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.
Recently ISIS released a video featuring former Canadian, 23-year-old John Maguire, now known as Abu Anwar Al-Canadi, demanding Muslim Canadians carry out terrorist attacks on Canadian soil. Though interpretations of religion which fail to uphold universal human rights legitimize ISIS ideologies for men like Maguire, not all Canadian adherents of conservative interpretations of Islam wish to live in a violent dictatorship, bound by the most rigid shariah law. If you are a Canadian Muslim, considering joining ISIS, here are a list of sins you will commit if you do.
On Tuesday, October 7 the Harper government voted for military action against ISIS/ISIL notwithstanding all opposition parties opposed it. We are concerned that Canada may become further targeted by extremists and that Canadians, including members of our armed forces and our police, may be placed in greater danger as a result of its participation in the war.
At Hajj, we Muslims must walk 7 times between the hills of Safa and Marwa and at some point many touch the water from the well of Zam-Zam. Why? Because only in following the footsteps of Hajra do Muslims complete the Hajj. Who was Hajra? She was the founder of Mecca. Yes -- a woman founded Mecca. Islam has a matriarch. And not only was she a woman. She was a slave.
Mohamad Jebara -- also known as The Cycling Cleric -- serves as Chief Imam at the Cordova Spiritual Education Center. Young, dynamic and married, with two children, his Friday sermons are filled with love and compassion for humanity and he ridicules the notion that God can be viewed as a "bogeyman." This Friday, September 5, Mohamad will cycle from Ottawa to Quebec City.
Recent news that several young Canadian men, including two Calgary brothers, died fighting for ISIS has shocked Canada's Muslim community -- the vast majority of whom scoff at the notion that the terrorists who have overrun Syria and Iraq are acting upon authentic Islamic teachings, much less a compose a "caliphate."
Truth be told, I have so many issues with FEMEN, I wouldn't even know where to begin, but I'll attempt to explain them all here as best as I can. For those who don't know (and there are many of you), FEMEN is a Ukraine-based movement started in 2008 to protest the growing sex industry in the country. The movement soon branched out and began protesting other gender issues, including the perceived oppression of women at the hands of religious institutions.
As Muslims celebrate Eid, it's important to look at the past month during which the world has witnessed thousands suffer in Gaza, Iraq and Syria. We has Prime Minister Stephen Harper to speak out about these issues, but are disappointed. We must do more in the name of humanity, Prime Minister Harper.
In the United States gruesome murders are common and merit only passing attention. In a shooting spree, also in April, three people were killed at a Jewish community centre near Kansas City. The media did not mention the religion of the accused. Had they been Muslim their religion, and perhaps Muslims in general, would have been maligned.
For the naysayers or eye-rollers out there, there is nothing wrong with removing my hijab or other article of clothing for a doctor if it is necessary for the sake of the medical examination. In this instance, it was not. It was the equivalent of asking a woman to fully remove her top and undergarment in order to examine her lungs. The changes in the environment in Quebec are subtle but ever present. I have felt the chill in the air. From the racial slur while at the movies with my kids to reading passive aggressive comments on social media. Our joie de vivre, pride in diversity and bilingualism has been replaced with political unease, targeted discrimination of visibly religious minorities and linguistic force.
On December 6, Slate Magazine published an essay by Aisha Harris entitled, "Santa Claus Should Not be A White Man Anymore." In a response that went viral, Megyn Kelly of Fox News said: "For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white..." Ironically, Kelly's intolerance, expressed during a season that ought to be filled with giving, love and acceptance, is nothing new. As a Muslim, it reminds me of those conservative Muslim leaders, on the same cold end of the Scrooge barometer as Kelly, who advise us Muslims that we better not wish anyone a Merry Christmas.
Some kids have been targeted by bullies because the hatred towards gays, lesbians, trans and "others" runs so deep in North American society that even appearing different may merit ostracization. Who are we to complain about bigotry against our children if we perpetuate it against others? And so we must ask them, our fellow (otherwise peaceful) Muslim parents, how does the intolerance you teach at home, affect all our youth and our Muslim communities?
On Saturday, October 26, more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel and drove in Saudi Arabia to challenge the ban on women driving in that country. Some of them posted their videos on YouTube. Several people were detained and fined. Last week I interviewed another brave woman who drove on October 26, human rights activist and photographer, Samia El-Moslimany.
The PQ is unable to distinguish between religious zealotry that overtakes the public sphere and individuals who, though they exhibit their faith publicly, continue to work peacefully, alongside their neighbours of other beliefs, without difficulty. Make no mistake -- everyone in Quebec will be affected by the Charter of "Values." The entire society will be subjected to change as a result. Do we want people to be forced to choose their faith over integration in the public sphere? Do we want "Muslim only" sections of cities? That will be the result of failing to allow the integration of visible religious minorities in the public sphere. It is apartheid.
Last Friday Dr. Reza Aslan was interviewed by Fox News on his recent book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Bigotry reigned as Green repeatedly asked Aslan why as a "Muz-lim" he would write a book about Jesus. Meanwhile, halfway around the world, another secular Muslim sat in a Saudi prison, awaiting his sentence. His crime? Attempting to liberalize religion in Saudi Arabia and criticizing religious police.
In the last few months the world has witnessed, once again, atrocities planned and in two cases, carried out, disguised in the name of Islam. The debate among Muslims in the West is filled with tension. And as Muslims what more must we do to stop the chaos, in addition to demanding changes in our Western countries' foreign policies?
This weekend the Quebec Soccer Federation votes on whether to lift a ban that prevents kids from playing soccer -- specifically Sikh players who wear turbans. In sports, you learn to participate and take risks. And you learn to include everyone. It is a lesson that some of the grown-ups still don't get.