Role of Faith in Social Integrations
As a Pakistani Ahmadi Muslim based in South London, the topic at hand is quite personal and close to my heart. To be honest, nine years ago when I moved to London, I did not give it much thought but when my first-born started school, it proved to be a penny drop moment for me and brought me to certain realisations. I grappled with a variety of questions.
- Will integration come natural to my British, Pakistani son?
- Would he be considered an outsider?
- Will he have to lose his identity to be considered integrated?
- What are the British values incorporated into the school curriculum?
- Will they clash against our personal value system?
Research led me to a much better understanding of this phenomenon and now I can confidently claim that Ahmadi Muslims can easily integrate into their new societies without any concern. Basic Islamic values actually facilitate this process.
What is Social Integration?
Let’s begin by deconstructing the term.
“Social integration is a multidimensional construct that can be defined as the extent to which individuals participate in a variety of social relationships, including engagement in social activities or relationships and a sense of communality and identification with one’s social roles.” ¹
A thorough understanding of integration is particularly important and leads us to question the difference between the terms, ‘Integration’ and ‘Assimilation.’
The notion of considering a hijab or facial hair of men as an encroachment upon British values is ridiculously wrong. The real meaning of integration is quite different, and it is achieved when all members of society try to fulfil the rights of others, striving for peace and a better society.
Islam and Social Integration:
It is stated in the Quran,
“And worship Allah and associate nought with Him and show kindness to parents and kindred and orphans and the needy and to the neighbour who is a kinsman and to the neighbour who is a stranger and the companion by your side and the wayfarer and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah loves not the arrogant and the boastful.” ²
This verse stresses the need to be compassionate towards parents, families, neighbours, travel companions, work colleagues, subordinates, and every member of society. This is the teaching that helps the fabric of society to remain closely knit and well-integrated. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) particularly emphasised that,
“Love for the nation is a part of faith for any true Muslim.” ³
How these fundamental teachings of Islam translate to social integration has been clarified by his Holiness, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at many occasions. Once during an interview with Swedish Television, his Holiness explained,
“For me, true integration is to love the country in which you live and to be completely loyal to it. Thus, all immigrants should be loyal to their adopted nations; they should truly love it, they should honour it, should be law-abiding and work for its prosperity and progress.” ⁴
This is true integration, which is in complete harmony with the values of democracy, diversity, and tolerance. It focuses on loyalty, contribution, and progress.
Promoting Social Integration:
Promoting social integration is a two-way process and effort requires to be put in by both natives and immigrants. On one side people need to understand that banning hijab and minarets, the forceful merging of people in a society, demanding them to drop their culture is actually a threat to integration and social cohesion. Similarly, people struggling with their multicultural identity need to let go of their apprehensions and reluctance. They should come out of their bubbles, take the initiative to open up to their network of neighbours and colleagues, touch a common personal and professional base.
It is only through positive interaction that we will be able to dissociate and get rid of the false media perceptions, open up a Johari window with a fresh mindset, leading to a pleasant realization that we have far more in common than we think.
I strongly recommend you listen to this podcast to further dig into this topic.