Why Do Muslims Live In Segregation?

14 August, 2016
Q An event on the news some while ago detailed how a Muslim community pressured a local council in the UK over the matter of putting up a statue of a boar in a public park. They were complaining that the statue was offensive and demanded that it be scrapped and if the council continued with the plan… well, veiled threats of defacement and theft were given. Now, the local community, mainly Muslim, feel they have the right to bully the local council to bend to their whims over such a trivial matter. After all, they are not the only people living there and that statue was an original centerpiece before WWII bombings damaged it. Is this the work of Muslim superiority and egotism? And how far is too far? Will they demand that pork not be sold within a 10-mile radius of a Muslim community or perhaps the separation of all Muslim children into special Islamic schools, just like the blacks and the segregation of the early 50s and 60s in the US. Divisions like these are occurring already. Some Muslim communities are refusing to assimilate and remain segregated in non-Islamic countries. Wouldn't you call it being counterproductive or in a more real sense, backwards, in a multicultural society?

Answer

Salam (Peace) Dear Paul,

First of all, thank you for sharing with us your concerns and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Sometimes, when we keep things to ourselves we can unconsciously or consciously develop these concerns into strong beliefs to the point that they actually seem true. How many myths are created in this manner and how many people are wrongly judged in this manner when we only see one side of the story?

Speaking of stories, the story that you refer to I had no idea about whatsoever and my search on the internet did not help either. So, with this in mind, I can only respond generally.

In Islam, the emphasis on hearing both sides of any situation, whether from a marriage dispute or the battlefield, cannot go unmentioned here. The rights of one do not supersede another, which would bring about injustice.

This also applies in relationship to things, ideas or beliefs that take away from harmony, justice, and unity in general. These things can only play on our likes and dislikes, therefore, bringing about preference and prejudice.

God is the central unifying force that once we try to understand ourselves, helps us to understand and respect all that He has created, including others.

As we live our lives today, we know ourselves less and, therefore, we know each other less. When we cannot see others for whom or what they are, we create myths in our minds. A good example of this was reported in the news recently whereby a TV program “30-Days” exposed individuals to live in radically different lifestyles to their own.

What happens when a Christian moves in with a Muslim family? Prior to living with Muslims, David Stacey’s perception of Muslims was as follows: “I was totally ignorant towards Islam. I just thought it was some fanatical religion where women were totally subservient.

When I started thinking about the experience, poster boys like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden popped in my head.” During his stay with a young Muslim couple, he had to:

  • Obey the host family’s customs and traditions
  • Study the Islamic holy book, the Quran
  • Grow a beard

The effect the experience had on David Stacey was best summed up by his wife Aileen: “He seems to express a lot more interest in current events,” she said. “I think the experience also gave him more compassion and made him more dedicated.”

As for Stacey himself, reflecting a year after the experience, his previous notions on Islam were quashed and when watching late night news, his viewpoint on Muslims is no longer distorted.

So what does this have to do with the statue of a boar? One could say that the majority of the Muslim community overreacted to what is in fact a statue of a wild pig. One could say that the officials concerned wanted to replace the statue to cause offense to the majority Muslim population.

The trouble is, without the facts, not much can be said, including “superiority,” “egotism,” and “separatism”.  Islam actually does not ignore such actions. On the contrary, Islam encourages people, especially Muslims, to live in harmony with the other and to respect each other’s differences.

This includes mingling with each other and not to live in segregation. No one is superior to the other; this is something only God knows, because it depends on one’s strength in faith, and faith lies in the heart. Allah says in the Quran,

{O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)} (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Sometimes, news reports can be a bit like people, distorted and one-sided. The Quran says,

{O you who believe! Avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others.} (Al-Hujurat 49:12)

Fears make uncomfortable bedfellows, especially when they only seem to be justified but in reality they are not. These kinds of fears can control one’s everyday life by making one miss out on opportunities to learn.

How much more good could be achieved without those fears and how much more then would those feared be less likely to act out of self-protection. Fear only sets up a pattern for more disharmonies and everyone loses in the long run.

If there was injustice in the situation that you describe, it is difficult to say, from your letter, where the real injustice was. I summarize with the words of Athar Husain of the All India Personal Law Board.

In Islam, rights are not divorced from obligations. If the activities of a man are injurious to the cause of others or are hazardous to the safety of the state, his liberty has to be curtailed, suspended, or curbed.

If [the] freedom of speech, [of the] press or assembly is abused to indulge in canards or to incite people to violence or sedition, the interest of society or [the] State has to be protected.

In a heterogeneous society, composed of people of different creeds or religions, the right of worship has to be exercised in a manner that does not clash with or belittle the rights of others.

Islam says there is no compulsion in religion, [and this] does not allow ridiculing deities or founders of other religions and advises its followers to come to terms with others. (Muslim Personal Law: An Exposition)

We hope this answer would be sufficient and if you have any other inquiry, please don’t hesitate to send us again. Keep in touch and have a nice day.

Salam and please keep in touch.