5 tips to integrate Muslims like me

integration

Last week, Julian Bond – the Director of the Christian Muslim Forum – and I had a twitter spat with someone who identified themselves as a patriot. During the conversation, said patriot stated that I (and Muslims in general) need to “deal” with “radical Islam”, and inferring from that I presume, also extremist Muslims. The same tweep also mentioned Woolwich and Drummer Lee Rigby’s horrific murder.

To be honest it isn’t the first time I’ve had that thrown at me, but I am frustrated and annoyed at being expected de facto, because I am Muslim, to have to deal with “Muslim or Islamic” problems.

That same day Rolf Harris had been charged with 13 counts of various indecency and sexual assault charges. I don’t, and thankfully so, see any of my older white male colleagues or friends being told that sexual deviancy and preying on children is an “old white man problem” and that they need to deal with it! Or else “don’t you remember all the victims of these terrible crimes?” Instead we are finally (near enough) coming to acknowledge that there is a pervasive sexism problem within our society that must be dealt with, as it is leading to sexual violence against women and children.

I am fed up of being expected to, or urged to, apologise for horrific crimes committed by people who are so alien to me and the Muslims that I know. If in our society young people are being radicalised then we all need to step up and deal with it. We need to reflect on what sort of community we are developing where young men are so easily preyed upon by extremists, that they do not feel they are part of society, and their only recourse to be heard is to commit terrible acts of violence. What made these young men become so filled with hate that they took their own lives along with the lives of others? And dare I say it, this also means having difficult and considered conversations on our government’s foreign policy.

Could the crisis of masculinity amongst ethnic minority men be a factor? Or the fact that in today’s world and culture, boys are socialised to be violent? Has anyone noticed or researched a correlation between men with extremist views and gender based violence?

Without taking collective responsibility for these crimes, we’ll never be able to move past the tired and age-old barriers of stereotyping, racism and prejudice that fuel extremism and provide fodder for the “us versus them” narrative.

I should point out that some of these questions have been interrogated and researched. However, to date, much of the focus has been on extremist Islamic ideology. Additionally in some instances, the conclusions of research constructed a narrative that essentialises British Muslims by attributing all responsibility to deal with extremism to the Muslim community only, rather than taking a holistic approach in which all of society deals with extremism collectively.

If you would like me as a British Muslim to integrate, then here are five tips to help you facilitate that process:

1. Integration is a two way relationship; accept me for who I am, not the stereotype perpetuated by bigots.

2. Trust is two way; don’t expect me to deal with all the crimes of “Muslims” around the world.

3. Accept me as an individual and do not lump me into a homogenous group of “all Muslims” which is pretty much the equivalent of saying, Christians such as the Pope, Queen, Tony Blair and Pastor Terry Jones (of Quran burning infamy) are all the same.

4. Do not balk when I call myself English.

5. Accept at face value when I say, I am discriminated against because of my faith and deal with anti-Muslim prejudice.

Fortunately, in the Forum we strive to implement the points above. Christian and Muslim colleagues across the spectrum of both faiths come together to work on projects that create cohesiveness and social bonding across and between communities which can sometimes be polarised and isolated.

Since the recent spate of attacks on Mosques, I have felt that it is now time for other communities to stand up and vocalise their support for British Muslims, in the same way that Muslims have done so every time there has been an instance of Muslim extremism and violence. There have been some good examples of this but more needs to be done to send a clear message that British people will not tolerate anti-Muslim bigotry, hatred or violence, in the same way other forms of bigotry are denounced.

Akeela Ahmed
Family Specialist, Christian Muslim Forum
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31 Responses to “5 tips to integrate Muslims like me”

  1. huw says:

    yeah, i’ll do that.

  2. Jeannie McLeod says:

    THANK YOU!!! Well put, succinct and simple!

  3. [...] So I had a twitter spat with a bigot which made me write this: ’5 tips to integrate Muslims like me’: http://christianmuslimforum.org/blog/5-tips-to-integrate-muslims-like-me/ [...]

  4. B says:

    Here is how Muslims can integrate:
    Deport them all back to their country of origin.

  5. B says:

    Yes I agree it is time for Western governments to ban Muslim immigration and deport Muslims already in the country. A lot of crime is caused by Muslims. Muslims are different from any one else in the world in a bad way.

  6. Fred Blogs says:

    Here are five more, not directed at you in particular since I don’t know you. Some, one or all of them may be applicable to any one individual:

    1) Take your hajib off and wear western clothes. You’ll find you stand out less.

    2) Don’t complain about the British way of life and culture. You, your parents, or grandparents chose to come here; if you don’t like the way we live, get out and go somewhere you do.

    3) Don’t pretend you’re British when you’re not. I have lived in other people’s countries a good deal of my life, but I don’t claim I’m from there. You may have been born in UK, but spiritually you are alien to it.

    4) We have a rule of law in UK which has evolved over centuries. Don’t expect or demand that your community can bring their own law in from afar. If you don’t like our laws, go and find somewhere to live where you will feel more comfortable.

    5) Don’t bridle when the natives get upset because one of your spiritual leaders issues death sentences against someone who has done nothing other than written a book. Don’t riot because someone draws cartoons that upset you. Don’t keep calling for a review of British foreign policy because it upsets your Muslim sensibilities. If you don’t like it, leave.

    In short, ‘buy in’ to the UK way of life, and leave your Asian culture and thought process behind. Be educated and have your children educated in western schools, speak English as a first language and dress less visibly.

    Be less obviously different. People will welcome you as one of their own, as the UK has done with most immigrant communities, with the exception of the Muslims. Have a think on why that might be.

    • Sarah says:

      Akeela – I really enjoyed reading yoru article. It was very insightful and I’m sure many British Muslims have experienced similar feelings and frustrations.

      Fred – I reflected on your points and there were several ideas that I wanted to put forward relating to integration, ‘Britishness’ and culture in general.

      * Britain loves eccentricity and we pride ourselves on individuality. Britain is praised for edgy fashion which stands out – punk, goth, hipster (to name a few) – and the high street is full of fashion labelled ‘ethnic’ – why is being identified as a muslim any different? I see no problem in wearing a Zara scarf-turned-hijab and H&M skinny jeans.

      * Complaining about British life is the very essence of being British – whether it’s about drizzle, the rail system, or the state of the NHS. WHy should British Muslims be exempt from this most British of past times? : )

      * Being against war is not an inherently Muslim phenomenon. Being British doesn’t mean that you have to agree with every decision your parliament makes. In fact, we pride ourselves on being able to voice our opinion – whether it’s in protests, petitions, or by voting. Integration doesn’t mean being invisible or silent.

      * People shouldn’t be expected to forget their heritage – in fact in Britain we embrace it more often than not – whether it’s adopting new foods, fashion, ideas or festivals for Diwali, Ramadan, and let’s not forget the amazing Notting Hill carnival!

      * Abroad, Britain is often viewed in two ways – either it is praised for being multicultural or criticised for trying to cut itself off from the world. I would much rather be known as someone from a multicultural country which lives by its values of freedom of expression than someone from an insular country which is afraid of change in any form.

      Although I disagreed with several of your points, your ideas made me reflect for a long time about what it is to be Muslim and British : )

      Peace.

    • Akeela Ahmed says:

      Dear Fred,

      Thank you for your response, and taking the time to read and respond to my blog.

      The essence of the points you raise, homogenise and reduce all Muslims in the UK: as a group that is outside of mainstream society, and an “alien” group which is inferior and/or a threat to British way of life. And this, reinforces the thrust of the argument I make – that Muslims are a part of British society – whether one likes it or not.

      The fact that there are some, like yourself, who cannot accept this fact, is a hindrance to integration. Rather than the myth that the majority of British Muslims themselves do not integrate or oppose British society and it’s values. I find this assertion goes against the very values of this great country. In my humble opinion it indeed is very unBritish.

      Your opposition to difference and Asian culture (and thought processes?), is troubling at best and at worst racist. In fact I would go as far as saying that this type of ranting and behaviour is done by one who does not love their country or appreciate the Great British way of life.

      Best regards,

      Akeela

  7. Robin Fisher says:

    Dear Akeela

    I write as one who has worked among Muslims all my life, at home and abroad. I dare to say that I have known and loved as many Muslim people as any non-Muslim in Britain.
    I really appreciate your essay and found it interesting and provocative. May I be allowed to disagree with you at one or two points?
    I am not sure that your analogy of the abusive old white man is really apt. Your AOWM acts in secret. He works for no organisation nor does he claim to. He acts only for himself. His activities are acknowledged as wrong, most likely even by himself.
    Violent ‘radical’ Muslims however claim to act in the name of Islam. They pray like other Muslims. They base their behaviour on the Qur’an as all Muslims do. They revere and love the same prophet.
    This does not mean that you are responsible for ‘dealing’ with them. You and all other peaceful Muslims are in no way responsible for their behaviour. None of us are in any way responsible for the behaviour of any other adult. Only for our own.
    However I appreciate that you are faced with a difficult dilemma.
    I am sure that as good Muslim you also revere the Prophet and read the Qur’an. Where then is the difference? Who is right and who is wrong? How am I, a non Muslim, to know the difference between you and them? Of course, I have known a great many Muslims and they have all been entirely peace- loving and no different from Non Muslims. Many I have talked to feel this problem keenly. They feel deeply ill at ease at what is done in the name of Islam, but seem unable to break away.
    If I belonged to a political organisation (and of course Islam is very political) which carried out such actions , If I loved that organisation and felt a great loyalty to it I might try to reform it from inside but if it continued to behave in way that I deplored and hated I would be compelled to leave.
    However much you deplore the actions of some Muslims ( and I am afraid that they are not just a tiny minority) you are complicit if you continue to be a Muslim.
    The Old white man can change neither his age, his colour nor his gender. You however are free to change. You are free to leave Islam.
    I leave you with a question: How is the Islam of ‘radical’ Muslims different from your own? Who is right and how can you convince me, a non Muslim, of that?

    robin fisher

    • admin says:

      I don’t see how being a Muslim is complicit, people are the problem, not the religion. We (the Forum) would say that mainstream (not violent) Islam is right. It is actions that need changing.

      Akeela is seeking to convince people about the real Islam in her writing. We can offer more direct treatment of any key issues on what is right about Islam for the benefit of non-Muslims, and Muslims. You may also like to look at our Resources page http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/index.php/resources

      Julian Bond

    • Akeela Ahmed says:

      Dear Robin,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and respond. I found your perspective interesting. This is not the first time, I have been questioned about my faith and asked why I do not leave it.

      A simple point on violent extremists: their interpretation of Islam, the Quran and the teaching of the Propeht, is not one I, and indeed many, subscribe to. There is lots of disagreement amongst Muslims on the interpretation on many things, within Islam, this is normal. So it is not a surprise to have most Muslims disagree vehemently with the extreme interpretation that is held by violent extremists, and are still able to believe in Islam and practice it’s beliefs.

      I would say that the beliefs held by violent extremists are outside of Islam, and therefore they cannot and should not call themselves Muslims. The acts of terror that they have committed are abhorrent, and I’d rather they didn’t carry them out in the name of Islam. The phrase “not in my name” comes to mind, when thinking about violent extremists. It is them who have made a choice to stray away from the real religion and whether they realise it or not, leave the faith. Rather than the many/majority peace loving Muslims, which is derived from our faith.

      So I would turn what your perspective on it’s head. Your average white older male, does not need to hang his head in shame or denounce his colour, age etc and in that same vain, Muslims do not need to leave their religion.

      Best regards,

      Akeela

  8. Robin Fisher says:

    thanks! I have known so many Muslims that actually I don’t agree that people are the problem,( given of course that all people are part of the problem including ourselves) If this is so then this justifies islamophobia which we are all against…. actually it is Islam that is at least part of the problem. for instance, Akeela talks about integration, which she really desires, but the Quran knows nothing of this. in a multicultural situation Islam must be dominant. as a non Muslim, I am part of the ‘Dar al Harb’ the house of war. I don’t know what ‘mainstream’ Islam is although all the Muslims I know are non violent. surely the Quran and the hadith are the defining texts of Islam, not the way people behave?

  9. admin says:

    We don’t see Islam as the problem because it is Islam which motivates Muslim colleagues to be part of the Christian Muslim Forum. The Qur’an does know and support pluralism, Islam does not have to be dominant, that is a post-Qur’an outlook. The idea of ‘Dar al Harb’ is outdated and not appropriate to our situation as Islam can be practiced freely in the UK and many other countries. Mainstream Muslims, like Akeela, are following the Qur’an.

  10. AJ says:

    Hi Robin,

    I understand your point but disagree. Islam is not the problem and I should not need to change my religion due to the actions of a few. People are the problem because they are misinterpreting and corrupting the religion. Whilst your point that they pray the same way and revere the same personalities is correct, it is the manner in which they understand things that is causing them to be violent. The Quran is a very difficult book to translate and interpret and all Muslims are told to take the Quran hand in hand with ‘hadith’ which are sayings and teachings of the Prophet and his family/companions. It is a tricky situation as these are also open to misinterpretation and what is heavily emphasised is that only scholars who have studied for years are in a position to interpret these and the Quran, not just any Tom, Dick and Harry. Unfortunately it is Tom, Dick and Harry that are carrying out violent acts based on something they think they’ve understood. They base their behaviour on the Quran but incorrectly.

    A non Muslim such as yourself will not know the difference between us and them unless a) you experience the kind of Muslims you seem to have already met (the non violent ones for wont of a better term) and b) Muslims being open about their faith and practises and educating others.

    Islam encourages integration. In fact a saying of the Prophet is (not an exact quote) that whichever land you travel to, make sure to fit in, integrate and adopt their ways to the extent that Islam allows. So when Fred Bloggs gives his list, I can say that I fit into the society / country in which I live. The only one I do not adhere to from his list is that I still wear hijab. I wear western clothing and buy my clothes from the same stores as most of society and I should not have to take off my hijab in order to be able to integrate. Also, when he says that I should not claim to be British, I ask why? I am British and I have more British culture than Asian (note Fred, you say Asian not Muslim) so I can label myself how I like.

    Mainstream Islam should not really be called that. Islam is Islam and the ‘mainstream’ way is the correct way. Any thing else (extreme, radical etc) is just twisted misinterpretation.

    • Robin Fisher says:

      Thanks AJ for your very gracious reply. I am sure we would get on well if we met!

      I take your points but there are difficulties.

      1 the life of the prophet (PBUH) was warlike. he led his men into battle a number of times. He ordered the excecution of the Aws tribe even though they had surrendered to him. It is hard to derive a theology of peace from his life.

      2 some Quranic statements such as the sword verse (Sura 9.5) are hard to interpret in any other way that a straightforward one.

      3 a verse (sorry.. cant remember the reference ) say ‘we have sent down (the Quran) in plain Arabic” suggesting that it is the ordinary man or woman who should be able to explain it and that it means what it says.

      4 more difficult for a non Muslim. You say moderate islam is the only Islam… the trouble is other Muslims , the extreme ones say the same thing to me quoting the life of the prophet and the quran. Who am I to listen to?

      thanks! Robin

  11. Robin Fisher says:

    I would be glad to see an Islamic theology of peace and equality between Muslims and non Muslims. More important and agood start would be the abolition of the death penalty for men who leave Islam for another faith.. and lesser but severe penalties for women. As far as I know this is enforced by all four schools of Sharia law. Pastor Nadarkhani was sentenced to death in Iran.. he was recently released. someone I knew well in Sudan was sentenced to death for converting to Christianity. he was spirited out of prison and the country a week before his execution. what other organisation/body/faith defends itself in this way? for Islam to renounce this penalty would be a huge gesture of acceptance which would reduce Islamophobia greatly.
    I wrote to Baroness Warsi after her speech on Islamophobia and asked her opinion on this but she was not able to reply.
    dar al harb is far from out dated where I live here in the middle east. Christians are under pressure in many countries. many have been force to leave. many muslims would like to become Christians but are afraid to do so.

    but what does Akeela say?

    • Jon Boy says:

      Dear Robin Fisher

      I really appreciated your comments and found it interesting and provocative. May I be
      allowed to disagree with you at one or two points?

      1. “However much you deplore the actions of some Muslims ( and I am afraid that
      they are not just a tiny minority) you are complicit if you continue to be a
      Muslim.”

      I decided to go to “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamic_terrorist_attacks” to see how many of those muslims committed terrorist acts around the post 9/11 period:
      There were around 123 in 2000-2009 and 35 during 2010-current which makes a rough total of 158. Assuming there is an average of 10 people involved in each act that makes around 2000 people. 2000 people in 1.5billion muslims = 0.0001% approximately. But let’s say this is an underestimate and it is not 2000 but 200,000 people, that becomes around 0.01%.
      At what point does 0.01% not become a tiny minority?

      2. ” worked among Muslims all my life, at home and abroad. I dare to say that I have known and loved as many Muslim people”
      “Many I have talked to feel this problem keenly. They feel deeply ill at ease at what is done in the name of Islam, but seem unable to
      break away.”
      “you are complicit if you continue to be a Muslim.”

      So how many of them have you turned in to the authorities? and if not, why not? since according to you they are all complicit, And dare I say how many of them are appreciating you for your “love” right now?

      3. “but the Quran knows nothing of this. in a multicultural situation Islam must be dominant.”
      Forgive me but this is pure drivel. Maimonides must be turning over in his grave right now.

      4. “abolition of the death penalty for men who leave Islam for another faith”
      This would seem to come out of the context of treason during war when the early muslims were at war and those in the opposing camp would falsely purport to be muslims in order to infiltrate their ranks to gain information and then change back their religion in order to return back to their own camp. It would seem to be a penalty for treason which the prophet while he stipulated it, never himself carried it out in practice. Incidentally didn’t the death penalty for treason in the UK remain until 1998?

      In no way does this justify latter-day muslims who use this as a pretext to kill apostates.
      Nor does it justify a cavalier attitude on your part on such an important issue that has implications for the kinds of islamophobic treatment muslims are now getting in reaction to such claims. For if I had “worked among Muslims all my life, at home and abroad. I dare to say that I have known and loved as many Muslim people” – as you say you have, then I would have investigated a little deeper into my friends’ customs and not take sensationalist claims as face value. I think if I truly loved them and considered them my friends I would owe them at least that.

      • Robin Fisher says:

        Dear Jon Boy..

        1.Thanks. I do not argue with your statistics. If we added all those who support Boco Haram, El Qieda, Taliban, El Shabab and the jihadist groups in Syria they would add many more to your notional 2000 but they would still be a very tiny minority. What matters and should concern you is not the proportions but the fact that they worship in the same way and justify their actions from the same Quran and the words and actions of the same prophet.
        2. I said ‘complicit’, not ‘guilty’. This means that they go along with what is done in the name of Islam. They don’t necessarily agree with it (probably about 99% dont) but they don’t know what to do. Many express their unease at the actions of the tiny minority, but they do nothing. As Burke said… “For evil to triumph it is necessary only for good men to do nothing” to their great credit some do speak out.
        3. You provide no evidence whatever to back up your verdict of ‘drivel’. Perhaps you can give me some Quranic quotes, or better, a detailed Quranic theology to back up your belief that the Quran supports multiculturalism and living equally side by side with non Muslims, and while you are at it, evidence from the life of the prophet for the same thing. Of course there have been many situations where Muslims and others have lived side by side in peace and do so today. That may well be because Muslims are as human and peace loving as the rest of us!
        4. You have just highlighted the warlike nature of early Islam and its Prophet. We are not talking about ‘latter day Muslims using this as a pretext to kill apostates’ we are talking about all four schools of Sharia law endorsing the death penalty for men for apostasy and lesser but severe punishments for women. As I said earlier, A close acquaintance of mine in Sudan, and army officer was condemned to death by due judicial process for converting to Christianity. Thankfully he was ‘removed’ out of prison a few days before his planned execution.
        You will know that there are 12 Muslim countries where this penalty is on the statute books. I do not know how you can possibly excuse this. It is an outrage that any religion, or any group of people maintain their constituency in this way. It is a matter of absolute clarity. Were Islamic authorities in UK to issue a fatwa abolishing the death penalty for apostasy in this country it would be a most powerful declaration of peace and contribute hugely to harmony between us all. Failure to do so indicates that these men are either afraid to do this or believe in its continued retention. As in 3 above you criticise my assessment but make no contribution of your own.

        there is a still better way. for those Muslims who long for peace and cannot find it, let them look for it in the Messiah, Issa bin Miriam. He did not lift a finger against any man, when reviled he did not return the insult. It is issa who said ‘love your enemies, do good to those who hate you’ there is not one word in the New Testament about his life and work that can possibly be used as an excuse for war or violence. rather that we should care for all men and women as he cares for us.

        • Jon Boy says:

          Dear Robin Fisher

          This is getting tedious, but reply once more I must.

          1. But what is equally interesting is muslims in other parts of the world who are reading from the same book, praying in the same way are NOT supporting terrorism. So it implies there are other factors pushing the tiny minority towards terrorism. So sorry, I can’t buy your simplistic view of blanket-condemning a whole people on the basis of their religion – which smells awfully like bigotry.

          2. I see we like to play with words. Your original claims are plain enough to understand. Your trying to sugarcoating it is not going to change anything.

          3. Looks like you never read what my comment closely.

          4. You cannot bring about or maintain peace without finding a way to deal with violence. The two are unfortunately linked. To deal with one while neglecting the other is pure naivety.

          You may have had some bad experiences with some muslims but your time would be better spent trying to deal with this traumatism of your own and healing yourself instead of labelling all other innocent muslims who have done nothing to you as war-hungry savages.

          “there is not one word in the New Testament about his life and work that can possibly be used as an excuse for war or violence”.
          May I draw your attention to Matthew 10:34:
          “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”.

          We can all play these superficial games Mr Robin Fisher and the fact that you do shows your lack of seriousness in dealing with these very important issues.

          Merry Christmas all the same.

          • Robin Fisher says:

            Dear Jon Boy
            Thanks!
            It is risky to us words like ‘bigotry’ Insult is no substitute for reasoned and informed argument. No where I have referred to war hungry savages.

            Had you read Matthew Ch 10 I feel sure you would not have used your quote of Jesus to indicate a justification of violence. Jesus is warning that his message will bring division within families and persecution for his followers. in Matthew Ch 5 Jesus says “love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you, pray for those who despitefully use you. If any one wants to sue you for your shirt hand over your coat as well.
            Jesus backs up his words with his behaviour towards his own enemies. all I ask is for Muslims to provide the basis for peaceful behaviour from the life and words of the Prophet (PBUH)

          • jon boy says:

            “Jesus backs up his words with his behaviour towards his own enemies. all I ask is for Muslims to provide the basis for peaceful behaviour from the life and words of the Prophet (PBUH)”

            Thank you for those enlightening words. It has caused me to question my religion and made me realize how shallow. violent and silly it was. It has made me realize how silly it was for brown people like us with our feeble intellect were to question the veracity of your claims. Truly you exist in a plane that is incomprehensible by us.

            Please accept apologies from the bottom of my heart (*) and you can rest easy knowing I will never dare question you or Jesus again.

            * or from the heart of my bottom as it may be

    • admin says:

      You may be interested in this ‘Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future’ http://www.thecordobafoundation.com/publication.php?id=2&art=49. It would be great if all death penalties were removed everywhere, much patient work would be required. This was our first step on that journey http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/images/Ethical_Guidelines_for_Witnessv10.pdf.

      I know many Muslims who do not support the death penalty for apostasy, including speaking out against it on UK TV.

  12. Robin Fisher says:

    Dear Akeela

    accept you at face value about prejudice? we need to now in what way you face discrimination. we cant do a thing before we know what that is!
    And not in my neck of the woods. I had my own medical practice where about 1500 Muslims left their own Muslim doctors to come to my surgery. Why do you think they did that?
    when I was appointed to that post the local mosque leaders wrote to the Home secretary objecting to my appointment on the grounds of gender and ethnicity. discrimination cuts both ways!
    but why do you think discrimination exists? why do Chinese and Hindus not complain about prejudice half as much as Muslims? have you given this serious thought? have you ever asked a non Muslim why this shoud be?

    • Akeela Ahmed says:

      Dear Robin,

      Discrimination does exist as it does against people of faiths, ethnicities, gender etc. I’d like to direct you to an organisation called “Tell Mama” which monitors specifically hate crimes carried out against Muslims.

      I have personally dealt with hateful attacks, for no apparent reason, other than the fact I look Muslim. However just because I assert that there is discrimination against Muslims, does not mean that Muslims cannot commit be prejudiced, or do not have issues within their local communities.

      I would be interested to hear why, so many preferred your practice? You sound like an influential person, for people to write to the Home Secretary about you?

      Without evidence that Chinese or Hindu people do not face discrimination, or do not complain, I cannot respond to that point.

  13. Robin Fisher says:

    Dear Akeela
    If you are English… welcome! but do you know what you are getting? English is a mish mash of genes from invaders such as Danes Saxons Norse, Normans and others. This is not integration, it is assimilation. it means you or your kids will marry English people and that your ethnicity (and mine) will be irrevocably changed. are you up for that? I am!

    By the look of the high cultural walls adopted by many Muslims ( the huge Golden Hillock Mosque in Birmingham, special dress for men and women, distinctive names. sharia law)I think that your fellow Muslims would rather be British than English. this means you can keep your ethnic and cultural distinctives and have British nationality at the same time.

    so what is integration exactly? what precisely do you mean by the word? We cant work on this unless we can measure by specifics.

    I have asked a few questions in my responses. I do hope you will feel able to reply so we can continue this discussion.

  14. Robin Fisher says:

    Dear Akeela
    some remarks on integration… I assume you mean social as politically we all have exactly the same rights….
    Integration is 50 percent each way (actually I think your community has a far greater obligation to shift than we have but let that pass) here is how your community can help integrate..
    Perspective.. try to see yourselves as others see you. Note how often your community ‘signals’ seem arrogant and aggressive to us, even if they are not. Your big mosques, (look at the golden Hillock Mosque in Sparkbrook, Birmingham!) distinctive clothes, your young men with their carefully brushed out beards, your high public profile. Parts of Birmingham seem to be 100% Muslim because of the high profile, when the reality is about 50 % or 60% (when do you see signs of the Chinese community? ) Do it, you are free and it is all legal, but note what effect it has. Wear niqab, but ask yourself why English people react they way they do?
    Customs where I live in the Middle East some ladies do not to shake hands. I honour this as it is not my country. When this happens in my own country I am deeply offended and my culture is violated.
    Reciprocate. We dont live in a bubble. Treat the Christian communities in Muslim countries as you expect to be treated here. There are 10 countries where the death penalty for becoming a Christian is actually carried out. 16 where there are severe legal sanctions. Muslims are gloriously free to do what they like in Britain and I am glad of it.
    Integrate yourselves. How can you be integrated if you are so many fragmented communities struggling with each other? My Ahmadi friends say that they are safer in Britain than in Pakistan but still suffer discrimination. All the the political and religious struggles of Islam in Pakistan are replicated here: we have Naqshabandis, Barelvis, 12 ers, etc etc.
    Dont live in Ghettos How can people get to know you if you are so hard to reach? Many Muslim people I know have hardly any acquaintances and no friends among indigenous English people.
    Learn the Language. For women this is hard if they are first generation immigrants. Some have had one or two years of primary education in Pakistan, some none at all. And their husbands dont want them to learn!

    that’s enough from me! I am disappointed that you have not responded to my questions; this is after all a forum. You started a very important discussion. Julian Bond has answered for you and we have had no Muslims chiming in. Please come back into the discussion! RF

  15. Akeela Ahmed says:

    Dear Robin,

    It has been interesting reading your responses. You obviously have knowledge of Muslims I am trying to respond to your perspective, which I think is summarised as follows: Muslims a one homogenous block of people whose customs and dress are somehow incompatible with British life.

    I would say you are right if you reduce cultures and identity to material items, the way one looks, dresses or their religious practices. However if you take a values based approach then you find that indeed, being Muslim and British, is compatible.

    As I mention in my post, integration is a two way process and it should not be the sole responsibility of either party. I agree that learning the language and customs of the country you reside in and call home is going to help that. As is, if the majority culture acknowledges the trauma of immigration and helps facilitate learning the language, for example, my grandmother came to this country as some one who was British (part of the wider British empire), but had been ejected by Idi Amin. She knew four languages, but did not know English. I’m sure if she had been provided with free English classes she would have also learnt English too. In the end she knew enough to get her by in the doctors or the market.

    I’d also assert however that the way you talk about Muslims, implies an inferiority, or that their customs and beliefs are lesser, therefore warrant an assimilation. You also seem to assert that the only way to be British is to forget where you originated from, it’s culture and customs. This I fear, is an expression of implicit racism. One that goes against British values. If you look at history, as an empire Britain was happy to take on the food, and other aspects of culture from it’s colonies. (I am not getting into the problematic side of empire’s or how they gain power). One might say it is a very British thing to adopt new cultures, customs and weave this into its fabric.

    I a, disappointed that towards the end of your last comments, you list a series of stereotypes, without any nuance or interrogation. And I essence prove the thrust of the argument of my original post.

    Peace,

    Akeela

  16. Akeela Ahmed says:

    I should add, that this phenomenon of otherising minority communities, is a kick-back of colonialism.

    • Robin Fisher says:

      Dear Akeela .

      I am sorry that you feel that I see ” Muslims a one homogenous block of people whose customs and dress are somehow incompatible with British life” I don’t at all and I am sorry to have given that impression. I know enough Muslims to appreciate and enjoy the vast differences in cultures and individuals. Your accusation of racism does not apply as there are many ethnicities within Islam including native English. Racism does not apply to cultures or religion. or does it?
      I said that as an English person you would be assimilated, as it is an ethnicity. as a British person you are free to maintain your ethnic and cultural distinctives. Is there anything wrong with that? I hope not!

      I always asked people why they joined when they first came to our practice. according to their responses. Our success (and thanks for asking) at attracting so many Mirpuris (the majority, others were pushtu ) was firstly due to their confidence in our confidentiality. secondly people were attracted by our reputation as a practice with a high Christian profile and many said they were happy with that. thirdly our reputation for good medical practice. fourthly we would visit homes where many local doctors would not. fifthly we gave people more time. these are all answers to our questions and not my conjecture. my own feeling is that we tailored the practice to local culture and I learned (some) Urdu in order to communicate better with the older people who did not know English well.

      I do respect Islamic culture and value it highly. The trouble is (and I ask you to hear this) many people in Britain feel that Islamic culture is being imposed on them, hence the reaction you sense. however when comes to belief I am afraid I am an unashamed follower of Jesus, so you will understand that although I deeply respect the Muslims I know I cannot value their beliefs as I see them as untrue. That is not racism. nor is it narrow mindedness as I have spent many years studying Islam and living with Muslims. and have loved every moment! that is not to say we cannot dialogue!

    • Robin Fisher says:

      Hi Akeela…. thanks…
      I am not sure that othering communities has much to do with colonialism though I hold no brief for that whatsoever. I think it is deeper than that, and minorities can otherise majority communities just as much. The Mirpuris have a word for white British, ‘ghora’ which lumps us all together in the way you are talking about and is quite insulting! It just shows that racism and othering are not only white British.

      If we all made the effort to have just one or two good friends across ethnic boundaries we could go a long way towards solving this problem!

      we seem to have something in common; Your family obviously came from Uganda. My family (on one side) were settlers in Kenya. this suggests that your family were just as much colonialists as mine. a point for consideration?

      grace and peace….Robin

  17. Stanley T says:

    Many people react negatively to the sight of a woman wearing a hijab (let alone a niqab or burka), yet there is no such reaction to Sikhs wearing turbans or Jews with yarmulkas, so it seems irrational and prejudiced. The difference is that the other groups are not associated with a violent and supremacist ideology (at least not in this country), with cultural values which are unacceptable to the majority.

    So we are told that these views are from an unrepresentative minority, if the majority were like Akeela there would be nothing to worry about. Yet surveys of Muslim opinion in the UK reveal disturbingly large minorities of young Muslims (that is, most born and brought up in the UK) with beliefs which are incompatible with decent behaviour – support for the imposition of Sharia law, and even that apostates should be killed.

    Akeela says she is fed up with being expected to assume responsibility for extremist Muslims, I totally understand. But what are the rest of us non-Muslims (and our government) expected to do? If there is strong enforcement of universal values from outside, the risk is of defensiveness and accusations of Islamophobia. Muslims have to sort this out mainly by themselves.

    I take heart that we have been here before, and British values won in the end. A generation ago no one worried about Muslims, but there were extensive black riots – now, despite lingering problems, the black community is so well integrated that 40% of relationships are mixed race (a pleasant contrast to the USA). It is difficult to believe that only a few generations ago Catholics – nationally, not just in northern Ireland – were mistrusted for owing more allegiance to the Pope than the nation , and that many despaired of the threats from Fascism and Communism. Liberal democracy is tougher than it seems.

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