(DISCLAIMER: THIS INTERVIEW IS ENTIRELY SATIRICAL IN NATURE AND THE PURPOSE OF THE INTERVIEW IS TO DISCREDITED STEREOTYPES NOT PERPETUATE THEM)
Since 911, the religion of Islam has often been viewed as a negative influence in North America. The recent debate over the proposed Islamic cultural center near ground zero is one example of the feverish rhetoric surrounding Islam. I sat down recently with a Muslim to find out more about Islam and our fellow Canadian Muslims.
Q. What kind of Muslim are you?
A. I’m a convert to Islam, so I guess “Johnny-come-lately” or “bandwaggoner” would suffice? Or is that question meant to be answered in the same spirit as “What colour Power Ranger are you?”, because, if it is, I’m the Red one. Next question.
Q. Do you eat bacon? If not, how can you deprive yourself of that salty, fatty, heaven?
A. It’s the Jews I worry about. Muslims only have bacon crossed off the list – everything else is fair game. But Jews can’t eat anything! You’d think being stuck in a desert would make you less of a picky eater, but the Lord works in mysterious ways, I suppose.
Q. Why do you think Muslims get labelled as terrorists?
A. Good question. A cynic might say that, with the end of the Cold War, the States needed a new whipping boy, now that squinty-eyed Kremlin-dwelling Ruskies were off the active list of enemies.
That, along with a genuine resurgence of militant Islam in the Middle East, would let the U.S.’ need for an enemy dovetail nicely with a bunch of arseholes’ need to act like arseholes on a global stage, against the biggest bully in the schoolyard.
If you want a proper answer, read Edward Said’s “Orientalism.”
Q. Have you ever felt like blowing anything up?
A. Yes. As did Timothy McVeigh, the Rebel Alliance, and the Manhattan Project.
Q. Do you follow the Qu’ran word for word?
A. No. The fundamentalists get all the good press, but most people who believe in a book also acknowledge that there is a world outside their window that needs to be interfaced with from time to time.
Q. Who is the best example of a Muslim to you?
A. The easy answer is the Prophet Muhammad. As for others, it’s tough to say. A lot of the time, people that you wouldn’t suspect are Muslims, like Dave Chappelle, for instance. Who’d’a thunk it? My favourite Muslim is probably the imam of the beautiful Masjid-al-Hidayah mosque in Coquitlam, Dr. Saad, who is a surgeon and a religious leader, which takes up a lot of time. He’s also the nicest man in the world.
Q. Do you think there will be another Muslim age of enlightenment in the Middle East?
A. That’s like asking if there will be another Enlightenment in Europe. How does one quantify such a thing? Who quantifies it? Enlightenment is everywhere. Look, it’s over there now, hiding behind the bushes.
Q. Do you think that Israel has treated Palestine fairly?
A. Israel is a tough question. I don’t know how I would respond if I lived on either side of the dividing lines, but from afar, it seems quite apparent that Palestinians have many grievances against the Zionists. Please note that I say Zionists and not Jews. In the West, almost everything we read about the situation is written with a pro-Israel bias. As long as the Americans unilaterally support (and fund and arm) Israel, there would appear to be, as Sick Of It All say, “No cure, no end in sight”.
Q. Do you think Palestine would be free now had they used Ghandi’s tactic of non-violence?
A. As Bill Hicks once said, “Who is the greater threat?” Palestinians have no nuclear weapons. Israel does. Who is committing the most acts of violence in this situation? Whose violence is the most co-ordinated and systematic? Whose violence has the backing of the world’s pre-eminent military power? Whose violence has the hallmark of a downed individual lashing out blindly in the darkness?
Q. What don’t Canadians know about Muslims?
A. Gretsky’s name isn’t Mohammed Iqbal. In all seriousness, it was only fifty years ago that institutions such as CBC confirmed themselves as Christian in their values as an organisation. There is now a blurring of that line, whereby the terms Canadian and Muslim are not different – indeed, in many cases they are one and the same. However, heterogeneity is not an overnight thing. To learn about any religion, find someone that you know who is religious and ask them some simple questions. And, crucially, listen to each other, you silly buggers.
Q. Is Islam a religion of peace?
A. As far as I can see, an emphatic yes. The word “Islam” means “submission to God’s will.”
Are there violent Muslims in this world? Of course. Are there violent Christians? Yes, one was just President of the most powerful country in the world. He stole an election, started an illegal war, bankrupted a country, and then wrote a memoir in Crayola. And his name was… I forget. But the point is… I forget that too. You remember him, he drove that blue car?