Tanya Khan – Life Lived for Interfaith Hormony

Lives Lived- Tanya Khan, 38 

BY Judy Csillag
The Globe and Mail

Wife, mother, teacher, interfaith activist, spiritual angel. Born Aug. 3, 1975, in Edmonton, died Aug. 6, 2013, in Toronto of complications from a brain aneurysm, aged 38.
‘A woman of valour, who can find?” asks the book of Proverbs. “Far beyond rubies is her value.”

We had found our woman of valour in an everlasting friendship with Tanya Khan. “We” were the three musketeers of interfaith activism: Tanya, a devout Muslim, Rev. Cathy Gibbs, an Anglican priest, and me, a Jew. So different and yet exactly the same, we were all bent on making the world a better place through common understanding, stoked by a great love and respect among the three of us.

I first met Tanya about 15 years ago while working for an organization that taught interfaith understanding to schoolchildren. The essence of the program was to take them to places of worship so they could feel, taste and smell the mysterious world of others and see that the similarities of their lives outweighed the differences.

Exploring the Challenges of Muslim Women in the West:





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A visit to Tanya’s mosque, the Ahmadiyya Baitul Islam Mosque in Maple, Ont., was a delightful experience each time, and through hundreds of trips we found that a true bond had developed among us, over and above work. We began hanging out. Chinese food – hold the pork.

Our relationship was cemented forever when we arranged a women’s interfaith build for Habitat for Humanity in 2008. It included 30 women of eight different faiths and was the initiative that led to creation of our interfaith women’s group, which still meets today.

We shared Passover Seders in my home and revelled in Eid at Tanya’s. The conclusion: Eid food was better than matzah. Tanya and I organized the first visit of Muslims, including Imams, to the Toronto Holocaust Centre, where most of the audience wept at hearing a survivor’s story.


5 replies

  1. It is so sad that such a wonderful ambassador of the Lord had to depart her earthly existence so early in her life. After reading the above my heart sank for Tanya’s life was so short. Just like many other Good, Pious and Upright Muslims, she had to leave early when she had so much to show to the entire Creation. Mohd Rafi, the greatest singer of India was another good example who passed away at 50 plus.
    There should be more people like Tanya in today’s troubled World – the planet that houses all the creation of the One and Only Lord.
    Tragically many people today are misinterpreting the True Word of the Lord for their own selfish purposes.
    Look at where the Malaysians are heading. These people converted to Islam only after the Hindu prince Paramaswara of Malacca did so in the 13th century. Prior to that the Malays were all Hindus and Buddhists. Artefacts found underground in the State of Kedah attests to this.
    Today the Malays in Malaysia,(who only converted to Islam 500 hundred years ago during Parameswara) feel that they are better off and much better and au-fait then the Chinese Muslims and those from Kashgar, Samarkhand who became Muslims many years earlier.
    I feel that there should be an independent Islamic Body who should be able to tell this hypocrites off.
    Islam is a religion of Peace. Islam loves all Creation.
    Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) was a great human.
    May the Soul of Tanya have the Blessings of the One and Only Lord.

  2. May Allah keep her soul in His eternal peace and mercy. She is undoubtedly an inspiration for other girls/women who are in or preparing to in for contributing in attaining Jam’at supreme goals.

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