UK Muslims… Battle of Social Integration and Religious CommitmentProf. Moael Youssef Ezz Al Din
In the multifaceted British society fabric, Muslims represent a very significant segment. The strength of this fabric, may be, stemming from the British Society's firm belief in the importance of such diversity in reinforcing social structure that contributes to development and progress of the society.
In the UK, multiple-tinkling voices found to be alleging Islamism, all of which have British ears that listen, but sometimes enjoy them. For example, you can find local municipalities encourage mosque-building fund raising processes, so long as they observe the Municipality's red lines stating that a building must neither obscure visibility nor reveal other's privacy. On the other hand, you will find a room for those supporting the idea of making women imam and permitting sale of alcohol in Muslims' shops, although such contradict principles of Islam.
Islamic pluralism and lack of a unified reference to the Islamic spectrum existing are among the most crucial dilemmas that facing not only British Muslims, but also Muslims across Europe. This, in turn, leaves a gap preferred by the administrative authority, not to mention in such cases related to understanding of Islam within the scope of Muslim society minorities' contemporary application of Islam.
Muslims problems, either as individuals or as groups, living in European capitals and cities are significantly different…
I am a British professor specialized in Islamic jurisprudence and its principles; however, I always avoid giving fatwa (Is a nonbinding legal opinion on a point of Islamic law (sharia) given by a qualified jurist in response to a question posed by a private individual). Thus, whenever I asked by anyone: " What is Islam ruling on….?", I answer: "Consider the circumstances of the incident, as fatwa does not necessarily apply to your case."
Today, I received a question from an English Muslim Women asking about growing beard; is it compulsory or desirable? My answer was as follows: Majority of scholars go that it is a compulsory order, but why a woman would ask such question. She answered: My son is 15 year-old boy who has his beard grown profusely, which drived his school principle to ask such question and request a letter proving that Islam saying so. I answered: It is a good thing to encourage your son to apply the prophet's Sunnah, but does he apply other Islam rulings and orders? She said: He neither visit masjid nor pray, but he is a good believer! In return, I said: He must start with praying "Salat", and then let his beard grow in a nice acceptable manner.
European and British thinkers, in general, are convinced that Islam augurs well for the future of the Europeans who everyday approach Islam, despite the rumors spread by the malicious press that finds in the extremists' nonsense a frequent fodder to achieve hits by selling their papers that mainly provoke sex, food, violence and other antagonism, although many of the British newspaper sellers are from those "other". However, the opinion of other leading European thinkers who thoroughly studied Islam is another contrary attitude. This is reflected in their books' titles that hinting the good to be brought by Islam in the future, such as Karen Armstrong's great book entitled "Muhammad: Prophet for Our Time", Edmund Bosworth "Encyclopedia of Islam", and Ninian Smart " The Religious Experience of Mankind", where they confirm that Islam is the human approach and promise for a better life.
In order to present the best image of proper Islam, Muslims and their children in Europe must understand the correct objectives and interests of Islam. They should adopt such good objectives and interests to reflect the good face of Islam. Muslims in Europe should not intimidate people with long-profuse beards and grumpy faces that know no way to smile, and use only phrases that usually used by a Muslim, but cannot be understood by a European person such as " As-Salaamu-Alaikum" (the greeting in Islam) instead of "Good Morning" that suits better the country's culture. As-Salaamu-Alaikum embraces a great civilizational dimension, but it cannot be understood by common man, unless after explanation and courtesy may not be available at such fast-paced world.
As-Salaamu-Alaikum is a delicate phrase that must be said by and to those who understand its meaning; however, it may throw doubts in the breast of that stranger to whom it is said. Historically, it is known that the European lived among trees and cannot get easily familiar with the other, unlike the people of the desert, who directly welcome a traveler once seen in the horizon. Trees people; namely, the European are brought up on suspecting the other. They cannot accept gifts from people they do not know and they would only deal with people like them. This is also applies to the clothes worn that may create a great gap between us as Muslims, and the Europeans.
Some people may object to this opinion by saying that such is just the identity of Islam and its manifestation, which I acknowledge and confirm. However, Islam's essence calls for something else. It advocates wisdom, preach, and soft and delicate words as mentioned in the Holy Quran to guide the Pharaoh, so we must think how it would be when talking to a common man. Muslim's identity is only proven by showing respect for others and being in harmony with them without distorting Islam basic phrases or mixing between principles, ride lines of the religion and the civilization shell.
Disruption of the British wall, nowadays, and its tendency to get out of the European structure is one of the results of the material approach and the plan developed by the materialistic rich people and those who fear the other, whether European such as poles and Romans or Asians either Indians or Bengal, who most of them are Muslims.
Todays, Europe is going through a serious dilemma; namely, the crack hitting the entire European fortress. This does not only include Britain, but great fears that such crack reaches Italy, Germany, and France. They all know that such crack is nothing but a result of weak bond tying its bricks. It is, materialism that destroyed the human kind, and corrupted its morals and environment.
I believe that most Europe do not detest Islam; however, it adopts an optimistic approach aiming at fixing such damage caused by the grinding and dehumanizing materialism.
Concerning the European stance from the Muslims, it can be simply summarized in the two words; "Fear and Greed". Fear from such furious competition for survival and living, and greed as to make benefit of the Muslims low-fees contributions.
In the light of the low birth rates from which Europe is suffering and low taxpayer population, the need for a working man, today, imposes itself as a real problem in Europe. Accordingly, several European countries opened its doors to a flood of poor Muslim immigrants who faced danger of the seas and shark teeth.
Refugee picked by the United Nations organizations and deported to the west of the Earth is the luckiest and the happiest. I have met few of them, which were accepted by Britain just to appear before the entire world as a humane country that helps refugees. In fact, it plant them within the borders of a civilization, they know nothing about. It is exactly like those who plant plastic palms in the corners of malls, so they become as rigid as artificial flowers that have no taste or smell. Most of such refugees become in state of overwhelming happiness, once they show a card bearing "Refugee". They think that they finally reached the right way to prosperous life, whereby time they lose their culture and civilization, and almost their religion. Despite the country subsidy are worthless. In addition, the new language and the Western civilization remain a barrier between him and absurdity of that world.It is no doubt that Islam frightens Europe and the British, especially these stones thrown by fanatics and pretenders on the glass of innocent peoples' life. Strangely, in spite of all this, common people do not hate or envy us; we the others (the strangers) in the west lands. They looking forward to learning Islam, in which they see elements of mutual ethics and compassion. For this aim, we desperately need to comprehend purpose of Muslim communities' jurisprudence, which masters measurement of facts on reasons of the texts, and does not merely legitimate or forbid matters according to the peoples' desires, but consider mercy and compassion upon iftaa.