Posted by: Dawud Israel | May 5, 2009

Should I stay in Canada or go back?

I just came back from the masjid and one of the blessings of going there is you encounter a number of people who deal with the same issues you do and you can hear their nasiha. I spoke to two uncles about the topic of whether they want to remain here in Canada or go back to Pakistan/Saudi Arabia. I should mention my general feeling was to remain here in Canada, and I realize it is a consequence of being born and raised Canadian but being lucky enough to maintain my identity…but after this discussion, I have second thoughts and consider going elsewhere.

Here is the basic discussion…starting with the first gentleman I spoke to:

This is why you should go back

-the “mahal” (this is an important Urdu word in terms of sociology, it means not just the environment and surroundings, but also the atmosphere, attitudes, psychology and overall experience) there is more Islamic and closer to maintain identities

-it is easy to visit a masjid and learn Islam for just about anyone…for free!

-when you are there, you can almost be care-free, you don’t have to worry about mortages, insurance, the Imam in the masjid, marriage issues etc. In short, you have to be ready to wage a bit of a struggle just to hold onto these things

-we are losing our identities here and will not survive the forthcoming generations

This is why you shouldn’t

-you will deal with the same problems you deal with here…back home and in many respects non-Muslims here and better than Muslims over there

-it is too early to say whether we are winning or losing since we’ve only been here for a short time…there are pockets of Muslim communities where our identity is being maintained

-we will have to stand, because what about the converts…where will they go?

-sooner or later we will have to confront the “kufr of modernity”, with its alcohol, hedonism, materialism and mini-skirts…whether it is here now, or back in Pakistan where you wouldn’t expect it

This uncle said, if you have it in you, stay but some of us don’t have it in us and should go back, especially if we have spent a great deal of our lives back home we will want to go back. I understood his sentiments. The second friend I spoke to really shook up any argument I had:

Why you definitely would consider going back..

He said he always wanted to stay here in Canada…he was dead-set on it. But he got married and then had kids and saw the things that were happening in the community. Children were rebelling against their parents, leaving their Islam and family roots. They would go off, marry non-Muslims and settle here in Canada. Now, lets say the parents accept this…this puts them in a strange position. If they want to go back to Saudi Arabia, they can’t because a part of them- their children- have already planted themselves here in Canada so they are torn between their past and their future. Furthermore, the other case this brother made was, “What if someone in my family died here and I wanted to move back?” Their is emotional attachment and it isn’t easy to leave behind a family member, even if they be dead- it feels like a betrayal to their memory. So, the option of going back if limited by the choices of one’s loved ones until often, you have no choice to stay here in Canada.

This is important because we consider staying here to be a selfish issue- I only think of it in terms of me. But he made me think as to how it would have reprecussions on our loved ones and where our heart is.

This alone is a lot to think of…so chew on it!

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, Ameen.


  1. Jazakallahu khair bro for the post. It’s just what I need. I was actually contemplating on the opposite though; to migrate to Canada instead of staying in a Muslim country (or so they say). My home country is totally messed up… I mean the ministers are corrupt. They don’t even know how to take care of their family, let alone running a country. And a whole bunch of other screwed up stuff going on in the country.
    I was thinking of moving to Canada because I heard they have good Muslim community in Canada and IMO, Muslims in the West appreciate their Deen more than those who are born and raised in Muslim countries (with few exceptions though).
    Whatever it is, it’s a good post and made me think to re-evaluate my options first before jumping on the bandwagon.

  2. -the “mahal” (this is an important Urdu word in terms of sociology, it means not just the environment and surroundings, but also the atmosphere, attitudes, psychology and overall experience) there is more Islamic and closer to maintain identities

    That point doesn’t hold any weight because that is a matter of perspective not fact. It is rare to meet a convert muslim who went Pakistan and came back a better muslim. Pakistan is still tribalistic society so someone from Pakistan will have a ready made infrastructure to find employment, a wife,etc than foreigner living there. A convert won’t.

    -it is easy to visit a masjid and learn Islam for just about anyone…for free!

    I don’t know about Canada but in the US learning Islam is free as in most countries.

    when you are there, you can almost be care-free, you don’t have to worry about mortages, insurance, the Imam in the masjid, marriage issues etc. In short, you have to be ready to wage a bit of a struggle just to hold onto these things

    This total nonsense! The reason there so many Pakistani immigrants in the UK,US & Canada is because of the stagnant economy. If you thnk a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language,know the customs & culture of a country can just hop a plane and go there and secure employment & housing.. well then I have say you dealing with reality.

    we are losing our identities here and will not survive the forthcoming generations

    How exactly do you lose your identity as a Canadian when you’re living in Canada?

    I think this whole idea of letting immigrants do your thinking for you when from past experiences it has created massive damage to muslims of the US is insanity.

    I think to figure out whether go or not I would ask myself..

    What exactly,specifically do I hope to gain form moving?

    Can I obtain it here where I living now?

  3. Good thoughts gang.

    This was a discussion so I honestly don’t have an opinion, I think I got that across in the post but still again.


    Re: “Mahal”
    Actually, it IS a matter of perspective. So some brown people would prefer Islam here in Canada OR they would prefer it back home. And even then, there are some convert Hanafi brothers who would prefer Pakistan to Canada or USA.

    Islamic education in Canada is still a struggle. Sunday school is often shotty and really, it takes a few years for a community to establish itself and give an Islamic education fitting for Canadian society (as opposed to importing a few Quran teachers who can’t speak English).

    Also for your next point, I should mention this uncle has lived in Canada for many years and is well-established…but even then, life is not as simple and at ease with him.

    This is not something you can argue with a person, because its whether or not they are even comfortable and have it in them to make a stand in this society nor do they want their children here neither. Now, these kids have to obey their parents and frankly, if this uncle and his kids aren’t in it for the fight, what can you do? Can you force them to sit around here, let them complain to others and discourage others as well?

    The thinking of immigrants might be a little off, but the thinking of converts is also flawed in many respects. If we just ditch what immigrants have said about running to the hills, and surrender to the converts as experts I think we are equally trapped. The converts and immigrants…maintain their own experiences. There are other groups: descendant of immigrants (like myself) or part immigrant/part convert families (like some of my friends) and it can be argued they will play a bigger role than either straight up converts or immigrants. The following generations are the ones who will set the stage, act on it and raise the standards in sha Allah for the benefit of Islam.

  4. The environment that influences us is not necessarily the country we live in, but the family we are raised in. If parents have good communication with their children and can control and influence them then it is likely they will grow in the best interests of those parents.

    The problem is, most Muslims in the west are the children of immigrants and there is a communication barrier that needs to be broken. The parents don’t know how to relate or deal with the situations children are faced with at school and in their neighborhoods. The parents unleash their children into schools with a dirty environment expecting their children to come out clean without ever having to communicate to them properly.

    Inshallah, I think as the more religious Muslims grow up and have their own kids the communication barrier in the West will start to dissolve between parents and their children, and Muslim parents will be able to have a larger, more positive influence on their children, and those children will know how to keep themselves clean from dirty environments.

  5. I think the communication barrier is a reason why some people can’t really appreciate organizations like Tablighi Jamaat (not that i don’t appreciate it). I don’t see how people who aren’t from the sub-continent could appreciate TJ’s, that’s why 99% of the TJ’s are all pakistani’s.

    The most effective Tablighis for the youth are usually the ones who are born and raised here, because they are more “hip”, for lack of a better word, and can actually relate to the youth here.

    Anyways, I have seen some uncles and aunties move back to countries like Egypt after seeing their kids become detached from the deen, and when they came back from Egypt the kids were totally different, and were good practicing Muslims.

    so do i have a definite opinion? No.

    Bottom line is, Muslims will continue to immigrate to wealthy countries like Canada whether we want them to or not, our job is not to tell them to go back, but to make environments for the youth to flourish in their deen, and to invest a large portion of our time encouraging effective communication between parents and their children, and for children to spend time in the masjid.

  6. Salam

    Mashallah it is great that you are thinking about the future health and strength of your deen.

    Sometimes a “hijrah” of this kind can be good for you.

    Allah commands us to travel on the earth to behold his Signs.

    I lived in Dubai most of my life.

    It is an “Islamic” country….at least in theory.

    There are plenty of mosques. And a lot of Muslims living there too. You can even hear the adhan wherever you go.

    But at the same time, there are clubs, alcohol and a lot of other things which are practised out in the open which I am ashamed to even talk about.

    Here is the worst part. I would constantly be asked the same questions.

    “Do you wanna go drink?”

    “Do you want to go to the club”

    “You really don’t have a girlfriend.”

    And guess who the people were asking all these questions:


    The environment was also a very materialistic. And I could go on.

    But then I came to a little town in Canada. And I was surrounded by Amazing muslim brothers mashallah.

    I actually became a better Muslim in Canada (a non Muslim country) . Kinda like an oxymoron.

    My taqwa increased so much than where I was before.

    Hope this gives you food for thought.

    You can always travel and come back. Nothing is set in stone.

    The world is your oyster. It is an expansive canopy for all of us.



  7. Was my comment removed?

    How come?

  8. I don’t recall deleting anything…I never do actually, unless its really problematic. :/

    Try again.

  9. Well, I wrote a long commentary…

    Lets see if I can remember it all.

  10. This was an interesting post, and one I can relate to on many different levels. My parents were immigrants to Canada and then decided after 20 years to move back to Egypt. The decision was taken mainly because my older brother was following a path that most would deem westernized and unislamic, and they knew I looked to him as my role model.

    Honestly I feel that the move back to Egypt at a young age completely changed the course of my life, Allahu A’lam of course, but as a kid Islam was just the class we had to endure on Sundays. When I came to Egypt it became the main thing around which my life revolves. However, the Muslim community in Vancouver was very weak and not very active. A lot of them were liberals or seculars. I know that this is very different in other cities like Toronto, new york, etc.
    Now I’m at a point where I’m contemplating moving back to the “west” or staying in Egypt, and honestly I couldn’t strongly advise anybody to move to Egypt, and I couldn’t advise against it either. It’s just a really difficult and exhausting way of life over here. There are a lot of problems in this part of the world as previous commentators have pointed out. This applies whether you’re speaking about Pakistant, Egypt, Dubai, etc.

    The conclusion that I’ve arrived at so far is that if one chooses to live in the West it is important to go somewhere where there’s a large, strong Muslim community where Islam becomes a way of life and a personal culture adopted by the young children rather than just something they have to wake up early on Sunday for.

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