This may end up being a wrong turn at Albuquerque but I see that Mississauga-Erin Mills Liberal MP Iqra Khalid is proposing a private members bill M-103 to address ‘Islamophobia’. I thought I would contribute to the democratic process by providing some definitions and examples of what Islamophobia should mean.
A Little Constitutional Reminder
The Canadian constitution reads as follows: 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
- (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
- (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
- (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
- (d) freedom of association.
As a result, under the constitution, the following statements are equally protected:
- The Pope is God’s Vicar here on earth.
- Mohamed is God (Allah’s) last prophet.
- Joseph Smith received golden plates from God.
- Ones actions should be mindful of Karma.
- All the above is superstitious nonsense not worthy of a rational person.
Superstitious Nonsense & the Belief instinct
To number five above, the likes of Richard Dawkins would take this as their belief protected by the constitution. Where atheists can fall down is not recognizing the enormous evolutionary advantage religion has given humanity in being a successful species, the importance of the ‘Belief Instinct‘.
Religion has allowed us to create larger organizational units by applying the mortar of group cohesion across individuals. This has not been without its costs. The Crusades, the oppression of women under Sharia Law or polygamy under early Mormonism are all examples where religion has gone wrong. While it is easy to spin and wish to re-write the past, it is more important to recognize the following:
- Religion is a fundamental instinct of humanity and will manifest itself with or without a formal outlet.
- Religion, like other primal urges, needs to be directed to the betterment of society.
- Religion must evolve as societies do so, while there are some universal truths, such as though shall not kill, there is no universal or ‘right’ religion.
- Without religious evolution, humanity risks reaping the worst from the belief instinct while losing the benefits it can provide.
- Canada can be a guiding light of helping individuals, communities and religion evolve to accommodate new social and cultural norms.
A Suggested Addendum to the Private Member’s Bill
To help Ms. Khalid to navigate the tricky waters of religion, I would suggest the following revision to private member’s bill M-103 (written in non-legal speak):
Whereas the people of Canada:
- hold core values, such as the freedom of religion, above all others,
- recognize the role of faith and the belief instinct in personal matters and social cohesion,
- recognize the value religion has conveyed and inflicted on humanity,
- recognize the values of equality of all people and equality of all before a common law.
Whereas the people of Canada acknowledge the Arabic word Islam to mean ‘acceptance’ and therefore Islamophobia means an irrational fear of acceptance. We the people thus condemn Islamophobia which is defined as any religion or systematic or personal belief system that:
- Seeks to enrich individuals who hold position of religious-authority through corruption, personal gain of power or actions contrary to the law or Canadian norms;
- Has tenants and implicit/explicit actions that are contrary to the law and fabric of historical Canadian values including those of justice, freedom of religion, equality, personal responsibility and reasonable inclusion of people of all faiths and perspectives;
- Seeks to do harm to Canadian society through either direct or indirect action including encouraging actions contrary to the laws of good government;
- Seeks to forcibly convert or impose its views on individuals who chosen to have alternative views including a non (atheist) view of religion; and
- Fails to evolve with the changing nature of society, for example the changing role of personal beliefs in contrast with the original tenants of the religion.
To reduce Islamophobia, we ask all Canadians to not only look into their respective minds and souls but to also reach out to others who do not share their beliefs and state:
‘I don’t believe in your God or religious view-point, but first and foremost I will do everything in my power here on earth to protect your right to hold your beliefs as a Canadian‘.
In a small way hopefully the above can lead to Islamophilia or a love of acceptance. Acceptance that religion is a human instinct to be managed, that religion must evolve to meet cultural changes. Ultimately our time here on earth is short – let’s all make the best of it before we meet our respective maker.