Claims about mosques ‘outrageously disheartening’Â
Recently a widely published study claimed that mosques and Islamic schools are filled with extremist literature. As a Canadian Muslim who has been involved in dozens of anti-radicalization discussions, forums, and interfaith events, to me this study was outrageously disheartening.
Exactly which mosques is this study referring to? Which libraries? Definitely not my mosque. Not the dozens that Iâ€™ve visited in my nearly two-decades of living in this great country. Iâ€™ve been attending my local mosque since I can remember and it has instilled the values of peace, love and justice, within me and countless other Muslims.
Over the past few years, unfortunately Muslims have been blamed for supporting violent ideologies, and not speaking out enough.
These sentiments, however, are questionable, as Muslims in Canada have made significant contributions in showing loyalty to Canada â€” whether through such iconic campaigns as Million Pounds of Food, or countless annual blood drives and city cleanups. All of the hard work, and countless hours spent spreading peace, and now all of a sudden comes a report defaming an entire religious group and labelling its mosques as breeding grounds for terrorism.
The study cites that former intelligence analysts led the study and claim to have based their findings on research conducted quietly in mosque libraries and Islamic schools. As someone who has visited the largest mosque in Canada, Baitun Nur Mosque, and lives minutes away from the largest mosque in the GTA, I have never even remotely seen anything of that sort, let alone to the scale they have mentioned.
His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, spiritual head of the largest Muslim community united under one leader, actually encourages intelligence gathering like monitoring mosques.
â€œThe sermons in all the mosques should be monitored,â€ Ahmad says. â€œThe government has the right to hold that information. If anything is being done by the government to establish law and order, then it is not spying.â€
This sort of intelligence gathering is not the problem and, in fact, is encouraged. However, providing vague details about claims of spreading extremism in libraries and mosques is problematic.
A while back, I was approached by a CSIS agent, who inquired about a campaign launched by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association called â€œStop the CrISIS.â€ This practically demonstrated the crucial role intelligence gathering plays in countering extremism and the effectiveness it has when working with Muslim communities on the ground.
All that said, am I denying that extremism is a problem? No.
With the home-grown radicalization of Aaron Driver, Michael Zehaf Bibeau, and a handful of others, itâ€™s evident that radicalization is a growing issue. The problem, however, goes beyond mosques. The problem lies in a deceptive, overall cunning strategy employed by ideological recruiters who target disenfranchised youth and sell them the false notion of fighting for the cause of Islam.
In order to combat this, the government and Muslim organizations need to work together in efforts to counter violent extremism.
A primary example of this is the Stop the CrISIS campaign launched by Muslims in Canada after the shootings on Parliament Hill. This campaign was commended by the prime minister, as he publicly stated, â€œWhen terror in the name of Islam came to Canadaâ€™s door, you were not silent, you spoke up, you acted, you earned our appreciation, you have all of our respect, and thank you for doing this.â€
It is important that the Muslim community continues to engage in such activities because it helps combat the rise of terrorism in many ways. Firstly, youth then understand that religion and Canadian values go hand in hand. Second, it allows the Muslim community to speak out against violence, and, most importantly, Muslim youth will have an equally strong counter-narrative of peace, love and harmony to fight for.
The solution to defeating extremist ideologies is not to point fingers at the Muslim community thatâ€™s helping fight against them. Rather, it is to stand united and spread the true message of all religions â€” Love for All, Hatred for none.
iRabwah| News Watch |
Source/Credit: The Toronto Sun