In both the U.S. and Canada, Muslims face real scrutiny, fanned by politicians out to earn xenophobic votes and media folk out to sell copies. North American society, on both sides of the border, needs to get to grips with five key misconceptions if it wants to contribute to a clean, prejudice-free society.
In the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Muslim academic Jonathan Brown argued that Muslims would respect same-sex unions if sharia-based marriages were respected in return. He rejects the case for Muslim same-sex unions for reasons that include the classical definition of marriage, texts on Lot's people and the allied prohibition of anal sex.
The one aspect I constantly struggle with every Ramadan is my clothing choice. I feel that if I am fasting, I should dress closer in accordance with the Muslim dress code. But is my ultimate goal that one day I will leave Ramadan dressing more conservatively for the rest of the year? I am not sure, but maybe.
Six years ago, I could not imagine the day my son would go into grade 1, let along imagine my son asking me if he can fast. Last week, he said to me: "I want to fast with you and dad. Please, please, please!" I was silent at first, not knowing how to tell him that there is no way I am letting him fast 17 hours.
Traditionally, Muslims are not allowed to eat throughout the day while they fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Although individuals with illnesses are usually exempt from fasting, I try my best to do what I can. It's an interesting struggle to keep the balance between fulfilling my religious responsibilities and keeping my health in check. The criticism is endless, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! My doctors have advised me against fasting numerous times, but I think it should be a personal choice.
Ramadan is scheduled to commence later this week and I am not looking forward to it. The Islamic calendar is lunar based, so Ramadan shifts by approximately 10 days every year. Fasting during the winter months is easy with dawn being so late and sunset being so early. Fasting during the summer months is brutal -- dawn is currently at 3:45 a.m. and sunset is at 9 p.m.
Some call him a hero, but Imad Zammar says that if his mom, Freida Zammar, is present, she is quick to correct them and say, "he's not a hero -- he did what you are supposed to do -- for family." Maybe, but not everyone saves their older brother's life by giving him a kidney. And that is exactly what Zammar did.
Gay Muslims living in straight marriages end up exploiting "practicing sisters" and are fully abetted by clueless "Imams" who claim that they know many Muslims who have overcome their feelings through living a "good, Islamic way of life." Such Imams and gay Muslims are more concerned about identity politics than about human dignity and justice.
Recently, Quebec has witnessed very alarming anti-Muslim and anti-Islam rhetoric that has led to moral onslaught against citizens of Muslim faith. The discriminatory campaigns against any group of citizens due to their religious or ethnic background will lead to unhealthy social harmony within any society.
Under the new curriculum, nay-saying parents have the option of pulling their kids out of sex-ed class. But should they? As a fellow parent of three children in the Ontario public education system, I say no. You can pull your kids out of sex-ed. And maybe one day you will also pull them out of classes that teach about climate change and evolution. Perhaps you don't trust the teacher who might be gay and so you find a way to pull your kids out of his or her class. You are teaching your kids to run from what they fear and instill in them hatred of others. Isn't it better to arm them with knowledge, teach them to respect differences and then trust them?
We need to understand the difference between being separate and being moderate. There is also a need to understand that most Muslim women who don't wear these emblems are still followers of Islam. The conclusion of this debate should be that wearing a particular item of dress should be a person's choice. Showing yourself -- your identity -- should be a choice made by society.
On January 30, a reporter asked Harper how newly-introduced anti-terror legislation will differentiate between somebody who is "radicalized" and "a teen who's just messing around in the basement." Harper answered by saying promoting terrorism is a serious offence no matter "what the age of the person is, or whether they're in a basement, or whether they're in a mosque or somewhere else." Harper's response to this question associates hundreds of mosques across the country with the promotion of terrorism and violence and is misguided for multiple reasons.
Last week King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died at the age of 90. From the time he received the throne in 1995 until the day he died, Abdullah watched, mostly in silence, as the world became mired in religious extremism and as blame for the chaos fell squarely upon the shoulders of ordinary Muslims. Abdullah knew and implicitly sealed the export of hateful Wahabism from Saudi Arabia's borders to all corners of the earth, ignoring centuries of tradition from its Islamic anti-thesis, Sufism.
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Martin Luther King is famed for using this quote during the civil rights movement. I love it. But more than justice which can sometimes never be had, I think it bends towards progress. Things eventually do change. So ask difficult questions. Have uncomfortable conversations. Things can and will change, but not on their own. Every step forward was made of million tiny struggles. The arc bends towards progress, but it's us that must bend it.
Now a few days after the horrific attack in Paris, hashtag #JeSuisCharlie floats about the Internet as a neoliberal nod of solidarity to those who were killed in yesterday's attack. While I see its good intentions, in the big picture this hashtag serves as a demonstration of alliance with that coveted icon of western identity: freedom of speech. But make no mistake, the reasons the perpetrators carried out this attack were more complex than simply freedom of speech. For what is pitifully lacking in most every media representation of the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo is the historical background of what this attack was about.