MAX Gala 2016 Finalists 2017-08-12T15:02:13+00:00

MAX Woman of the Year

The MAX Woman of the Year Award recognizes a Muslimah / Woman who has demonstrated significant achievement, leadership, and commitment to serving her community.

Dr. Fariha Khan
Dr. Fariha Khan
Dr. Fariha Khan, mother of four young boys and practicing physician, also dedicates herself to issues of social justice, poverty, international development and civic engagement. A graduate of McMaster University and the University of Toronto with high distinction, Fariha is an academic who educates and mentors young aspiring doctors. She is an advisor on mental health and poverty with United Way Peel Region’s Public Policy Committee. She promotes diversity, inclusiveness and issues of human rights and civil liberties in Canada as an active ambassador for the National Council of Canadian Muslims and The Canadian Muslim Vote. Fariha is deeply involved with international humanitarian efforts as a Director for Islamic Relief Canada. With the Muslim Medical Association of Canada, she most recently helped to launch their Islamic Health Teaching Initiative. Balancing her faith, work, family, and community life, Fariha is a true role model and an admirable Canadian muslim woman.
Fos Ashkir
Fos Ashkir
Fos Ashkir is passionate about social justice and working with marginalized communities.
She currently works for MP Bill Morneau as a Constituency Assistant, focusing on immigration and communities within Toronto Centre.

She previously served as a Parent Engagement Worker with the MY Regent Park project, which focused on the reduction and prevention of gang related activity amongst youth in Regent Park. Fos was also a Coordinator of Regent Meals, where she helped developed one of the first halal restaurant-style food programs.

Fos has partnered with many agencies and institutions such as Dixon Hall, Toronto Police Services 51 Division, Central Neighbourhood House – 5yr committee member who helped organize National Day of Remembrance & Action On Violence Against Women, Toronto Community Housing Corporation, acting Board member of Regent Park Community Health Centre, Chair of Lord Dufferin Day Care Board & Jarvis Collegiate Institute’s Parent Council, Lord Dufferin Public School, and Nelson Mandela Park Public School.

Shahina Siddiqui
Shahina Siddiqui
Shahina Siddiqui is a freelance writer, author, spiritual counsellor, speaker and educator, who co-founded Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA). She serves as president and volunteer executive director of ISSA–Canada.
Shahina has been working for decades to build bridges between communities, preserve human rights, and develop cultural competency and mutual understanding between different cultural groups. She founded the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute, is one of the founding members of Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute, serves on the National Advisory Board for the Canadian Association for Muslims with Disabilities, is a member of the National RCMP Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Diversity, is a senior board member of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and a founding member and chair of the Federation of Canadian Muslim Social Services.

Shahina has received many notable awards for her work, such as the YMCA-YWCA (Winnipeg) ‘Peace Medal 2002’, the Grass Roots Women of Manitoba Award,,the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal,,the Civic Courage Award from DawaNet, and the Joan Melanson Award. She also received the Tayyibah Taylor Award 2016 at the One Love Gala in Toronto in January 2016 recognizing a successful woman in leadership and incarceration issues.

Wahida Valiante
Wahida Valiante
Wahida Valiante is a founding member and former National President of the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC). She is also a founding member and past National Chair of Islamic History Month Canada, a national Annual Educational and Cultural project, proclaimed by Canadian Parliament in 2007.
Wahida’s professional background is in social work specializing in family therapy. Her pioneering research into the holistic balance of faith-based and clinical therapies resulted in numerous national and international invitations to speak, teach and write in more than a dozen countries. She has been named in the prestigious international directory “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies, and one of “100 Extraordinary Muslim Women Past and Present” by Women Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality. As former U.S. Congressman Paul Findley affirmed: “Her wise and persistent leadership on behalf of dignity and decency for people of all faiths has lifted the spirits and hopes of untold thousands of Canadians and people beyond. These endeavours are especially effective on behalf of the Muslims who struggle under unwarranted but often fierce passions against Islam. We need more Wahidas.”

MAX Friends of the Community Award

The MAX Friends of the Community Award recognizes non-Muslim individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the Canadian Muslim community. The MAX Friends of the Community will have assisted in the achievement of certain strategic goals in key areas of importance to the community.

MAX is recognizing all Friend of the Community nominees below.

Annette Wilde
Annette Wilde
Annette Wilde is an entrepreneur and owner of a small software company in Toronto. In 2014, Annette was asked by her stepmother, a minister in the United Church in Kingston, to help bring a Syrian refugee family to Canada. They contacted the Islamic Society of Kingston, and determined the best way to help would be to sponsor a family of Syrians Muslims already living in Canada; this is how “Save A Family From Syria” was established. This was an important milestone as the Canadian government at the time had approved few Muslim organizations to carry out sponsorships. In June 2015, a family arrived from Jordan, and they have sponsored more families since then.
Annette started a second collaboration between the Muslim Association of Canada and the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto to sponsor Syrian families. She has also worked with the Dar Al Tarweed Mosque and the Unitarian Congregation, and the Syeda Khadijah Mosque on more sponsorships. All told, 15 families so far have been sponsored thus far!
Rev. Dr. Brian Arthur Brown
Rev. Dr. Brian Arthur Brown
Rev. Dr. Brian Arthur Brown of Niagara Falls is a United Church minister and prolific Canadian author. He is best known for his book Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran, the scriptures of Abraham’s family, and introducing the Quran to North American culture as the “final testament.” Facilitating understanding by non-Muslims, and equipping Muslims to present their faith in a manner that is “at home” in Western culture, this book is lauded by Islamic leaders Mobeen Khadia, Amir Hussain, Raheel Reza, Faud Sahin, Faisal Kutty, and Nevin Reda. Washington’s Canadian Embassy 2012 book launch, attended by 19 Muslim ambassadors, presented Brown’s work as the antidote to Quran burnings. ISNA’s Dr. Sayyid Syeed, keynote speaker, said “We hope and pray this book finds its way to every home, library, school, and worship center, and into every heart.” Bahrain’s then Ambassador to Canada, Her Excellency Houda Nonoo, called Three Testaments “a defining spiritual landmark for the 21st century.”
Dennis Edney
Dennis Edney
Dennis Edney legally represents Omar Khadr, referred to by media as “Guantanamo’s Child.” He has represented him in all levels of Canadian courts including three successful appearances in the Supreme Court of Canada. He was appointed as a Foreign Attorney Consultant by the Pentagon to defend Omar, and has visited him countless times over the years in Guantanamo Bay.
He has received noteworthy recognition and awards – the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia’s Human Rights Medal; the National Pro Bono Award; the prestigious Gerald L Gall award by the John Humphrey Centre; the Winnipeg Citizens Award for contribution to Human Rights and Justice; the Paul Harris Fellowship for his contribution to global human rights; and named one of “Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers” by Canadian Lawyer.

He finds his most important reward to be helping Omar find his freedom, a task yet unfinished. Omar has been released on bail and currently lives with Dennis. Their legal journey is not yet over, but it is decidedly more hopeful.

Lorne Waldman
Lorne Waldman
Lorne Waldman is considered an expert in the area of immigration and refugee law, and has challenged anti-Muslim bias in a number of cases. He has represented Zunera Ishaq who successfully challenged a niqab ban in Canadian citizenship ceremonies, Maher Arar at the public inquiry into his illegal deportation to Syria, and Hassan Almrei, who successfully defended himself against a security certificate based on wrongful allegations that he was a member of Al Qaeda. Lorne has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in many of the leading cases in immigration and refugee law. He was elected as the first President of the Canadian Refugee Lawyers Association in 2011, was awarded the Louis St. Laurent Award of Excellence by the Canadian Bar Association for his contributions to the legal community and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. He is the author of several reference works about immigration law.

MAX Entrepreneur of the Year

The MAX Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes inspirational Muslim business leaders who have had a significant and positive impact on the community through their business leadership. Eligible candidates can include entrepreneurs and leaders of for-profit corporations and not-for-profit enterprises.

Hamza Khan
Hamza Khan
Hamza Khan is an award-winning marketer and entrepreneur. He’s making waves as the co-founder of Splash Effect, an agency which helps brands in the education sector to supercharge their marketing & communications. Hamza is also the publisher of Year One, a publication aimed at inspiring and motivating people through periods of personal and professional transition. He also writes about productivity and peak performance at 99u, Asana and Medium. Hamza teaches social media marketing at Seneca College and is invited regularly to speak on subjects such as social media, digital marketing, productivity and professional development. His most recent venture, SkillsCamp, is a school for the soft skills. Hamza holds a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto Scarborough (Class of 2010).
Mohamad Fakih
Mohamad Fakih
In 2006, Mohamad Fakih purchased a nearly bankrupt restaurant and transformed it into what later became the fastest growing Middle Eastern Halal restaurant chain in Canada – Paramount Fine Foods. In the first year of purchase, the flagship Paramount location earned $3 million in sales.
Mohamad is committed to revamping the traditional image of the Middle Eastern restaurant industry by changing the way the cuisine is viewed and enjoyed. He believes that his hands-on approach to all aspects of his business ensures the Paramount model will sustain growth and provide jobs for Canadians.

Currently employing over 800 people, the Paramount brand includes 12 restaurant locations across southern Ontario including the first halal restaurant in the Toronto International Airport, a gourmet butcher shop, a food factory, Yala food truck and new Fresh East Middle Eastern sandwich franchise.

Mohamad was named one of four finalists for the prestigious Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for 2013, in the food and beverage category.

Obaid Ahmed
Obaid Ahmed
Obaid Ahmed’s passion is to devise novel cutting-edge technological solutions to address some of the most pressing social and business issues in the world. Recipient of the “City of Ottawa Youth Business Entrepreneur Award” in 2012 and the Ottawa Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40 Award” in 2015, Obaid is a Founder & Managing Partner at AirLoop where he is responsible for all aspects of design and development of the platform. He is the lead on multiple in-house Software as a Service products including TourZap, UmmahHub, and AgentPin. Apart from these ventures, Obaid spends the bulk of his time looking at ways to build unique and creative bridges to bring together global problem solvers.
Shums Kassam
Shums Kassam
Shums Kassam started his first tech company, Blynk, during his third year of undergraduate studies in Engineering Science at UofT. A year later, Blynk was acquired by Kik – a messaging app company with over 240 million users and a valuation of over $1 billion. Today, he works as a Technology Lead for Kik.
Shums is passionate about strengthening the Muslim community in North America. To this end, he has worked as tech lead for The Canadian-Muslim Vote in building their online presence. In the month of the federal election, The Canadian-Muslim Vote reached over 400K online impressions. Shums is also the tech lead for Stronger Together initiative under the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). In addition, Shums works as the head of the education board at his local mosque. His team established a scholarship program and was able to fund five students in 2016.

MAX Platinum Award for Excellence

The MAX Platinum Awards for Excellence recognize Muslims who have demonstrated significant achievement, leadership, and commitment to serving their community.

Danyaal Raza
Danyaal Raza
Danyaal Raza is a staff physician with the Department of Family & Community Medicine of St. Michael’s Hospital. In 2015, he was part of the leadership team that opened the hospital’s newest primary care clinic, the Sumac Creek Health Centre. Located in Regent Park, he is now the clinic’s Physician Lead. He completed his clinical training at Western University and Queen’s University, is a former Global Health Family Medicine Fellow at the University of Toronto and a Harvard University Master of Public Health graduate.
Danyaal is also a Lecturer of Family Medicine at the University of Toronto. His writing and teaching focuses on the social determinants of health, in both health care and public policy. He serves on the Board of Directors of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, on the Poverty & Health Committee of the Ontario College of Family Physicians and on the Advisory Board of Upstream. His most recent public policy advocacy has pushed for paid sick leave as a part of Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review, and the federal implementation of a national, universal and public drug plan.
Faisal Kutty
Faisal Kutty
Faisal Kutty is a co-founder of KSM Law and teaches at law schools across North America.
He founded the Muslim Law Students’ Association in 1992, co-founded the Canadian Muslim Civil Liberties Association in 1994 and then went on to help set up and serve as legal counsel to CAIR-Canada (now NCCM). He worked on the Maher Arar case, the Air India Inquiry, the Security Certificate cases and he filed submissions challenging the No-Fly List. He also testified at the UN Human Rights Committee on anti-terror laws.

He has set up many non-profits and charities, and he served on boards including Human Concern International and the Bosnian Canadian Relief Association. He recently served as co-chair of the Islamic Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). He is an executive of the International Human Rights Law Section of the AALS and a Director of the American Society of Comparative Law. He also served as the first Islamic content consultant for CBC’s “Little Mosque on the Prairie.”

Faisal is widely published and regularly invited as a public speaker. For the past six years, he has been included in “The Muslim 500: The World’s Most Influential Muslims.”

Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh
Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh
Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON. Since joining Laurier in 2005, she has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities as an award-winning scientist, mentor and role model for female academics and students in the physical sciences. She has also received the Province of Ontario’s Early Researcher Award for her work investigating the reactivity of engineered nanomaterials. Hind regularly gets invited to speak at other chemistry departments and conferences in North America and Europe about her research, as well as diversity-related issues aimed at increasing the representation of women and visible minorities in the sciences. Her community outreach activities not only include articles published on www.iqra.ca, or invitations to lectures for youth and seniors, but also interfaith panels aimed at increasing awareness of the science behind environmental problems and the responsibility of citizens and Muslims in particular in addressing these challenges. She often highlights the role of ethics and faith in formulating a values-based response to the environmental crisis to complement the technocratic route through science and engineering.
Hussein Hamdani
Hussein Hamdani
Hussein Hamdani is very active in the community and recently sat on several volunteer boards. At the national level, he served on the Roundtable on Security. This volunteer position allowed Hussein to advise the Ministers of Public Safety and Justice on national security matters of concern to the community. Hussein has received global recognition for steering some Muslim youth away from violent radicalization. He sits on the boards of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and of NASR. Locally, he serves with the Special Investigations Unit, the Hamilton Law Association Board of Trustees and is the founder of the Halton Muslim Professionals Network which brings young Muslim professionals together to network, mentor and socialize.
His story of a refugee child to Canada who worked hard in school, mastered English, maintained a strong work ethic and became a partner of a large law firm in the Hamilton area, all the while maintaining a strong Muslim identity and commitment to the faith inspires and gives hope to many Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians.
Dr. Jamal Badawi
Dr. Jamal Badawi
Dr. Jamal Badawi is Professor Emeritus at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, where he serves as Professor of both Management and Religious Studies. In 2008, Saint Mary’s University granted him an Honorary Doctorate of Civil law. The university’s citation made mention of his promotion of “a better understanding of Islam” and contribution to “civil society around the world”.
Dr. Badawi is the author of several works on Islam, including books, chapters in books and articles; some are available online, including Gender Equity in Islam available on google.com, and a 352-segment television series on Islam on IslamiCity.com and Aswatalislam.org. His other material is available on onislam.net, Youtube.com, Peace TV, Fiqhcouncil.org, and JamalBadawi.org.

In addition to participation in lectures, seminars and interfaith dialogues in North America, Dr. Badawi was invited as guest speaker on Islam in 41 other countries.

He is a member of the Islamic Juridical (Fiqh) Council of North America, The European Council for Ifta’ and Research and the International Union of Muslim Scholars. He served also as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Islamic American University in Detroit and The consultative (Shura) council of the Islamic Society of North America.

Kashmala Qasim
Kashmala Qasim
Kashmala Qasim completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology from the University of Toronto and completed a Masters in Neuroscience from McMaster University, with a focus on mental health and obesity. She has also completed the Taleem ul Qu’ran Diploma course from Al Huda Institute, and is currently teaching there, as well as pursuing a PhD at York University in Social Psychology. Kashmala has been a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the Islamic Online University, and has also received Level 1 Pastoral Counselling training from the University of Toronto. Kashmala is also the founder and lead of SPICES Community Engagement at McMaster University, through which she conducted several healthy active living workshops in the community and provided free of charge family and marriage counselling sessions. Her research interests include Socio-cultural challenges faced by the Muslim community in accessing health care resources, perceptions of the Muslim community in seeking mental health care and development of a culturally sensitive model for psychotherapy.
Mohammed Hashim
Mohammed Hashim
Mohammed Hashim is a labour organizer working for the Toronto and York Region Labour Council and a driving force behind organizations like the National Council of Canadian Muslims, DawaNet, and the Erin Mills Youth Centre. His groundbreaking work in political advocacy, public relations and the media has been widely credited by insiders as framing a new narrative for Muslims in Canada.
Although not publicly recognizable, many Canadian Muslims have likely heard his words. Whether it is regarding a mother of a 6-year-old on the No-Fly list, Muslim women being attacked during the election, or even Islamic schools wrongfully accused – his talking points and media advocacy are changing how Muslims are seen in the Canadian identity.

During the election, he voiced young Muslims’ issues by leading a team that held a national debate. After the conclusion of the election he initiated “Stronger Together” for NCCM, a national political advocacy network for the Muslim community.

Dr. Vajid Khan
Dr. Vajid Khan
Currently a Radiologist and Assistant Professor at St. Joseph’s Health Care at Western University, Vajid Khan grew up in Ottawa and has trained in every major city in Ontario. This has allowed him the pleasure of meeting many talented and diverse Muslims. He is the current Chair of the Muslim Medical Association of Canada (MMAC). Vajid is passionate about building up the Muslim community and envisions the MMAC playing a critical role in helping our ummah unite and collaborate for the benefit of our community, all Canadians and all humanity. In addition, he leads a team of volunteers to organize Fungama, a charity picnic, games day and amateur volleyball tournament every summer which raises funds to sponsor 21 orphans from Muslim countries on an annual basis (www.fungama.org). He strongly feels it is the responsibility of those with much to care for those with less, and is determined to see balance restored.
Yasmeen Mezil
Yasmeen Mezil
Yasmeen Mezil is a doctoral student of the renowned Child Health and Exercise Medicine Program at McMaster University. In recognition of her research contributions in exercise and bone physiology, she received the prestigious Postgraduate Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Yasmeen is an active member of the McMaster Health Sciences Graduate Student Federation, and has previously served as the MSA Vice-President and Diversity Peer at the Office of Human Rights at Brock University. She is passionate about volunteerism and has contributed to both the Muslim and non-Muslim community of St. Catharines by writing for Siraj Publications, and organizing charity events such as the OneMatch Stem Cell Drive and Al-Noor Community Garden. Yasmeen enjoys creating anatomical illustrations and has showcased her work at the McMaster Museum of Art. Her illustrations can be found online at Art for Syria, a campaign dedicated to providing aid for Syria through charitable prints of artwork.

MAX Charity of the Year

The MAX Charity of the Year Award recognizes Muslim run charities and not-for-profit organizations that have demonstrated excellence in program design, service delivery and impact to their community.

IDRF
IDRF
IDRF is a proudly Canadian charity that follows the Islamic Principles of Human Dignity, Self-Reliance and Social Justice. For over 33 years, we have provided humanitarian aid and sustainable development projects worldwide. As an organization that was selected by the Financial Post as one of the Top 25 charities in Canada for our financial accountability, we are pleased to provide Canadians with access to their philanthropic goals.
Dawanet
Dawanet
DawaNet is a Canadian Muslim community empowerment, engagement, and education organization, based out of Mississauga, Canada.
Since its inception in 2000, DawaNet has been prominent amongst Canadian Muslims due to its vibrant networking model and pioneering charitable projects that empower people and organizations to lead, link, and share.
DawaNet runs several award-winning projects in the Greater Toronto Area, such as TorontoMuslims.com, MuslimFest, Understanding Islam Academy, Canada Zakat, Project Civic Engagement, and MY Voice Magazine. Learn more about the organization at www.DawaNet.ca.
Muslim Social Services Kitchener
Muslim Social Services Kitchener
Muslim Social Services (MSS) is committed to providing spiritually and culturally-sensitive programming, services, and counselling to both Muslim and non-Muslim communities of the Waterloo Region, with a strong focus on supporting newcomers, women, and youth. Despite limited capacity (only two staff members!), MSS has emerged as a recognized leader in holistic social services in the Waterloo Region.
Founded by an all-volunteer group of Muslim women in 2008, MSS is now a registered charity directly serving over 500 people each year through programs, and countless more through contributions to food drives and various forms of social support. Programs include Safer Families, Newcomer Youth Integration, Positive Parenting in Canada workshops, “crash courses” in conversational Arabic for refugee sponsors, the Rohingya Youth Voices theatre project, and art therapy workshops for refugee children.
The Muslim Welfare Centre
The Muslim Welfare Centre
The Muslim Welfare Centre is guided by the belief that service to humanity is service to Allah (GOD). The organization is committed to serving those in need, irrespective of religion, nationality, caste or creed. The Muslim Welfare Centre strongly believe that charity begins at home.
In Canada, the organization is involved in the fight against poverty and homelessness and is focused on providing food, healthcare services, and culturally-sensitive shelter for women, their children and families in distress, and healthy nutrition to our school children and seniors. Visit www.muslimwelfarecentre.com to learn more.