by Tarek Fatah
In the ongoing argument in Quebec about the proposal by the Parti Quebecois to outlaw all displays of religious symbols by public servants, there is general consensus the real issue is not the cross or the kippa, but the hijab and niqab.
Lost in the din of the debate were the words of a Muslim school teacher from Montreal who joined “Rassemblement pour la laicite,” a pro-secularism group that backs the PQ plan.
Leila Bensalem, born in Algeria, while lauding the PQ initiative, expressed concern over the list of demands for religious accommodation at her school that keeps on growing, from halal food to separate gym classes for boys and girls.
Bensalem’s words echoed those of former Supreme Court of Canada judge Claire L’Heureux-Dube, who observed in a radio interview that in her travels abroad, “there are more uncovered faces in Pakistan and Morocco than there are here” in Quebec.
What Bensalem and L’Heureux-Dube have observed is part of a larger movement among Islamists in the West to vigorously assert their presence as well as their separateness from non-Muslims, whom they consider the adversary, if not the divinely designated enemy.
If the hijab and niqab upsets them, imagine how Bensalem and L’Heureux-Dube would react if they saw what one Toronto-area mosque has adorned on its wall, in a huge, two-storey mural.
It’s part of a Quranic verse that has over centuries been a battle cry of jihadis and the armies of the Islamic world.
The mural, at the west end of Toronto’s Little India on Gerrard Street, has verse 13 of the Qur’an’s chapter 61 “Al-Saff” (The Battle Array) painted in tasteful Arabic calligraphy.
It reads: “Help from Allah (is near) and a speedy victory (is assured).”
The words are innocuous and otherwise poetic.
Islamists will insist they are harmless, but it would be a falsehood to suggest the verse is not associated with doing battle with the infidel enemy. After all, these same words were once inscribed on the handles of Islamic swords and are today sung as Islamic battle songs by Jihadis.
According to Ibn Katheer, the 14th century Islamic scholar, in the verse “The Battle Array” (Al-Saff) Muslims are told that if they are willing to sacrifice their lives and possessions in the service of Allah, then not only will they find Paradise after death, but the conquest they desire over their enemy will be theirs very soon after they confront the enemy.
Another contemporary Islamic scholar, Mufti Muhammad Shafi in his nine-volume “Comprehensive commentary on Holy Qur’an”, had this to say about this verse.
“There is one blessing that will be granted (by Allah) in this world. Which is the Divine help and imminent victory, that is conquests of enemy territories. If the word Qarib (near) is the opposite of Hereafter, it would include all later Islamic conquests of Arab and non-Arab territories.”
Which begs the question. Who is this enemy this Toronto mural wants Muslims to fight against? Where is this non-Arab territory that this mural wishes us Muslims to conquer and be victorious over? Could it be Canada?