We are both very open to other religions, and that has been a major factor in making our relationship work for us.
Their gratitude springs from the fact that they live in arguably the world's best country. They enjoy freedoms of religion and expression, democratic rights, the rule of law, the support of fellow Canadians and all levels of government, security and opportunities.
There is a story of two brothers who grew up to find a similar barrier between them. As young boys in their parents' home with a shaded courtyard where they played football and did their homework, there had been no India and no Pakistan. Now, all of a sudden, they found themselves as citizens of two different fledgling states.
As Muslims celebrate the festival of Eid, there are LGBTQ Muslims of various denominations, who may find themselves alone on this holiday. Cut off from their biological families, some find community amongst online friends. Such a community alleviates but does not necessarily resolve all their concerns.
University is a place where students can freely exchange ideas but equally feel safe to do so. Students should feel safe in the knowledge that whether they identify as religious, gay, atheist, etc. or as any intersection of these, they would not be subjected to derision and scorn.
Given the press on Islam about draconian punishments, face coverings, supremacist ideologies, Caliphates, etc. it is ever so important for us to assert our voice on Islam. It is important for us to speak out for religion is too powerful to be left to the hands of those who seek to usurp it for their nefarious purposes.
Some Muslim leaders have expressed "grave concerns" over the Study Qur'an, a recent translation and commentary of the Qur'an. Their main concern seems to be the promotion of perennialism, a philosophy of religion that views each of the world's religions as sharing a single universal truth.
There is much commonality between religions in urging us to overcome our attachments to money, property and the material, to give generously of ourselves in as many ways as possible, and to realize that nothing is ours. In many ways, it's a call to overcome our selfish nature and to realize our deep interconnectedness with each other and all of creation.
The human rights-interfaith dialogue rhetoric employed by President Obama on May 22, 2015 at the Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington DC was wonderful and made people feel warm inside. But this type of rhetoric is, in fact, messianic -- it is for tomorrow, for a time when there is no more war. That day has not yet come, I am afraid. And to speak as if it has is very dangerous.
Horrific and murderous events in France and Nigeria have, once again, led us to examine the relationship between religion and violent conflict. But this framing, while commonplace, is simplistic and incorrect. The religious texts and teachings of spiritual leaders from any major religion are resolute in their condemnation of violence as a means to fulfilling objectives of any scale. When reviewing the source material one finds there is no rational relationship between religion and conflict. In fact, religion is a pretext for cooperation, not conflict.