I don’t know about you but I’m sick to death of every Tony, Trevor and David bangin’ on about Muslim integration.
From the issue of the veil to the bombings of 7/7, from the cartoon hoo haa to the Pope’s outburst and from Muslim schools to ‘Muslim ghettos’... yep you’ve guessed it- it’s all because Muslims don’t integrate, innit!
Yeah didn’t you know... ’these Muslims need to integrate more... if they wanna live in our country then they need to live like we do!’.
Over the last couple of months we’ve heard and read politicians, journalists, so called experts and basically everyone, probably with the exception of Jack Duckworth from Corrie, ranting on about integration, integration, integration!!!!! Arrgghhhh!!!!!
OK, I need to calm down. As they do in Bad Boys: “Wooosaaaa”...deep breaths ... I’m OK Now!
So what’s this integration malarkey then huh? And why the big hoo haa?
The events in London of 7th July 2005 have brought the issue of how communities in Britain live side by side to the forefront of public debate.
It’s argued that because Muslims don’t integrate with society and live the British way of life they are therefore isolating themselves, creating ghettos, creating obstacles in society, not learning the language, enforcing their cultures from abroad here blah blah blah....And as a result we had 7/7, race riots, British Muslims hating the country they live in and its values, an increase in fundamentalism and so on...
So what do you say to all that then huh? All I would say is ‘hang on a moment mate’.
Most of it is utter garbage but some of it is true. Yes - integration is required by all, not just Muslims.
Most Muslims are already well integrated in to society and the British way of life like the rest of us - especially second and third generation Muslims- so what’s the fuss? I don’t hear anyone asking Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, atheists, Buddhists to come forward and integrate- so why the bullying of Muslims?
So how should we integrate?
Muslims need to be well integrated into each and every aspect of society as long as they do not compromise on any Islamic teaching or principle.
So, obeying the law of the land, having a legal job and paying your taxes is definitely a good starter. Speaking English should be a must because it helps us to interact with non-Muslims in our community and building good relations with them is the key to integration.
Building bridges, respecting others and their beliefs and getting rid of misconceptions about different cultures, races, religions, backgrounds and so on is what integration is all about.
It’s also about voting, getting politically involved, not throwing a fit each time someone wishes us ‘Happy Xmas’ or gives us a Xmas card, and not having a riot when someone disagrees with our faith and so on.
Our identity should be clear: our nationality is British. Our religion and faith is Islam. The two are not contradictory to one another. We should be proud to be British Muslims.
Islam doesn’t say NO to integration!
So, wearing a headscarf, veil, jilbaab, salwaar kameez, having a beard, wearing your trendy mosque hat, practising your religion, speaking a second language or your mother tongue, eating Asian/Arab/African food, practising different cultures (as long as its not unIslamic backward culture like the dodgy forced marriages or the sickening honour killings) are all absolutely fine and do not go against integration, because none of the above is illegal, harmful to others, isolating yourself or even creating any obstacles or barriers within British society.
As long as you don’t keep yourself to yourself and not speak to anyone but mix in, try to build bridges and become a strong part of society by being a role model, then practising the above is no problem at all.
Muslims should only say NO to integration if it means you HAVE to socialise at pubs, clubs, attend parties, drink booze etc. It’s only a problem when you have to go against Islamic teachings and you certainly don’t have to compromise your faith in order to integrate.
Obstacles to Integration?
Within the Muslim community the main obstacle to integration is the MENTALITY of some people. You know the ‘...this ain’t my home, I’m going home soon so why should I integrate?’. Or the ‘...why shall I integrate with the ‘goray ‘ or the ‘kufaar?’. And the favourite one is’ .. the non Muslims hate us anyway, so why shall I chat with them.’
The reality is that 95% of Muslims do already happily integrate without compromising their Islamic values. It’s the 5% who think ‘integration’ is either unIslamic, those who hate the west, support the likes of Abu Hamza and co.
The only ones who might be too late to integrate are the first generation Muslims who have come from abroad and have lived here for over 30 years but still can’t speak English or associate anything to being British- and still think they live back home.
On a positive note they obey and respect the law of the land and don’t discourage their children from integrating. Emphasis needs to be on the majority second and third generation Muslims in the UK. But what’s the point of integration?
A lot of Muslims ask this again and again. The bottom line is if Muslims integrate as discussed above then the only ones who WIN are Muslims and if we don’t integrate as mentioned then the only ones who LOSE OUT are Muslims. Integration will give Muslims a good image and reputation, it will help us be walking, talking adverts for Islam.
It will build bridges amongst communities and it will get rid of misconceptions and ignorance. It will make Muslims influential in British society and it will highlight that Muslims are contributing to British society.
It will mean your neighbours, colleagues and the people in your area will not fear you but look up to you.
Integration means it’s Islam that wins.