بسم الله ، و معظم الرحمن الرحيم

One of the allegations thrown against Muslim communities is that they are separate, and that Muslims refuse to integrate..

Today is the day to see just how integrated into so-called British society Muslims are. Mosques and community centres around the country have been encouraging people to register and to vote. Of course the number of Muslims voting isn’t a reliable way of measuring integration, the pathetic turnout in local elections would see some two-thirds of the entire country are bothered about integrating even with their next door neighbours. .

Those who were among the first to arrive, some 60 years ago tended to stick together in one area for several reasons;

Families and friends could stay together, providing a familiar and comfortable atmosphere as well as a support system. Even today many young Muslims will remain in the parental home until they marry, in their mid-twenties, and in all matters domestic Mother’s word is law.

Those early arrivers were also limited in their housing choices. Not just what they could afford, but by prejudice. Even in the 1960s “No Blacks or Irish” was a common sign in houses for rent in many areas.

Much non-integration results from a failure of the wider community to communicate or cooperate.. Plans for a new Mosque near me met with opposition for three main reasons:
i ) Not accepting that the full Bengali mosque could not also accommodate the more widely spread community of Pakistani origin.
ii ) Demands for closure of an “illegal” mosque in a shop converted with proper planning permission was not met with support for its replacement
iii ) A fear that a new mosque would lead to yet more gangs of youths hanging around street corners. None of the objectors bothered speaking to their Muslim neighbours. If they had they would have discovered that those young men were waiting on the street for their friends so they could go into, or leave, the mosque together.

The most ridiculous objection submitted to the planning committee said we don’t need more mosques when so many churches are closing. A logic I have yet to fathom.

Strange that in my home city there are objections to the Muslim community in particular for refusing to integrate with the rest of the population when there is a long tradition of insularity between different areas of the town. A tradition going back at least 300 years when those living in the east-end were often stopped from using the church in the west end.

Finally, those who claim Muslims do not integrate into the local society should look to Spain. Home of thousands of British expats, and of special supermarkets stuffed with such Spanish delicacies as Heinz Beans

يوسف عبد الغفار

30 Rajab 1437