Congrats to the Ottawa people!! I wish I was living there, despite the bitter winters!
OTTAWA — Imam Zijad Delic, national executive director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, is the only Ottawa-area resident and one of only 13 Canadians included in a new book listing 500 people the authors describe as the world’s most influential Muslims.
Delic, 44, is included in The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World (2009), edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, Islamic studies scholars at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
It’s the first such list, and in their introduction the editors say they hope to offer new editions annually, to provide “a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world. Each person on this list has influence over the lives of a large number of people,” the writers say, adding that the list provides “insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world.”
Of Delic, the editors write, “He is a scholar who writes about how Muslims can integrate into Canadian society and has been a consultant to the Canadian government and various NGOs.”
The writers also mention Delic’s work for 11 years in Vancouver, where he was imam of the British Columbia Muslim Association.
Originally from Bosnia, Delic left there in 1995 and moved to Canada. He earned a doctoral degree at Simon Fraser University and also worked in B.C. as an Islamic studies teacher. Delic moved to Ottawa in 2006 to become director of the Canadian Islamic Congress. The new guide says that organization’s newsletter reaches 300,000 subscribers worldwide.
Reached at home Friday, Delic said being included on the list “was an honour after my work that I’ve done specifically in the Canadian context.”
Delic said his main achievements in Canada have included working on “bridging the gap of misunderstanding and working on responsibility of Canadian Muslims as citizens as well as acceptance by the larger society as far as Muslims are concerned and their faith.”
He said he’s also proud of his work encouraging inter-faith dialogue. He says he was the first Muslim, for example, to address the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a talk last year.
“That was a real honour. We criticize religion from every corner, but we don’t give it a chance. I have had a good relationship with other major organizations and that is one of the aspects I am really very proud of.”
Other Canadians named on the list include Zarqa Nawaz, creator and writer of the CBC Television series Little Mosque on the Prairie, a program that has received international media attention. Delic says he’s an admirer of the work Nawaz has done with the program.
“It challenges us Muslims and it challenges Canadian society because it tells us ‘guys, you have to work together.’ There is no other way. And that’s why I like the program. It’s about being a Canadian, it’s not living in your safe zone or ghetto. It’s about living with others.”
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