Family issues a major topic at Montreal Muslim conference

Thousands of Muslims from around Montreal gathered at the Palais des congrès this weekend to discuss family and community issues their religion’s followers may face while living in North America.

“Unless we critique our traditions things will remain the same,” said Amadou Shakur, the founder of the United for Change committee.

The United for Change and Islamic Relief organizations created the conference two years ago to encourage the diverse Muslim communities to come together to discuss some of the conflicts their families encounter while living in a country where the majority of people have different beliefs then their own.

“We have to accept that we aren’t going home,” human-rights lawyer, and one of the main speakers at the event, Dr. Zainab Alwani said. “We need to adjust.”

Shakur said that the mission of the conference is to improve the conditions of Muslim families living in the Western world, adding that some families may face conflicts when adjusting to the Canadian lifestyle, particularly in relation to parenting. He explained that some parents want to keep all the traditions from their native country while their children, who are born in Canada and grow up in this culture, may resist some of those traditions.

Shakur said that some of these problems are the result of a gap that exists between first-generation and second-generation muslims living in Canada. He added that many parents who moved to Canada work in the service area and may not be educated, while their children are educated and work in different sectors than their parents.

According to Alwani, for there to be change, there also needs to be mutual understanding between parents and children. Parents do need to listen to their children, but children also need to realize their parents have a wealth of experience from having lived in different countries. She emphasized that mutual support between families is the best way to solve these problems, rather than an internal power struggle.

Alwani also said that parents need to make the country they are living in their home. She adds that they need to learn the language and understand that adjusting to the culture does not mean they are losing their own.

“Are we trying our best to contribute to society?” Alwani asked. “If we take it as our responsibility the world will be different.”

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