Sharia debate rages on in Canada
WASHINGTON: As the debate in Canada on whether some of the Sharia provisions may be included in the legal code in the Ontario province governing personal matters such as arbitration, one Muslim community figure has declared that anyone who raises such questions is not a “real Muslim.”
Syed Mumtaz Ali told the mass circulation Toronto Star, “One cannot call oneself a real Muslim if one does not obey the Islamic law in such a comprehensive manner.” Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress, another supporter of introducing Sharia in Canada, told the newspaper on Friday that “non-religious Muslims have no right to tell religious people what to do.” Tarek Fateh of the Muslim Canadian Congress, which is arrayed against the induction of Sharia as part of Ontario law, responded that it amounted to effectively telling Muslim opponents of the Sharia that while non-Muslim Canadians were free to debate the issue, “the rest of us are shut out.”
In a statement, Fateh called Elmasry’s assertion that in all of Canada there was possibly only one person who was an expert on Sharia “an astonishing revelation.” He said Sharia courts would not only be” unconstitutional,” but also “racist,” as they would further “ghettoize” the Muslims. Elmasry had said, “There are only a handful of scholars in Canada who are fully trained in interpreting and applying Sharia law - and perhaps as few as one.” He had also said, “The arbitrators use gut feeling, they use common sense, and in many cases they are successful,” in that their decisions are not appealed in a court or overturned.
Fateh retorted that the concept of justice based on “gut feeling” was scary. “These statements about defining ‘real Muslims’ and suggesting that ‘non-religious Muslims’ do not have the right to participate in this debate, should alarm Canada’s Arab and Muslim population. There should be no room in our narrative for dictatorial and authoritarian sermons loaded with religious blackmail of determining ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Muslims and deciding who is permitted to participate in the making of the laws of this land,” he said.
Another person joining the debate is Ali Mallah who wrote in a letter published by Toronto Star on Monday, “Mohamed Elmasry describes the Muslim Canadian Congress as ‘non-religious Muslims who have no right to tell religious people what to do.’ How dare he question my right to participate in a civic discussion about a piece of legislation that would impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, mainly women and children? As a founding member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, I strongly protest this false depiction of my religiosity. This is exactly what most Muslims fear from their clergy - their self-imposed authority to declare the rest of us as good or bad Muslims. Not only is this approach offensive to Muslims, but also denies the rest of Canada the right to participate in this debate. It is at best tribal, if not racist and segregationist. When Elmasry says that non-religious Muslims have no right to tell religious people what to do, is he suggesting that Canadian Muslims not respect the laws made by lawmakers who are almost all non-Muslim? I pray five times a day; I fast during Ramadan; I pay my obligatory zakat tax and no one has a right to accuse me of being non-religious. But even if I was not religious, who gave him the authority to prohibit my participation?” The debate rages on. khalid hasan