Friday, December 09, 2011

Muslims in the West - between sexual promiscuity and domestic violence

Muslims in the West - between sexual promiscuity and domestic violence

The manner of reporting on the Shafia trial currently underway in Kingston gives the impression that for Muslims there are only two alternatives to consider when it comes to navigating the moral divide in a modern Canadian context: either succumb to an extreme reaction by resorting to violence, or resign yourself to the fact that children who grow up in a modern, western society such as Canada must be given absolute freedom to indulge in the "normal" activities that every Canadian teenager is involved in.

This includes pre-marital sex, public display of nudity and the freedom to come and go at any time without any restrictions.

The majority of Muslims will reject either, as they are both extreme positions that do no good to society in the long-term.

A practical solution lies somewhere in between, and satisfies both the need for effective parenting as well as upholding a moral code that is not only unique to Islam, but shared by many Canadians of various faiths (and even some with no religious affiliation).

It is a no-brainer that domestic violence should be unequivocally rejected. Those who justify it in the name of religion have sadly missed the spirit of marital and familial relations as espoused in Islam - that mercy and compassion are the twin foundations of a happy union, and that coercion dampens the spirit and produces nothing but rebellion in the end.

It is equally preposterous to suggest that because Muslims have migrated to a western society, they must give up the legitimate moral codes that the faith imposes, and 'suck up" to a new reality, one that normalizes religious taboos such as pre-marital sex, nudity and other immoral behaviour.

There are thousands of Canadians of faiths other than Islam who prohibit their children from engaging in some of the aforementioned activities. There are thousands of Canadians who impose curfews on their teenage sons and daughters, withhold monetary assistance because of the unbecoming activities they are engaged in and seek professional help for their children when they come to the realization that their lives are taking a path down to nowhere.

In short, not all Canadians are so totally removed from the choices that their children make in life that they have no care whether they become drug addicts or social outcasts.

Muslims must learn to navigate the new reality of living in a western society by bringing all their resources to bear in the upbringing of their children through a combination of good parenting, the provision of opportunities and alternatives and the realization that cultural norms and values may not be the same they have been accustomed to.

They must also accept that this new reality imposes on impressionable minds a tremendous pressure to conform and that the result of their efforts may not bear the fruit they have desired. This latter fact is especially important, because a sound understanding of the challenges that youth face will inform a measured approach to any solution contemplated for behavior that is viewed as "rebellious" or abhorrent.

As we remember all the victims of domestic violence everywhere, we must pledge to ourselves never to condone, approve or remain silent. We must also pledge not to be distracted by the bi-polar views of journalists who seem to be on a mission to "expose" Islamic teachings and the Muslim practice, and often end up conflating extreme views without any regard for the nuances often inherent in these complex issues.


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