Since the end of the 19th century until today, groups of Muslims have been migrating to America and Western Europe. So today, the Muslim communities in all diaspora countries are demanding Muslims to integrate into the host societies. Muslims encounter many issues same as other migrants, starting with the language, customs, Laws, regulations, and ending with work and studies. They still face special problems that are related to religious questions and concepts. These questions emerge in all contexts regarding the frameworks and limits of relations with non-Muslims. They pop up in the types, forms and conditions of work, in personal status issues, such as marriage, divorce, custody, expenses and inheritance, and in women’s cases. To specify, they are pressing, defining, guiding, ruling, renewed and continuous questions.
If religion is a relationship that binds people to a spiritual power superior to them and includes belief in limitless values and performing special and specific rituals, For Muslims, it includes, as well, legislation and rulings that deals with framing, characterizing and controlling all behaviors, acts and transactions.
As for the term integration, it is used in European languages, and it means: the union, fusion and merger between two or more things to form a new, homogeneous and coherent whole. This term is used in economics, biology, sociology, politics and language. In these areas, it means: integration, solidarity and harmony between two or more components on the basis of equality and peer-to-peer justice with each component giving up part of its own characteristics in order to achieve common interests and build a new structure that brings together all the components.
Muslims in Europe; Facts and Figures:
In 2010, the number of Muslims in the European Union reached 16 million to became 3.2% of the popualtion. In addition, According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims make up 6% of the European population and 19 million of whom live in the European Union.
Statistics dating back to 2016 demonstrate that 25.8 million Muslims live in the European Union forming 4.9% of he population as the number of Muslims in Germany is about four million, or 5% of the population.
Pew Research Center expects that the proportion of Muslims will increase from 6% as it was in 2010 to become 8% in 2030. In 2017, another study predicted that in 2050 Muslims will be representing 7.4% of the European population in case of a “zero immigration” scenario. On the other hand, their percentage is expected to reach 14 % of Europe’s population under the high immigration scenario, or the so-called open doors.
The evolution of the integration policy and the national integration plan in Germany:
Germany has gone slow in formulating a scientific and practical integration policy as for the first time in the immigration law of 2005, integration was included as a task entrusted to the state. Accordingly, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) became responsible for the measures taken to promote integration.
In 2006, the first summit for integration was held in Germany. The most prominent recommendation of he summit was the need to develop a national integration plan. This plan was drawn up at the second national integration summit held in 2007, and it addressed many topics, such as promoting language learning, education and vocational training, improving women’s opportunities and gender equality and benefiting from local resources, sports, social, cultural and media activities, etc.
Religion in integration studies and programs:
The laws and regulations that are in force in Germany provide an acceptable standard of living for all residents alike, and everyone gets provided with all forms of support and various social care. This support guarantee all people housing insurance, living expenses, health and pension insurance, vocational rehabilitation, education programs, etc.
The German constitution guarantees freedom of worship and constructing temples unrestrictedly, including mosques, which numbered 3,000, 230 of which are large mosques. Some of these mosques are considered impressive architectural masterpieces.
Despite the significance of the government offers, and the content of the national integration plan, addressing the essence of the religious ideas carried by migrants and their impact on people‘s lives and the integration process have not been achieved. No scientific research can overlook this impact if it wants to reach an illustration of the refugees situation and find suitable solutions to their problems.
Requirements for integration in Germany as stated by the Federal Integration Office:
The integration process aims to reach coexistence that stands on the values of German society and the principles of the Constitution, ensuring full respect and equal care, upholding the linguistic, religious and cultural peculiarities of all, promoting mutual trust, enhancing a sense of belonging and collective responsibility and establishing equal opportunities.
The Federal Integration Office considers that the positive attitude, prior will of migrants and that they do have the intention to settle, are prerequisites for their success in integration. Migrants must submit to the constitution, abide by the laws, and respect the values and customs that are in force in the country.
Integration is a two-way process as the success of its programs also depends on the will, orientation, activity, and open-mindedness of the host community.
The controversy of religion, customs, and determinants of identity among Muslim Migrants:
Officially, integration does not require migrants to give up their language, religion, customs and traditions. Although the German constitution guarantees all individuals and groups the right to freely express their identity, culture, conscience and religion, the migrant still feels like something is ripping off inside his body because of the conflict between his belonging to his country of origin and his belonging to this country. The mother tongue is the firm pillar of keeping the identity.
Among the migrants, religious concepts are melded with inherited customs and traditions. This combination is evident in most of the issues of women and the relationship between the two sexes. It can also be seen when parents discriminate and treat boys and girls differently in genderly-mixed swimming lessons, bathing suits, eating and clothing habits, buying and selling, and traveling and picnicking.
Regarding the religion and the mother tongue of migrants, some German states have allocated some hours to teach the mother tongue to students, and some of them have also approved to teach Islamic education as a subject.
The most important results and conclusions of the study:
- There is a large research void in terms of studying the religious concepts held by Muslim migrants which greatly affect their integration.
- If integration is a basic requirement for the host societies, it is an urgent need for Muslim migrants, on which their future and their children‘s depend.
- Integration has many meanings, but the process of integration that can succeed and continue is the one that takes place among considerable equals with each one of them giving up some of its peculiarities in order to achieve integration, communication and sharing with others.
- The process lacks integration programs and plans that would address the religious issues that Muslim migrants carry. This lack hits integration efforts and programs to the core.
- Muslim migrants must re-present the religious concepts they hold at all levels to re-adapt the provisions to the requirements of time, place and circumstances within the framework of the constants of religion, its purposes and objectives.
- As Terms for research and diligence in this regard, many issues can be considered: beliefs and principles of religion, personal status and inter-relations, issues of women’s jurisprudence, and jurisprudential rulings related to work, transactions, public order, and the duties of citizenship.
- The success of integration process requires firm determination and effort from both sides of the process, from the immigrants and the hosts. The process can only be completed and succeeded with the integration of the two parties’ efforts which would overcome the obstacles and challenges.
- The specialists from the Islamic side should work on understanding the host society, absorbing its values, customs, culture and laws, and bringing all of that closer to the migrant Islamic society. The host party should in return study and understand the religion, thought, customs and values of Muslims and accept differences with them in all that.