The Canadian Council of Imams has declared in the past and in numerous occasions its position and commitment to the safety and security of Canada, as per our Aug 2010 declaration published and posted on CCI website.
With regard to Canadian Muslim Youths traveling abroad to fight in Syria or any other places, we hereby issue our Islamic position as follows:
In response to the ongoing conversation and also the radicalization of Canadian Muslim youths, we state that:
1. Canadian Muslims are law-abiding citizens and no one should get involved in international wars on the belief and excuse that they are helping their Muslim brothers. Canadian Muslims who might do this will be promoting disloyalty to their government and could place the latter in the untenable situation of coming to their aid in a war zone that Canada is not engaged in.
2. Any Canadian individuals taking up arms and fighting foreign governments are actually breaking the laws of their own country (Canada). We believe that any Canadian citizen who takes up arms should do so only in the legal context of the Canadian law and government. Any country, engaged in civil war should not be aided by mercenaries but rather through the legal mechanism of the UN and its member countries.
3. Muslims in these situations will be promoting disloyalty to their government. In the event they become prisoners, the Canadian government will be in an awkward position to consider them prisoners of war (POW) according to International law. They are more likely to be considered mercenaries. To qualify under the Third Geneva Convention, a combatant must be part of a chain of command, wear a “fixed distinctive marking, visible from a distance”, bear arms openly, and have conducted military operations according to the laws and customs of war.
4. Historically speaking and according to Islamic laws and principles, citizens did not engage themselves in war without a formal call and drafting by their authorities (Legitimate government, Sultan, Khalifa…) or in case of Muslim minorities by the government of their homeland.
5. In the case of Syria, some of its citizens have resorted to self-defense against a regime that chose to shoot them instead of accommodating their demand for freedom and democracy. People living outside of this country do not have the same status as those in that conflict zone.
6. We stand ready to be invited to the table to be a part of meaningful discussion, to engage preventative strategies and to find meaningful solutions to this growing threat in our country.
We, the Canadian Council of Imams (CCI), urge all Community Leaders, Imams, Intellectuals and Parents to remain committed to the universal and inclusive message of Islam and we confirm that we are committed to join hands across continents to counter the narrow, bigoted, dogmatic distortions of the purveyors of violence and terror. We also urge all people engaged in violent conflicts throughout the world to seek reconciliation through dialogue and peaceful means.
And Allah knows best!
Imam Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Nadvi,
Chair, Canadian Council of Imams
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