|By BRETT CLARKSON, SUN MEDIA||
What to listen to — the imam or the iPod?
For families with Canadian-born kids and Muslim immigrant parents, it’s one of the many questions that can pervade the day-to-day life of trying to balance the trappings of Western culture and the traditions of Islamic faith.
But immigrant parents trying to live by their faith shouldn’t have delusions that their Canadian-born kids will be immune to Western culture and act as if they’re in a strict Islamic country, charged an imam at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto yesterday.
Imam Zaid Shakir, who teaches at the Oakland-area Zaytuna Institute, yesterday spoke about the tragedy of teen Aqsa Parvez, who police allege was killed by her father. It emerged in the days after her murder that the 16-year-old’s death could’ve been sparked by her refusal to wear a hijab, as her father apparently demanded.
Shakir then blasted immigrant parents for expecting their kids to be oblivious to the realities of their adopted homeland.
“If you want your children to be a Pakistani, to be an Egyptian, to be a Syrian, to be a Turk, to be a Sudanese, a Somali, then you should’ve stayed in Pakistan or Egypt or Sudan or Somalia,” Shakir said, to applause.
Shakir said it wasn’t the childrens’ choice to immigrate, but the parents. “Parents, your children didn’t ask to come here, to Canada or America or Britain. They didn’t ask to come here. You chose to come here… there are consequences that come with that choice,” Shakir said.
The three-day, sixth-annual conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre draws about 15,000 people each year, said spokesman Arsalan Shirazi. The conference doesn’t subscribe to a single ideology or denomination, Shirazi said.
“It is part of our Islamic tradition to have differences of opinion, and to tolerate and appreciate those differences of opinions,” Shirazi said.
Maqsud Baswa, 65, a parent of three grown children who grew up mostly in the U.S. and Canada after his architecture profession moved him from Pakistan, agreed with Shakir’s speech.
“I think the first point is that it’s very important to recognize that we have come to a difference culture, and there are some good things in this culture that we should adopt, and that we should also let our children adopt,” Baswa said.
Shakir also referenced the Christmas Day killing of Iliada Zois, 22, who was stabbed to death along with her brother Jamie, 14. Shakir asked the crowd for a show of hands indicating who was familiar with Zois’ tragic death. Barely anybody put up their hand. When he asked about Parvez, a significantly larger number of hands shot up. This angered him.
“As Muslims here in the West, we must know the story of and the plight of Iliada Zois as well as we know the story and the plight of Aqsa Parvez, because we have a standard where our Lord instructs us,” Shakir said. “…One innocent life that’s killed, be they Muslim, is no more valuable than an innocent life of that girl who is not a Muslim. They were both innocent, they were both humans, and their lives were both snuffed out in the flower of their youths.”