«A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion School of Philosophy, ...»
It, then, proceeds with a discussion on how the scholars help set the boundaries of a form of European Islam that is both true to the Islamic tradition and suited to the practicalities of life in the West, and on the problems facing any attempt to
accommodate Islam to the modern context. The chapter is divided into four sections:
Introduction, strengths and weaknesses of al-Qaradawi’s position, strengths and weaknesses of Ramadan’s positions, and discussion.
Finally, Chapter 8 concludes the thesis by reviewing the main findings and arguments made in the main chapters, presenting a concluding statement on the basis of the study conducted and in consideration of its limitations, and highlighting the implication of the result for future research.
1.6 Significance of the Study The significance of this study can be presented in five points. First, it responds to the fact that there is lack of research on the theologies of al-Qaradawi and Ramadan that engages more critically with their theories and propositions than with their personas. While most of the few existing research studies on the scholars’ thinking throw light on the scholars’ personal backgrounds, contributions, and controversies (as demonstrated in the literature review), this study delves into the intricacies of their thinking, combining detailed analysis of their ideas with sensitivity to some of the most pressing issues that fall within the discourse on Islam in the West. Second, this study will benefit not only researchers and academics interested in the study of Islam and Muslims in the West, but also the general readers, whether Muslims or non-Muslims,
the existing and anticipated problems that have come and could potentially come with the phenomenon. Third, the findings in this theoretical study may complement those made in other socio-scientific and ethnographic studies of European Muslims and the process of integration. Fourth, the deconstruction of the two scholars’ thinking flags new and under-researched issues (which are summarized and presented in the conclusion of this thesis) that should be explored in future research.
2.1 Muslim Settlement in Western Europe Since the last five decades, the proliferation of immigrants and the inflow of political asylum seekers (which largely began in the 60s) have contributed significantly to the diversification of the region’s cultural panorama and religious landscape. Its immigrant population now comprises a myriad of ethnic groups deriving predominantly from Asia, Africa and its Eastern neighbors, each with their own unique characteristics and traditions. Among the diverse spectrum of non-Christian religions brought about by immigration, Islam now stands as the most predominant faith among the immigrants
and those who have an immigrant background. The reverse is also accepted to be true:
The vast majority of Muslims living in Western Europe are of immigrant origin with a minority of them being converts.
Having established that, it must be highlighted here that figures on Muslim population are naturally questionable due to the ‘guesstimate’ nature of most statistical reports. Many countries in Europe do not collect data on religious affiliation simply due to political policies, legal provisions, perceived sensitivity of the matter in question, or violations against their secular ethos. Some countries such as the UK have included voluntary questions on religion in their national census for the notional purpose of understanding better the needs of people from different religious backgrounds (Geoghegan, 2011), notwithstanding the extent of belief or practice. Within the last decade, there was a trend of equating ethnicity with religious identity in order to generate unofficial estimates of Muslim population of non-Western-European origin
not clear. It must be pointed out, however, that prefacing the statistical study of Muslim demography in Western Europe is the elusiveness of the term “Muslim”; ”Muslimness” can denote belief in God (with or without adherence to religious rituals) or exist as a nominal form of identity. Furthermore, it is difficult (or even contentious) to try to measure the degree of one’s “Muslimness”, considering the fact that different Muslim communities may diverge significantly in what they believe to represent religiosity.
As can be observed, this dual immigrant-Muslim background has become a fundamentally recurring theme in contemporary discussions on Islam in Western Europe. The issues of immigrant integration and Muslim religious accommodation tend to be inextricably cemented together in today’s political discourse, while many studies concerning Islam in the West across various disciplines have also been conducted primarily within the context of immigration. This approach presumably allows analysts to be attentive to the unique effects of immigration on the characters of Muslim communities and the development of their religiosity, in addition to religious issues that may be independent of any ethnic-cultural context. This naturally corresponds to the multi-faceted nature of Muslim integration in this region. First, Western European Muslims are characterized by differing practical interpretations of Islamic beliefs and ideologies, which manifest not only in an intra-religious context, such as the manner in which some practices of Pakistani Muslims may differ from those of Turkish Muslims, but also in an inter-generational setting, such as the manner in which the religious interpretations of the first generation of immigrants may differ from those of their European-born descendants. Thus, these differences are conventionally taken into consideration when discussing the case of Muslim integration. Second, European
ways in accordance with their own integration and secularism policies, such as France’s model of Laïcité, Britain’s model of multiculturalism, and Germany’s multiple religious establishment. Although the afore-mentioned elements will be discussed more thoroughly later in this thesis, it is important to mention them earlier on in order to sketch the contours of the problem with which the subject of Muslim integration is concerned. This chapter will glance through the historical trajectory of Muslim immigration dating back from the end of the Second World War until the present time and focus on issues related to Muslim experience in Western Europe. This background provides an indispensable context for this analysis, as this is the timeframe during which the unique position of Muslims as immigrants, ethnic minorities, Muslims, and Europeans within the wider society has been manifesting, which, along with Muslimrelated political events and the synergistic efforts made by both European states and the Muslims towards integration, has affected (and probably continues to affect) the development of the character of their Islam.
As indicated previously, the current phase of Muslim establishment in Europe is an outcome of the immigration boom during the decades of the 1960s and 1970s.
Although Muslims had already arrived much earlier in France and Britain due to industrialization and recruitment for the East India company respectively, it was only after the end of the Second World War that Muslim immigration evidently began to accelerate on a large scale, as many European authorities started recruiting single male workers from foreign countries to assist with postwar reconstruction and recovery efforts as well as to capitalize on the growing economies. Until the early 60‘s, Muslim workers, many of whom were low-skilled or semi-skilled, had largely come from the
preponderance of specific ethnic groups in specific countries: For example, Algerians in France, Turkish people in West Germany, South Indians in Britain, Surinamese and peoples from the Indonesian archipelagos in the Netherlands, Tatars in Sweden, Ahmadiyya followers in Denmark and Switzerland, and so on. Later, economic growth in the 60s prompted these countries to sign recruitment agreements with a wider range of countries, resulting in the arrival of workers from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Furthermore, they began to receive around the same time refugees seeking asylum following political upheavals and instabilities in their home countries such as Iran and Pakistan. This trend continued in strong waves until its decline in the late 90s after the introduction of intensified border control, meticulous immigration restrictions, and stricter expulsion agreements between countries.
During the first phase of recruitment, residence in Western Europe was not intended to be permanent. While European authorities believed that recovery from the Second World War would later end the need for foreign workers in the labor sector, most workers also hoped to return home after earning sufficient financial resources to provide for their families. However, permanent residency later became inevitable, as European authorities began tightening immigration policies and many workers did not return. When the long period of economic boom ended in the 70s, the high rate of employment and the need for foreign workers consequently diminished. European authorities then gradually started implementing policies to deter immigration and ensure the return of existing workers; countries such as Germany even paid financial incentives to encourage guestworkers to leave. Consequently, many workers became worried about the unlikelihood of ever returning to Europe following this new change. The
incidentally gave the workers a pivotal window of opportunity for bringing their families over; those who did not return hastily arranged for their families at their place of origin to immigrate to Europe as there was no policy restricting family reunification.
Although the recruitment of foreign laborers did end, European countries were not able to prevent further immigration flows. It should be noted here that this process of family reunification had happened a decade earlier in Britain due to the establishment of the Immigration Act of 1962.
The effects of economic decline in the late 70s and early 80s were reportedly detrimental to the immigrants’ image in the wider society. Hunter and Serfaty (2002) report that immigrants’ rate of unemployment was particularly seen as a burden to the public. In addition, Roy (1994) observes that Muslims became ‘ghettoized’ due to the fact that they settled in less-prosperous areas en masse. Already by the late 70s, Muslims in Western Europe were ‘guesstimated’ to be as many as 5.5 million. A decade later, the total Muslims in Western Europe reached 7 million in approximation (Nielsen, 1995). Main areas of settlement in this region have predominantly been France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, thus making them the top three Western European countries with the most number of Muslims. France now has a large number of Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians, and a small number of Harkis, West Africans, and Turks. Germany has a large number of Turkish people, with Middle-Easterners, North Africans and the Balkans forming the smaller population. Britain’s immigrant population are mostly represented by ethnic groups from the Indian sub-continent, while those from other parts of Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe form a moderate percentage
The rapid growth of family life following family reunification consequently instigated the need for access to basic rights such as education for children, health care and employment, and for institutions to support religious needs such as Muslim family law, dietary law, places of worship, public religious amenities, recognition of religious celebrations and so on. This has been shown to be complicated, as different European countries embrace different forms of secularism with varying degrees of religious freedom, religious accommodation and religious tolerance. For example, it is known that France adopts the strictest form of secularism (at the expense of violating religious freedom), whereas Britain continues to be the most accommodative of religious needs, as demonstrated by its tolerance of most religious expressions (Suleiman et al., 2009).
This has been muddled further by the fact that Muslim communities do not necessarily express religiosity in the same way. In retrospect, when the first generation of immigrants came to Europe, they brought with them their specific versions of Islam that were essentially ‘ethnically-based’. These Islams were products of generations of interweaving between local traditions and the applications of religious precepts based on cultural interpretations as manifested in their very place of origin. Therefore, when discussing Islam’s practical manifestations in the West, one is required to make specific references; one should speak of a Pakistani-Islam, a Yemeni-Islam, an Indian-Islam, a Bosnian-Islam, a Turkish-Islam, an Iranian-Islam, an Iraqi-Islam, an Indonesian Islam, and the like. Many of the first generation across various communities also practiced ‘folk religion’, in which veneration of saints, tombs, and shrines was paramount (some of these practices have presumably intensified rather than disappeared).