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MIGRATION AND ITS IMPACTS ON MUSLIMS IN THE DIASPORA
The main reason why most Muslims migrant nowadays is basically for economic reasons. Migration, generally migration improves on the living standards of the immigrant economically, socially, political and other wise. Graw Knut (in preparation) as confirms that “… personal motivations, socioeconomic predicaments and psychological dynamics at the basis of omnipresent wish to migrate in Senegal and the Gambia today…” An exception is the case of Pakistan where about 12 million people were displaced during the partition process and this remains the largest migration in modern history (Virinder S 2009:1).
Migration in Islam
The Hijrah means migrating from a land of conflict against Islam to a land where Islam is safe and can be promoted. The Hijrah allows one to raise their family in a more Islamic centered culture. Hijrah can also signify striking off on a new path that allows one to become a better person. A person who has committed acts considered sinful might make the Hijrah to a life free of sin. Thus the Hijrah can be either a physical or spiritual migration. Also, elsewhere in West Africa, the spread of Islam has encouraged migration to the towns, because only there can one fully practice the Muslim way of life since towns have all the facilities.
Today, the Hijrah might not mean the same thing because migration has coincided with Islamic practices. Apart from the migration or pilgrimage carried out by Muslims to the sacred lands, migration has had an adverse effect on Islam. These trajectories affect the ideas and forms of the Islamic religion. In consequence, moving to town means a profound change of identity, therefore having an effect on Islam.
In the Burn by Stefania Pandolfo we have different views about illegal migration. Jawad is of the opinion that illegal migration which is riskings once life is equal to suicide which is against Islam. He argues that the youths should exhibit patience and endurance and wait for the time of Allah. While Kamal on the hand argues that in order to survive social injustice, marginalization and other ills in their society you have to leave even if it means risking your life. Jawad further points out that, this will cause you to die at the time not appointed to you by God but by yourself. For kamal instead of becoming a thief which is against the Quran he prefers to migrate illegally. Because according to the Quran a person oppressed has an obligation to migrate rather than loosing moral integrity. It becomes some sort of freedom and deliverance that is a jihad between yourself and the public ills and the only solution is the “burn”. All these both legal and illegal migration has had a adverse effect on Islam.
IMPACTS OF MIGRATION ON ISLAM
This paper discusses the impacts on national migration on the Islamic religion. Analyzing the socio cultural impacts of migration on Islam in the diaspora
Sacredness of the qur'an
-The Qur'an is very sacred for the Muslims. For Muslims, the Qur'an comes directly and literally from God. It wasn't simply written down by inspired human authors, as is the case with the letters of Paul. For them, the material in the Qur'an consists of the direct words of God. In a sense, the Qur'an is like an incarnation of God and is in some ways more akin to Jesus than the Bible. In non Muslim regions as a result of migration some Muslims have defiled the sacredness of the Qur'an by misusing it. They even swear falsely by the Qur'an.
Inter-marriage/ transnational marriage
As far as the interfaith marriages are concerned, Islam does not encourage them. The general rule of Islam is that Muslims should marry Muslims. A Muslim male or female should not marry a non-Muslim male or female. Inter-marriages between a non-Muslim man and a Muslim woman which was strictly prohibited and considered repugnant to Islamic practices, is today the order of the day in non Muslim regions due to migration. This has therefore reduced the value of Islam.
Moreso, living the wife back and the vulnerability of women is a major problem. Marriage rituals are not enormously carried out. Islam permits polygamy as explains in Pakistani in the diaspora. But in Britain only one wife has the right to migrate and meet the husband. So the husband most often gets married without the consent of the first wife which is against islam.
Converting into Non-Muslims
Migration has made Muslims to meet with many other influential religious groups especially the new churches. Most of these churches have convinced some Muslims to abandon their faith. Migration has therefore transformed many Islamic faithful into Christians, reducing the strength of Islam. After September 11 many Muslim in America changed their faith because of insecurity of being a Muslim. Aminah Mohammad-Arif in his studies of Pakistanis in the United States further explains that in the USA after September 11 some muslims fearing discrimination have stopped practicing at least in public places. This explains why the number of worshippers attending the Friday prayer in the Makk mosque of Coney Island for example has considerably declined. Also in the US, some muslim women stopped wearing hijah.
Socialisation between the opposite sexes
Islamic practices forbad the mixing of women among men. However, because of migration, Muslim women have been sensitised up to the extent that some find it normal associating with men. This has been compounded by the fact that most of, the Muslim women in the diaspora today advocate and agitate for equality with their men. It is clear that Islam does not allow Muslims to have friends from the opposite gender. Males should not have female friends and females should not have male friends. Non-Mahram males and females may talk to each other, but should not socialize or go out in parties. A single male and female should never be together in a place where they are all alone, isolated without the access of anyone else. Islam has given these rules to save men and women from committing sin or getting involved in situations where they might commit sin.
Sex before Marriage
Because of the far-reaching ramifications of sexual relations outside of marriage, Muslims are prohibited by God from such behavior. And because the process that leads to physical attraction and ultimately intimacy is part of human nature, Muslims are advised to behave in a way and avoid circumstances that could potentially result in extra- or pre-marital sex. Modesty in dress and behavior between women and men figures prominently as a means of exhibiting self-control. Similarly, unmarried couples are admonished against spending time alone in isolated places where they would be more likely to act on their feelings and thus be less inhibited. But as a result of migration, Muslims come in contact with the opposite sexes and temptations are bound to happen, therefore, discrediting Islam.
Veiling of Hair by women and other dressing habits
Migration has led to the partial or even non-practise of Islamic values in many areas. Islam demands that Muslim women veil themselves before appearing in public. However, the way those who attempt such practices are usually geared at by the public deters and scares most of them from upholding such practices.
Migration has caused many Muslim faithful to move from their usual dressing habits. This especially is seen in the fact that Muslim faithful in the diaspora today are seen wearing “sexy” dresses (very short skirts and open top dresses).
Although the Qur'an condemns divination, it is an integral part of most West African Muslim traditional societies. They believe that many people in the new environment do not know them so they can easily manipulate people in the name of Allah. In West Africa and especially in the cities, most of the diviners are Muslims. In the Quran, divination is described as an abomination. According to the Islam, Allah does not share his future with anyone except with the chosen one amongst the prophets. He tells them the future directly.
The Qur'an forbids Muslims from eating forbidden or unlawful things (Haram). According to the Qur'an Allah, the Almighty is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Muslims should therefore eat pure things and accept what is righteous. Migration has brought about a change in the feeding habits of Muslims. In some areas, some Islamic faithful consume pork, animal that has died due to natural causes, killed by some wild animal, by a fall or blow, carnivorous animals and others which under Islam consider as unclean.
The Qu'ran forbids Muslims from taking alcohol. It is considered as intoxication. Some verses totally forbid any intoxicating substance whether it is wine, beer, gin, whiskey, or whatever. The result is the same, and the Qur'an outlines that it is the intoxication, which makes one forgetful of God and prayer, which is harmful. Over the years, the list of intoxicating substances has come to include more modern street drugs. Pakistan women in Britain hook on drugs inorder to release stress.
Rituals involved in carrying out funerals. The absent of ritual actors. Reciting all the Qur'an as it is usually done is impossible. Not like in the case of Norway where there is an al khimat-a muslim funeral agency that performs the rituals on the corpse. The corpse for example is suppose to be washed by a relative.
One of the Pillars of Islam is the fast during the month of Ramadan. During this holy month (in which the Prophet Muhammad received messages from Allah) strict Muslims don't eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. However, they can eat and drink during the nighttime hours. There are some Muslims who are not required to fast. They are: pregnant women, nursing mothers, travelers, young children and others are excluded from the fast. In most non Islamic regions, some Muslim do not respect this fasting. This is because the new environment has greatly affected their identity.
Migration has made many Islamic faithful to boycott their usual prayer sessions and especially Friday worships. This day, which according to Muslims is their official worship day, is no longer respected. This is due to the fact that some of them occupy government positions and are oblige to work on Fridays. Such has greatly reduced the value and practice of Islam in the diaspora.
Believing in material things
Migration has caused most moslems to consider other things first before their religion. Back at home their wish is always that when the have the opportunity the first thing they will do is to visit the holy land. Sean mcloughlin in his studies on british Pakistani analyses that most muslims in britian put material things first like reuniting with their families, getting married, buying a house and starting a family before visiting the Holy places even when they have the means. Pg 239
Notwithstanding all these problems, looking at Islam from a global point of view, one will say migration has promoted the spread of Islam. Its only becomes complicated when you look it from an individual point of it. That is the life of a Muslim in the diaspora. Most Muslims in the diaspora has abandoned their cultural beliefs which were contruary to Islam when they get in contact with Muslim from other cultural back grounds.
1. Virinder S. Kalra (2009): Pakistani Diasporas Culture, Conflicts and Change. Oxford University Press. Pg 379.
2. Pandolfo, Stefania (2007): The burning: Finitude and the politico theological Imagination of Illegal Migration, Anthropological Theory 7 (3): 329-363
3. Graw, knut (in preparation), Divination as Access to the World: Reflections on Globality, Locality and the Path of Travel in Senegambia Divination Praxis.