In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful

Resistance. Inspiration. Creation. Revolution.

Thanks to and Acknowledgement of
the Original People of Turtle Island

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Blog Post 46

December 9, 2021

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Acknowledging our Duty to the Native Peoples 

(The following talk, hosted by the Hosseini Movement in Toronto, was given by Sister Laila Hasib in commemoration of Sister Zahra Jacko and her sons, Ali and Hussayn Nima, on-line on December 8, 2021, the eve of her passing on December 9, 2017. There were some technical difficulties with the recording that we hope to fix soon.) 

In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful

“O people! Indeed, We have created you

from a male and a female

and We made you nations and tribes

that you may know one another.

Indeed, the most noble of you with Allah

is the most Allah-conscious of you.

Indeed, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware.”

(The Holy Qur’an 49:13)

As-Salaamu Alaikum Everyone,

The Native Peoples of America have always had a profound hold on me ever since I was a little girl in North Carolina. And that continued as I became a Muslim and moved to Canada. This is evident if you knew of all the books I’ve read, the movies our family has seen, the trips our family has taken and some of the poetry I’ve written. 

For example from my poem Prayer Rock written on Muharram 14, 1438 (October 16, 2016):


That girl ascends the limb-stairs of the maple tree, higher and higher, to obtain the sought-after bird’s eye view off to the horizon, silent there, like an eagle over its land.

She takes in this neck of the woods, the winding hills, many steep ones, meandering creeks, bright ruby cherry, red delicious apple and buttery yellow pear trees, vines laden with succulent dark bluish-purple grapes, bitty twining vanilla honeysuckle with a touch of just enough sweetness, the dirt’s redness and blackness and brownness, brilliantly coloured four o’clocks with splashes emitting a strong sweet smell until morning, white four-petaled twisted dogwoods with clusters of crimson stone fruits, dark green leathery leaved magnolias with their showy white lemon-fragrant flowers and strange woody fruit cone and the shy sensitive plant whose leaves close when it’s touched.

That girl feels it belongs to others, not hers or theirs, but to soft-footed warriors, true lovers of God’s Earth, the ones who were frightened, chased, lost, destroyed and murdered.

And she cries.

Behold that girl staring at the glass-encased rows of arrowheads, moccasins, feathers, headdress, beaded materials – the upper floor of the Old Salem museum – to which she darts ahead, drawn by an invisible cord, pulling, pulling, never wanting to leave, pleading to remain a few more minutes, a lifetime.

Does she know how much they hurt?

Is she asking for forgiveness for what the cold-hearted did?


And from my poem Nightmares, written the next day:

Congealed blackened blood festered where the trophy pelts were hacked off the scalps.

Heavy iron shackles bit fiercely into bony bare ankles oozing pus on the march of no return.

Awakened activists took up arms, ever-ready in defence, by any means necessary, predicting their encroaching assassinations.

Midnight hoods failed to conceal leather collars attached to leashes clasped by mocking guards.

Porcupiny bodies collapsed across speckled sand, arrowheads deeply embedded.

Curled dying wrapped in disease-infested blankets, unaware the inflamed sores were intentional.

Sardines smashed in dark holds swimming in vomit, excrement, mucousy fluids moaned lamentingly, aching screams.

Wives and children glimpsed shattering flashes as their beloveds jolted backwards, crumbling into lifeless staring eyes.

Females utilized to enhance intelligence paraded, threatened, prodded, assaulted, arms-length from their electrified menfolk.

Sword-swept headless necks of motionless mannequins lounged in stagnant blood pools.

Long rifles blasted mangled original flesh, skin and bones off devoted palominos.

Raised hardened welts criss-crossed backs, buttocks, legs to announce warrior brands.

Bright crimson trickled from the bullet-holed chests and faces, proclaiming victory.

Truncheons plunged forcibly into privacy, gruel crammed down parched inflamed throats, nakedness prostrated on freezing cement.

Women and girls mourned witnessing horses trampling the pious as lobes ripped, modesty obliterated, tents flamed.

Murderous assaults rushed through long-standing societies herding them down teary dying trails to erase their presence.

Burned bodies, castrated, swung from yonder shame-faced trees, coerced into unwilling submission of their hardy limbs,

encouraging the soul’s escape from the jeering crowd.

Hands-up, black manhood shot down, armless innocent, an on-going extermination by descendants.

Boards drowned the rounded-up stolen for interrogation, insane threats, burning skin, rounded, repeated.

Lacerated heads sustained the resistance reformation smashed atop drenched spears.






These are the truths I had understood early on without actually knowing much. What I did know was that the US government and people had massacred the Native Peoples. These are the truths I came to know as I witnessed them in reality and history.

I met Sister Zahra Jacko and her family when we moved into Crescent Village in Richmond Hill, Ontario in September 1993 or shortly after. We all knew she was a member of the First Nations and was born near Manitoulin Island. Sister Zahra was a proud Native Shia Muslim. Her given name is Veronica Jacko, her married surname was Nima, her chosen Muslim name is Zahra and she also went by Ume Muhammad. Like my children’s names, Sister Zahra’s four boys carry renowned and recognizable Shia names – Muhammad, Ali, Hassan and Hussayn. Being a Native Person and being a Muslim went hand-in-hand for Sister Zahra. Those who know know that her second son, Ali, and her last son, Hussayn, died seven years apart on the same day. Mashallah. We are here today to remember Sister Zahra and her sons and to commemorate them and call attention to our duty to the Native Peoples of the Americas, inshallah. May Allah grant them all a grand place in Paradise with the Ahl al-Bayt.

My Cross Stitch for Zahra Nima Oct. 14 2015 3

It is common today to give thanks to and acknowledgement of the Original People of the Greater Toronto Area whenever groups and organizations gather. On our Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing’s website, you can find a typical statement that goes something like this:

“We would like to begin by acknowledging that for hundreds of thousands of years the land on which we are has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wyandot, the Seneca and the Anishinaabe, specifically the Mississaugas of the Credit River and the Ojibwe. Our presence on the land is transitory, a continuum from the ancestors to “the coming faces” - the unborn generations. Unlike the Europeans, Indigenous peoples hold the land communally. We live within the dish with one spoon territory, of the Great Lakes region which includes southern Ontario, made by a treaty between the original inhabitants and represented by a wampum belt. Its field of white represents peace, unity and harmony and a little figure represents the dish. It is a covenant with the Creator, each other and nature. Inside the dish are all the water, air, plants, animals, birds, fish, bushes, trees - things we need to be healthy and happy. The rules attached to this covenant are: only take what you need; always leave something in the dish for everybody else, including the dish; and keep the dish clean. There is no knife which means there is to be peace and Mother Earth must be protected from harm.

“The long and bloody history of European atrocities against the Native Peoples of the Americas and all the broken treaties hold significant lessons for everyone here today. Through allying and uniting with the original inhabitants, who today still inhabit the land we live on, we will, inshallah, fully understand what occurred here and what continues to happen here and around the world. It is our duty to stand with the oppressed wherever we find ourselves and to offer them our sincere love, friendship, peace, support, cooperation and respect. It is important to realize that each of us are immigrants to this part of the world and we have come here for a reason which we may not yet fully understand. To ignore the suffering of the people on whose land we live is to join the aggressors. Each of us has tasted the hatred of racism, bigotry and discrimination, if not personally, then through our ancestry. The evilness and greed of un-Godly power continues to target those in its way, whether they be Native, black or Muslim. We all have much in common.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to have this gathering in the territory of the various original peoples of Turtle Island of whom we are guests. We thank them and Allah, the Creator, and we understand and ascribe to the Great Law of Peace, the treaty of peace, benevolence, good mind, respect, justice, equality, friendship and caring, as long as the sun is in the sky, the rivers flow and the grass grows - as long as the Earth exists.”

Sister Zahra is a member of the Ojibwe First Nation of the Anishinaabe people. Anishinaabe means “Original People.” “Tribes that refer to themselves as Anishinaabe include the Ojibway, Algonquin, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Saulteaux, Nipissing, and Mississauga, as well as some Oji-Cree and Metis communities.” (, Anishinabe Indian Fact Sheet) The Ojibwe First Nation are the second largest First Nations with about 160,000 people, after the Cree, in southern Canada. More than 170,000 Ojibwe People also live in the US. (Wikipedia, Ojibwe) There are more than 150 bands of the Ojibwe People in southern Canada and in the north-central US. (, Ojibwe) Sister Zahra’s specific band is the Whitefish River First Nation which is located on Birch Island, Ontario, slightly north of Manitoulin Island and a little over 100 kilometres southwest of Sudbury, Ontario. The current Chief is Ogimaa Shining Turtle (Franklin Paibomsai). At the end of September 2021, there were 1,434 members of the Whitefish River First Nation with 381 registered members living on the reserve. (The Rezound, November 2021, pp. 19, 22)

Zahra Nima 

Sister Zahra and I were close not only because we were friends, Muslimahs, mothers, converts, grandmothers, but because I also have native ancestry. My great-great-maternal grandmother was Native. Sister Zahra’s long-held hope and desire and constant petition was for the Muslims to visit and befriend her people there as we have so much in common. On November 11, 2015, Sister Zahra and I had finalized a dawa proposal for a group of around 21 Muslims to travel to the Whitefish River First Nation, stay for two nights in the cabins there and host a feast for the community. The hosting of a feast was absolutely necessary to show our good will and fellowship. We estimated the trip, along with renting three vans to get us there, would cost, at that time, around C$6,000.00. The proposal was to be sent to one of the local masjids. However, the trip was postponed due to Sister Zahra’s health.

While some people believe that the Native Peoples are far removed from Islam, that is not the true story.

Allah The Most High sent 124,000 Prophets to the Earth.

Did the Native Peoples not get any?

A friend of ours, Brother Ilyas Islam (Dr. John Andrew Morrow), a French Canadian convert to Islam who uncovered his Native heritage after much searching, says: “Like all other tribes and nations, we received prophets, messengers, and holy men who taught us about the Creator and how to live our lives in balance. As the Prophet Muhammad taught, all human beings were created with a monotheistic nature.” He makes it clear: “My ancestors, the Indians of the Eastern Woodlands, believed in Manitou, the Great Spirit.” (Morrow, J.A., The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad,

What exactly does Native Peoples mean anyway?

Most of the Native Peoples in the Americas call themselves

the people, the original people or something along those lines.

In every country in the world, the Native Peoples mean

those who were on the land first, before invasions of others.

They were on the land before, before those who are there now.

It is in Allah’s The Most High Wisdom that He created people in nations and tribes. All people are born into a family and those families are connected to other members of their extended family through birth and marriage. Ultimately, there will be a link between the extended families, especially if they stay together and marry each other. These extended families make up the band or clan and the various bands or clans make up the tribe. The tribes are related to each other as well and thus they form a nation.

In Canada, the First Nations Peoples have been organized into six linguistic-cultural areas. Within these areas are the various Peoples, and within these Peoples are the tribes and within these tribes are the bands. In Canada, the tribes and the bands are both called First Nations. For example, in the Anishinaabe Peoples, there are eight tribes or First Nations in Canada. In the Ojibwe tribe or First Nation in Canada and the US, there are 15 major bands with five in Canada and these are further organized into at least 130 recognized bands with their own government, although they may be subject to the Indian Act. (Wikipedia, List of First Nations peoples; Wikipedia, Ojibwe; Wikipedia, Indigenous peoples in Canada)

Of course, this all does not include the Inuit and the Metis. Overall, the Native Peoples in Canada, including the Inuit and the Metis, comprise a little less than 5% of the population. The 2016 Canadian census counted 977,230 First Nations Peoples. (Wikipedia, Indigenous peoples in Canada)

It is possible to understand the categories if we look at Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Prophet Muhammad’s family was comprised of his father and mother. They all belonged to the clan of the Banu Hashim. The Banu Hashim was a member of the tribe of the Quraysh. The Quraysh are linguistically and culturally part of the Arab Peoples. With the First Nations, the clan is their extended family and their band is all the extended families put together, which makes them a smaller tribe within the larger tribe of all the bands put together and all the tribes put together makes the whole group of Anishinaabe Peoples. For example:

Arab People – Quraysh Tribe – Banu Hashim Clan – Close Extended Family - Family

Native Peoples (First Nations Peoples) - Anishinaabe Tribe (Peoples) – Ojibwe Tribe – Whitefish River First Nation (band) – Close Extended Family – Family (Wikipedia, Tribe; Wikipedia, Indigenous peoples)

These words are interchangeable and many First Nations Peoples in Canada use nation and tribe and band to refer to themselves. The word nation implies people in a political sense, their political status. Historically, the word tribe was used in many places of the world to denote a group of people who were ethnically, socially and politically related and functioned as a cohesive, effective unit. The word band was also used historically around the world to describe groups of people who were bound together as an organized unit. A band is made up of people who are related closely by birth and marriage and are smaller than tribes. The various bands are joined together politically and socially, speaking the same language, sharing the same religious beliefs and cultural expressions including food, clothing and art. It is always ethical to understand that it is the Peoples themselves who designate which family, clan, band, tribe or nation they belong to. (Britannica, Difference Between a Tribe and a Band)

Interestingly, Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala has made all people into nations and tribes, into families which join together for various reasons. But ultimately, we are Muslims and that is our family, tribe and nation.

The Muslim Ummah is our community, whether it is our neighbourhood,

our town or city, our province or district, our country, our region,

our continent, our world. Al-Hamdulillah.

Many Native Peoples also consider friends and even non-Native Peoples

as members of their band based on respect, trust, love and friendship.

Remember how Allah The Most High informed Prophet Nuh, peace be upon him, that his own son was not a part of his family. The believers are one family, one Ummah. Subhanallah! The Seminole tribe in the southeastern US are a good example of how various peoples came together to form a sociopolitical entity, including Native Peoples, black people and European people.

Don’t be fooled. All people are categorized in tribes.

The European peoples, including those of European descent in America and Canada and Australia, for example, do not normally refer to themselves as tribes. Why? Because they see the word tribe as backwards, inferior, uncivilized – which they do not see themselves as! In Europe, based on language alone, there are over 120 languages spoken. (Wikipedia, Ethnic Groups in Europe) Do not doubt that a person in Europe who speaks Greek sees themselves belonging to a separate group than a person in Europe who speaks Hungarian or Dutch, for example. But why is there even such a thing as Europe or European? What can possibly bind all these people together? What can possibly unite them together? What can possibly be their common culture? These questions are for another day, inshallah. And of course, there are Native Peoples in Europe, including the Circassians, Crimean Tatars and the Sami peoples. (Wikipedia, Ethnic Groups in Europe)

This audience, no matter where you are born, can understand this tribal delineation. For example, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, there are many tribes, including Persian, Kurd, Lur, Arab, Baluchi, Turkmen, Azeri, Mazandarani, Gilak, Talysh, Tat and Qashqai. (Ferdowsihotel) There are also Afro-Iranians in Iran. (Wikipedia, Afro-Iranians)

To conclude this section of my talk, Brother Ilyas Islam said: “Muslims were organized as Muslims by the Prophet Muhammad. They were not organized on [the] basis of nation or race and they viewed non-Muslims as an integral and protected part of their community. When Muslims started to identify themselves on the basis of race, language, ethnicity, sect, and school of law, they effectively returned to the Days of Ignorance.” (Morrow, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad,

Sister Zahra and I talked often about the common beliefs of the Native Peoples and Muslims. And we also talked often about the oppression of the Native Peoples by the Europeans. Instead of believing that the Native Peoples are far removed from Islam, please believe that the European oppressors and taghuts are doomed to the Hellfire. They are so far removed from Islam that it makes absolutely no sense to emulate them, assimilate with them or admire them in any way.

For example, in Wikipedia on the topic of the Ojibwe, it says:

“The governments of the U.S. and Canada considered land a commodity of value that could be freely bought, owned and sold. The Ojibwe believed it was a fully shared resource, along with air, water and sunlight—despite having an understanding of ‘territory.’ At the time of the treaty councils, they could not conceive of separate land sales or exclusive ownership of land.”

Just from this, you can see how the taghut are the exact opposite of the Ojibwe. They crossed the Atlantic and stole the land and resources and massacred and almost completely exterminated the Native Peoples.

A couple of examples that show how the Ojibwe and the Muslims are similar are:

They both put a huge emphasis on family connections. They are a patriarchal society, meaning that the children belong to the father’s clan. But importantly, the people were required to marry a spouse from a different clan. If you think about this, you will understand. (Wikipedia, Ojibwe)

The main duty after a person dies in the Ojibwe tribe is to bury the body as soon as possible. This means on the day of death or the next day. They believe a speedy “burial allows the spirit of the dead to journey to its place of joy and happiness.” In any case, the guests and spiritual leader must stay with the deceased and the family to help mourn throughout the night until the person can be buried. (Wikipedia, Ojibwe)

Sister Zahra and I had put together some similarities between Islam and the First Nations. Some of the ideas we came up with are:

Muslims believe in Tawheed. The Ojibwe believe in Oneness.

Muslims call God Allah. The Ojibwe call God The Creator.

Prophet Muhammad, and other Prophets, went to the mountains to pray and fast. Native spiritual leaders also go to the mountains to pray and fast.

Turquoise is a special gemstone for Muslims. Native Peoples use turquoise in prayer.

Muslims pray daily towards the east/northeast here and one prayer is before sunrise. The Native Peoples pray daily towards the east, where the sun rises, and when it rises.

Muslims learn from reading the Qur’an and Hadith specifically through the spoken word and Native Peoples learn through the spoken word and the passing on of traditions.

Muslims try to memorize the Qur’an and Hadith from childhood. The Native Peoples also teach the traditions to the younger generation.

Fasting is a religious activity by Muslims and Native Peoples. When an Ojibwe person fasts, they don’t talk to anyone during the fast and give gifts and then participate in a feast.

Muslims’ and Ojibwes’ bodies and clothing should be pure and clean.

Eagle symbols and pictures are often used by Muslims. For the Ojibwe, eagles are sacred.

Islamic art uses geometric designs, which are easily seen at the masjids and Imams’ burial places. Ojibwe clothing, particularly women’s dresses, and artwork also use geometric designs.

Islamic art and clothing use beadwork as do Ojibwe clothing, particularly women’s dresses.

Hajj features circumambulating the Kaaba in Makkah and often discussions and learning takes place in a circle. Native Peoples’ ceremonies are circle gatherings which travel around in a circle and they often sit in circles for discussions and learning.

Muslim women perform salat behind Muslim men. During Native Peoples’ religious ceremonies, the spiritual leaders and eagle staff carriers are men and the women follow directly behind them so they can protect the women and the other men follow them.

Polygamy is allowed in Islam. Ojibwe men can have two wives.

The marriage of cousins is allowed in Islam. Ojibwe People can marry cousins.

Alcohol and drugs are haram in Islam and Muslims cannot be intoxicated during salat. Native Peoples call alcohol fire water and no alcohol or drugs are permitted during ceremonies.

Drums are halal in Islam. Native Peoples use drums because drumming symbolizes the heartbeat. It is healing when you make your own drum.

Muslim and Native beliefs teach the respect of parents, grandparents and elders.

Children are also deemed very precious by Muslims and Native Peoples and they are often given gifts.

Sadaqa (charity) is a worthy deed in Islam. Native Peoples often give gifts as a form of honour, respect and friendship.

Zakat (tax on items) is a pillar in Islam and is considered a purification of one’s wealth. Native Peoples’ contribution to others is their passing down of teachings and giving knowledge.

Muslims burn harmal (esfand in Farsi) (wild rue) to ward off the evil eye. Native Peoples burn sage and sweet grass to ward off evil spirits.

Muslims and Native Peoples love and ride horses.

Muslims and Native Peoples use bows and arrows.

Muslims use domes in their masjids. Native Peoples’ spiritual lodge is a dome.

First Nations Peoples “believe in One God who never eats and drinks nor is constrained by time; He rules and governs all things in the universe, everything without ex­ception being under His sovereignty and dependent on His will… Some of God’s attributes [are] that He has no partner, and if He did, there would surely be conflicts be­tween the partners.” Their concepts of God are lofty. Certainly, Allah’s Messengers conveyed the truths to them which remain today as sound beliefs. (Gulen, F.,

There is so much more to talk about. Perhaps, inshallah, next year we can discuss more similarities and connections between Native Peoples’ beliefs and Islam. Or perhaps before that, inshallah.

I will end this talk with three poems of many that Sister Zahra wrote which I compiled into a booklet for her sons and grandchildren in June 2017. Al-Hamduillah.

Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem

This Earth

This Earth that we live on is beautiful.

Capture a good look out your windows at the beautiful scenery.

Can you see what I see?

The sun is shining so bright.

The clouds are dancing through the sky.

And I see the warm blue water calm

Which is so soothing.

I see flowers blooming in all colours of the rainbow.

I see the bees carrying pollen from one plant to another to make honey.

I see birds singing and chirping.

And I see the ants carrying sand to build their homes.

I see trees swaying forward as though they are praying.

Can you imagine if we all see the same scenery,

we would treat people differently?

On this beautiful Earth in which we live it is going to pass us by

and it’s only a journey.

That’s why we should live in peace and harmony because

one day we would all be gone

and not possess that enlightening experience.

It’s inevitable that we will all die and be below the ground

from which we originally came.

Then we will be in an even more beautiful place called Paradise,

Depending on what we have seen out our windows in this

beautiful place called Earth.


Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem

Life is like a test and we must pass.

Mine was the passing of my two sons, Ali and Hussayn.

Although it was very difficult to let them go, Allah gives us ease,

As life will pass us by like a breeze.

So keep your duty and deen.

Stay sin-free and clean.


Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem

Zaynab and Zayn

Had so much love for Hussayn.

It was the story of their family’s journey and passage.

The blood of Prophet Muhammad, Ali, Zahra

and son Hussayn didn’t go for free.

They were the soul, heart and key

That had formed the holy family tree,

Which is called a religion of peace.

Allah is Fair and Just and made this family the winners of this life

As well as the afterlife

For all that they sacrificed.

They all were so fearless.

They knew they would be in the seventh heaven regardless.

We should all take them for our map and guide,

For one day we all will be under the dust and need to glide

To the top of the Heavens.

All it takes is to follow the revelations.

I would hope to be a servant

For a family as precious as the Fourteen Masoomeen and Ahlul Bayt.



Please recite Surah al-Fatiha for Sister Zahra and her sons, Ali and Hussayn.

Please visit Sister Zahra's and her sons' graves at Al Hussain Foundation Centre - Imam Hussain A.S. Masjid, 10992 Kennedy Road, Markham, Ontario.

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Anishinabe Indian Fact Sheet. Accessed from

Difference Between a Tribe and a Band. Accessed from

Different tribes in Iran and diversity of races and cultures. (Ferdowsi Hotel Blog, Jan. 22, 2019) Accessed from 

Gulen, Fethullah. How Many Prophets Were There? Are They All From Arabia? Accessed from

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