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How to Overcome the Obstacles of Convergence

Answered as per Maliki Fiqh by BinBayyah.net

We present herewith religious, creedal and logical advice to establish an appropriate intellectual course of action for a less tensioned existence of Muslims in Europe. This advice looks to ensure that Muslims can live intelligently with other components to materialize the dream of a tolerant space in Europe. Theoretically, it is so; but practically there is a feeling of worry and uneasiness towards Islam due to some horrible acts performed by some Muslims. However, not all Muslims should be held responsible for this minority.


1.    The spirit of ‘being in the same boat’ should prevail. This first piece of advice reflects the hadith  concerning the people of a ship. Will you be patient with coexistence?

2.    Human rights should be respected. Would you be patient were they not respected?

3.    Duties have to be fulfilled. A Muslim has a duty toward his country.

4.    Virtuous manners should be activated, such as caring for neighbors, helping the needy, dedication, altruism, and justice. Will you be patient with this, brother?

5.    We should hasten to do good, without waiting for a neighbor to take the initiative.

6.    We should not wait for thanks from our neighbor.

7.    We should look for reasonable concepts to constitute a code of ethics.

Europe has a history of multiplicity and experience acquired from the love of peace and suffering in war. It has the ability of innovation, philosophical heritage, and human thought inherited from all Hellenic, Romanic, Jewish, Christian and, finally, Islamic components. Whoever doubts this should revisit George Sarton’s book An Introduction to the History of Science, where the author proves that Muslims lifted the banner of science from 750 to 1100 AC.

Over the years, Jabir ibn Hayyan, Al-Khwarizmi, Al-Razi, Abu al-Wafa al-Bayroni, Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Haytham, and Umar al-Khayyam all belonged to the culture of the Muslim nation. Then, western names began to appear, such as Girard and Beacon. But over 250 years of glory was shared by Ibn Rushd, Naseer al-Deen al-Tusi, and Ibn al-Nafees. This last thinker preceded Harvey in his theory concerning blood circulation. It is Islam that has tolerance, broadness in the circle of its creed, flexibility of its practices, different interpretations, belief in all heavenly messages, acceptance of the other and acknowledgement of differences.

Therefore, scholars have to enlighten Muslims about the tolerance of their religion. They must search for texts and historical practices that enhance tolerance and coexistence through providing more appropriate explanations that support the goals of such norms. This would prove the richness of Shari`ah (“Islamic law”), which considers positive integration attainable. Europeans also have something to learn about Islam in order to form a clear vision about its tolerance. They must appreciate Muslims’ eligibility to be good citizens and avoid the stereotypical outlook.

To be frank, we should say to Muslims: You have two problems, firstly, the stereotypical image that people have of Islam, owing to the terrorist attacks of 11th September and their subsequent events. Secondly, this distorted image has branded you with terrorism, in addition to many other groups that contributed to impute it to Muslims. You have to exert more effort in two directions:

1.    Clear your ranks of terrorism, terrorists, and violent movements. Teach your youth the facts of their religion and their interests. In the European Council for Fatwa and Research for instance, we and the International Union of Muslim Scholars exert doubled efforts.

2.    Make effort to improve your image and break the generalizing stereotype that is fed through the media and other means of communication. The heart of this problem lies in the discriminating attitudes of some European, western circles. Some organizations feel uneasy with your very existence and take up negative stances toward you.

Looking at this problem from another aspect, wars that take place in some Islamic territories provoke further prejudices with unconvincing reasons. But we have to deal with the matter with a sense of responsibility. We should not to be content with it, but instead learn how to express our anger in a rational way that suits our religion and our civilization. So, how should we manage our differences? How should we express our anger without doing wrong to innocents or to ourselves and our countries where we live? How do we do so without terrorist acts of grave and evil consequences?

In our heritage there are means of peaceful expressions of anger. In one hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered an angry person to sit if he was standing and to lie down if he was sitting so that he should not commit an act of foolishness in the state of anger. This, of course, does not exonerate the components of European society from their responsibility to understand Muslims. Nor can they shirk the responsibility of avoiding unfair generalization. Instead, they must deal with them as citizens of full rights, respect their religion, and create an amiable cultural and social atmosphere that allows Muslims to crystallize themselves within the European matrix without feeling alienated. The worst thing we fear of is the reciprocal and desperate demonization.

Finally, we quote Jacob’s words to his sons “O my sons! Go you and enquire about Yusuf (Joseph) and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s mercy. Certainly, no one despairs of Allah’s mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” (Yusuf 12:87)

There must be partnership to prepare a project for rescue and salvation. One hand can never clap. Scholars are therefore ready to present a culture of tolerance from Islam. We expect all active organizations in the West to interact with them. Turkey and Britain should also promote and interact with this. The only alternative of this project will be the acceleration of hatred within the European house.

This answer was collected from BinBayyah.net, which contains of feature articles and fatawa by world renowned ‘Alim, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, from Mauritania.

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