Canada is a country rooted in migration and immigration. Canadian diversity, rather than blended into a melting pot, thrives in its own multiplicity. This diversity is reflected in each individual as well as each community. That, unfortunately, is an oft forgotten fact.
The Canadian Muslim community, like the great Canadian community, includes a diversity of opinions. While as Canadians, we collectively stand on guard for the True North Strong and Free, our interpretations of strength, freedom and standing on guard is as diverse as our people. Similarly, as Muslims, we collectively testify that there is only One God worthy of worship and that Muhammad is God’s messenger, our interpretations of God’s Will and of the lessons passed down from Muhammad are as diverse as there are individuals. It is a great concern from both Canadian Muslims and non-Muslims that any individuals would chose to turn to violence.
While the greater Canadian community demonizes the Muslim communities, the Muslim community blames the media for propagating message of hate on the behalf of minority terror groups. The truth is that we are all, Muslims and non-Muslim, collectively at fault for and innocent of violence.
At various points in history, religion, belief, non-belief and anti-belief have all been to blame for oppressing, dominating and abusing “the other”. God’s Will, Nature and Science have all been manipulated to justify atrocities against mankind. Greed and violence have come under different names as means to exploit the worst of the human spirit.
So what about Canadian converts? How many of us are attracted towards violence? Luckily, I am happy to say, only an extremely small number. Most of us reach Islam through individual journeys towards peace and convert from the love and worship of One God and His example lived by Prophet Mohammed. Our concern, similar to that of our fellow Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians, is what attracts the minority towards violence?
I cannot say that I have the ultimate answer. My best guess, if you asked me, would be hate. Hate of “others”. At some time in their lives, these individuals have learned to hate the “other”: non-Muslims, police officers, politicians, the greater Canadian community and they are in search of retaliation. They are not corrupted by extreme Muslim groups but find amongst them confirmation of their existing feelings and justification of their impending actions. Their numbers grow as the number of hate messages grow: the greater the gap between communities, the more outwardly violent the hate.
We can preach about a peaceful and united Canada from the pulpit or the House of Commons, but communities are pulled apart by sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, socioeconomic and religious discrimination. The majority sits pretty on top of their white privilege and blame the minorities for their discomfort and fear. Minorities blame each other and the majority for theirs.
As Canadians, we have long believed in a Canada united in its diversity. As Muslims, we believe God will guide whom He will and divert whom He will. It is time we educate ourselves and our children about various lifestyles, cultures, traditions and religions without fear that they may corrupt our minds. If we have faith in our convictions, we have to believe we cannot be shaken from them and give conflicting messages their right place: the right to exist, the right to be, but not the right to hurt or destroy those who disagree with them. This is a Muslim issue, this is a Canadian issue, this is a human issue: we need to put a stop to violent retribution for disagreement.