Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Responsibility rests with Muslims"

I'm sure you've all heard about the girl who was prevented from playing a soccer game in Quebec because she was wearing the hijab. I read this letter to the editor in the Toronto Star today:

Mar 06, 2007

I am a feminist and strongly support Muslim girls and women playing soccer, so I followed closely the current situation in which a young female soccer player was ejected from playing in a game because she wore a hijab. The rules of FIFA, soccer's international governing body, seem to say playing soccer with a cloth tied around one's head and neck is not very safe. That sounds rather sensible to me.

If one chooses to adhere to a belief system that requires females to wear such a cloth, it would seem to me that it would be up to the religion to excuse females from wearing that attire when playing soccer. Religions are known to excuse people from certain requirements, such as fasting in order to take medication.

As Muslim females integrate into the greater society, Islam should make changes that will facilitate their involvement.

Elka Ruth Enola, Oakville

It's clear that this woman is well-intentioned and one of the more intellectual people writing to the paper. However, there is something fundamentally wrong with this letter and the attitudes of so many people out there. It's this: "As Muslim females integrate into the greater society, Islam should make changes that will facilitate their involvement."

The thing that many non-Muslims seem not to understand about Islam and Muslims is that we believe in an All-Knowing Creator who has given us a set of guidelines to live by. These guidelines are for our own benefit and discarding them or changing them to "facilitate our involvement" is somewhat absurd. You are asking me to give up something that I believe God has legislated for me, in order to adhere to man-made legislation. You're asking me to leave behind an integral part of my self in order to please people. Perhaps Christianity and other faiths have been wishy-washy when it comes to changing God-given rules and laws, but I hope that Islam will never follow suit.

The responses that Canadians have shown (even the ones who want to accept and understand diversity) just goes to show how strange our perception of "muliti-culturalism" really is. The way it's being practiced in many parts of Canada today (especially Quebec) indicates that when Canadians say "multi-culturalism," it really means "we'll accept you because we have to, but the law of the white folks is still THE law. If you can't accept that, well then you don't belong here." It's the same way the indigenous people of Canada were treated, and are still treated today. The reality is, many people see us as inferiors who don't have the same rights as they do - a surprising attitude for a country that was built on the backs of immigrants, the modern-day slaves.

The case with the young girl forced to leave her soccer game is just the tip of the iceberg. On a global scale, these small and somewhat insignifant events bring to light the overarching attitudes of people - and it is definitely not pretty.

My Canadian friends and brethren can learn a little bit from Muhammad, peace be upon him, who once said: Ignorance is a disease, and it's cure is a question.


mollymcmo said...

this is going to sound a bit blunt, BUT if i was in a religion that required me to follow certain rules/beliefs why would i actively seek out an activity that would challenge my beliefs? its like if i were a christian and for lent i had given up chocolate then chose to go to a chocolate tasting festival. am i going to make all the vendors put away their chocolate because I chose to not have any?


Asmaa said...

Mollymcmo, thanks for your comment, I can see your point. If the hijab would really put a woman in danger in some activity, then she shouldn't partake in it, period. However, my post was about the response of many Canadians to this event, and the attitudes that they have towards Muslims. The point wasn't to outline the actual event with the girl in Quebuec, it was to bring to light the racism that underlies these issues. If people had stopped at "it's dangerous, either remove it or don't play," I would not be complaining. But, if you'd seen some of the outright racist comments of people who claim to be accepting but then say "go back to your country," maybe you'd change your outlook a bit.

Your example of lent doesn't hold here though. You can't compare something like lent to the hijab. I'm not asking for you to believe in Islam or to wear the hijab. All that I'm asking is for people to read a book. To find out why Muslims think the way they do before telling them to leave Canada due to their non-western beliefs.

Accommodating and understanding Muslims is seen as negative for some reason. WHY?

sara said...

Ignorance is a disease, and its cure is a question.

Asmaa man, put that on a bookmark!

M&M said...

"As Muslim females integrate into the greater society, Islam should make changes that will facilitate their involvement."

this is the first thing that stood out for me too when I read your article. and I completely agree with your response. Islam is not a religion that "changes" with the times. Allah SWT (God) knew what the times would be and thus Islam is religion that works for anytime. This is why this is pretti much the only religion that has stayed in its original form.

And in terms of the hijab being a danger, I find that a ridiculous statement. Has something like that ever happened. If it is secured and not flying everywhere, how is that a problem? And to make matters worse FIFA did not rule on the hijab and has left it on misinterpreations.... which will likely lead to most of these cases. My sister and quite a few Muslim hijab wearing girls I know of have played rugby at differnt levels ranging from the regional and provincial level in Toronto and Ontario respectively. They were never told that they could not play with the hijab on and that it caused any safety issues. Isnt rugby a much more physical sport than soccer.

Sara K said...

The same exact letter has been bothering me .. cool how clicking on your blog let me tune into that same grief.. (i sort of shook it off after reading it, as I do most things)

My brain's asleep considering its 3:23am and I need to wave goodbye to my late night adventures.

Will come back.


Mars said...

Asmaa, I hope you responded to that letter.

Do you remember that picture in the Star during the last Olympics? It was a picture of a Muslim woman competing in track and field. She was wearing hijab.