In Justin Vaisse’s post entitled “Muslims in Europe: A Short Introduction,” he discusses some of the myths and issues regarding Muslim’s who live in Europe, mainly France. The first myth Vaisse explains is “being Muslim constitutes a fixed identity, sufficient to fully characterize a person” (Vaisse, 2008). People wrongly think that religion, instead of nationality, gender, social class, and other factors, can identify Muslims. Religion plays a huge roll when it definitely does not necessarily have to. The second myth Vaisse discusses 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” (Vaisse, 2008). He goes onto explain that many of the Muslims who live in Europe consider themselves natives and are proud to be Europeans. The third myth is “Muslims in Europe form a ‘distinct, cohesive and bitter group,’ in the words of a 2005 Foreign Affairs article” (Vaisse, 2008). Vaisse says that Muslims in Europe are NOT a cohesive group whatsoever and it is completely misleading when individuals say that. The last myth Justin Vaisse speaks about is “Muslims are demographically gaining on the ‘native’ population” (Vaisse, 2008). The main reason behind this myth is that Muslims separate themselves by religion and form a boundary with others, and they will never blend together. Muslims face many challenges in their lives from day to day because of these myths.
It is extremely important to make a distinction between the religious and political dimensions of Islam for several reasons. In Shireen Hunter’s book Islam, Europe’s Second Religion, we hear an understanding of this importance. Hunter explains that Muslim’s fear there is a “potential loss of their religion, culture, and distinct identity” (Hunter, 2002). In Islam there is not a clear distinction between religion and politics—which is not right. With the unclear distinction, it gives the idea that a Muslim cannot “become open and to integrate into a secular society” (Hunter, 2002). As far as the religion aspect, Muslims must have a specific way of worshipping, using specific instructions. But, in another case, instructions are required in order to not do something as well. If religion is ignored, then Europeans will not understand how Muslims are adapting in their new environment. If these distinctions are not made, Hunter explains “these difficulties in turn make them afraid of the impact that the Muslims may have on their societies and their collective identity” (Hunter, 2002).
Hunter also discusses challenges associated with both education and social rifts in Islam. Education is not what it used to be—there is a huge issue with the school system as a whole, teaching curricula, and life at school (Hunter, 2002). Of course, Muslims are interested in fixing this issue since it is very relevant in their lives. It is extremely important for society, as a whole, including all religions, races, etc., to come together to solve this problem and better the learning of the next generation. Hunter explains that if this does not happen, society “may produce the worst possible racist and xenophobic deviations” (Hunter, 2002). European countries are facing horrible social and economic issues, and unemployment is on the rise. All citizens, no matter their beliefs, must unite to solve this issue and better their economy. Muslims must adopt the feeling of being ‘at home’ and become more involved in fixing European societies. Ramadan suggests that Muslims should donate and help people in need during the month. The holiday is intended to bring the faithful closer to God, and to remind Muslims of the less fortunate people around them. Ramadan also suggests that Muslims should participate in prayer daily and spend more time at the mosque than any other time of the year (A, 2016).
A. (2016, June 22). All you need to know: What is Ramadan and why do Muslims fast all day? The Indian Express. Retrieved March 7, 2017, from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/what-is-ramadan-and-why-do-muslims-fast-all-day/
Hunter, S. T. (2002). Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Wesport , CT : Praeger .
Vaisse, J. (2008, September). Muslims in Europe: A short introduction. Brookings. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161664-dt-content-rid-31262538_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/09_europe_muslims_vaisse.pdf