Some irrelevant opinions on recent events:
1. While I abhor the violence that is rampant in the world in the name of Islam, I don't feel any need to repeatedly "condemn" it to prove I don't support it. Those accused or suspected of violence against innocent civilians do not represent me in any way, I never elected them to represent my voice in the world, nor have I ever met them.
2. What most bothers me and most of the Muslims I know is the blatant hypocrisy. It is absolutely ridiculous for many of the world leaders to stand in rallies condemning the violence in Paris while they have way more blood on their own hands. And these are mostly elected leaders; they are pursuing wars and occupations that are killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, imprisoning and torturing thousands of people without any trials, and stand quiet when atrocities are being committed on their own soil if it doesn't align with their anti-Islam narrative. The Norway attacks were just a few years ago and were much worse than Paris, but we didn't see any world leaders marching against the anti-Muslim ideologies that fueled those terrible attacks. And then there are all the other atrocities that gets almost no media attention at all because we can't blame Middle Eastern bad guys.
3. If we truly believe in democracy, then we should be holding ourselves accountable for the atrocities our elected leaders are committing. In this case, we actually do share in that blame, because we've been given a voice that we're not using. If we resign ourselves into believing that there's nothing we can do, then this is a much bigger attack on democracy than anything the Al-Qaedas or ISIS's of the world have done.
4. In the last several years, France has seen significant unrest from the immigrant and second-generation youth primarily due to unemployment and implicitly racist policies that prevented their advancement in society. Take anyone in these circumstances and then repeatedly insult the things they hold most dear, and you will definitely provoke a negative reaction. Of course, that was exactly what they wanted. To claim "Je suis Charlie" is to claim that you support hateful speech that targets the most disenfranchised people of society.
5. Our Muslim leaders and Islamic institutions in Canada are not the problem. They condemn the violence and they promote good character and good citizenship. It is when people isolate themselves from traditional Islamic scholarship and reliable institutions that they drift into radical territory. I would advise anyone who questions what really goes on in the mosques to just go and visit one. Attend the Friday sermon or participate in a community lecture. Sit in the children's classes to see what they're actually being taught. There's nothing to hide.
6. It seems it doesn't even matter if we condemn things, because people don't believe it anyway. Every internet forum will have someone who will say "Of course they'll lie about it...taqiyyah and kitman - look it up", referring to an obscure provision in Shia Islam that allows someone to conceal their belief for fear of persecution. I think I speak for the majority of Muslims in saying that I'd never heard of these terms ever until these internet forums. In all my life, having travelled to hundreds of mosques around the world, having read tonnes of books, and having listened to hundreds of different scholars, I've never heard of taqiyyah or kitman or any of the other words these commenters like to use as some sort of Internet Forum trump card. It's not some sort of dark principle that we all secretly follow.
Of course, many of you who read this will probably disbelieve this whole statement because taqiyyah. Suit yourself.
7. When I was growing up, I never heard about Islam in the news and was perfectly happy to go about doing my own thing without anyone worrying about it. Now, the word Islam is everywhere and usually for all the wrong reasons. This has made it difficult for a lot of young Muslims to find their place in society, trying to balance their own beliefs against the prejudices held against them.
But for me, being Muslim has never been about adhering to popular opinion. Ultimately, it comes down to the basics: There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad, peace be upon him, is His messenger.
I believe in One Creator, who created and controls the entire universe. I support this belief by doing what Allah asks us, to observe the universe and witness the marvel of His creation. I am amazed by the order of the universe, the ordered revolution of planets around the sun, the perfect balance given to the Earth which provides us night and day, summer and winter, air and water, plants and animals, and life itself. I am amazed by each and every single living thing, and wonder how anyone can deny the magnificence of our own design when they witness the birth of a child or study the life sciences. All of life is a miracle, and we should never underestimate the magnificence and improbability of all of it.
I also acknowledge the Quran itself as a miracle, a book that has such beauty in its reading that nothing else compares. A book that can be memorized, letter for letter, by small children who don't even speak the language. A book that withstands the test of time as a guide for humanity.
And I believe that Muhammad, peace be upon him, was the best humanity has ever seen, and the history books will attest to that in spite of what some people write (or draw) today. Through his teachings, I am a better person, a better employee, a better husband, and a better father than I would have been otherwise. And society as a whole, including every single one of you reading this, has benefited tremendously from his legacy whether you believe it or not.