Dany and Lisa Assaf are Toronto lawyers.
Paris and the world bleeds, fires roar and we all weep in desolation. There is a criminal gang masquerading as some kind of extreme Muslim movement, terrorizing and killing innocent people; the horror in Paris the most recent and gruesome example.
Enough is enough. As heartbroken Canadians and as Muslims, we are here to reiterate and shout to these criminals: Not in our name.
As the saying goes, one of the last refuges of a scoundrel is religion – and this is a crystal clear example. This savagery is no more Muslim than the Ku Klux Klan represents Christianity. The Islam we know emphasizes that the taking of one innocent life is as if one killed all of humanity and that God created us as different nations and tribes for us to enjoy the life's diversity – not to hate one another. It also clearly dictates that there is no compulsion in religion.
What we see from the so-called Islamic State is not Islam under any interpretation. Every religious text contains words of historical or period contexts that can be twisted and manipulated for almost any purpose. We avoid the garbage dump of historical litter that has used religion to justify violence and horror; we devote our energy to the present and future of our children. Unfortunately, all religions are susceptible to slander and abuse, even from within. We feel sick at what these so-called Muslims are doing under a banner of Islam – and it must be taken back.
At its height, Islamic civilization embodied many of the values we cherish as Canadians: Tolerance, respect, knowledge and beauty. Time was devoted to inventions, such as algebra and medicines. Beyond the overall beauty of Alhambra in Spain, look at the gardens that were planted with meticulous detail so that guests experienced beautiful scents in a planned order. No human society is perfect – and Islamic civilization was only one in a long line of others to make great contributions to humanity. However, today it is clear that everyday Muslims need to seize the agenda and discourse from these criminals. Nothing in Islam justifies these heinous acts.
We must emphasize Islam's traditions of hospitality and love of all humanity in a world that needs cool winds and waters to soothe and wash away all the blood and fire. There's no better place on the planet to reclaim that future than in Canada. Islam has a long and proud history in Canada, which goes back more than a century and even claims the first mosque on North American soil in Edmonton in 1938. Our history and solidarity as Canadians is an example to help heal and chart a future of light and hope for all.
The world needs Canada today more than ever. As Muslims, we want to be at the forefront of a country that takes the lead again in engaging with the world. Let's seize it together. The lost lives of the innocent deserve no less in all our names.