Canadian Muslims have a bigger stake in the outcome of this federal election than any other before. Like most Canadians, Canadian Muslims care about issues such as health care, having a balanced budget and defence spending. But the issues most on the minds of Canadian Muslims, issues that have not been so far debated in this campaign, are the issues of reviewing the anti-terrorist law C-36, how to stop the deterioration of civil liberties in this country and how to safeguard Canadians, especially Canadian Muslims, against racial profiling.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing sometime to hear a Muslim spokesman say that Muslims should be concerned with anti-terror efforts, and should protest against anti-terror laws in an atmosphere of full-hearted and open cooperation with authorities? By not doing this, they leave themselves open to questions of whether they are concerned about anti-terror laws going to far out of legitimate fears of erosion of civil rights, or because their loyalties lie with the other side.
That is why I have been travelling the country in a religious, rather than a political, campaign style, to encourage Muslims to vote. I argue that “not voting is voting.” I explain that it is a religious, as well as civic, duty to vote. I quote from the Koran and the teachings of the Prophet. And I give examples from early Muslim history.
He probably talks of ijma, consensus, and other Islamic principles that seem to be harmonious with democracy. Unfortunately, however, in Islamic law those principles don’t extend to non-Muslims. That doesn’t affect what he is doing now, but it raises questions for the future of Canada and Western Europe. Those questions revolve, of course, around what Elmasry calls — you guessed it — a “tiny minority.”
But there is a very tiny minority of Muslims in this country who are advocating not voting to protest what they call “the illusion of democratic values.”
One of them e-mailed me a three-page letter following a khotbah (Friday sermon) I gave recently at a large Toronto mosque where I urged that we Muslims should be informed, committed and multi-issue voters, for the sake of our future and the future of our children.
“I bear witness that you delivered your message: a misleading message of ignorance,” the man wrote, “God accepts the repentance of a Muslim so long as his soul remains in his body. It is never too late. I pray that you will sincerely consider (your) words and that you will think about the day when we all shall stand in front of Him alone. Do you want to be blamed by thousands for misleading them? God will not accept the excuse of ignorance.” I am told the man who wrote this was born in this country and is in his 30s. This worries me a great deal. I believe he is well-intentioned, but misguided.
Well, that is worrisome. I hope Elmasry has a comprehensive program to refute the understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah that men like this have. But somehow I doubt it.