Integration in non-Muslim Society
Muslims are encouraged to integrate with non-Muslim society while they are maintaining their bond with God. On the other hand, complete integration where they are asked to discard their Religion is forbidden.
Integration in non-Muslim Society
Assimilation in society;
When a Muslim lives in a non-Muslim country he is exposed to integration or assimilation in society. This may result in shedding some religious and cultural aspects that are essentially Islamic. What should be a Muslim’s attitude to integration? Can integration be achieved while retaining such essentials?
The policies of integration adopted by countries with Muslim minorities follow one of two courses: The first wants complete integration, even though it may require the people to be integrated to discard their distinctive religious and cultural characteristics, while the other strikes a balance between complete integration and the need to preserve such distinctive characteristics. This second course reflects positive integration and it is a responsibility shared by the Muslim community and the rest of society.
The second course is endorsed by the European Council for Fatwa and Research in its Decision 2-17. In this decision, the Council points out some aspects of positive integration which Islam encourages. On the part of the Muslim community these include:
The need to learn the language, traditions and values of the society where a Muslim lives and to abide by the laws of the land.
‘Believers, be true to your contracts.’
Participation in society with a keen desire to serve the general interest of society and in fulfilment of the divine order to all believers:
‘Do good, so that you might be successful.’
To endeavour to reduce unemployment so that every Muslim can be an active contributor to society. This is necessary to implement the hadith which quotes the Prophet as saying: ‘The upper hand is better than the lower hand: the upper hand is the one that gives help and the lower hand is that which begs.’ (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Positive integration of the Muslim community into a non-Muslim society requires society to ensure the following:
To endeavour to ensure justice and equality for all citizens with regard to both rights and duties, and to ensure in particular freedom of expression, freedom to practise religion and the maintenance of social rights.
To stamp out all aspects of racism and combat whatever encourages hostility to Islam.
To encourage initiatives that promote mutual awareness of the religious and cultural characteristics between Muslims and non-Muslims so as to increase and strengthen interaction in society.
To ensure a balanced and positive integration, the Council urges Muslims to keep their Islamic identity without isolating themselves or allowing themselves to be totally assimilated. They are urged to establish the educational and social institutions that are needed for such positive integration and to carry out the task of advocacy of their faith.
The Council also urges non-Muslim societies, particularly the institutions concerned with the question of integration, to pursue an open policy towards Muslims and to maintain contacts with Muslim institutions so that the proper needs of integration may be studied and facilitated. This will benefit society and help Muslims to retain their Islamic character.
The concluding statement of the nineteenth session of the European Council for Fatwa and Research reiterated its earlier recommendations, appealing to all Muslims living in Europe to:
Fulfil all duties and give a good image and the right example in whatever they say and do and how they behave;
Play their role in encouraging creativity and inventiveness at all levels;
Exert their best efforts in giving their children a proper and modern Islamic upbringing. To this end they should establish schools, educational institutions and community centres to help them keep their Islamic identity;
Endeavour to establish financial companies and institutions that adhere to the Islamic code of practice;
Seek to establish Islamic institutions to regulate their personal and family affairs in accordance with the provisions of Islamic law while observing the law of the land;
Endeavour to obtain official recognition from their countries of residence of Islam as a faith and Muslims as equal citizens with full rights, and recognition of their right to regulate their family affairs, such as marriage and divorce, according to their faith;
Fulfil their duties as citizens and their obligations under the contract that gives them permission of residence, and to abide by the law of the land in their countries of residence, as is clearly indicated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and unanimously agreed by Islamic scholars;
Refrain from resorting to violence in any shape or form. They must maintain a course of compassion, mercy and wisdom in their dealings with all people as they are required to do by their faith. They must condemn any practice that is contrary to this proper Islamic way.
The Council urges Muslims generally and those living in Europe in particular to hold fast to their bond with God, to maintain brotherhood, to be tolerant and to take the middle path of Islam, helping one another to further righteousness and piety, to conduct healthy debate and take peaceful measures in dealing with disputes. They should steer away from extremism and all its aspects that give a negative image of Islam and cause great harm to Muslims. Such methods are taken up by those who are hostile to Islam and make use of it to encourage islamophobia. They must always remember God’s commandment:
‘Call people to the path of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the most kindly manner.’
Decisions by the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
Nadia Mustafa, Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah Bayn Fiqh al-Indimaj wal-Muwatanah wa Fiqh al-'Uzlah.