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Muslim Canadian Congress's Open Letter: "MCC will not be scared into silence"

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  • Tarek Fatah
    My Dear fellow Muslims, Salaam Alaikum. Since the Ontario government decision to outlaw all religious arbitration in matters of family law, I have read with
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2005
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      My Dear fellow Muslims,

      Salaam Alaikum.

      Since the Ontario government decision to outlaw all religious arbitration in
      matters of family law, I have read with interest the comments regarding the
      role of the Muslim Canadian Congress and its relationship to other Muslim
      organisations.

      There are suggestions that the MCC should work in coordination with other
      Canadian Muslim organisations.

      The fact that the MCC is working with the CCMW, the Noor Centre, the UMA
      Mosque, the Ihya Foundation, the Pakistani Writers Forum, the Iranian
      Association at the UofT, the Canadian Arab Federation, seems to have not
      been noticed. Unless of course these organisations are not "Muslim enough"
      for our critics.

      It also seems that some Muslims are not comfortable at the MCC's critique of
      Islamists in Canada. Some of our supporters believe that our harsh criticism
      of Islamic fundamentalists may have negative consequences on all Muslims,
      not just the extremists.

      Of course, there is merit in their argument, but can it sustain a critical
      analysis?

      On Friday, in a deliberately false accusation, Mohamed Elmasry of the
      Canadian Islamic Congress accused Muslim critics of Sharia as "smearing
      Islam, ridiculing the Qur'an, badmouthing Mohamed, or go (ing) about
      proclaiming that Shariah (Islamic Law) is backward and discriminates against
      women."

      This is patently false and a misrepresentation of the MCC position. Unless
      the 'Mohamed' he was talking about was himself, and not The Prophet Mohamed,
      at not stage has the MCC bad mouthed The Prophet. Mr. Elmasry has employed
      the time honoured Islamist technique of labelling critics as apostates and
      blasphemers to scare them into silence. I have a message for Mohamed
      Elmasry. "This is not Egypt or Iran where you can bully us into silence."

      To some of my colleagues who are dismissive of the dangers that Islamists
      pose to Canada, I will share just one example.

      At the Toronto Book festival last week, the Islamic Council of North
      America, ICNA, a group liked to the Muslim Brotherhood and the
      Jamaat-i-Islami, distributed free Qurans and a book titled "Understanding
      Islam" by Abul Ala Mauwdudi.

      Here is a quote from that book:

      Defense of Islam

      "Jihad is part of this overall defense of Islam...in the language of the
      Divine Law, this word is used specifically for the war that is waged solely
      in the name of God against those who perpetrate oppression as enemies of
      Islam. This supreme sacrifice is the responsibility of all Muslims.

      "If, however, a section of the Muslims offer themselves for participating in
      Jihad, the whole community is absolved of its responsibility. But if none
      comes forward, everyone is held guilty. This concession vanishes for
      citizens of an Islamic State when it is attacked by a non-Muslim power.

      "In this case, everybody must come forward for Jihad. If the country
      attacked does not have enough strength to fight back, then it is the duty of
      the neighbouring Muslim countries to offer help. If even they fail, then the
      Muslims of the whole world must fight the common enemy.

      "In all these cases, jihad is as much a primary duty as are daily prayers or
      fasting. One who avoids it is a sinner. His every claim to being a Muslim is
      doubtful. He is plainly a hypocrite who fails in the test of sincerity and
      all his acts of worship are a sham, a worthless, hollow show of deception."

      Chilling stuff. Remember, this was being distributed free on the lawns of
      the Ontario Legislature, to hundreds of people.

      The question then becomes, can we allow ourselves to be silenced simply to
      respect "community patriotism"? Is it not our duty as Muslim Canadians to
      say to these followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, you do not speak for Islam
      in Canada. The extremism of Hassan Banna, Syed Qutb and Maududi has no place
      in Canada.

      I respectfully submit that we learn from history. Two examples come to mind:
      one of Iran and the other, Palestine.

      During the Iranian revolution that toppled the Shah,
      progressive/secular/leftist/liberal Iranians fell for this conventional
      wisdom and allowed the Islamists to not only gain power, but to eliminate
      the rest of us; some to our deaths, others into exile.

      In Occupied Palestine, no one wanted to criticise the growing power of
      Hamas, despite the fact they were encouraged by the Israelis in a bid to
      undermine the Fatah movement. No one on the secular/progressive side took on
      the challenge to expose the misogynist, homophobic and extremist narrative
      of Hamas. Mainstream Palestinians remained careful and never criticised the
      Islamists, and today a national liberation movement is in danger of becoming
      a religious jihad. Hamas wishes to create a Palestine where even Edward Said
      would have difficulty living as a Christian.

      Here in Canada, many Muslims from the liberal/left/secular part of the
      community have been silent and chose to avoid the messiness of a vigorous
      debate within the community. The result is that the Islamists dominate the
      Muslim narrative.

      The MCC is taking tiny steps to reverse this slide. More and more people are
      recognizing that we are a small group that has achieved significant
      successes.

      These didn't come about by trepidation and caution, but integrity and
      courage. It is not because of the MCC that Muslims face racism. Racism is
      part of what DuBois called the 'Color Line' in North America. Blacks are
      discriminated not because of their religion; they are overwhelming
      Christians!

      If Muslims are being seen in bad light, it has more to do with ISNA Vice
      President Kathy Bullock defending polygamy on national TV and Mohamed
      Elmasry attacking Bahais and Ahmadiyas as British created religions. Nothing
      that the MCC has done or said has been in bad faith or has caused
      Islamophobia.

      On the contrary, the MCC has made Canadians realize that it is not Muslims
      who are the problem, but the narrow fringe that controls the community's
      mosques.

      Niaz Salimi
      President
      Muslim Canadian Congress
      Toronto.
      e-Mail: niaz_salimi@...
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