My Dear fellow Muslims,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Muslim Canadian Congress