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July 28, 2014

Ramadan: Muslims pray God bless Canada

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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Last week at our mosque, during the long prayers on the special night of Ramadan, Lulut-Alqadr, the Imam prayed as usual for the congregation and all Muslims and for the first time in my 46 Ramadans here I heard him prays for Canada.

I was pleased to hear that. Muslims during their 1435 years of history were loyal to their countries and prayed for their wellbeing.

The Prophet used to express his love for his birthplace, the city of Mecca. Although its people tried to kill him, smeared him, and finally drove him out, he prayed for them to be blessed.

Muslims throughout their history never knew a contradiction between their faith and citizenship.

As a practicing Muslim, and as an Egyptian-born Canadian, I am commanded to stand up for the protection of life and liberty, to serve the poor and the weak, to celebrate the diversity of humankind. There is no contradiction. Not for me, and not for anyone, of any combination of faith, culture and nationality, who believes in a community of the human spirit.

Both the Qur’an and the Constitution teach ideals of peace, justice and compassion, ideals that command my love, and my belief.

Each of these texts, one the heart of my religion, the other that of my country, demand a constant struggle to do what is right. 

I choose the word “struggle” very deliberately, for its connotations of turmoil and tribulation, both internal and external.

The word for struggle in Arabic, in the language of my faith, is jihad. It is a word that has been corrupted and misinterpreted by those who claim to be Muslims. They have committed and are committing today terrorist acts in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya and around the world.

But Jihad, in its truest and purest form, the form to which all Muslims aspire, is the determination to do right, to do justice even against your own interests.

It is an individual struggle for personal moral behavior. Especially today, it is a struggle that exists on many levels: self-purification and awareness, public service and social justice.

So where is the Canadian Muslims’ jihad, where is our struggle? As we pray God bless Canada, we can turn our struggle to the war against poverty and disease and dozens of other causes.

But before looking outward, we must first look inward. Before deciding what we are against, we must decide what we are for.

The only way to define the inner moral force that drives our struggle is to learn through action—to get our hands dirty. To strive to see the world as it sees itself, testing the boundaries of what we think we know, and how we know it.

To combine our search for truth with a sense of empathy for our fellow humanity.

On one level it’s simple: everyone wants the same things that we do. It is more than a set of materialistic aspirations. It is the opportunity to shape one’s own life: to house and feed a family with security and dignity, and to practice your faith in peace.

We Canadians are in a privileged position to shape a more just, peaceful, and honorable global. Let us do it together.

We have a responsibility to leave our mark on the world. So let us struggle, and let us make our mark. And I hope and pray that our children and our grandchildren help us to help God to bless Canada.

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