Through dialogue, ignorance and stereotypes that lead to fear can be erased
By Raza Khan
Thank you T. David Marshall, and to The Hamilton Spectator for the article entitled “Time for a difficult conversation” that ran Nov. 7.
Mr. Marshall, the Muslim community has been ready and willing to have this “difficult conversation” for quite some time.
OKAY LET’S TALK
Over the years our community has had regular dialogue with several faith communities including St. Paul’s United Church in Dundas, St.
Andrew’s on the West Mountain, the Christian Reformed Church, and Temple Anshe Sholom in Westdale, to name a few. We have had a number of great conversations and continue to maintain great friendships across Hamilton.
THIS IS VERY GOOD.
We as Muslims do not need to defend Islam — it is more than capable of defending itself.
YET HERE YOU ARE DEFENDING IT.
Before anyone writes off the Koran and Islam
NO ONE IS WRITING IT OFF, UNFORTUNATELY(and thus, 25 per cent of the world’s population and growing) as “violent” and “problematic,” one need only read the whole of the Koran and study Islamic history to understand the context of the bits and pieces you find to be violent. You will then see that it is not the “violent parts” that cause people to embrace the religion in droves here at home and around the world, but its global, unifying message of the oneness of Allah (God), the equality of all men and women in the Eyes of Allah, irrespective of race or
socioeconomic status, as well as the soul-caressing peace and hope that its message expounds.
YET, ALL AROUND THE WORLD THIS RELIGION KILLS TO CONVERT YOU. THE VIOLENT PARTS ARE WHAT CAUSES MANY TO CONVERT BECAUSE THEY ARE GIVEN LITTLE CHOICE. AS FOR THE EQUALITY OF MEN AND WOMEN…REALLY…YOU CAN SAY THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE. SURE IN THE EYES OF ALLAH MEN AND WOMEN ARE EQUAL BUT NOT IN THE EYES OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND THE MEN. SURE SOME MEN ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS. WHAT I FIND INTERESTING IS TO SEE PICTURES AND MOVIES FROM THE 1940′S TO THE 1980′S THAT SHOW WOMAN DRESSED AND MINGLING WITH MENTHEY WERE MUSLIMS BACK THEN AND NOW
SUDDENLY THEY CAN NOT BE WITH OTHER MEN, AND HAVE TO COVER THEMSELVES. SO WHAT HAPPENED TO THE EQUALITY THAT MEN AND WOMEN HAVE?
The word “Islam” itself is derived from the root verb “istaslama” which means “peace, purity, submission and obedience.” The Koran stresses in verse 256 of Sura 2: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace) never forced anyone to convert to Islam at the point of a sword. He didn’t need to. Indeed, Yousef Estes, a former Christian chaplain turned Muslim from Texas, studied the
incidence of the word “sword” and all of its possible synonyms in both the Koran and the Bible. He discovered the word appears in the Koran a total of zero times, whereas in the Christian Bible, it appears more than 200 times.
THIS SEEMS STRANGE SINCE IT HAS BEEN MENTIONED IN HISTORICAL TEXTS THAT MOHAMMAD HIMSELF FOUGHT AND KILLED WHEN HE WAS TAKING OVER OTHERS TERRITORY. YOUR COMMENTS ARE REVISIONIST HISTORY I THINK OTHER MUSLIMS ESPECIALLY TERRORISTS SEEM TO BE ABLE TO FIND THOSE INSTANCES IN THE KORAN. MAYBE YOUR KORAN IS NOT THE SAME AS THERE’S…IS THAT POSSIBLE…HMMMM!!
I can assure you that the “public relations” efforts that Muslims are doing on behalf of Islam are actually efforts to reassure our neighbours that we are not about to “smite their necks, fingers and toes.” On the contrary, we are peace-loving, law-abiding citizens who contribute to this society positively and as significantly as any other Canadian. We stand by all Canadians. We condemn ISIS. We condemn Boko Haram. We condemn al-Qaida. We condemn all violence against innocents. How many times need we repeat ourselves?
I HAVE NEVER DOUBTED THAT MANY MUSLIMS ARE AS YOU SAY, AS I HAVE KNOWN MANY AND EATEN AND WORKED WITH MANY BUT I ALSO REMEMBER WHAT SOME OF THEM TOLD ME. AS A FEW TOLD ME, WITH NO REAL PRIDE, THAT THEY WERE A VIOLENT PEOPLE WHO HAD NO PROBLEMS TO TAKING A SHOVEL TO THE FACE OF THEIR OWN PEOPLE AND YET HAD TROUBLE SHOWING PIETY TO ANYONE NOT PART OF THEIR COMMUNITY. THERE WAS NO PRIDE IN WHAT HE SAID, INSTEAD HE WAS SAD IT IT WAS THAT WAY. I GUESS SOME KNOW WHAT THEY ARE REALLY LIKE. YES CHRISTIANS CAN BE THAT WAY AS WELL. MUSLIMS DO SEEM TO BRING OUT THE INTOLERANCE IN OTHERS. I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD EVER SEE BHUDDISTS TURN VICIOULY VIOLENT AND YET MUSLIMS SEEM TO HAVE FINALLY CAUSED MANY OF THEM TO GO CRAZY AND ATTACK MUSLIMS, KILLING AND MAIMING THEM. SOMETHING IN THE CULTURE CAUSES THIS BUT THAT IS FOR YOU TO FIGURE OUT AND GET UNDER CONTROL.
Yes, there are Muslims around the world who are angry that their women and children are being blown to bits by unmanned drones being piloted in foreign countries, their lands occupied by foreign forces, and the sieges, aggressions and illegal settlements being built on disputed areas of land, not to mention global inaction over the plight of millions of innocent Syrian civilians. Taking this all into context, plus the global media attention violence at the hands of Muslims attracts, it is easy to get the impression that Muslims are bloodthirsty and violent.
IT SURE IS EASY. THE TEST WILL ALWAYS BE WHEN THE TIME COMES DO MUSLIMS STICK BY THE COUNTRY THEY LIVE IN NOW OR BY THE TENANTS OF THEIR RELIGION. WHO DO MUSLIMS OWE THEIR LOYALTY TO, ALLAH OR COUNTRY. IF IT IS NOT THE HOME YOU NOW LIVE IN THEN YOU WILL NEVER BE SEEN AS CITIZENS EVEN IF THOSE LIKE YOURSELF ARE BORN AND BRED IN CANADA. AS A CHRISTIAN WHO IMMIGRATED FROM ITALY, I WILL ALWAYS PUT COUNTRY BEFORE MY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN AND IT’S BELIEFS AND BEFORE MY CHRISTIAN RELIGION….ALWAYS.
CAN YOU SAY THE SAME THING? CAN MOST MUSLIMS SAY THE SAME THING? IN COUNTRIES LIKE BRITAIN, FRANCE AND SWEDEN THEY SURE DO NOT SEEM TO PUT COUNTRY BEFORE THEIR HOME NATIONS OR THEIR RELIGION. THIS IS THE BASIS OF THE DISTRUST THAT WE HAVE FOR MUSLIMS BECAUSE MOST PUT THEIR FAITH ABOVE THEIR NEW HOME. THIS IS WHERE THE DIALOGUE IS NEEDED AND THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE TO PROVE BECAUSE UNFORTUNATELY TOO MANY SEM TO BE PROVING THE OPPOSITE.
It’s all about context.
HERE IS THE MEANING…Context comes from the Latin for how something is made. It was first used to talk about writing, as in “the beautiful phrase occurs in the context of the concluding paragraph.” We use it now to talk about any circumstance in which something happens. You might say that you can’t understand what happens without looking at the context. When someone takes your words but makes it sound like you meant something else, they’ve taken your words out of context. SO WHAT IS IT WE ARE TAKING OUT OF CONTEXT OR ARE YOU TAKING YOUR OWN BELIEFS OUT OF CONTEXT.
During the past few weeks since the unfortunate murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the Muslim Association of Hamilton has fielded numerous inquiries from people seeking to learn more about Islam. One gentleman, a truck mechanic wrote to us:
“Some of the best people I deal with are of the Islamic faith, on a daily basis. They come to my shop for truck repair, and from them I feel I’ve always been treated with respect, and have never been given any reason to believe that they are bad people. I have much respect for them as well, as I know within the trucking industry there is lots of racism toward Middle Eastern people, however they still hold their heads high and outwork most of the others they work with. So they have my utmost respect. I wish to help educate, and influence the people I know, so that maybe ignorance can be slowly removed and racism and stereotypes erased as well.”
I CAN NOT DISAGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT AS MOST IMMIGRANTS HAVE ALWAYS COME TO THIS COUNTRY AND WORKED HARD AND EVENTUALLY LEARNED TO BLEND IN AND BECOME PART OF THIS SOCIETY, FOLLOWING THIS SOCIETIES RULES AND NORMS. I KNOW MANY OF THE YOUNG ARE BLENDING IN AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. THE YOUNG MUSLIMS ARE ADAPTING TO THE SOCIETY MORE AND MORE AS
NOTED BY THE DECREASE OF YOUNG MUSLIMS ATTENDING MOSQUES FREQUENTLY. THEY KEEP THEIR RELIGION BUT IT IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THEIR LIVES. THEY PUT THEIR LIFE AND NEW COUNTRY ABOVE THEIR RELIGION. I SHOULD ALSO NOTE THAT WHEN YOUNG MUSLIMS BECOME TERRORISTS IT IS USUALLY POORLY INFORMED CONVERTS AND NOT SO MUCH ORIGINAL MUSLIMS. THEY DO SEEM TO DO
MORE TO PAINT MUSLIMS INTO A BAD LIGHT.
Mr. Marshall, it is loud and clear from your article that you are reaching out for conversation and dialogue. Through mutual dialogue, ignorance and stereotypes that lead to fear, hatred and even violence can be torn down. Let’s build bridges rather than put up walls. The Muslim Association of Hamilton welcomes anyone reading this article to email us at email@example.com.
It’s high time we had this “difficult conversation.”
JUST REMEMBER DISCUSSIONS MEAN NOTHING IF THEY ARE NOT BACKED BY ACTIONS…GOOD ACTIONS. SOMEDAY MOST OF THIS WILL BE HISTORY AND THINGS WILL STABLIZE SO LET’S GET THAT IDEA MOVING SHALL WE.
The Muslim Association of Hamilton and The Spectator will host an open discussion forum early in 2015 in The Spectator auditorium at 44 Frid St. Watch The Spectator and thespec.com for more details.
Dr. Raza Khan is a family physician, born and raised in Hamilton.