Sunday, September 1, 2013

Concerning Canada

I just returned from a 3 week trip to Canada. I visited Toronto and Calgary for 10 days each. I have visited Canada regularly in the 1990s while I was living in the US. Having lived in US, Pakistan and the Middle East for extended periods, I may qualify in trying to analyze what Canada offers that other places do not as well as the possible dangers of Canadian society to a practicing Muslim family. If you have read my blogs you know that in general I prefer that a Muslim should live in a Muslim country, e.g. see "The Pearl of Life" ( and "Advantages of the Emirates" ( Nevertheless every individual and family situation is different and needs a specific solution that is right for them.

In many ways Canada is a colder version of US. It is a secular democracy. It is a capitalist free market economy. It values hard work, ingenuity, personal development, individuality, etc. It was founded by European settlers in North America after mercilessly killing the natives and rounding those who remained in reservations. Its population which is very small compared to its landmass, is growing old and thus the government has been injecting fresh young blood through immigration which has now become quite selective. Unlike the US, its Head of State is still the Queen of England; it has free basic health for all; better government benefits for the underprivileged; greater concern for cultural diversity; less crime; less run down inner cities and more general tolerance for practicing Muslims and their religion. Nevertheless, it is important to point out that as long as the Muslims keep their religion as a cultural vistage from their homeland they are welcome which is often acceptable to many. Thus if you want to eat halal and have Friday prayers in the public school it is acceptable, but it remains to be seen how the establihment will react once Muslims start challenging "Canadian values" by implementing Islam in areas where it really matters, e.g. mainstream politics and economy. Personally, I believe they will not be welcome to touch these areas.

It is often observed that Islamic practice in Western countries only survives for two generations at most. By the third generation, Muslims have been observed to lose their faith to mainstream secularism. The exception being, if the family moves back to a Muslim country or if a generation is kept virtually isolated in a Darul Uloom in the West. Having said that, I have also witnessed the phenomenon of Muslims losing their faith in one generation and reverting back in the next! Canada is no exception. For a practicing Muslim, such a society is a battleground for the hearts and minds. Its population is open minded and listens to reason and truth. Hence there is ample ground for dawah for those who have the skills and knowledge to do so without the mainstream ideology affecting them and their children. It is futile to force children to go through the motions of forced salaat or to rote learn some Arabic verses from the Quran. Islam must make sense to them! And before them to their parents! 1n 1999, I decided to leave the US because I sensed that my secular education had ill prepared me to save my deen in an ocean of kufr. Indeed many individuals and families will benefit from leaving.

For someone who has studied Islam, Western civilization, globalization and is fluent in English/French, the opportunities for dawah are abundant. There is freedom to practice religion in the guise of protecting cultural/religious diversity that the Canadian society values. Nevertheless, care is needed to safeguard and constantly grow eemaan in oneself and in one's family while you are there. This can be achieved by living next to the masjid and involving the whole family in its educational and propagation activities; preferring Islamic values to Canadian values; arranging quality Islamic education for oneself and one's children (preferably in a good Islamic / home school) and praying all the daily prayers in congregation at the masjid. Scholars permit such people to live in the West, on the condition that dawah is their primary goal.

Overall, I have found Canadians to be tolerant, friendly, emphatic, straight forward and helpful. This is more true in Western parts of the country than the urban centers in the East which are more impersonal. Unlike the Middle East, the opportunities to run your own business are great. There is little red tape and you operate on an equal footing. The economy of Calgary is booming with lots of employment and business opportunities, especially in oil and gas.

For those seeking advise to settle in Canada, I would say that it depends on your situation. You are the best judge for yourself. The most apparent dangers are to your faith due to the overwhelming godless nature of the mainstream society. But those who have prepared themselves for dawah in the West it might be a source of ajer if they take precautions and keep their intentions sincere.

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