Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. – A Smart (Probably) Dead Dude

So, you wanted something hard-hitting from MM's female writers, eh? Well, here's my pathetic attempt at commenting on the political situation today…

In Social Studies, I've begun a unit on the Cold War and Canada's involvement. One particular passage in my textbook sent chills up my spine:

“The RCMP Special Branch watched those who “might be or might become” a secuirty risk, including artists, peace activists, union leaders, and intellectuals were seen in any way to criticize the Canadian government.”

I'm sure I don't need to explain why I found this paragraph so creepy; if you do need an explanation, you've clearly been living under a rock – in which case the only thing I have to say to you is, stay under your rock; you're probably safer than those of us who live aboveground.

Today, our equivalent of the RCMP Special Branch is CSIS – Canadian Security Intelligence Service. They are doing to Muslims today what was being done back then to suspected communists: spying on us, paying us to spy on each other, cracking down on those of us who dare to speak our minds and refuse to toe the mainstream line of opinion. I'm not being paranoid, either, or a conspiracy theorist – I know this from personal experience, having seen this stuff actually happen in front of my very eyes to someone prominent in the Muslim community of my old city. May Allah protect us all from those who seek to harm us, ameen.

From what I have seen, the reactions in the Muslim community to this situation have been one of three:

  1. To abandon all notions of principles and independence, and throw themselves at the feet of the government and lick their toes. These tend to be the people hailed as “moderates” and “progressives.” The MCC (Muslim Canadian Congress) can be put in this category; and if you watch this CBC documentary on them, you'll see how succesful they've been in getting themselves into the public's (or rather, the government's) good books. Note: I am not in any way, shape, or form condoning the death threats and other violent action (or threats of violent action) against them.
  2. While not going to the extreme of group 1, group 2 – the majority of Canadian Muslims, I'd say – have reacted by quieting down and doing their best to be politically correct. This has ensured them a generally 'safe' status – at the very least, it keeps them out of the headlines. I guess you can call them the average Muslim, trying their best to stay out of trouble and live normal lives… and you can't blame them, really. But still.
  3. This group is a minority: they refuse to be government lackeys, speak their mind on touchy subjects (which range from homosexuality and integration – or in iMuslim's famous words, INTE-FREAKING-GRATION! ;) – to Middle-East/ Muslim-world-related politics), and are sometimes looked askance at by other Muslims (and loudly/hysterically condemned by group #1). These are the people often labelled Salafis, Wahhabis, and/or crazy fundamental extremist terrorists by various others (e.g. the media, group #1, and sometimes those in group #2 who think we're stirring up too much trouble). We/they aren't, though, so chill. We/they just refuse to allow others to dictate what we believe and how we're supposed to act. And if y'all refuse to come to our Islamic centres or functions, hey, it's your loss. We're actually pretty normal, pretty fun people to be around. So there.

There is another group, the real crazy extremist terrorist-wannabe-nutcases, but they are (or I hope they are, insha'Allah) such a small group that they're pretty insignificant and harmless. Let us pray that they remain that way and don't do anything to make matters worse for all of us.

Hmmmmm, now what was I going to say again?

I forget. I think it had something to do with the Cold War, though. And about sticking to group #3 'cuz we're cool and refuse to modify or give up our beliefs and aren't wishy-washy, but still good citizens who pose absolutely no threat to Canada's security. And not giving into all the scare tactics, 'cuz we know that we're innocent of whatever it is they're accusing us of, and that if we are true believers, Allah is with us. They may fear us (even though we aren't really worth fearing), but we fear Allah alone. Whatever trials and tribulations we may face due to sticking to our beliefs as Muslims, let us take comfort in the fact that for the believers, there is good even in that which seems bad. This fitnah can be a means of strengthening our iman; of increasing in patience and perseverance; and if things get so bad that our situation becomes like that of our Muslim brothers currently suffering from incarceration without charges (thanks to the security certificate), then verily it will be a means of expiation for our sins, insha'Allah.

“How amazing is the affair of the believer! Everything which happens is good for him. And that is for no one except the believer. When he encounters good times and ease, he gives thanks and that is good for him and if he encounters hardship he is steadfast and that is good for him.” - Sahih Muslim

So, let us turn to our own history and to Allah's Words, and take a lesson that we shall not forget – and thereby, by Allah's Leave, not doomed.

How often has a small group overcome a mighty host, by Allah's Leave? And Allah is with the patient! - Surah al-Baqarah, verse 249

But whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then suerly, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. – Surah al-Anfal, verse 49

P.S. DISCLAIMER TIME!!!! I do not mean to diss or belittle group #2 (group #1 is a whole 'nother issue, though) in any way, shape, or form; when describing group #3, I'm not using the labels mentioned in association to MuslimMatters.org, but in relation to myself and the people I hang out with (and no, we don't use those labels on ourselves… it's other people who're always obsessed with slapping those labels on us. In fact, I think that's a “Made In Taiwan” label on my forehead… hold on a minute while I take it off… oh great, now someone replaced it with a “Made In Denmark” sticker!). Ahem, where was I? Right, the disclaimer. Well, it'll take too long for me to disclaim everything people are going to claim about me/us after reading this, so just take those claims and add a negating word in front of it to turn it into a disclaimer. That should do it, don't you think?

6 Responses

  1. Ruth Nasrullah

    Asalaamu alaikum, Sr. AnonyMouse. I believe it was George Santayana who made the statement you preface your post with – and I’m not 100% sure, but I think he said those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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  2. Mujahideen Ryder

    Actually Group #3 is pretty big and in New York, its larger then Group #2. I would say Groups #1 and #2 are the minorities.

    The Republicans are like Group #3 towards Muslims and vice versa.

    Basically the groups are poorly defined and you can easily use them in different scenarios. But if Canada really has a majority Muslim population that’s dead, then that really sucks for Islam in Canada, cuz from my visits to Toronto at RIS and watching TV over there I think it’s slightly different then your description.

    You also said Group #3 is often labelled as Salafis/Wahhabis. I guess that’s Canada, but in America, even Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is a member of Group #3 which is probably the majority of Muslims in America (proof) states Sh. Hamza is “one of the country’s most strident radical Islamist preachers”).

    I always that Canada was friendlier than America towards Islam and Muslims.

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  3. AnonyMouse

    I think I should’ve added that the above descriptions are very general and are the results of my (admittedly limited) observations of the Muslim community in my end of Canada (the Western bit; I have little to no knowledge of the workings of the Muslim community in Quebec and Ontario).

    Hey, are there any Canadians from out east here? If so, it’d be great if you could share your thoughts on what the community is like out there…

    “…Canada was friendlier than America towards Islam and Muslims.”
    It definitely is, but Canadian Muslims are also easily spooked. When CSIS officials started poking around, people went to my dad (imam of one of the Islamic centres) and begged him to ‘bring down the tone’ of his khutbahs and halaqas. He didn’t, and for a while after that some people stopped coming, even though absolutely nothing happened and the rest of us were going about our daily lives normally.

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  4. Faraz

    I’m a Canadian of the East and West. I’ve seen the various communities and can probably offer some insight.

    I find that there is more of #3 in the Quebecois Muslim community, because the culture of Quebec encourages the concept of “distinct society” and is very much against the idea of “just fitting in”. Because of it’s unique position within Canada, I find that the Muslim and non-Muslim communities of Quebec are more sympathetic to the causes of troubled minorities in the world, and more vocal against the global hegemony of the US and the influence Canada has on it’s provinces.

    From my observations, Ontario and BC have somewhat similar cultures, except that the Muslim community in Ontario is just so much bigger.

    I used to be quite weary of CSIS until they called me in for an interview a few months ago. After two hours of questioning, I sincerely believe that they really just want to protect the country; they have no interest in turning people away from Islam, and they in fact are highly supportive of the non-political Islamic efforts of the Canadian Muslim community. They’re not trying to quash political dissent either, they just want to make sure that their citizens are safe from harm. Yes, they’ve made tonnes of mistakes in that regard, but I don’t think they’re “out to get us” in any way.

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