Written by Ahmad Ashiqilahi
If you stand in the rain, you will get wet. If you stand in the heavy rain for a long time you will get drenched. This is true, despite the best of intentions to stay dry. Should we therefore be surprised when the media reports that 72% of Britons believe Muslims do not want to integrate into British society?
I ask if we should be surprised, as the anti-Muslim rhetoric raining down on us is considerably more than the occasional shower. Take for example, The Sun newspaper. The average readership (defined as the number of people reading a title on an average day over the period June 2011 to December 2011) for The Sun was 7,186,000. For those that have chosen to indulge in this constant and deliberate downpour, skewed views of reality are to be expected.
So if The Sun and other such media sources are not to be trusted, where can we look for views on Muslims and Britain? A recent academic paper, “How diverse is the UK and How British is the UK”, may be a good place to start. The paper is based on data from “Understanding Society”, a longitudinal study of 40,000 UK households – the largest study of race carried out to date in the UK.
The authors set out to examine how British people feel about their nationality. For those that are still dripping from the last downpour of anti-Muslim rhetoric, the below highlights from the paper may provide some uncomfortable reading:
- all minorities (other than mixed) identify more strongly as British than the white majority,
- Muslim Pakistanis are not any more likely to have a strong minority identification than any other group – in fact the opposite is true,
- Indians, black Africans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Middle Eastern Muslims associate most closely with Britishness,
- white, Chinese and Afro-Caribbeans associate least closely with Britishness
- identification with Britishness is higher among the children and grandchildren of migrants.
In the words of Professor Platt, a co-author of the report:
“Given the current anxiety around immigration and concerns that it is challenging a unified national identity, it is interesting to find that minorities in fact hold stronger British identities on average than the majority.”
In this is also a message for those Muslims who are trying to justify their campaign to reform Islam through the slogan “we are not British enough, we need a British Islam”. Reforming Islam is only an excuse to avoid the real problem under the bonnet. “Ehm don’t want to reform myself – into a better Muslim – so lets change Islam to suit us”. As Muslims, we should take heed that Allah has described the disbelievers as those whose worldly life guided their religion, as opposed to the other way around:
الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا دِينَهُمْ لَهْوًا وَلَعِبًا وَغَرَّتْهُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا ۚ فَالْيَوْمَ نَنسَاهُمْ كَمَا نَسُوا لِقَاءَ يَوْمِهِمْ هَـٰذَا وَمَا كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يَجْحَدُونَ
“(Those) who took their religion as distraction and amusement and whom the worldly life deluded. So today We will forget them just as they forgot the meeting of this Day of theirs and for having rejected Our verses.” (Al-Quran 7:51)