As we transition over from African poverty to Islam in Europe, it is important to identify the challenges that many Muslims face. However, before having a clear comprehension, some popular myths should be recognized and dispelled. In Muslims in Europe, Justin Vaisse explains how being a Muslim constitutes a fixed identity, sufficient to fully characterize a person, as one of the primary myths perceived on Muslims. It is important to acknowledge how wrong and hurtful this could be to many Muslims. Instead of recognizing Muslims for who they are as a person, they are simply characterized by their religion. Vaisse explains how not only are Muslims being labeled by their religion, but the media often wrongly accuses Muslims, as they label any wrongdoing to be classified as an “act by a Muslim”. These negative accusations lead us to transition over to the next myth, which is Muslims in Europe “form a distant, cohesive, and bitter group”. Vaisses describes how all Muslims are labeled into the same category. If one Muslim does something wrong, then that means all Muslims are the same. Let’s take this idea of thinking and look at it from an outside perspective. If a KKK member were to identify himself as a Catholic, it would obviously be wrong to judge all Catholics as “racists”. However, this type of judgment is being done to Muslims. It is important that these myths are recognized and put to an end because nobody wants to be recognized by just one characteristic of his or her identity, such as religion, when all people have so much more to give.
Now that we have a good example of some of the myths about Muslims in Europe, we can delve into the distinction between religious and political dimensions of Islam. It is extremely vital to make a distinction because it “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 wrong view” (Hunter, 209). In order to find this distinction, we can look into how Muslim’s handle worship and social affairs. In terms of worshiping, Muslims have to follow a text and do exactly what it says. Hunter uses prayer as an example, as Muslims prayers are based specifically on how a text explains how to perform it. When it comes to social affairs nonetheless, guidelines are much different. Muslims do not have to do anything specifically from text; they just cannot contradict a prescribed principle. The way I see it is Muslim’s just cant break specific rules. From this way of living is how Islam is so diverse. Although all Muslims follow strict religious principles, there are many different customs in terms of a social perspective. Everyone, especially Europeans, need to understand the differences between how Muslim’s handle religious and social factors because Muslims do not plan on changing the way life is in Europe, which is what many fear about immigrant. Muslims are used to adapting to new environments. The only thing that will not change is the way they practice their religion.
Education is bringing many challenges to Muslin communities of Europe because the school system is not a straightforward, clear-cut system anymore. Education is very hazy now because not many people understand or follow along with responsibilities and their respective duties. Ramadan explains how in the past, education was very simple; the school provides the learning while family provides education. However, it seems as though the schooling system is focusing too much on teaching life’s meaning and values. This is a challenge for Muslims because many are starting to question who they are and they believe that family should teach these types of teachings at home. To fix this, Ramadan believes that Muslims should come together and discuss what exactly they want. If Muslim’s cannot find what it is they truly want from the education system, students will continue to “no longer really know who they are” (Vaisse, 216).
Social rifts also bring challenges to Muslim communities. European societies are currently in a social and economic crisis due to unemployment, delinquency, social exclusion, violence, and insecurity. This brings a major challenge to Muslims because with all of these issues transpiring, it is more likely for racism to be prevalent towards Muslims. Ramadan believes that Muslims “must fight all types of social deviations. Short-term work is an indispensable first step, but it must be accompanied with long term strategies for social and urban development” (Hunter, 217). Promoting social welfare, helping out against violence and protecting more vulnerable people are all ways that can help Europe and Muslims counter these challenges. Ramadan requires that all citizens, regardless of their beliefs, should do these actions.
Vaisse, J. (2008, September). Muslims in Europe: A short introduction. Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161664-dt-content-rid-31262538_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/09_europe_muslims_vaisse.pdf
Hunter, Shireen T. Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Westport: Praeger, 2002. Print.