Waseem Abu Ilyas
The mass movement of people across Europe has been described in the last week as the biggest refugee crisis to hit Europe since World War II. Thousands of refugees are now crisscrossing the continent looking for sanctuary from their war torn and broken lives. Walking along railway tracks, traveling on boat and some ultimately suffocating in the backs of trucks; men, women and children are going to extraordinary lengths to escape their homelands.
Whilst the exodus from lands such as Syria has been going on for months the refugee crisis has only ever been discussed in the same breath as immigration and illegal migrants. The European attitude has been to the refugees to travel as far away from their own country as possible and explain away the thousands camping at “The Jungle” in Calais as those looking for an easy benefit driven life in the UK. There has been little or no acknowledgement that the vast majority now traveling across nations are fleeing war and persecution and are in fact refugees and not economic migrants.
Images of waves lapping over the drowned corpse of the young Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi aged three may have shocked the world and embarrassed European political leaders such as David Cameron into acknowledging the crisis. However it also exposed the lack of understanding and insight many have towards the refugee issue. Whilst the disregard of Western governments to the suffering of humanity is clear from their colonial past, they remain in denial about how this past has shaped the current crisis. It would be foolish to think that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the propping up of dictators such as Bashar al-Assad and the political vacuums created by competing western powers in Libya and beyond played no part in thousands fleeing their homes. In fact if the truth were to be investigated then any conclusion not putting Sykes-Picot at the centre of the current political turmoil in the Middle East and thus the mass exodus of people would be flawed.
The destruction of the Ottoman state, the imposition of dictators loyal to the West and economic subjugation has made life in much of the Middle East unbearable for those who were born and live there. Once all this is understood it clearly highlights the hypocrisy of the solutions being proposed by the likes of David Cameron. Headlines of the UK of pledging to accept thousands of Syrian refugees and images of Germans welcoming hundreds into their homes may do much to restore the faith in humanity for some. However if these same headlines were juxtaposed with the images of the destruction and mayhem Western policies have caused then there would be little to feel proud of. This is not to second guess the generosity of the average person who simply wants to help but to see through the crocodile tears of colonial Europe.
Preventing the trafficking gangs from putting hundreds of people on boats may stop the influx into Europe but it will never quell the basic human instinct to survive and seek safety. Fences along borders and Calais will keep out the unwanted refugees but they simply act as a metaphor for inhumanity of national borders which prevent those seeking help from getting it.
The Hungarian government would rather have hundreds sleep rough on train tracks and in railway stations than allow them to travel to Germany and Austria. Squabbling over who should bear the burden of helping the poor and destitute, only to then dump refugees over the border with an out of sight out of mind attitude. Europe is meant to empitimise the free movement of people yet when those people are refugees then the rules seem not to apply. If it were not for the false borders created in the Muslim lands then there is little doubt that the masses of the Ummah would have no hesitation in aiding their own brothers and sisters. Muslims governments such as Saudi Arabia pledge millions to set up camps in Jordan not out of love for the Ummah but to ensure the problem does not come to their own doorstep.
The sad fact of the matter is that even the non-Muslims such as Douglas Murray are questioning the lack of real action by the Muslim world to solve the refugee crisis. It is not a hidden truth anymore that the rulers of the Muslim lands have no love for their own people let alone those from another state. The rulers have become pawns in the geopolitical games of the Western world and most the time do not even pay lip service to the suffering of their Muslim brothers and sisters.
The West on the other hand having created and exacerbated the problems in the Muslim lands take the view that human beings be they refugee or not are simply a commodity. The “moral duty” to help is driven by economics and economics alone. Pressure on the NHS, Housing and Schools are all cited as potential drawbacks to allowing more refugees into the UK. Some even question the open arms generosity that Germany is displaying towards Syrian refugees, highlighting the falling population growth in Germany and its need for a larger labour force in the years to come. Mirroring the immigration to the UK from the Commonwealth nations in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Capitalist ideology devoid of humanity can only view a problem and any potential solution from a profit loss relationship.
The constant barrage of media hype and government spin has the average Joe Public believing that austerity , economic downturn and job losses are down to those moving to the UK. It is seen as heresy to even question the defunct and flawed nature of an economic system which puts bankers ahead of food banks and benefit cuts ahead of pursuing tax evading multinationals.
If it were not for having an alternative ideology by which to judge such events by, Muslims would most likely fall into the same trap as the Western world. Examining each action from the viewpoint of benefit. Yet the earliest history of Islam gave us clear examples of how to treat those leaving their homes to flee persecution.
The noblest migration was the Hijrah of Mohammad (saw) from Mecca to Medina, the best aid was that of the Ansar (helpers) towards the Muhajireen (emigrants) who had left Mecca to come for a better life in the company of the Prophet (saw) in the first Islamic state.
Prophet Mohammad (saw) told the Ansar that the Muhajireen were brothers to them and even paired them off as brothers, the Ansar allowed the Muhajireen to work alongside them and even aided them in marriage. Not based on economic benefit or the need for labour but due to the command of Allah (swt)
“And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.” [59:9]