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Muslim Canadians Should Ease Out of Prayers in Public School

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The peace and prosperity of a nation hinges on separation of church and the state. Indeed, America, Canada and other societies have been able to harness talented people without regard to their religion, race or ethnicity for the collective benefit of the societies and every participant has advanced with it. It is because of this freedom Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha'is, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Atheists, Wiccans, Native traditions and others have the opportunity to become proud contributors in building the nations and in turn enjoy its fruit.

As the beneficiaries of this sacred value, we have to continue to guard against mixing church and the state. As Muslims of America and Canada, we have to do our jihad in reigning in temptations to mix the two on every level we can. When my late wife ran for the city council, it was made clear to everyone that she was running as a citizen and not a Muslim, and we sought people from every race, religion and ethnicity. Indeed, her funeral prayers were attended by just about every representation of Dallas. We are all in this together for the collective good that yields individual good.

The Canadian Muslim Congress is taking a stand to stop Muslim prayers in public schools, I do not agree with many of their stances, but on this one, they are doing the right thing. Please consider the wisdom in supporting them.

Every group should have access to pray, even if the school has one child who is an atheist, Zoroastrian, Native American, Oloriyo, Wiccan or of any tradition. His or her parents must have equal access to the facilities to do their prayers or group talks. Indeed, freedom to assemble must have no boundaries and restrictions. We are a leading civilization of the free world, and we ought to be worth emulating by other nations to create a better world for the benefit of all of God's creation.

What is good for the goose has got to be good for the gander. To build cohesive societies where trust is the norm, and commitment to the idea of a society where no one is apprehensive of the other becomes customary, we have to treat everyone justly. Fairness ought to be valued by all including the self proclaimed conservatives.

The fanatics in each religious group will recklessly play the majority card, as if the majority gives them the right to be tyrants to deny the rights of those who are in a minority. Good God has not signed a deal with any one behind others back. He is not a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Baha'i or otherwise. Ironically, each group builds its worth by denying the rights to sub-groups within their category. Religions have unabashedly transformed into private clubs.

Holding of a prayer service in a public school implies a tacit endorsement or dominance of that religion or the group of religions. The group may or may not be affixing its version of the religious seal on the school, but it eventually gets branded. None of our public schools of learning need to be exclusive clubs.

Muslims have great examples to offer. The mosque in Richardson, Texas does not lend its cultural hall to any activity that is ascribable to a particular denomination, including a few groups who celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. A few years ago, Turkey, a Muslim-majority democracy, had banned reciting verses from Quran in an event in Ankara where people of other faiths were participants. They are good examples to follow.

The best thing for the school is to untangle itself from any religious affiliation. When our interests become subservient to the interest of the society at large, no one will lose but gain. That's how we build civil societies.

I urge the Muslim and Christian groups to hang on to the conservative values of peace and safety for every resident, and volunteer to ease out of the situation and not create an entanglement for the school. Let this not be an entitlement.