TORONTO, Dec. 18, 2015 – An initiative to recognize Muslims’ positive contributions to Canadian society will culminate with the inaugural Muslim Awards for Excellence (MAX) Gala on March 24, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Toronto, Ontario.

A nation-wide nomination process is currently underway to recognize Muslims from all professional spheres who have demonstrated significant achievement, leadership, and commitment to serving their community in Canada. Nominees are in contention for three MAX Platinum Awards for Excellence, as well as MAX Woman of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Charity of the Year, and Friend of the Year. Scholarships for six outstanding Muslim high school and university students are also up for grabs. Winners will be announced at the first annual MAX Gala in March, with keynote speeches by prominent Muslim Canadians including Toronto Film Commissioner and Little House on the Prairie star Zaib Shaikh, and Ryerson University President Mohamed Lachemi.

A rising wave of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric drove MAX founder Aazar Zafar’s desire to highlight bright Muslim minds in Canada and their incredible achievements and contributions. “This narrative of violence and terrorism is not the Islam the vast majority of Muslims have grown up with,” said Zafar. “Education and service are tenets of Islam, and are also central Canadian values. MAX honours that, and as proud Canadians, we aim to recognize and motivate high achievement in the country.”

Nominations for MAX awards and scholarships are open to the general public and can be submitted online at The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2016.