The Hamilton Spectator

An opportunit­y to learn about Islam


One of the greatest risks of being an Islamophob­e is that you might convert to Islam.

Recently one of Australia’s most notorious anti-Islam activists, Shermon Burgess, converted. Burgess was former head of the farright neo-Nazi group United Patriots Front.

In February, CBC’s “As It Happens” aired a piece about an Oscarnomin­ated documentar­y “Stranger at the Gate.” In it, Mac McKinney, a U.S. army veteran and vehement Islamophob­e, concocted a plan to build an improvised explosive device and blow up the local mosque in Muncie, Ind. Within eight months of setting foot inside the mosque, he converted.

These are far from isolated incidents.

Islamophob­ia is by no means a recent phenomenon. In 616 C.E., six years into Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) prophethoo­d, Umar bin al-Khattab, described as one of the most rabid enemies of Islam, was on a mission to kill the Prophet with his sword.

A passerby stopped him and told him his own sister had converted. Enraged, he stormed to his sister’s home and overheard verses of the Qur’an being recited. He flung open the door and struck his sister in the face causing her mouth to bleed.

Before striking her again, he changed his tone from the sight of her blood, and asked to see what she was reading. Later that day he converted to Islam in the presence of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Omar bin al-Khattab would later become the second Caliph of Islam.

Fast forward to the 21st century, this same hatred allegedly caused a man to plow his truck into a Muslim family out on an evening stroll on June 6, 2021 in London, Ont. Four of the members of the Afzaal family were killed.

This same rage caused the killing of six worshipper­s and injuring of five others in congregati­onal prayer on Jan. 29, 2017, at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City.

In response, Amira Elghawaby, a journalist, and human rights advocate, was appointed as Canada’s Special Representa­tive on Combating Islamophob­ia, described as an “historic moment for Muslims in Canada” by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

Days after Elghawaby’s appointmen­t, Islamophob­ia started gurgling from the depths of government with a motion in the National Assembly of Quebec denouncing her appointmen­t, supported by the

Coalition Avenir Quebec, Quebec Liberal party and the Parti Québécois. Premier François Legault called for her resignatio­n.

What’s wrong with this picture? Despite the heinous killing of the Muslim family in London, and the Quebec mosque shootings, the NCCM to this day continues its struggle to have Quebec’s racist Bill C-21 struck down. This law bans individual­s from wearing religious symbols — including the hijab — by workers in the public sector.

Is there a critical mass of Canadian Muslims who must die before government­s take action to strike down this racist law? Politics, protection­ism and partisansh­ip before human rights and saving lives?

Instead of fearing Islam, educate and inform yourselves. Knowledge is the best weapon. “The Sealed Nectar,” a biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sums up Islam best: “Scattered people and tribes were united, and man moved from the worship of man to the worship of Allah. There were no more oppressors nor oppressed; no masters nor slaves, nor people bound to other people, nor aggressors that would practice aggression. All people were slaves of Allah. They were beloved brothers obeying Allah’s rules and disposed of arrogance and the boastful spirit.”

The holy month of Ramadan is upon us and is a good opportunit­y to visit a local mosque and learn about Islam. Sunset is the best time, and you are most welcome to break fast with us.

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