Saturday, 17 January 2015

We are better because we are Muslims!

How do you respond to a criticism that questions your own values? The most likely response would be to answer in a sensible manner that would lead to some conclusions. But if the preferred response is to be defensive it can only create a state of confrontation which will further leave the naysayer adrift. A month ago I had a conversation with a lady whose own perception of how the Asian Muslims in Birmingham have learned to adapt with the British way of life far exceeds my insight. But it was her response to the ongoing issues linked to Islamism which spelled out the underlying problem. Boldly she summed it up in a single sentence how one is to tackle the criticism that Muslims are not doing enough to integrate, ‘They can’t stop usthey are scared of us.’ The word ‘they’ refers to the media, the police, the government and politicians, anyone who believes that apologetic pacifism is not the way to tackle Islamism.

Racism is now commonly confused with Islamism. If the argument highlights that the Muslim community needs to tackle the issue of faith because significance of upholding Islamism precedes the essential values of human rights, freedom of speech and gender equality then it is ‘us verses them,’ situation which either needs to be ignored or demands a defensive stance. The first generation of immigrants who arrived from Pakistan have experiences to narrate about how life was difficult in those days. It was matter of earning to save enough money and probably one day return home. Ties with the native homeland, and clan were maintained and strengthened to make the children realize that their ethnic background is an important factor of identity. Islamic teachings maintaining strong family bonds and upholding conservative traditional values leading to segregation and subservient attitude of women were useful in instilling to the children their cultural identity.

I disagree with the Fox News guest’s statement that Birmingham’s multi-cultural vibrancy has made the city a no-go area for non-Muslims. The city is vibrant and welcoming. But where diversity is good it is also going to bring new challenges. Overly-populated Muslim neighbourhoods are going to come across issues because by and large Islam has been adopted as a way of life. Made to believe by their parents that somehow Islam is going to give them sense of belonging and protection, the children of the first generation immigrants are now defensively pursuing to adopt way of life which upholds Islamic character. I will be told this perception is flawed because many second generation Muslims are educated, pursuing careers, have plans to settle down as good and decent citizens. While it can’t be agreed that all Muslims are pursuing the Jihadist dream to live under the green banner of Islam in Europe, there is something essentially not right if every criticism is countered with the rallying cry of racism. While British Muslims prosper economically and benefit from the freedom to profess Islam as a religion, the disregard to understand the threat of Islamism which also undermines the British values is twisted and gross misrepresentation of being enlightened. If it is war front to fight any insult against Islam but at the same time preached that in Europe one is surrounded by Kufr-yielding Europeans who know nothing of Islam then it is only leading to self-destruction.

Time to stop saying ‘We are better because we are Muslims.’  

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