada (ISNA) is an organisation aimed at establishing a vibrant presence of Muslims in Canada.
For the 43rd Annual ISNA Canada Convention themed ‘Unity in Diversity: Towards Inclusive Communities’, iERA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hamza Tzortzis was honoured to be invited to deliver the keynote speech at the convention and the Gala Dinner.
He was joined by many notable guests including Sven Michael Spengemann (Canadian Member of Parliament), Azhar Azeez (ISNA President, USA), and Imam Mohamed Magid (Director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society) and many others.
At the Gala Dinner, Hamza delivered a powerful keynote speech on a tribute to community service. The speech was a reflection on the verses of the Qur’an in Surah Fussilat teaching us on how to respond to evil:
The good deed and the evil deed are not equal. Repel by that which is better; then behold, the one between whom and thee there is enmity shall be as if he were a loyal, protecting friend.
Hamza shared that a key characteristic of community leaders and those engaged in public service is to respond to evil by that which is better. If people were to respond to evil with something more beautiful and more virtuous, the world would be a different place. Interestingly, the world ‘repel’ in the verse is not followed by a direct object, which – from a lexical point of view – opens the door to many meanings.
These can include repelling (1) anger with patience (2) error with truth (3) hatred with compassion (4) evil with good (5) harshness with forgiveness (6) ignorance with clemency (7) oppression with justice and (8) violence with peace.
The classical commentator of the Qur’an, Ibn Kathir, mentions that adopting and internalising this Quranic ethic would lead to reconciliation, love and empathy.
At the ISNA Convention, Hamza delivered the keynote speech on the topic: “The Rope of Allah: Concept of Unity in Islam”. The speech focused on reflecting on and strengthening the Muslim community and a parallel session on how to positively approach and convey the call to Islam to non-Muslims.
As part of the trip, in his role as CEO, Hamza networked with various leaders and educators, strengthening relationships between iERA and Canadian organisations.