|code: 325512||Date: 2012/06/28 - 19:56||source: TNA|
Canadian Islamic Landscape Changing for Better
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - We have interviewed Momtaz Khaan, a Board Member of the Muslim Canadian Congress to further discuss the issue.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Q. Can you tell us in a few words what the mandate of the Muslim Canadian Congress is? What does it stand for and what does it hope to achieve?
A. In a brief mandated-nutshell, we are a grassroot organization aimed at bettering Islam, its image and helping bridge the gap of misunderstanding between the Muslim community in the country with the wider one. Islam, as we all know, is a religion with peace at its essence filled with chapters explaining to the world how to cohabitate with everyone in harmony.
We hope to bring this message to the rest of the world in a time when the religion is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Muslims are as much a part of the social fabric as any other group, demographic or even ethnicity that comprises this nation.
Q. Your group’s article regarding "The Canadian Islamic Landscape” recently came in the newspaper. Can you describe it in more detail?
A. As I said in the description, the perception of Islam following the attacks on New York City on September 11th was marred in an almost permanent manner. Following that event, people discredited any sort of endeavor undertaken by Muslim groups to help change that image. Unfortunately, the response was a little negative as society wasn’t very responsive or accepting of these efforts.
Ultimately it caused these groups, which are generally comprised of young Muslims hoping to make other Canadians understand that they too love the country, turn to a small fringe of border-line radical groups which indoctrinate them into thinking that instead of being part of society, being a good Muslim requires one to cut himself out of it.
A fraudulent claim with very little backing indeed, nevertheless it resulted in a mini era of young Muslims almost ostracized (willingly I might add) from the rest of their peers. Essentially, Muslims only "hung out” with other Muslims, and not with the wider community.
Now while this practice in itself isn’t worth complaining over, nor is it controversial, the repercussions are immense. You have a whole mini-generation of Muslim children free of any societal indulgence, meaning that they only "take” from society, and don’t "give.” It’s a never-ending vicious cycle where Muslims think negatively of the outside community, while the wider one thinks ill of the Islamic one.
The "change” in this cycle though is now here. Muslims no longer seclude themselves – instead they act more inclusive. Initiatives less catered to "information” and more catered to mutual understanding are now appearing all over Canada’s mosques, where visiting groups or individuals are given a complete tour and sit-down session in a mosque. On top of that, community events are no longer exclusive for Muslims – hockey games, tournaments and mosque carnivals are open to the wider community – religion playing little or no bearing on the attendance.
Understandably, the affects of these changes are monumental as well as overly positive. There’s little stigma attached for a young Muslim adult to identify or state his religion, or state his background etc – an act that would be deemed social-suicide by these very same youths before.
Q. What is the next step that needs to be taken for Muslims to stop being considered "outsiders?”
A. I wouldn’t say they’re still considered "outsiders.” As I said, the perception has changed. The next step would be quite literally to continue on this new path that we’ve thread for us. It’s on an upward slope, and as the old saying goes, "don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”
As a quick note, it’s worth mentioning Muslims need to partake in more societal events, run for more government positions and represent yourselves in all facets of society. Let them know that we’re here, here to stay and love this country just as much as the average Canadian. The reason – we are Canadians.