Islam in a Muilticultural Canada

The Muslim Council of Calgary is preparing a conference to celebrate Islam in Canada.

The Power of Unity: Islam in a MultiCultural Canada” will take place in Calgary on the Canada Day long weekend.

Celebrating over half a century of Islam in Canada. We did it right here in Calgary. Together we achieved a rainbow of depth, interaction, knowledge and charisma. Islam was revived right here in Calgary, Alberta. And we will together celebrate: Islam in a Multi-Cultural Canada.

The Power of Unity: Islam in a Multi-Cultural Canada.

It sounds like a great idea. Celebrating multiculturalism and how Islam fits into the mosaic that is modern Canada.

A look at some of the speakers suggests that most would have something positive to say on the message. The list includes such luminaries as:

  • Ambassador Attallah Shabazz: the daughter of Malcolm X Shabazz.
  • Zarqa Nawaz: creator of “The Little Mosque on the Prairie” television show.
  • Izzeldin Abuelaish: founder of the Daughters for Life Foundation
  • Boonaa Mohammed: Poet and playwright
  • Dr. Naweed Syed, PhD: Professor and Head of the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy, University of Calgary
  •  Raj Sharma: Calgary lawyer specializing in Immigration and Family Law
    Junaid Jamshed: Pakistani pop/religious musician, also known for his charity work

Some of the others are a bit more controversial.

Munir El-Kassem is a preacher with a decidedly anti-scientific view of the world. For example, one of his DVDs for sale, The Qur’an, Science and the Last Day is described as follows:

A fascinating and compelling examination of certain apocalyptic verses in the Holy Qur’an that describe five major cosmological events immediately preceding the Day of Judgment. Munir El-Kassem puts you on the edge of your seat as he explains past, present and future natural phenomenon that coincide with precise descriptions in the Qur’an. From a practical scientific perspective, discover exactly how the following signs will occur: the sun rising in the West, the Earth being engulfed in smoke, the moon splitting in half, the oceans being set on fire, and the universe being folded up. Not only is this lecture a great reminder of the last day, but it also serves to increase our faith in the Qur’an as the true revelation from the Creator of the universe. Other topics discussed: electrolysis and the big-bang theory.

From another site selling the DVD

“The Earth has been rotating around its axis since the creation of the universe… and scientists know that the speed [of rotation] is going to diminish… that the Earth is going to slow, and slow, and slow up to a point where it cannot, because of its mass, slow any further, then it will stop briefly and will start to rotate in a clockwise fashion. And guess what will happen when that takes place? The sun will appear from the West.”

Dr. Hatem Al Haj who is a proponent of the form of Female Circumcision known as ‘nicking’ .

I have always condemned Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM. Moreover, I have unequivocally voiced both orally and in written form the condemnation of all harmful forms of Female Genital Cutting FGC, justifiably known as FGM.
Furthermore, I have taught that nothing in Islamic Law and religious texts supports such a heinous crime. In fact, it is repugnant to Islamic principles and values to inflict such trauma and suffering on any female. The severest forms of this practice are akin to killing in Islamic Law.

The statements I have made, that have now being unfairly distorted against me,  are those regarding a subtype of Female Genital Cutting FGC, a harmless procedure called the ritual nick. This subtype doesn’t involve any form of clitorectomy. It is merely an incision (or a minimal excision, as explained in
the details below) of part of the clitoral hood, the counterpart to the foreskin in males, and does not remove any part of the clitoris. This opinion is scientifically irrefutable and shared by many American non-Muslim pediatricians.

He quotes from a paper by Committee on Bioethics of the American
Academy of Pediatrics : Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors.

Some physicians, including pediatricians who work closely with immigrant populations in which FGC is the norm, have voiced concern about the adverse effects of criminalization of the practice on educational efforts.These physicians emphasize the significance of a ceremonial ritual in the initiation of the girl or adolescent as a community member and advocate only pricking or incising the clitoral skin as sufficient to satisfy cultural requirements. This is no more of an alteration than ear piercing

The paper continues by stating that it may be preferable for physicians to perform this procedure rather than risk the parents resorting to one of the more severe practices that are usually done without proper medical practices being followed. However, that is still no reason to vocally support the action.

In some countries in which FGC is common, some progress toward eradication or amelioration has been made by substituting ritual “nicks” for more severe forms.2 In contrast, there is also evidence that medicalizing FGC can prolong the custom among middle-class families (eg, in Egypt).Many anti-FGC activists in the West, including women from African countries, strongly oppose any compromise that would legitimize even the most minimal procedure. There is also some evidence (eg, in Scandinavia) that a criminalization of the practice, with the attendant risk of losing custody of one’s children, is one of the factors that led to abandonment of this tradition among Somali immigrants

All forms of FGM, including this ‘ritual nick’ are illegal in the US (I was unable to find information about the status in Canada). Certainly, there is no reason to perform a ‘ritual nick’ on an infant other than religion. We must also ask, under what circumstances would it be ethical for any medically unnecessary procedure be done on someone who is unable to consent? In the end, he is promoting an unnecessary, illegal, and unethical act.

The most controversial of all though is Dr. Bilal Philips. Philips is a Muslim Fundamentalist who promotes Shari’a Law in all it’s extreme forms.

All of these are excerpts from his website:

Comments on Polygyny

  • Institutional polygamy prevents the spread of diseases like Herpes and AIDS
  • Polygamy protects the interests of women and children in society.
  • Men created polygamous because of a need in human society. There is normally a surplus of women in most human societies. The surplus is a result of men dying in wars, violent crimes and women outliving men. The upsurge in homosexuality further increases the problem. If systems do not cater to the need of surplus women it will result in corruption in society.
  • However, a woman marrying four husbands would only increase the problem of surplus women. Furthermore, no child would accept his or her mother identifying the father by the “eeny meeny miney mo” method.

Comments on Chopping off of heads and hands and stoning to death?

  • The execution has no personal impact on the individual members of society. In the Muslim state large segments of the society are invited to view the execution so they will convey it to the rest of the society.
  • The Qur’aan prescribes amputation in Chapter 5: 38 “As for thieves, both male and female, cut off their hands as recompense for their deeds and an exemplary punishment from Allaah.
  • The right hand is surgically removed at the wrist and not hacked off by a meat cleaver or a chain saw, as media reports seem to imply. The left foot at the ankle is removed on the second occasion and on the third occasion he may be executed as incorrigible. This law is implemented publicly for the purpose of deterrence.

Comments on Homosexuality

  • The consequence of AIDS is enough to prove that homosexuality is evil and dangerous to society. The early spread of AIDS was concentrated among the homosexual community. It later spread to the heterosexual community through blood transfusions and intravenous drug usage and so-called bisexuals. And continues on a rampage among promiscuous heterosexuals.
  • Islam considers homosexuality to be the result of a choice…Inclinations can exist within humans for a variety of natural and unnatural acts, from fornication to rape and from necrophilia to bestiality.
  • The distinctions between male and female are strongly made in Islamic teachings. The Prophet cursed men who imitated women and women who imitated men.

He then brings homosexuality and polygyny together.

  • The reality is that monogamy protects the males right to play around without any responsibility, since the incidence of infidelity among them is usually much higher than among females…. The fact is that polygyny is vehemently opposed by male-dominated Western society because it would force men to fidelity. It would encourage them to take socio-economic responsibility for the fulfillment of their polygynous desires and provide protection for the weaker members of society, women and children from mental and physical abuse.
  • Women outnumber men. This apparent imbalance has been further aggravated by the fact that homosexuality appears to be more frequent among men than among women. Hence there are more females competing for a diminishing number of males. Consequently, there will always remain a large segment of women unable to fulfill their sexual and psychological needs through legitimate means in monogamous societies. Their presence in an increasingly permissive society also contributes to the break down of Western family structure. A strong family structure is an absolute requirement for a strong and a healthy society. And, the only way that the family can remain strong and responsive to the needs of its male and female members is through the Islamic form of marriage of which polygyny is a part.

I am a supporter of freedom of speech and while I do abhor everything that Philips stands for, he is entitled to his opinion. However, I think the organizers of this conference need to explain to all Canadians why they are brings speakers such as Munir El-Kassem, Hatem Al Haj, and especially Bilal Philips to a conference purportedly promoting the acceptance of Islam into Canadian society.

I am glad to see speakers use religion to persuade their followers to live ethical lives, however, the other hand of religion is always right there, ready to drag us back to the middle ages. We would be so much better off without it at all.

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