I attended Dr Tariq Ramadan’s speech on Canadian Muslims and Citizenship at York yesterday. Lately I had been running into many bloggers, and it was no different last night. I met Safiyyah Ally, the host of Let The Quran Speak on a local T.V. channel here, who formerly used to maintain a blog and now writes as one of many at Disconnected Verses. Accompanying her was Asmaa of Randomly Placed. In fact, when another woman stopped me and went “Hey, Mezba!” I half expected her to be another blogger.
“Your face looks so familiar!” I told her, trying to think of where I had seen her.
“Idiot!” She replied, “It’s me, your cousin!”
What can I say, some girls look TOTALLY different in hijab!
The official title of the talk was Canadian Muslims And Citizenship – Roles and Responsibility. Dr Ramadan started with his observations that now Western Muslims seem to be categorizing themselves into two generalizations – the invisible “I am a Muslim but not practicing” or the “super angry, agitated and isolation-minded Muslim”. Then he said there are politicians who on one hand implore the Muslims to “integrate into society” yet by their actions, legislations and policies provoke the Muslims and push the right buttons to get an emotional negative reaction out of them. In the midst of all this, he said, it is our duty as Canadian Muslims to negotiate a middle path. Thus began his talk on how.
Before delving into the details, he gave a few objectives for Muslims here. First, he said, Muslims have to be sure they remain true to themselves, remain Muslims and live an Islamic life to the best of their efforts. At the very same time, they have a responsibility to the society in which they live. And then Dr Ramadan brought up the Canadian society.
It is a problem, he said, that many Muslims nowadays idealize Muslim countries when the rules of many non-Muslim or secular countries follow Islamic principles more. It is the duty of Muslims, he said, to reinforce the good in society and work to eradicate the evil. How, he asked, will you do that if you isolate yourself – you do not recognize the inherent good that is present in this society and in the hearts of Canadians, and similarly, he implored, how will you eradicate the evil if you do not study it, do not understand it or where it comes from?
Don’t be agitated, he said. Muslims are quick to react emotionally yet the Prophet always spoke softly, after much deliberation and thinking. A fast speaker is speaking on emotion, yet we have to have a vision, which means not reacting to every provocation. Having laid his groundwork, he now went on to specifics.
He concluded by reiterating his five Cs (Confidence, Critical Mind, Communication, Consistency, Creativity) and added a bonus C of Courage. There was Q and A session afterwards, on which his answers to the questions on hijab, the unfriendly (or not) media and the myth of conflict between Western and Islamic beliefs were outstanding.
It was a 2 hr talk and I am not doing justice to his really excellent speech as there are far more points and specifics that he delved into. Besides, as I said, some women really look different in hijab. Distractions, distractions!