Originally published under the title "'Canadian Values' Debate and Medieval Beliefs."
The debate about "Canadian values" — started by Kellie Leitch, one of the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party — erupted into the predictable insinuation that she was racist, xenophobic, and guilty of the ultimate offence of the times: Islamophobia.
Fortunately, for her, it did not take long for the question of Canadian values clashing head on with medieval beliefs to erupt when the Globe and Mail on Tuesday reported on how a number of Muslim families in Toronto had taken their children out of music classes, insisting they "cannot allow their children to be in the same room where musical instruments are being played."
The story revolved around Mohammad Nouman Dasu, a Quran teacher at Scarborough's Jame Abu Bakr Siddique mosque, who led the campaign to ban Muslim students from being exposed to music.
It wasn't just him. The senior imam of the mosque, Kasim Ingar, told the Globe and Mail: "We [Muslims] here believe that music is haram [forbiddenl]. We can neither listen to it, nor can we play a role in it."
Imam Ingar, who also heads the Scarborough Muslim Association, added: "We do not compromise with anyone on the clear-cut orders and principles conveyed by the Prophet [Muhammad]."
Music, particularly instrumental music, pits two visions of Islam against one another.
Kellie Leitch and her supporters or opponents may not know that music; particularly instrumental music, pits two visions of Islam against one another.
One Islam embraces the sitar and sarangi of India and the qanun of the Arab world. The other vision of my faith is an essential component of the radical Islam of Saudi Arabia that also includes moustache-less beards, armed jihad proponents who restrict music to the beating of a dull camel-skinned primitive drum, known as the "duff."
What should alarm all of us is the fact that the proponents of radical Islam have found space where they can bully our elected representatives into subservience, force our school boards into submission and strut their Islamist ideology to force Saudi Islam on to Muslims — some of whom may not be aware of their own rich musical history, especially if they have arrived here from India.
The late Maya Angelou, who wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, once said: "Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness." But then she was an infidel destined to burn in hell according to some Saudi-influenced imams of Toronto.
To those who are offended at the defence of Canadian values, I ask: How low will you stoop under the weight of white liberal guilt to accommodate those who hate music?
You, whose ancestors produced Shakespeare, will you let his love of music be mocked as a sin? The Bard wrote in Twelfth Night, "If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die."
The hatred of music by radical Islamists and the Muslim solution to such contempt of our values reminds me of the Ottoman solution in dealing with the Saudis of the early 19th century. In 1802, the first Wahhabi Saudi state attacked Iraq and ransacked the tomb of Prophet Muhammad's grandson in Karbala. Later these Wahhabi fanatics occupied all of what is Saudi Arabia today.
Abdullah bin Saud
Abdullah bin Saud
The Ottomans, relying on their Egyptian army led by an Albanian general Muhammad Ali, struck back and after a long war, defeated the music-hating Wahhabi Saudis in 1818. Ottoman retribution was swift and fierce. The Saudi capital of Dirye was destroyed and thousands beheaded. Suffice to say there was no "Last Post" bugle call for the dead.
The Ottoman Turks dragged the defeated Saudi ruler Abdullah bin Saud back to Istanbul where they tortured him by playing music in his ears; the instrument being the lute, supposedly forbidden in Islam. It is said the Saudi was driven insane by the music and was soon beheaded with his naked body put on display on the streets.
But that was 1818 and we are in 2016.
If it were for me, I would host a rock concert by a Muslim band in the parking ground of the car dealership next door to Imam Ingar and Mullah Dasu's music-free mosque, of course after evening prayers are over.
Have Ingar and Dasu not heard of their fellow Indian A.R. Rahman who converted from Hinduism to Islam to sing and perform music like no other? I am sure they've heard of Nietzsche, who said, "Without music, life would be a mistake."
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.