With Ramadan approaching, I’d like to do a short piece on “reasonable accommodation”. Specifically in regards to Muslims (as I can speak from experience), but this could be extrapolated for any number of things. Ramadan is the month long fast in the Muslim religion. It is representative of the month that the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) received his first revelation from the angel Gabriel, and also the month that 23 or so years later he received his final revelation. It is celebrated by a fast where observant Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, or having sex during the daylight hours of the month. This is also accompanied (usually) by the participants best efforts to kick bad habits, and focus less on the physical and more on the spiritual.
This however tends to be a rather noticeable celebration and religious observance. And as we all probably know, there are certain things in the west which tend to be viewed with suspicion if not outright contempt. These things include: anything different, displays of religion, displays of atheism, displays of sexuality, and, anything different. And because of this, many people are railing against Islam (as well as other religions, generally anything other than Christianity, but sometimes all religion, depending on the ranter).
There are many reasons and excuses for these people and their rants. Some claim to be defending their libertarian view of society, others are blinded by ignorance as to what Islam actually is, and yet others watch Fox News. They decry Muslims having their day of worship on a friday, they decry them praying 5 times a day, they decry the disruption this can cause amongst people not used to outward displays of religion. They decry their fasting, they decry it all as being in your face.
No matter how much we don’t want to admit it, the current civilization in North America was created in large part by Christian society. Why is Sunday a day off? Church. Why are Christmas, Easter, etc.. national holidays? Blame the Christians. To say anything otherwise would be untrue. It was the reasonable accommodation of the time, except that it is easy to ‘reasonably accommodate’ yourself. It’s a little more difficult when you have to accommodate someone other than yourself.
The following is a cartoon showing the fallacy of assuming that ‘what is’ is always fair. The established folk won’t want to change, and who can blame them? It’s not ‘good’ to change when you have things so posh and cozy.
So it is understandable that many people revile against how public many aspects of Islam are - or can be at least - and how. There are many reasons for this; jingoism, fear, ignorance, aggressively defending your religion against what you see as ‘evil’, aggressively defending a society you wish to be secular, heck, you may even watch Fox News!
But keep in mind that it was once the Christians that set the standard, and they didn’t want to change that standard for the blacks, or the natives, or the jews, or any minority.
In today’s day and age, we pride ourselves on being ‘civilized’ and ‘accepting’, especially in Canada. But how accepting and civilized are we really? Are we going to let out actions be dictated by fear? Or by love? By ignorance? Or by knowledge, and the desire to gain more? Will we embrace our fellow human as a brother? Or shall we cast him out as different?
And lastly, I’d like to say a few things to assuage people’s fears. I am a Muslim. I am not going to blow anyone up. Although if I did, it wouldn’t be because I’m a Muslim. I am no different from many other religious people in this country, I worship in my own way, I reflect in my own way, and I have my own concept of God. Some may decry me as a heretic because of my liberal views, some may say I’m backwards simply because I am a Muslim, but you can’t please everyone.
There is only one religion, and it has over 6 billion denominations.
Something to ponder as Ramadan approaches. Peace be upon you all.