I am a Canadian Muslim woman and have had the privilege of calling Canada my home since 1984. The opportunities I've been given from this beautiful country far outnumber the minor challenges I faced during my early years here.
I have benefited from Canada's prosperity, professional opportunities, the tolerance of fellow Canadians and the wonderful opportunities to grow intellectually in an environment that fosters tolerance for differences and divergent opinions. In this regard, I consider myself most fortunate as I am a Muslim woman with unconventional ideas about my faith.
Often members of my own faith community have looked upon my opinions with suspicion. They would very well deny me the right to question, challenge and remould the accepted narrative within Islam. The orthodoxy views the opinions of laity with distrust, thinking only "experts" have the right and proper knowledge to interpret faith; I for one firmly believe that anyone who is affected by religious precept and practice ought to have the right to question and reinterpret it.
That has been my position ever since I started debating Muslim issues publically. I strongly believe that as a Muslim I have every right to question my faith, to arrive at my own unique understanding of it, and to practice it according to my very own sensibilities as a unique human being. For that I am grateful to my adoptive country, Canada.
Canada has taught me the value of free thought and expression. Undoubtedly many from among my own family and friends have attempted to place restrictions on my right as a free thinking individual, but I continue to reserve that right and choose to exercise it even as I speak now from the depth of my heart.
Thank you Canada for letting me question and think critically and above all, for letting me be myself!