This article in the latest issue of Maclean's magazine highlights the alarmingly growing trend of racism, bigotry, and prejudice in Canada… or, if you're to look at it differently, simply more public airing of these feelings.
Concentrating mainly on Quebec, the author brings up recent examples of blatant discrimination against immigrants – specifically, Muslims. Whether it be the soccer and hijaab controversy, the veiled voting drama, or the town of Herouxville's ridiculous set of bylaws, the average Canadian's feelings towards “us” are becoming more and more obvious each day: ignorance and intolerance.
Although it seems that it's older, and less educated, citizens who feel this way towards immigrants and Muslims in general, the statistics tell us that even younger and more educated Canadians are against reasonable accomodation and want immigrants to “fully adapt” to Canadian culture (leading to another question – what exactly is Canadian culture? I don't think you want to read my Social Studies assignment, though, so I'll spare you :P ).
But as with all articles revolving around statistics: how accurate is it? I, for one, was shocked by the results – growing up in the hippie-like atmosphere of British Columbia, the majority of non-Muslims whom I encounter seem to have a “Live and let live” attitude. Yet a friend of mine from Ontario said that she was shocked by the racism and prejudice she encountered when she first came to B.C. two years ago. Food for thought!
What does this mean for Canadian Muslims? It means we need action! More Da'wah, more outreach… knowledge is the cure for ignorance! The more (good) Muslims a non-Muslim gets to know, the more familar and comfortable they'll be.
Here are suggestions on how WE can do our part in “thinking globally, acting locally”:
- October is Islamic History Month! Islamic History Month Canada is an educational and cultural project originated, developed and sponsored by the Canadian Islamic Congress. Go to the “Events” page to see what you can do. Share this information with Muslims and non-Muslims alike! (Check out the Gallery page, and submit something!)
- Street Da'wah: To tell the truth, I'm not exactly sure how it works! I figure it has something to do with setting up a table with a bunch of pamphlets and talking to non-Muslims about Islam (no, reaaaaalllllyyyy? *Sarcasm at self*)… but this might be a problem in some places where they may be bylaw issues. Check it out with your city hall first. If it's okay, go for it!
- Invite an imām, sheikh, or someone else knowledgeable in Islam and who has good communication skills (very important!) to come to your school and give a short talk on Islam.
- Myth-busting! Set up a workshop or class open to everyone (and free of charge), with the subject being busting myths and stereotypes about Islam. Publish ads in your local newspaper to reach a wider audience.
- Volunteer at a community centre, senior's home, hospital, etc. This works especially well if you're a hijaabi sister (or a bearded, thobed brother :P)… don't forget to casually mention how helping those in need is a part of Islam!
- Street/ park/ beach clean-up. Either organize one through your local masjid/ Islamic centre, or sign yourself and other Muslims up to join one already organized by non-Muslims. The sight of Muslims walking around with garbage bags and picking up litter is sure to rouse some curiosity!
- Write a short story, poem, nasheed about Islam or being Muslim – and submit it to non-Muslim newspapers and magazines! You'll be surprised at how open they can actually be… and if they aren't, don't be discouraged!
There are a 101 one ways (more, actually) that we Muslims can up the Da'wah level and inshā'Allāh lower the hatred and intolerance level amongst non-Muslims. So yallah! Up and at it, people!
May Allāh grant us tawfeeq in all our endeavours for His Sake, āmīn!