Shaykh Zahir was raised in Toronto and progressed through both the public school and post-secondary education systems – culminating with a B.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Toronto. In 1996, he traveled to Jordan to learn Arabic and seek sacred knowledge. The following year he enrolled in the Arabic program at the University of Damascus (Syria). He and his wife spent the next six years in uninterrupted study. Through his studies, Shaykh Zahir was blessed to learn directly from, and sit in the company of some of the premier scholars of Damascus – learning fiqh (jurisprudence), ‘aqida (science of beliefs), mantiq (logic), usul (critical intellectualism), hadith, and tafsir.
In 2004, Shaykh Zahir returned to Toronto. After spending a year working in various local Islamic schools, Shaykh Zahir and his wife grew increasingly concerned about the effectiveness of the schools’ curriculum and environment. The question that weighed on their minds was, “What difference, if any, are the Islamic schools making in their students’ lives?”
After months of research and conversations with experts in the field of education, they decided to start an Islamic school. In 2005, the Lote Tree Foundation was established.
The aim of Lote Tree is to raise the next generation as proud, practicing, and confident Muslims – with a strong academic foundation. Perfection lies with Allah alone. Understanding this, Lote Tree remains committed to continuous improvement – through active revision, research, and evaluation of every aspect of the school. This initial school concept was to build an ecosystem of education and social services that help children succeed – first and foremost – as Muslims in Canada.
From its humble beginnings, and through the pure favor of Allah Most High, Lote Tree has developed into a full-time Islamic school (elementary) and a Montessori kindergarten program with high academic standards, a unique and robust character education program, with a fully integrated curriculum.
Lote Tree is governed by a diverse board of six directors, who provide direction for the organization, and the relationship with management. Also, they ensure that the objectives of Lote Tree are being met through the planning and execution of the various services and programs that it offers.
The directors of Lote Tree collectively bring a strong range of skills in governance and fiduciary management, representing an array of diversity in professions and careers.