“Reviving the Islamic Spirit” or Promoting Islamic Dominance?

Billed as “Canada’s largest Muslim convention,” Reviving the Islamic Spirit – 8th Convention was held in Toronto on December 25 – 27, 2009. Having heard the reports that 17,000 attendees from Canada and the U.S. were expected, I decided to see for myself. I also wanted to know if the convention would stress spirituality, promote moderate Islam, or offer apologias for radical Islam.

The lecture hall, with a capacity of 6,500 people, was completely full and there were still many people outside. The sales area contained around 50 booths selling Islamic clothing and books. I looked for books by reformers such as Salim Mansur, Tarek Fatah, Irshad Manji, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to no avail. Similarly, none of the speakers I heard addressed the violence of radical Islam. This gross omission about something so current and important was telling.

While waiting for another session to begin, I caught the tail end of a speech by Zaid Shakir of the Zaytuna Institute titled, “The Social Implications of Domestic Violence.” Shakir did not defend the oppressive practices that are pervasive in the Muslim world, but claimed that Islam does not approve of molesting wives and children. Instead, Shakir alleged, it was merely the fault of uncontrolled anger. He urged the community for help and understanding with these anger-related problems. There was no discussion of universal women’s human rights or the actual treatment of women in Islamic countries.

Perhaps as some form of consolation to the women in the audience, Shakir promised that if a man beats his Muslim spouse, Allah might take his vengeance out on him. The crowd apparently found this humorous and laughter ensued.

Near the end of his talk, Shakir veered off course by stating that although the former Soviet Union was bigger than the U.S., Allah destroyed the USSR because of the invasion of Afghanistan. When he warned America to be aware of how they treat Muslims in Afghanistan lest Allah do the same thing to the U.S., loud cheers erupted from the audience. As a Canadian whose country also has troops in Afghanistan, I found this to be most disturbing.

Next up was the panel, “The New We: Muslims in Future of Western Society,” featuring University of Michigan Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies Sherman Jackson (also known as Abdal Hakim Jackson) and the controversial Swiss Islamic studies academic Tariq Ramadan.

Jackson, an African-American convert to Islam, spoke first. He believes that the Muslim and Western worlds are in conflict and competition, and that only one can end up dominant. Put simply, he wants to replace Western culture with Muslim culture.

He congratulated Muslim women for sustaining this struggle by dressing religiously and thereby taking the brunt of alleged abuse by being targets when out in public. He said that Muslims must prove themselves in each country and that each country requires different tactics.

Jackson expressed a desire to be included in American society—but not if any sort of cultural sacrifice were required. He said that adapting to Western culture would lead to being a Muslim in name only and advocated defining America by Muslim standards and imposing cultural and intellectual supremacy. He urged Muslims not to follow Western cultural authority, but rather to achieve their own cultural authority from the inside, as part of the system.

Muhammad redefined the society in which he lived, Jackson argued, and today nothing less than the future of the Ummah (“community” or “nation” in Arabic) in Western cultures was at stake. Muhammad’s vision was not just for Arabia, but for all humanity, including, presumably, the modern Western world. Lastly, to cheers, he said that his primary commitment was to Allah, not to America.

His speech was a call to battle. It had little to do with peaceful co-existence with the West, but was an exhortation for Islam to dominate the West.

Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, spoke next and offered a seemingly more moderate approach. His thrust was that Muslims are already part of Western society and must contribute positively to their adapted countries.  Ramadan encouraged Muslims to integrate into Western society and to distinguish friends from enemies. Although Muslims have criticisms of the West and moral values to offer, he argued that they must respect the laws of the countries in which they are living.

But Ramadan relied upon the template of Islam to encourage this progress, urging Muslims to work through the universal values of Islam to make things better for everyone. He encouraged Muslims in the West to adapt in order to create a broad vision and an intellectual revelation. He claimed that Muslims are reforming their understanding of Islam and that they should experience the dominant Western culture, which may, according to Islam, be correct in many cases.

Ramadan’s sentiments were laudable on the surface, but his history of doublespeak – depending upon the audience at hand – made me wonder if he was truly the reformer he made himself out to be or a stealth Islamist instead. Considering his troubling background, including being barred from entry into the U.S. under the Bush administration for contributions to Hamas-connected groups (a ban now lifted by the Obama administration), a weekly television program on the Iranian government network PressTV, ambiguous statements on stoning women for adultery, and a history of anti-Israel invective, the latter seems the most likely.

While I did not attend any of the other sessions, I left the conference with mixed feelings about what I had witnessed. The atmosphere in the convention hall was friendly and welcoming, and as an obvious non-Muslim I was treated with nothing but politeness.

But the speakers’ silence on violent and oppressive cultural traditions within the Muslim world was troubling. So too were the bellicose statements of Sherman Jackson, particularly as a prominent and active academic in the field of Middle East studies.

According to the brochure and website, the conference was co-sponsored by a number of Muslim Students Associations (MSA) from universities across Canada. Leaving aside the MSA’s Islamist predilections, taxpayer dollars used to fund universities and campus groups should not be funneled into off-campus, ideologically skewed events such as this conference. Promoting radical speakers such as Jackson, who advocated nothing less than the overthrow of Western liberal democracy, is hardly in the public interest.

Jonathan Usher wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

  • Email Address

    Jonathon Usher: your biggest problem is not Shakir Zaid, but Barack Hussain Obama. I am sure he is a closet Muslim waiting for the right time. I am afraid of this that one day we will all be locked in prison to be stoned to death. We need to wake up!

  • suprkufrB

    Nihil desperandum; we of the great white north are waking up. We'll never let happen to Canada what has happened to Europe. I can tell you first hand that the resistence is alive, well and growing in every Canadian city.

  • momo

    is the snitch a zionist?

  • Stephen D.

    How is it that this Professor Jackson can be retained on staff at the University of Michigan? Is he not a declared “domestic” enemy? Are we not obligated to fight ALL enemies, foreign AND domestic? He should be tossed not just from the school that surely takes in tax dollars but from the country as an avowed enemy.

  • Jim Smith

    It doesn't surprise me that Professor Jackson is on staff at the University of Michigan. The UofM is a very liberal campus which is very proud of its diversity!

    What surprises me is how we are allowing this stuff to happen. What surprises me more is the number of people who see no problem with these kinds of what I consider to be hate speeches.

    France, Britain and most of Europe are the birds in the cages and a window to our future regarding Islam. We had better wake up soon or we will face the same fate!

  • Tanstaafl

    The convention would appear to one big taquiyya-fest.

  • USMCSniper

    Remember when the RCMP arrests that averted a massive attack, potentially three times larger than the Oklahoma City bombing? ,There three tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer explosives taken – perhaps targeting a nuclear facility.

    The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) reports that Islamic terrorists are growing since then and actively seeking out Western converts, who are "highly-prized by terrorist groups for their familiarity with the West and relative ease at moving through Western society",and their 'Canadianness' makes detection more difficult". The Jihadist transformation of Canadians "is highly individual" with some driven to Jihad by relatives, Islamist training camps, web site and other sources. These include well-educated and computer literate individuals, and the Internet is an increasing tool in Canadian jihadist recruitment. But the Canadian policitians cling to their politically correct multiculturalism as though Islam has nothing to do with jihadist terrorism.

  • Ack

    The Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming!!! A bunch f sad, pathetic little wimps. Bush did more damage to this country than any Muslim can imagine.

    • TedCan

      Dont let facts get into your mind. Enjoy the Kool AidT

  • Ando

    Islam is pure evil to its core, period. There is nothing holy in Islam it is a political movement to achieve global dominance. The very muslims that fight for Islam pay with their lifes and their family in muslim countries.




  • Larry

    I lived in an appartment in T.O. for a number of years and had a Muslim couple next door. We got to know eachother and during the day when her husband was gone we had lots of fun. I had to teach her about her body and how to give a good BJ. She was great and unfortunatly they moved away.

  • Tmac

    the books by the so called "reformers" were not displayed because they represent fringe ideas that mainstream Muslims do not endorse. They have zero following amongst Muslims, their audience are the neocons (like yourself) and christian-zionists.

  • http://AbuMuaadh.blogspot.com Abu Muaadh ibn Todd

    I always find it amusing the lengths people will go and think they will ever stop Islaam. We Muslims had far greater and need I say braver enemies in the past. They tried to do the same tactics that are being done today but with no avail. You see as long as you rely on your man-made gods,laws,and governments you will win some battles but always lose the war! The true lose is the hellfire for worshiping other than Allaah! Nevertheless,as long as Muslims continue on the path of following your man made systems in place of the Sharee'ah we will be punished too. But once we return to Qur'aan and Sunnah victory is for Islaam. We don't need terrorism(suicide bombings,hijackings,etc…)Allaah has the Power! Do you think soldiers,nuclear weapons,etc.. can stop hurricanes,tsunamis,earthquakes,etc..This is the Power of The Most High,Allaah. He destroyed nations of past in these manners and he can do the same to western nations and even Muslims nations as long as they put partners with Allaah. I am sure to be mocked and attacked because that is always the characteristics of the people who reject the Truth. But know this you will be in "good" company with the like of Pharaoh,Nimrod,Caesar,and their leader Shaytaan!

    • davarino

      Mmm sounds great, where do I sign up to be a muslim? Im liking this religion of peace already. You obviously do need terrorism to further your cause and it is becoming more obvious to those of us who are paying attention that this is exactly what muslims believe the koran is telling them to do.

      We are becoming annoyed by your "religion".

    • nojizyatax

      My religion is KAFFIRISM. In Kaffirism, it is the Muslim who can be murdered, raped, sold into slavery, stolen from, deceived and forced to pay jizya. I am offering you the opportunity to convert now. Get it? What a bunch of backwards thugs.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

      Jeremy, I take it that you don't like the Constitution?

    • spike080

      You muslims are so funny! how can you say all that B.S. when little 'ol Israel just whups the flying hell out of you punks every time you try some s–t? Do I need to recount: 1967, 1973, taking the Golan, the Sinai (still think they were wrong to give that piece back), and you a–holes live in constant fear that they will decide one day to just go ahead and kick the rest of your asses!! The actually traded 3 Israeli airmen for 1500 Syrian troops, you Arabs can't fight your way out of a wet paper bag!! Unless of course we're talking about killing the unarmed! pretty good at that. Sad your reactionary religion, so focused on this world when it's really just an illusion seen through the glass darkly, while the believers in the One look forward to that which does not fade, is not corruptible, and of which this is merely a place to develop eternal character. Yet we can see past your hate and say we love you.

    • spike

      ok, is it plain to everyone now? allah and satan are the same enitity.

  • Samurai Hit Woman

    Islam and the Left are kindred spirits and what makes sense of their nonsense is duality.
    God and the Bible make sense on a deep and daily basis but Islam and the Left’s religion of Marxism are God forsaken religions and I mean that literally. For instance, duality is in keeping with the Bible and reality. So that where there is God, the source of light and life, the devil also exists where darkness prevails and death reigns. Because where there is a religion of love, life and light that is Christianity, there is a religion of hate, death and destruction that is Islam.

    Also Christianity promises a Utopia, the Kingdom of Heaven created by God. While that other religion now competing with Christianity for hearts and minds, the Left’s Marxism, promises a utopia made by human hand.

    In fact, the heart of darkness now is that big business and big government elites are working together with the Left to form a one-world government that will give big business unlimited customers, cheap labor and one that will be a leftist totalitarian government as well.

    And once again we see duality at work, the duality of freedom versus slavery that is present in the opposite beliefs of big powerful government versus a contained one. Or to use George Washington’s analogy of government being like fire—a useful servant but a fearful master.

    For the Left believes that man is perfectible, not fallen in need of constraints being placed on the power that corrupts him. Thus the duality in life continues its march across the pages of history as the Left blindly ignores the reality of duality and insists that man is correctable and everything must be equal. Which is an impossibility.

    Because naturally the elites “equality” won’t apply to the elites, as always some will be more equal than others. As a result duality will continue unabated with its haves and have-nots intact.

    And, unfortunately before this pipe dream of a man made Utopia can be realized the United States must be brought down to the level of third world nations— to fulfill the Left’s “noble” egalitarian goal of equality. When equality is a lie that can’t and won’t be realized because man is fallen and flawed with a deceit so deep he even lies and deceives himself. This lying of fallen man even to himself is the reason psychiatry is needed.

    Additionally the Left uses the lie of everything being in “crisis” to move its agenda. For example when I was a member of the Left, a feminist, I was told that the claim of crisis was the means to move to action, because otherwise nothing gets done.
    Hence any lie is good if it moves the Left’s agenda in the twisted deluded morality of the Left, because to the Left believes the end justifies the means.

    Jesus, however, said that “the Devil is a liar and the father of lies”, and this supposed “Utopia” is being built on lies. Plus Christianity teaches the end is determined by the means and is a product of the means.

    Christianity teaches, “What is meted out shall be meted out again.” For good or ill whatever we send out will come back to us again as the end product of the means giving rise to a Christian version of Karma. And just as a wrong premise results in a wrong conclusion a bad idea, or seed, produces a bad outcome or rotten fruit every time.

    Therefore this one-world government, this “Utopia” is bound for destruction because it is not of God and is based on deceit.

    For it is only God who is the ultimate power, source of truth and author of freedom, that can heal the world and form a Utopia of hope. Fallen man is incapable of it.

  • nojizyatax

    Stop bitching & start fighting. ACT! for America.org and the Freedom Defense Initiative. Take it to them IN THE STREETS. The government will wake up when it fears us more than it wants Muslim political contributions. What a bunch of sell outs.

  • http://www.sheikyermami.com sheik yer'mami

    Tariq Ramadan doublespeak:

    Muslims are already part of Western society and must contribute positively to their adapted countries.

    Translation: Muslims have infiltrated behind enemy lines and must now spread Islam.

    Ramadan encouraged Muslims to integrate into Western society and to distinguish friends from enemies.

    Translation: lay low and make use of useful idiots.

    Although Muslims have criticisms of the West and moral values to offer, he argued that they must respect the laws of the countries in which they are living.

    Translation: Islam is not yet strong enough to be spread by the sword, but when the numbers are right the knives come out.

    The writer, Jonathan Usher, is obviously not familiar with Islamic double speak and thinking. No, Tariq Ramadan is no 'reformer', far from it. He is an Islamo agit prop, a hardcore da'awa merchant who wants to make the world Islamic, nothing else will do.

    Will he kill and die for it? I can't answer that, but his religion commands it. Koran 9:111

  • Patriotic American

    My god is this article written in a petty, small-minded, bitchy tone. You could have written it without even going to the damn conference. (In fact, you probably didn't.)

    And the user comments are just sick and vile.

    Shame on all of you.

  • http://www.islam.tc The Truth

    bunch of islamaphobes on this website. do what you want. promote nudity and porn, bomb the crap out of the mid-east, ban religious head gear and practices, the fact of the matter is, islam finds ways to incorporate itself AND even change the way people live no matter what the condition is. even if you live underwater, the fish and sea mammals are praying towards mecca as well. north america is no different, the more people immigrate and the more people find repugnancy in the behaviour of everyday north americans (ie. Christians and Jews), the more they will find something soothing to live by which in the end, becomes Islam…or Moozlaam to some of you uneducated trailer folk. Usher mentioned Jackson wants to replace Western Culture with Muslim Culture, trust me, he's not the only one, all Billion Muslims on the planet do.

  • Finious

    A war you don't see on your television screens for it's seldom news. It's been describe as a silent war. Instead of soldiers dying, there are children dying.

  • Really

    It's funny how you listen to three speeches and base your opinion on the entire convention on them. With the way you twist things I'm sure you could take something Mother Teresa said and make her sound like a crazed, global dominance-seeking terrorist. You should totally go into law. It's truly disappointing to see how people fall for your biased interpretations of the speeches.

    "Similarly, none of the speakers I heard addressed the violence of radical Islam."

    Who said it is their duty to do so? Do you expect the Pope to address the disgusting molestation of young boys by catholic priests in all of his speeches?

    "While waiting for another session to begin, I caught the tail end of a speech by Zaid Shakir…"

    "The tail end," as in, you only listened to part of the speech. So how do you know he didn't address the "violence of radical Islam"? Wouldn't you need to hear the whole speech to come to that conclusion?

    All I'm saying is, for the people reading this article, please take it with a grain of salt. Realize that this is just one biased opinion and many other non-Muslims may have had a very different impression of it, considering the amount of people who have converted just in those three days. The RIS convention is a beautiful and uplifting experience for many and you should check it out for yourself before forming an opinion on it.

  • octoris

    as some form of consolation to the women diet in the audience, Shakir promised that if a man beats his Muslim spouse, Allah might take his vengeance out on him. The crowd apparently found this humorous