In Justin Vaisse’s paper “Muslims in Europe: A short Introduction,” he reviews some of the myths of Muslims in Europe. The first myth Vaisse discusses in his paper is that being Muslim constitutes a fixed identity, sufficient to fully characterize a person. I believe this myth is very important to think about and try and educate society more on. It is very important to recognize how hurtful this could be to some Muslims. If someone only saw me for the singular view of my religious identity they would be missing so much more of who I really am as a person. Their religious views are very important but they want to be able to be defined by more than just their religious views and that’s why I believe is one of the biggest myths that needs to be resolved. The next myth Vaisse talks about in his paper is that Muslims in Europe are, in one way or the other, inherently foreign, the equivalent of visiting Middle-Easterners who are alien to the “native” culture. European culture has actually always included Muslim elements. There are somewhere between 15-17 million persons of Muslim background currently in Europe. They wouldn’t ever think of themselves as anything else than Europeans and are proud of it. Another myth that Vaisse wrote about is that Muslims in Europe “form a distant, cohesive, and bitter group”. In his paper he describes how all Muslims are labeled into a single category therefore if one Muslim does something wrong then that means so did the rest, because they are all the same. I believe we can better educate believers of these myths and put them to an end.
Many outsiders may assume that religion and politics in Islam are one of the same but really it is important to make a distinction between the two. If we don’t do this one gives the impression that it is not possible for a Muslim to become open and to integrate into a secular society, which is a completely incorrect view. The example Hunter gives is of in what way the religious and political dimensions of Islam are different – If one wants to pray, one needs a text specifying how to preform it. As for political affairs, it is the exact opposite. A person can do whatever one wants as long as it is not an act that is impermissible in a reliable text. In that instance, a text would be required only in order to not do something. It is also important to distinguish between the two because as of recently the Europeans are ignoring the religious dimension and cannot understand the Muslims speeches or discourse. Because of this Muslims are being pointed at for using a double language and believe that they Muslims goal is to completely Islamize Europe.
“What is it that we want from the education system?” a question Ramadan warns must be answered or it will produce the worst racist and xenophobic deviations. Education in Europe whether it be family provided or school provided learning, is dead and gone. The duties and responsibilities are difficult to define and the discussions only lead to transferring responsibility onto others. Ramadan says Muslims should come together as a community to conclude the goals of education and the place of it in their society. Social rifts also bring along challenges in Europe to Muslim communities. Some of the challenges being faced currently are delinquency, violence, insecurity, and unemployment. Similar to the education challenges, these social challenges also have the possibility to increase racism and xenophobia. Ramadan suggests that all citizens no matter their personal beliefs need to build partnerships at local levels in order to fight the different social challenges going on in the societies.
Hunter. Islam, Europe Second Religion. Preface & Introduction; Ch. 11 Europeanization of Islam
Sardar & Davies. Islam. Intro Ch. 2: What is Islam? Ch. 6: Islam and the West.
Justin Vaisse. “Muslims in Europe: A Short Introduction