Do tolerance and diversity include tolerating hate from any pulpit? I know that sounds rhetorical. But is it?

The Archbishop of Canterbury said in 2016:

“It is a shameful truth that, through its theological teachings, the church compounded the spread of this [antisemitism] virus.”

Muhammad Abdel Haleem, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of London, said

the Koran “does not brand every Jew as bad” and contains “very favourable” passages about Jews.”

I am a multi faith endorsed chaplain. I know the power of the clergy. When I walked in to the rooms of my patients, no matter their religion, I knew that I represented their idea of their God when I walked in. I would stand for a moment outside their door and pray that I would honour their beliefs. It is a humbling experience. One against which one must do no harm.

The power of the clergy.

We have witnessed the continuing horror stories of Priests abusing children. A priest tells a child that a particular behaviour is acceptable, the child will follow; even if it just doesn’t feel right.

The power of the clergy.

We know from the American experience  with slavery that the Pastors stood proudly in front of their congregations telling them that black people, brought in slave ships, were not human. They were not like white people. They were not equal, in any way.

The power of the clergy.

These religious leaders quoted the Bible. Slaves are mentioned in the Bible. But nowhere in the Bible does it say that slaves are to be treated as an “other” Someone “lesser than.” The ethic upon which Christianity sits comes from the Hebrew Bible. And it is in that book that we first learned that a model society is one where human beings are not treated as slaves, where rulers are not worshipped as demigods, where human dignity was respected (Thank you Rabbi Sacks).

All are children of God. But the power of the clergy was strong enough to turn people away from the true meaning of the dignity of all people. And why not; it was their clergy-the representative of God’s word.

We witnessed thousands of years of pogroms, persecutions, prosecutions, expulsions, inquisitions and auto de fés of the Jews in Europe because of the teachings by Priests and Pastors that the Jews killed Jesus. That Jews take Christian blood for Matza.

The power of the clergy.

We know the dangers of hateful teachings from those who claim kinship with the word of God

And for that reason I say we must never, ever tolerate any hateful, demeaning denigrating, dehumanizing speech from any pulpit in Canada, and from my perspective, any pulpit in any liberal democracy. Ever.

But that means we must turn to our governments to insure that hate speech is not allowed. And that can come up against our notion of freedom of religion-so precious in our western culture.

In Canada, though, we have a precedent for government intervening in the practice of religion. Prime Minister Trudeau tabled an attestation that had to be signed by religious groups if they were to receive funding for the Canada Summer Job programme from the government. No matter the teachings/beliefs of any religion, all had to accept the right to unfettered abortion, to the rights of the LGBTQ2 community, including transgender rights and gay marriage, the rights of women as equals in society. Restrictions were put on religious freedom in order to receive payment.

So I ask again: Does freedom of religion in a pluralistic liberal democracy include the right to dehumanize anyone?

Here are but a few examples of prayers said in Canada. Ask yourself if after all we have experienced,  should any Priest, Pastor, Rabbi, Imam or Spiritual Leader  share prayers like these; knowing that our children are particularly impressionable to the teaching of their religious leaders. (The link provides more examples of these prayers).

If the answer is “no” should we not demand of our government, having set a precedent, to intervene on our collective behalf?

Abdullah Hakim Quick, vice-president of the Canadian Council of Imams, recited a supplication in which he said (originally in English):

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala [the Most High], the Most Exalted, clean and purify Masjid [mosque] al-Aqsa from the filth of the yahud [Jews]. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the Most High, the Most Exalted, clean Afghanistan and Iraq and all of the lands from the filth of the Kafirun[disbelievers or infidels].2

On June 15, 2016, Ayman Elkasrawy, an imam at Masjid Toronto, recited the following supplication, (originally in Arabic):

O Allah! Give victory to Islam and raise the standing of the Muslims.
[Congregation:] Ameen.
And humiliate the polytheism and polytheists.
[Congregation:] Ameen.
O Allah! Give victory (help) to your slaves who believe in the oneness of Allah.
[Congregation:] Ameen.
O Allah! Give them victory over the criminal people. O Allah! Destroy anyone who killed/ fought against Muslims.
[Congregation:] Ameen.
O Allah! Destroy anyone who displaced the sons of the Muslims.
[Congregation:] Ameen.
O Allah! Count their number;
[Congregation:] Ameen.
Slay them one by one,
[Congregation:] Ameen.
And spare not one of them.
[Congregation:] Ameen.
O Allah! Purify al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth [دنس] of the Jews!
[Congregation:] Ameen.
O Allah! Purify al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth [دنس] of the Jews!
[Congregation:] Ameen.3

Another imam in western Canada invoked Allah to help purify al-Aqsa Mosque from the “filth” of “those,” meaning the Jews (originally in Arabic):

O Allah, we ask you to give victory to Islam and to raise the standing of the Muslims, give victory (help) to our oppressed brothers in Palestine, give victory (help) to our oppressed brothers in [the City of] al-Quds. O Allah, we ask you to purify and cleanse al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth [دنس] of those [Jews].4


On September 13, 2015, Mostafa Saad Hannout, an imam at Masjid Toronto, shared on his Facebook page a post by the Saudi Shaykh Dr. Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni that read (originally in Arabic):

O Allah, purify al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth [رجس] of the Jews and grant us the opportunity to pray in it before our death.” (اللهم طهر #المسجد_الأقصى من رجس يهود، وارزقنا فيه صلاة قبل الموت)5

The “impurity” of non-Muslims is mentioned in the Koran. Verse 28 of chapter 9 (Surah At-Tawbah, The Repentance) reads (according to the Saheeh International translation): “O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean, so let them not approach al-Masjid al-Haram after this, their [final] year. And if you fear privation, Allah will enrich you from His bounty if He wills. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Wise.”6


In a sermon delivered on May 25, 2012 at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, its main imam and director of Religious Affairs Yusuf Badat explained why Islam attributes “impurity” to non-Muslims. According to Badat, non-Muslims are “internally filthy,” meaning their filth is spiritual because they don’t follow the teachings of Islam. In this context Badat said:7

I was mentioning about “open doors Toronto,” and every year I get this question where people say: “Why are non-Muslims in the Masjid [mosque]? You know, they’re filthy. Why are they here? They are not even dressed properly. Why are they coming in the Masjid? They might be in their menstrual cycles.” You get all kinds of questions like this, you know, ignorance. It is important that we ask when we don’t know. So it’s a good sign. You want to learn. So I felt it is important to clarify certain matters here. There are two issues. Number one is: Are disbelievers allowed to enter the Masjid? And number two: if they are allowed, then what are the conditions? So in terms of entering the Masjid, the Olama [علماء], the scholars of Islam, they agree that it is permissible for disbelievers to enter the Masjid, but with three conditions.

Number one is that there should be a purposeful benefit for them entering the Masjid. To enter the Masjid, there should be a purposeful benefit, that why are they entering? To see, to learn, we can give dawah[invitation to Islam]. You have many times something that goes wrong, maintenance, and there is no Muslim that can take care of that. So who do we call? A non-Muslim to repair something. Someone recently sent me photos of the Haram [Great Mosque of Mecca] and the expansion in Mecca, and how it’s going to be extended, etc. and they’ve contracted some of some parts of the construction and the expansion of the Haram to non-Muslims from different countries, and they enter there for a purposeful benefit. So if a non-Muslim is entering with a purposeful benefit, then it’s permitted. Condition number one.

Condition number two is that they should be externally clean. Their clothes should be externally clean. So they’re wearing nice clean clothes. That’s fine. We don’t bother about what is internal. We’re not concerned, and this is what the Olama [scholars of Islam] say in [the book] Ila Al-Sunan [إعلاء السنن]. In the books of fiqh [ فقه jurisprudence], it’s mentioned that the verse where Allah, Exalted and Glorified be He, says that the mushrikun [ مشركون  polytheists] are impure, it doesn’t refer to the external impurity. It’s referring to the aqidah [ عقيدة faith] and the belief that they have that may be corrupt. So people generally quote the verse of Surah [chapter of the Koran] Al-Tawbah [Repentance], where Allah, Exalted and Glorified be He, says  (English translation)They should not enter the Masjid. So this is referring to their internal filth, not their external filth, their internal impurity, not their external impurity. So this is condition number two. And condition number three is that they should respect the sacredness of the Masjid.


Canadian Imam Kamil Ahmad, who serves as an assistant professor at the Islamic Online University, cited in this context a statement by the 14th century Salafist theologian Ibn Taymiyyah:

“The Jews exaggerate in the purification of their bodies while their hearts remain filthy, and the Christians claim that they purify their hearts while their bodies remain impure; whereas the Muslims purify both their bodies and their hearts. [Al-Jawāb al-Ṣaḥīḥ li-man Baddala Dīn al-Masīḥ 3/102].”9








From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”