Yes We Can!
Last night, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Jamal Badawi speak regarding 'I am a Muslim, can we be friends?' The short answer is of course 'yes', which may seem obvious to many, but as with many things in life, it's not the product that counts, but the process. Dr. Badawi, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion!!) did a thorough job of analyzing the 15 reasons as to why the answer is yes, as well as the common roadblocks to accomplishing this goal, and what we can do (as Muslims and non-Muslims peacefully coexisting) to further this goal. Using verses from the Quran and Hadiths from the Prophet's (PBUH) life, and spiced with a dash of humour, Dr. Badawi was successful in keeping his audience's attention throughout the night.
And a few of his points still have my wheels turning...one of which really hit me, perhaps because it's something I try to take to heart. The face that we are behind in showing the greater community that we care about them.
When Dr. Badawi mentioned 'greater community', he did not mean the greater Muslim community in Calgary...he meant the greater Calgary community. That means specifically including non-Muslims in our outreach work. Think about that for a second. Does the Muslim community in Calgary give back to their city?
I don't want to be conceited and say that I know the answer for sure. But I do agree with the good doctor that we need more work at the grassroots level. But first, we need a greater number of Muslims working with the social and community sectors. This is just an opinion of mine, because while I agree that we need doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc etc etc, but there is something to be said for working in sectors that would reach out to the greater community as a whole. I am optimistic with the current generation, as I do know of and see Muslims entering social and humanistic fields.
So why is it important that Muslims make an effort to be seen in the greater community? First of all, we can debunk myths and stereotypes about the violent and oppressive religion people apparently think we are. And we do this by showing people through our actions, since words are often cheap and unless backed up by action, can be easily tossed to the side. Second, it is our duty to give to those who need support, regardless of their religion. Dr. Badawi spent a large amount of time discussing this point, using the Quran and Sunnah as validation.
So how do we go about accomplishing this goal? Dr. Badawi gave a few ideas:
1. Increase the number of multi-faith events to allow for education about Islam and inter-faith dialogue.
2. People who are naturally curious will ask questions...so to all the Muslims out there, answer 'em!
3. Families should make an effort to ensure that their children are able to get along and integrate with both Muslims and non-Muslims. Both for social and personal benefits. Isolation leads to ignorance which leads to fear!
4. Muslims need to be knowledgable about their own faith, not only for their own sake, but for the sake of others. It ain't cool to give out the wrong information, so be on the down low, brothers and sisters!
And with that, I temporarily bid you all adieu (it's getting late and I need to rise and shine for work tomorrow!!) :)