It was a rare rainy day in a small sheikdom in the Middle East when I trooped into the mosque to pray Isha. After prayers, I met an older uncle who asked me about my future plans.
"I am going to Canada". I told him.
"Good," he replied. "Go, study and then come back. Don't stay there. It's not a good place for young Muslim men."
I have mused over that for sometime. Even when I go back to Bangladesh, I have seen that attitude from people that somehow, people in Bangladesh are better Muslims then people who live in Canada (or USA). When I went to the UAE, I met people who snobbishly told me, "Why do anyone live in Canada, that too, a Muslim?"
Here are my reasons why I think we Canadians (and the West) are not only better Muslims, but better human beings that those living in "Muslim" lands.
In Canada our buses have spaces for the handicapped.
In Bangladesh you are lucky to make it to the bus stop if you are handicapped.
In Canada we say "Excuse me" when someone steps on our toes.
In Bangladesh we push people out of the way.
In Canada we live respectfully with the Jews and while we disagree on many things, we treat them as our friends and neighbors.
In Bangladesh Jews are the cause of all problems and the reason why there is so much war all around the world and after all, everything is Israel's fault and part of a conspiracy.
In Canada I can pray and fast on my own terms.
In Saudi I am beaten if I am outside on the streets during prayer times.
In Canada we elect our leaders the way Muslims elected Abu Bakr as their first leader.
In the Arab lands ... well, never mind.
In Canada when it is illegal to discriminate against a person based on his skin color.
In Muslim lands it's all about Fair and Lovely.
In Canada I can run my own business and not take interest if I have to.
In Bangladesh I have to pay bribes at every level and not to mention protection money to local hoodlums for every business.
In Canada molesting a women is against the law.
In some Muslim lands molesting a women IS the law.
In Canada we treat work as noble. A labourer at a construction site (work that the Prophet did) is as much a person as a doctor.
In Bangladesh, "they" are second class citizens and not even worth a mention.
We are open minded. We don't think it's a religious duty to beat our women. We don't believe in forced marriages. We don't believe in killing a woman because she doesn't cover her hair or describe them as "meat".
We pay our workers and sue those who don't. We read, discover and broaden our knowledge. We keep an open mind and don't pretend to act on God's behalf. We live peacefully with our neighbors even if they follow a different religion. Or even a different sect of our religion.
So, to reply to that uncle, "you are wrong. It's a great place to be a Muslim."