In light of the current political events, it becomes necessary to discuss the issue of Muslims integration in the west. This issue has been one of the main concerns of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in most of his speeches Muslims in the West and the West in general. For example, in one of his speeches in Fance, in 2016, the Grand Imam said, “I call all Muslims in Europe to be aware that they are native citizens in their societies, and full citizenship does not, at all, contradict integration that maintains one’s religious identity. As European Muslims, you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example when he migrated to Medina and became its leader. The Prophet laid the Medina constitution which is the first constitution that humanity came to know. This constitution stipulated the principles of citizenship and equality in rights and duties among citizens of different religions or races.”
In fact, religion itself does not pose an obstacle to integration. Rather, it is the connection between religion and culture that may cause tension between Muslims and Western societies. The integration of Muslims is now the main concern that occupies the minds of Muslims themselves and the host communities in the West.
Among the serious problems currently facing Muslims in the West is their desire to coexist without melting into the western communities. Some people in the West regard the increase in the numbers of Muslims as a threat to the European and Western secular regimes. This public perception is further foisted and promoted by the extremist far right groups who are trying to depict the Muslims’ existence in the West as a threat to the Western identity.
With that said, this claim opens the door for a more complicated question on the role of Western media in forming the image of Muslims. Many Western media offend Islam and Muslims by publishing negative ideas. These misconceptions, on the one hand, distort the image of Islam and affect the Western public opinion, and thus impeding Muslims from integrating and actively participating in Western society. The spread of Islamophobia, on another hand, provokes hostility and discrimination among the population at large, and enmity plays a central role in the isolation of Muslims. It may be illogical to ask Muslims to integrate while they are living in an Islamophobic atmosphere. This in turn leads us to the necessity of developing policies that help Muslims to integrate into their societies. This Islamophobia is more negatively effective when it comes from politicians. The situation in France particularly provides a perfect mention here.
The issue of Muslim integration in the west is the responsibility of Muslims and governments as well. There is a necessity to launch campaigns to correct the image of Islam in the West at all levels, raise the awareness and understanding of Muslims and enhance their ability to live in a peaceful way while preserving their culture, identity and Islamic beliefs. Moreover, there should be more focus on education as a key anchor for peace and conflict resolution, and this can be achieved through promoting the shared human values such as tolerance, acceptance, and dialogue among the emerging generations in a way to unite them and make them good citizens. This could ultimately turn the world to a better place for all to live.