More than 600 people showed up at the North American Muslim Foundation on a recent Saturday to hear a debate over secular liberalism in Islam.
It would have been something of a face-off. The prospective debaters, Tarek Fatah, author and self-described secular Muslim, and Sheharyar Shaikh, president of NAMF and a conservative imam at Masjid Qurtabah, are known polemicists who have not shied away from very public disagreements in the past.
In fact, the event only came about after an open challenge to Mr. Fatah was published late last year by Mr. Shaikh, who called on the controversial author to publicly defend his moderate views, which have been called unIslamic by some in the Canadian Muslim community. Mr. Shaikh — who has openly defended polygamy and opposed secular education for Muslims — is among them.