The following article was written by my good friend and colleague, Baseer Naveed. It is an interesting expose on his reactions to the attitudes of Muslims in Canada. Baseer very kindly allowed me to work on it with him. JS S.
Sitting with the friends and some Pakistanis in Montreal, Canada, a heated debate started over the Jewish conspiracies against Islam and Pakistan. The Pakistanis were very much interested in talking about politics, particularly in the context of the USA, Afghanistan and the past history of Islamic rulers with some unwritten stories to glorify them as remarkable assets.
The participants, sitting in a chilling temperature in a well furnished drawing room, surrounded by many framed photos of the holy places of Saudi Arabia and calligraphies, were telling me of the conspiracies of the Jews with very loud voices. They were saying that Jews do not want Pakistan to be prosperous as it the only country which was created in the name of Islam. I was putting many questions and at every question their reply was in anger. They were saying that Jews have infiltrated the political party of Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef who does not allow operations against the MQM and, according to them the MQM is run by Jews. Shareef has to increase inflation as Jews want this to happen. Drone attacks on Pakistan occur because Jews are behind them.
After such an enlightening and sometimes angry discourse which revealed so much about the Jewish conspiracies we went for dinner. My friends took me to a burger shop called 'Shwartz' and ordered the smoked beef burger. At the shop the word ‘Kosher’ was displayed and I did not know the meaning of this word. I asked them whether the burger was 'Halal' to which they all replied that it was. I then asked them if the shop belonged to a Muslim and they replied that it did not. However, it was part of a famous chain of Jewish eateries and 'Kosher' means 'Halal'. This was somewhat surprising for me as for the last three hours I had been regaled with stories and theories about the Jewish conspiracies against the Muslims of the world. I was a bit irritated and asked them if this was also not a conspiracy of the Jews to sell Halal food.
My question was met with gales of laughter in the burger shop and one person said to me, "Oh Baseer, do not look for conspiracy in everything--leave this bad habit".
I was of the impression that a sizeable number of Pakistanis have migrated to different parts of Canada and the process is continuing, therefore, I would listen to different views of what the media, political parties and religious parties were forcing on us. However, I found the majority of the Pakistanis more conservative than the Pakistanis living back in the country.
There are three most important concerns for the majority of Pakistanis in Canada and the USA. First is the Jews who get blamed every time something bad happens in Pakistan, the second is the Ahmadis and third is the rights of gays, lesbians and transsexuals.
Mosques have appeared in good numbers which is growing steadily. The fundamentalist Muslim leaders have found a good place to settle and feel right at home. They don't hesitate to provoke Pakistan to contribute for Jihad for the implementation of Shariah in the country. In a wedding ceremony a Pesh Imam (prayer leader of a famous mosque) was invited to conduct the marriage ceremony in accordance with the Islamic way. He finally did so but only after he delivered his long, drawn-out speech (which was not based in Islam) on how a bride has to follow the husband's instructions and the husband has every right in that regard.
The Pesh Imam then went on to say that before marriage if the bride and groom have any type of relationship that was unIslamic (Haram). His clear message was that if they had a love affair prior to marriage it was Haram. A whispered laughter came from the audience as every person present knew of the love affairs between the couple for many years. The Pesh Imam was good friend of the father of te bride.
In another meeting with friends and some Pakistanis at Toronto, the issue of Jihad came up in the discussion. The Jihad discussion went to its basis in the Madressas (Muslim seminaries), their curriculum, the hate messages against opposite sects of Islam, producing suicide attackers and, of course, the sexual abuse of children at the seminaries. Interestingly the people were much more interested in talking about the sexual abuse of budding Muslim fundamentalists or homosexual stories of Muslim/mosque leaders. Some shared their young age experience to which they were eye witness when in the Madressas they saw young poverty ridden students, helpless, in the hands of their teachers…and sometimes without clothes.
Everybody was feeling very excited to exchange such stories and making jokes. Suddenly a pious Muslim said that in his mosque a gay came and he delivered a lecture about Islam and he was not there at that time. Being the member of the management committee of Farooqia Masjid, when he came to know about the incident he became angry and ordered the cleaning of the mosque. A silence fell over our joyful meeting, everybody was feeling guilty that he had done something wrong and was trying to change the topic because the pious man changed the mood.
I broke the silence by asking as to why when the Pesh Imam was present at that moment he did not stop the 'gay'. There was no clear answer except that he did not want to turn the mosque into a battle ground. My other question was very irritating for them about the purity of Pesh Imams as they are educated from Madressas, where, as we had already discussed that homosexuality is common.
Again I was made a target and every one explaining the positions of their own mosques and their Pesh Imams but did not refute my allegation that Pesh Imams were from Madressas. No one was to totally refute how they would have been spared of such acts when they were recruited at a young age. One friend became angry and asked me if I was suggesting that they were offering prayers behind the Gays or that Gays were leading our five times prayers in a day?
I simply replied that my comments were based on the following assumptions. They themselves admitted that there was a great deal of homosexuality in the Madressas and that they had even seen Imams having their way with young boys and men. Therefore, it stood to reason that many of these young men that went on to become Imams themselves were 'tainted' with the same desires of their peers. Given the possibility that some of the Pesh Imams were gay it also stood to reason that we were following them in prayer five times a day. I asked if, indeed this was the case as to whether our prayers were justified.
When I finished speaking one of the participants said to me, "Baseer be remain positive, you always see the dark aspect of the thing".
Very harsh remarks were uttered against me such as infidel, apostate and communist. Some accused me of being a blasphemer and declared me as Wajib Ul Qatal (liable to be murdered) but could not carry out that act as I was in Canada where there is strong rule of law and the state provides protection and security to every citizen.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and met many interesting and intelligent people. Sometimes when people leave their homes for a foreign land they quickly give up their cultural heritage and this was not the case with the vast majority of Pakistanis that I met. However, I could not help but feel that their belief that the Jews were behind all the evils of the world was somewhat misplaced. There was also a degree of hypocrisy in their attitude towards gays especially considering the very real possibility that many of their Imams are gay. It was also sad and troubling for me to learn that the mosques were being used, as they are in Pakistan, to raise money for Jihad and I saw that as a betrayal of the country which had given them a home.