By Ibrahim El-Sayed, President of the Toronto District Muslim Education Assembly (TDMEA) at the Seminar on Muslims Minorities’ Challenges of a North American Environment

at TARIC on Saturday October 21, 2000


Alhamdolillah, Allah (swt) has provided us with this great opportunity to assemble here to identify, discuss the many serious problems facing us as a community of Believers in these parts of the non-Muslim world, and to consider effective strategies that are essential for our survival as Muslims. I congratulate the sponsors and the organizers of this seminar for taking the initiative to make this event possible.

There are many serious problems and issues facing Muslims in theses parts of the world and especially in this country. On the whole, these can be generally classified as social issues revolving around the family with its many dimensions. Closely related to this are the issues of sex, human sexuality and sex education and the place of religion and morality in society and our public institutions. These issues pose very serious challenges to us and are even damaging to our existence as Muslims – our identity, what we believe in and our practices.

Suffice to say that the subject of morality is as complex as it is sensitive but I hope that I would at least be able to make some highlights that may be subject to further discussion. I have divided my presentation into two related themes: Islam and Politics; and reintroducing moral values in the education system.

Islam and Politics

Since its formal beginnings during the time of the Messenger of Allah (sas), the early Muslims fought vigorously to establish their religion, its values and social system in a hostile environment, squarely opposed to Islamic morality.

This struggle continued with unabated intensity until some 13 years of bitter persecution thereby necessitating Muslims to migrate finally to Madina. There, very quickly, the first Islamic State, though in its embryonic stage, was established in which political, military, economic, moral and social aspects of society became institutionalized according to the Shari’ah. In other words, Islam was not limited or confined to simply the ritual practices, such as offering the salat, giving zakat, siyam, etc.

Through the establishment of formal Islamic institutions, through the state, Muslims were able to effectively address practically all their concerns, from external threats, aggression or attacks to local issues of the administration dealing in all aspects of the business of the Ummah.

Successive Caliphs have continued along this path, upholding the importance of the State and its vital institutions, until the decline which lasted ultimately in the early 20th century following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1921-22.

After this epoch, Muslims became subjected, not simply to the whims and fancies of foreign powers, but to their effective control. Imperial rule dictated the affairs of Muslims in their various divided entities. This unfortunately still prevalent today. Much of this has contributed in our being here, in the name of economic advancement, freedom, human rights, etc.

As a community of Believers, the effective lack of Muslim political power in these parts of the world meant our further subjugation directly to anti-Islamic forces. We now live in a secular society in which moral corruption is not simply widespread and rampant, but more seriously, it is the norms – the policy, the basis of society – in which anti-religious and more especially anti-Islamic sentiments are plainly visible.

The concurrent lack of effective Muslim political participation and its attendant alienation in the political process and deliberations (decision making, policy making) of national life in these parts of the world meant the virtual perpetuation of Muslim subjugation in these societies. This clearly begs the question: what should we do or how can we as a community be able to defend and preserve our Islamic identity, values and lifestyle in a North American environment?

The answer is, of course, plainly obvious: we must be actively involved in the political processes and determinedly seek to play a meaningful and constructive role in the decision making and policy making processes in this country. We cannot entrust or otherwise relegate our protection to non-Muslim politicians and a hostile system that seek to marginalize and eliminate our identity as Muslims. For those who think otherwise, they should recall our glorious history and properly understand that there is no separation between Islam and politics as with any other face of life. As Muslims, we can make a modest contribution, not only to ourselves, but also to society, and this is an obligatory duty upon us. To this extent political involvement is imperative.

Reintroducing Moral values in the Education System

In a secular society, such as we are living in, the claim is that all life opportunities, activities and expectations are determined by secularism in which religion does not play a useful role. The results of such society are all too obvious:

Public education is an important if not vital tool or instrument through and by which the present and future generations are being shaped and moulded. It is not simply a means for our children to attain purely academic excellence. For example, a great scientist lacking the requisite moral values may prove harmful if not dangerous to society and human existence. Take for instance also a medical doctor who does not value human life and promotes abortion, euthanasia, etc. cannot be said to be a positive contribution to society.

Together, we face a common danger today, a deliberate, bold and systemic attack by the institutions on traditional family values and religious teachings.

Foremost of our concerns is the encroachment of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and other morally corrupt forms of sexual practices being promoted in our public schools. Extensive programs and services on homosexual lifestyle are now available to our children in the public schools. My children, your children, our children are the prime target.

Sexual and moral corruption directly contradict our religious, moral, cultural and traditional values. These things constitute a bold attack on our way of life as people of faith. These things are a deliberate attempt by the authorities to undermine and erode the traditional family. We cannot let it happen. We have an obligation to bid the good and forbid the bad. We will be questioned on Judgement day

Thus, while the first business of the schools is to ensure the attainment of academic excellence in our children as members of society and its future, it has an essential obligation to promote and imbibe high moral values and ethical conduct in them as well. Such values and ethical codes can only be derived by strong and sound religious teachings.

Today, it is fashionable for our public figures, politicians, institutions and more especially our public schools to promote immorality by way of a conscious and deliberate policy. This is not simply an unfortunate situation but indeed a rather very dangerous and menacing scenario. It constitutes a direct attack on our religion, values, morality and way of life.

To emphasise this spectre, consider the official agenda of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). The following are some highlights:

    1. Do you have arguments with parents or other adult at home?
    2. Is your space invaded at home?
    3. Is there physical or sexual abuse by a family member of a sibling or other?
    4. Is there physical or sexual abuse by a family member of yourself?
    5. Do you fell in love with someone new?
    6. Engaged in unprotected sex?
    7. Concerned about clothes or material things?
    8. Conflict over major decisions involving values, life choices?
    9. Dealing with issues of homosexuality and self?
    10. Considered leaving home, moving out of your own?

These are only some of the intrusive and illegal questions they ask your children in school under the pretext of course work.

What are the motivations for such questions if not to invade and undermine the sanctity of the family and take away our children? What is the business of the public education system to probe into your private lives? What has such pernicious questions to do with education?

It is clear that our public schools are by design and conscious and deliberate policy being usurped to condition and indoctrinate our children away from the rich and valued tradition of family live in which morality as determined by religion is the corner stone.

This is not only completely unacceptable to us as Muslims but clearly wrong and should be firmly resisted.

Where Do We Go From Here

In closing, I wish to emphasise that enormous, though not insurmountable, challenges lay ahead of us. A few practical steps can be followed:

I thank you very much.