Funding washrooms or world changing art? A Muslims dilemma (1st post June 28, 2017)

The MultiFacet: A world divided between extreme forms of religion and secularism and those caught in the middle…

Is spending nearly $40k on a bathroom really what we should be doing at this moment in our history as Western Muslims?

As part of his Kickstarter Campaign that runs from June 26-Aug 9 2017 Nadir Shirazi Creator/Executive Producer of The MultiFacet anime project is writing a series of articles on Medium that document his four years of trial and error to make art. Art that came out of of 9/11 and terror that exists 16 years later. Reflecting his complicated identity as equal parts secular Canadian and religious Muslim. He’s challenging Muslims (and Non-Muslims) to rethink how we engage in discourses at a time when both ISIS and Islamophobes control the narrative of Islam digitally. He is used to being heavily criticized but keeps agitating anyway. He is a lifelong anime nerd and former multi-faith consultant and educator.

“It’s for the house of Allah brothers and sisters! Money is not an issue.”

Wait if money is not an issue than why are you asking for it? This is the running joke me and my Muslim family and friends discuss at an Eid party: the celebration after Ramadan the month of fasting and forgiveness.

We were discussing the latest Ramadan fundraising appeal by a mosque in the Greater Toronto Area (no names please). Apparently the bathroom needs repair urgently. Oh and it’s going to cost nearly $40 000 plus to do.

My first thought when I hear this is.

That bathroom better have gold toilet thrones

My second thought is.

That’s literally the entire amount I am struggling to raise for my project

My third thought is.

They are going to get that bathroom funded for sure no problem

This is the sort of state of a lot of Muslim discourse in the Western World. Mosque after mosque is built and cajoles, convinces, or sometimes holds up prayer to get their money, while any other Muslim initiative struggles for scraps.

In The Greater Toronto Area alone their are hundreds of mosques ranging from small house ones, to giant complexes with schools. Every Ramadan they clamour for peoples attention and raise $100k, $200k, 300k, or sometimes even up to $1 million dollars each.

Let’s do some math. We are talking pledges in excess of $50 million dollars here! That is a conservative estimate. This has been happening for years, no decades to the tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars.

I’m not a hater of Musjids (Mosques people relax) but they are physical spaces that only serve a handful of people. However Islam in the social media era is digital, and as we see both Islamophobes and ISIS operate, recruit, and launch violent rhetoric that turns into murder from virtually anywhere. Even beyond the violence ,these discourses cause a bipolar narrative that average Muslims get caught between. Our own perceptions and our own psyches are battered trying to ideologically and literally fight them off as each day there is some new attack or hate speech. Worse people are now are triggered by concepts of Islam and equate it with terror. It’s like a Pavlovian experiment gone to hell. Ding. Islam. Ding. Terror.

So does it make sense to keep funding at an exponential pace physical structures that primarily only certain types of Muslims and few if any non Muslims use? That don’t get out there and change narrative digitally? That won’t reach young Muslims on the verge of being radicalized, or white ring wing supremacists steeped in hate.

It is a challenge. Millennial western Muslims know the issues but don’t have as much money as their immigrant parents who won’t fund other initiatives to the same degree. Who seem to have no problem when their local mosque tells them they need $1 million to expand the mosque into a Muslim school, or build a parking deck, but would never spend $1 million for anything else let alone gasp art! In fact we admonish or doubt those who try to raise far less dollars saying their concepts will never work. Instead retreating into our Muslim palaces for solace and comfort: that is out of touch with the world outside those walls.

The tragic cases of the Manchester bombing and the murder of Nabra Hassanen so close to each other should make us probe deeper questions about how Islam has became co-opted for agendas that are controlled by hate that keep echoing off each other. There seems to be no end in sight.

So we can keep funding bathrooms so some Muslims can do their “business” OR we can either get down to real business by funding things with broader impact for Muslims and society that fight back.

Nadir Shirazi is Creator/Executive Producer of MultiFacet a L.I.T.E anime set in world divided between extreme forms of religion and secularism. His Kickstarter runs from June 26- Aug 9 2017 and can be found by visiting https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/themultifacetseries/the-multifacet-series-1st-refraction-web-motion-co

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