According to the 2001 census – the last one for which data are available – there were 579,640 Muslims in Canada, almost half of those in Toronto.
Canada’s fastest growing religion, Islam is now firmly rooted in the country. And whileRoshan Jamal is glad to see her faith become established here, she laments that size has also allowed Muslims to remain isolated within their own communities if they choose.
“It’s a natural instinct,” says Jamal, president of the Canadian Dawn Foundation, set up a year ago to help Muslim leaders learn what it means to be a person of faith in this country.
But Jamal says Islam thrives best in a new country when its followers find ways to adapt the faith to their new home, as it did in the Middle Ages as the faith moved out of the Arab world and into Asia, Africa and Europe.
That’s why her group is putting $70,000 over two years behind a new Canadian Certificate in Muslim Studies program that was launched Saturday at the University of Toronto’s Emmanuel College.
Targeted at imams and other Muslim leaders – but open to anyone – the goal is to help develop a Canadian form of Islam, says college principal Mark Toulouse, a driving force behind the program.
Tagged: diversity in religious practice Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts
Two NWFP ministers of the beleaguered ANP-led government, who made it to the tragic sites [of a car bombing that killed 120 in October] within minutes of the blasts, were seen and heard across the country pointing in vain to the enemy within. Both are roundly rebuked and branded foreign agents.
Those differing with them walk through the streets and narrow alleys of the interior city but they choose to ignore the signs and sights of the orgy of death that has engulfed us. Several deadly blasts have taken place in the one-kilometre radius area in and around the fabled Qissa Khwani Bazaar in the recent past. All impacted sites are at a stone’s throw from each other. The area is like a game reserve with teeming flocks of game birds for the gamekeepers presently engaged in ideological war games. And why shouldn’t it be?
Hate is inscribed in clear and bold fonts all across the area. Massive billboards, which in previous days were a feature of cinema houses, now hold the larger-than-life portraits of militant leaders of certain sectarian organisations. Ancient and sweet-sounding names of the streets have all been discarded and replaced with the names of those who have fallen in the sectarian warfare. Posters and graffiti proclaiming the title of infidel for the adherents of rival groups and death for the US, India and Israel adorn all walls in the area.
And most disturbing of all:
Mosques that had jealously guarded their nameless structures for eons have been labelled in factional colours and hence declared restricted places of worship.
Bloodshed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir as a suicide bomber attacks Shiites. Five people dead, 81 wounded, 10 of them seriously.
Earlier I blogged about the issue of minority victimization in Pakistan which seems to be finding its source and inspiration in strident Sunni Islam. The Spittoon has a blog post about minority victimization in the Middle East. It raises a fair question: What will be consequence to Islamic civilization if large segments of the Muslim population lose the experience of living respectfully with diversity?
The Spittoon blogger accurately describes the situation now:
Together with the Jews, Zoroastrians, Mandeans, Bahai, Yazidis, and other, smaller groups have all left the region that gave birth to all the monotheistic faiths. Those that remain have often been reduced to what one Christian commentator has called an underground, “catacomb” faith, recalling the persecuted faith of the Early Church.
Anecdotally, I live near a large city in America that has a huge refugee population of Mandeans. According to Wikipedia, before the US overthrew the secular Saddam government, there were about 60,000 Mandeans in that country. Today, there are 5,000.
The Quran speaks to diversity as well:
…the Quran says: “O humankind, God has created you from male and female and made you into diverse nations and tribes so that you may come to know each other. Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous.” Elsewhere, the Qur’an reaffirms that diversity is part of the Divine intent and purpose in creation, and so it states: “If thy Lord had willed, he would have made humankind into a single nation, but they will not cease to be diverse…And, for this God created them [humankind].
In answer to the question I posed, the consequence will be, I think, a devolution – not an evolution – of Islamic civilization as Muslim communities thwart Divine intent and are acculturated to arrogance and disrespect.
johnpi is discussing. Toggle Comments
Different Muslim communities in America may benefit from different approaches. If Umar wants to recommend a live-and-let-live appreciation of diverse paths in the religion, that’s great, but it would be more powerful if he stopped blasting moderates, ‘progressives’, Sufis, the ‘mainstream’ and others who differ in their practice from him, though I do think that in more recent times he has moderated his ‘blasting’ a bit.
And the thinking on this needs to go in the same direction that the American founders did when they wrote the First Amendment (freedom of religion). Earlier drafts suggested that the US would ‘tolerate’ non-Christian religions, but James Madison argued that tolerance presumed a place of superiority for the ‘tolerators’ that would incite prejudice and injustice, so the language was pushed to a full expression of support for freedom of religion.
I would also add my own critique to Umar’s point which is that the communities he describes as ‘urban’ and ‘suburban’ are changing their geographical locations in many places in this country. Parts of America now resemble Europe where the wealthy and well-off live in cities, and the poor and desperate live in the suburbs.