Immigration is never far from the news. Be it those refugees risking life and limb trying to cross the English Channel from Calais, a Home Secretary getting fired for covering up Windrush deportations or Britain taking back control of the borders through Brexit. This ‘problem’ arises from two core ideas present in this society – nationalism and capitalism’s preoccupation with economic benefit.
It is nationalism that puts national interest over any principles. It allows people of one nation to look down at people of another nation and its language is used to dehumanise them.
We thus hear that we should help the Syrian refugees, yet hear complaints when they land on the shores of the UK.
Capitalism views human beings in terms of their economic value over and above being humans who have needs. So, the migrants from the West Indies who were invited to Britain in the late 40’s to rebuild post-War Britain and gave the best part of their lives to aid Britain’s economy, then became a burden on the state in their old age and were contemptuously deported or refused entry back into the UK.
Migrants are blamed for “taking our jobs”, “our schools”, “our houses”, “our healthcare” etc. Yet everyone seems to have forgotten that the last ten years of austerity were due to greedy bankers causing the worst financial crash in living memory.
This is the reality of capitalism where profit is private, loss is public, and the migrants always end up with the blame! But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Under Islam, the Prophet ﷺ and Sahaba’s migration to Madinah saw them arrive essentially as refugees, often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Were they met with contempt? With extreme vetting and deportation? No. The Ansar welcomed the Muhajir as brothers. This is what Islam built amongst them.
Islam neither accepts the idea of nation-state borders nor the capitalist theory of limited resources with unlimited needs which is used as an excuse not to help the needy. The Prophet ﷺ said, “If the son of Adam were given a valley full of gold, he would love to have a second one,” indicating man’s wants. But what man needs, and the Khilafah state would thus ensure he is given, is expressed in another hadith:
“There is no right for the son of Adam except in these things: a house in which he lives, a garment to cover his nakedness, a piece of bread and water.” [Tirmidhi]
Take home message:
Seeing humans through the lens of nationalism and economic benefit pits one group of people against the other. Islam binds people as citizens and views humanity through the rights Allah ﷻ has ordained for them.