Sikander Hashmi is an imam, writer, teacher and marketer based in Kanata (Ottawa), Ontario.
Although Sikander grew up in Montreal and attended Edgewater Elementary School in Pincourt, Quebec, until age 11 (Grade 6), a sizable chunk of Sikander’s adolescence was spent at Al-Rashid Islamic Institute, a Muslim seminary in Cornwall, Ontario. He spent four years memorizing the entire Qur’an in Arabic, followed by a six-year classical study of Islam. Subjects included classical Arabic, jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, exegesis of the Qur’an and classical collections of the reported teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), among other subjects. Sikander graduated in 2004 as the first to have completed the entire program at the Institute without going overseas for the final year of study, which was customary until then.
Between 2000 and 2006, Sikander founded and ran eat-halal.com, the web’s first interactive site offering information on what foods were Halal (permissible for consumption by Muslims).
Sikander went on to become one of the co-founders of Sunniforum.com, a popular Muslim web forum and acted as a substitute imam, filling in when needed for prayers, sermons and lectures.
In August 2010, Sikander became imam of the Islamic Centre of Kingston (Ontario). A month later, he joined the Mathabah Foundation as a contributor. In June 2014, Sikander moved to Ottawa to pursue new opportunities for his family. He now serves as imam of the Kanata Muslim Association in Ottawa.
As a young news junkie who wasn’t allowed to watch television (dad got rid of TV at home and Al-Rashid had a no-TV policy), Sikander spent his childhood reading newspapers and listening to the World at Six and As It Happens on CBC Radio. News bulletins made up of newspaper clippings on colourful construction paper often went up in the Hashmi household after major news events, courtesy of Sikander.
In September of 2004, Sikander began journalism studies at Concordia University in Montreal. During his first semester, he applied for and was selected as one of 18 nationwide winners of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Fresh Voice contest. Sikander produced a radio piece on life at Al-Rashid Islamic Institute, which aired nationally on CBC Radio’s Sounds Like Canada.
During the summer of 2005, Sikander worked as a general assignment reporter at the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper. His first publication at the Star consisted of two front-page stories and he went on to publish close to 40 stories on a variety of topics such as civic issues, court cases, murders and Prime Minister’s meetings.
Sikander spent summer 2007 at Montreal’s the Gazette newspaper, which started off with three consecutive front-page stories on the Andrew Speaker tuberculosis story. He became one of the first (if not the first) summer reporters to become a dad while at the Gazette, when his beloved wife gave birth to their first child in New York City. Luckily, Sikander was able to make it in time for the arrival.
In 2008, Sikander graduated with distinction after having completed his BA with a specialization in journalism (which included print, radio and television).
Sikander continues to write on a freelance basis. He is currently a member of the Kingston Whig-Standard’s editorial board and writes opinion pieces for the paper on occasion.
During his later years at Al-Rashid, Sikander would occasionally teach or tutor his younger classmates. Then, after graduation, Sikander became a teaching assistant with an online Arabic language program.
During the summer of 2004, Sikander taught Qur’an and basic Islamic studies at a mosque in Montreal. In the summer of 2006, Sikander and his wife jointly ran a six-week summer intensive course for children at the Islamic Society of Kingston (Ontario). The duo then started offering weekend classes to children in their locality.
Sikander also served as a teaching assistant in Concordia University’s journalism department.
While in Toronto, both husband and wife taught weekday evening classes at a Muslim school. As imam at the Islamic Society of Kingston (ISK), Sikander taught Qur’anic studies and tajweed from 2010 to 2014. He also served as principal of the ISK Evening & Weekend School, managing over 100 students and a staff of 13 teachers.
In January 2009, Sikander began working as a communications consultant. He managed all aspects of external communication for a lost-and-found recovery firm, including the design and launch an e-newsletter as well as other client communication material. In June, Sikander moved on to Islamic finance firm in Toronto, where he was responsible for communications and marketing.