Muslims’ Hijrah to Europe

April 23, 2012

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim | Arab News

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Just last week, the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada was arrested in London by British authorities and could be deported to Jordan. But, why is a Muslim cleric fighting deportation from a non-Muslim country to a Muslim country? And why is he preaching against the country that hosted and protected him? If he is considering himself a Muslim cleric, then didn’t he know the meaning of Alhijrah?

In Islam, there is a phrase called Hijrah (migration). Islam introduced this phrase to encourage Muslims to flee any land where they are mistreated, to places of more tolerance. This means, Hijrah is leaving a non-Muslim country to reside in a Muslim country. But, there was irony in the first and second Hijrah for Muslims from Makkah, the birth place of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), to Alhabashah (old Ethiopia) in the year 615 A.D. Alhabashah was ruled by a leader named Alnajashi. He was Christian. This shows how Islam is tolerant with other faiths. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) left the fate of new Muslims in the hand of a Christian. The tens of Muslims who migrated to Alhabashah gave the highest respect to the land that hosted and protected them. They never criticized the religion or way of life of the people in Alhabashah. So, did Abu Qatada really understand the real meaning of Islam?

Many years after the first Islamic Hijrah, Islamic Caliphate capitals such as Baghdad became the centers of migration for people from all faiths. The Muslim empire stretched from China to Iberia — Spain and Portugal. The Islamic empire, during the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1250 A.D.) covered an area of more than 10 million square kilometers with a population of 50 million people from all faiths and colors. They spoke Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Barbari and Turkish. Jews and Christians lived side by side with Muslims. Baghdad at that time was like London in religious tolerance. Muslims became masters of medicine, math, astronomy, geography and other sciences.

After that, the Muslims went into deep hibernation with occasional rising. From the turn of the 20th century to these days, Muslims began to migrate (Tuhajir). Not from a Muslim country to another, but to countries that are not Muslim. And again, the irony of this modern day Hijrah, it was Muslims leaving prosecution in their countries to reside in non-Muslim countries, mainly France and the UK. It turned out that Muslims in Western countries were the happier Muslims among all Muslims around the world.

The Muslims in non-Muslim countries enjoyed freedom of worship and freedom of speech. They were given space to breathe and opportunities to have their children educated in the best schools. And yes, some of the Muslims in the West faced prejudice, tasted poverty and mistreatment. But, it wasn’t the law. It was individual behavior from some ignorant people.

The Muslim immigrants to the West until recently were more secular than the rest of the Muslims. Before the 1980s, you wouldn’t see a Muslim women wearing a Niqab — different from Hijab. And the number of Mosques was very small. But, in recent years many of the Muslims had mixed emotions regarding their lives in the West. And many Muslims took the extreme attitude toward the West, and they interpreted Islam the wrong way and even hijacked it.

We saw people like Abu Qatada and Abu Hamzah in London and Mulla Krikar in Oslo. And just a short time ago, we saw Mohamed Merah in Toulouse. The actions of some of the Muslims in the West gave a very bad image to Islam. We saw Muslims marching in the streets of Paris and other places when the Niqab was banned.

But, Niqab is not a pillar of Islam. And to this day it is a subject of discussion among Muslims in the Islamic countries. The more ignorant the Muslims are about life in Europe, the less tolerant Europeans will be. Recently, France refused to give visas to some Muslim clerics, and the irony was, most Muslims in France were happy they were denied the visas.

We all know that the image of Islam is tarnished. And some Muslims in the West are not helping. Muslims in the West have to respect the law of the country they are living in. And any Muslim can practice Islam and raise his children according to Islamic teachings. There is no Western country which bans the practice of any religion.

We see mosques even at airports and universities in Western cities. It is very important also for Muslims to adjust their lives in the West. A father doesn’t need to abuse or kill a child just because he or she is not acting in a proper Islamic manner. Child or women abuse is against any Islamic teachings. And these kinds of abuses give the wrong interpretation of Islam. And I always ask, why would a Canadian-Afghan Muslim kill his three daughters just because they became westernized? Isn’t it the father who brought them to Canada from Afghanistan? Muslims should have shown the brighter side of Islam to the West.

Many Muslims living in the West have to think about their lives in a changing world. In the past Europe was in an economic boom. In the 1960s, West Germany celebrated the arrival of the millionth Turkish guest worker, but now it is very hard even for Europeans to find jobs.

So, it is for the benefits of the Muslims to respect the land that hosted them and protected them. And at the end of the day, no one forced Muslims to live in a non-Muslim country. And if a Muslim doesn’t follow the rule of the host country, then he or she has to risk deportation. The UK might deport Abu Qatada, and this time, many Muslims in Europe are the ones who said, enough is enough for radical clerics.

— Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a Commodore (Retired), Royal Saudi Navy. He is a frequent contributor to the SUSRISblog.  He can be contacted at: almulhimnavy@hotmail.com

Reprinted with permission of the author. Originally published in Arab News.

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