CILE Background Paper Final - Research Center for Islamic


CILE Migration Seminar January 28-30, 2018 Migration and Islamic Ethics – Issues of Residence, Naturalization and Citizenship Introduction This seminar aims to shed further light on Islamic ethics pertaining to inward and outward migration over time and in contemporary contexts. Important is not only the movement of people, whether forced or voluntary, but also temporal elements in terms of length and conditions of stay that may (or may not) lead to citizenship, integration and assimilation and how this movement is justified in terms of the religious and the ethical. We are seeking contributions from scholars who have an interest in exploring multi-dimensional approaches to Islamic ethics as applied to various forms of migration. Movement/Migration The movement of people - individuals, families, tribes and entire communities - from one place to settle in another, i.e., migration is a factor that has shaped and transformed the history of humankind. Groups of people have migrated for many reasons: economic, religious, political, as well as for education and cultural exchange. Masses have also migrated to escape conflict, persecution, natural disaster and harsh living conditions. In the same way that it has shaped many communities across the globe, migration also shaped the history of Islam from its very beginnings. Indeed, the question of the legality of Muslims residing in a non-Muslim state was the first of the “juridical” problems facing Muslim minorities. Hijra in the Islamic tradition has been seen as the starting point of Muslim civilization and set the foundations for an Islamic society. It was one of the defining elements that revolutionized the conception of unity among the nascent Islamic community, not only among the Meccan supporters of Prophet Muhammad themselves, later known as the migrants (al-muhajirun) but also between them and the hosting community in Medina, later known as the helpers (alansar). Unity meant solidarity between the muhajirun and the ansar. Thus, Islamic teachings associated with hijra have contributed to the ethical principles relating to the treatment of foreign or migrant communities. It is seen as “a source of ethical norms and social behaviour” associated with brotherhood, economic cooperation, protection and social integration. In modern Arabic hijra also means “migration” in a general sense. In Islamic jurisprudence it has a specific meaning, viz. the duty to migrate from a surrounding of unbelief towards a society where Islamic rules are prevalent, following the example of the Prophet and his Companions, who migrated from infidel, polytheistic Mecca towards Yathrib which, with the support of the Ansar, was to become the City of the Prophet, the basis of the historical Islamic body politic. So we see hijra, before anything else, being discussed by religious scholars as a religious principle to be performed as a duty under certain conditions. Throughout Islamic legal history, a doctrine of hijra was established, not only questioning the movement of people but also investigating the movement of converts, traders, and preachers.


More recently, Muslim political groups have referred to hijra in other ways. To give just a few examples: (1) in opposition to colonial rule; (2) those leaving Russia and the Balkan states in the 1800s; (3) Indian Muslims moving from British-controlled India to Afghanistan in the 1920s; (4) Muslims emigrating from India to the newly created state of Pakistan. These follow a pattern in that they all discuss whether Muslims were obliged to leave areas ruled by “infidels” (Muslims in medieval Christian Spain, colonialized areas, Russia and the Balkans, India towards Afghanistan or India towards Pakistan, etc.) and if so, under what conditions. These discussions were very closely related to issues of jihad. In addition, post-World War II Muslim migration to Europe was of great historical importance, as it formed the basis of a fundamental change of concepts in Islamic normative thought. It developed what became known as a reverse hijra, i.e. an unprecedented number of Muslims emigrating voluntarily from Muslim lands to non-Muslims. After the Second World War, with the introduction of the United Nations and the formation of Muslim minority communities in Western Europe, Muslim political, legal and religious scholars reached a new interpretation of the peaceful relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim world, rejecting the traditional dichotomy of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Kufr as anachronistic, and paving the way for Islamically accepted residence, naturalization and citizenship of Muslims in non-Muslim nation states under certain conditions (freedom of religion, etc.). This argument became the basis for a new branch of Islamic Law that was developed in the 1990s and 2000s, i.e. fiqh al-aqaliyyat. In less than two decades, fiqh al-aqalliyyat shifted the legal discourse from fiqh al-hijra to fiqh almuwatanah, Islamic law of citizenship. However, this does not mean that citizenship, nationality and integration of more than 15 million Muslims in the European Union was accepted by Muslim scholars overall. There are still certain countries, circles and traditions where this is rejected and where Europe continues to be seen as part of Dar al-Kufr. The process of re-interpretation of Islamic thought concerning this vital political issue has not yet been completed. These circles usually would allow Muslim residence in these parts of the world for specific, temporary reasons but not for the purpose of settling: One of the most frequent questions among Muslims living in the West is to know whether they are allowed to live in Europe or the United States or not, for these areas are part of dār al-harb or, at least, of dār al-kufr. . . . (Ramadan, To Be a European Muslim, p. 165). Since the post colonial era, much of the contemporary literature on the compatibility of Islamic values and “modernization” processes, such as globalization, democracy and citizenship have focused upon Muslims residing in Europe and the US. The compatibility is often studied under a secularist framework, implying that many aspects of modernization are incompatible with religious frameworks. Studies have focused on adaptability of Muslims living in non-Muslim lands and issues of citizenship among Muslims in liberal societies. Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh (1996: 53) has noted that in the Islamic tradition, “no frontier separates the different regions. Each Muslim is part of the Ummah, the Islamic nation; he can move and sojourn wherever he likes in this vast empire that becomes larger and larger, including new nationalities. Islam’s conception


of the ummah, then, divides territories according to dar al-islam and dar al-harb, whereby Muslims living in dar al-islam have the same rights of other fellow Muslims.” Settlement/Citizenship Normative ethico-legal discussions include rights in contemporary Islamic ethical thought, including, but not exclusive to, fatwas on migration and refugees. This requires critical, analytical and comparative analyses of the normative ethical frameworks in both Muslim countries and the West. Early discussions of citizenship and naturalization largely began in the late Ottoman period around issues of conversion to Islam as a precondition for citizenship. A stream of fatwas and debates followed on naturalization and nationality during the colonial era (especially in North Africa). Islamic discourse around migration and settlement, along with idealizations of a generalized Islamic community has, however, been historically “burdened” by the jurisprudence around the dichotomy of dār al-Islām (abode of Islam) and dār al-ḥarb (abode of war). This has prevented the development of a deeper understanding of contemporary citizenship within nation states that did not exist during early Islamic history and the foundational texts of the Quran and Hadith did not directly elaborate on it. From the late Ottoman period, the nation-state is seen by those who define the ummah as the body politic of all Muslims, as being in opposition to the conceptualization of a Muslim community. Thus, many contemporary questions can be raised as to the application of normative Muslim principles to current practices – such as non-Muslim rights in Islamic states or the naturalization of Muslims in non-Muslim states. In the Gulf States, citizenship rights are based on jus sanguinis, or the right of blood; that is, citizenship is granted to offspring if one or both parents are citizens. However, gender issues arise where personal status laws do not give the right to women to confer citizenship to their children or husbands. This is distinguished from the right of citizenship for a person born in a particular country (jus soli, right of soil). Examples of questions to be addressed 1. To what extent do contemporary theories of migration describe the migratory movements of Muslims in the world of nation-states and how do these theories intersect with Islamic law and ethics? 2. How is a doctrine of migration framed from within the Islamic legal tradition, i.e. fiqh, maqasid, siyasah shar`iyyah and ijtima`? And to what extent this frame may affect contemporary theorization of the movement of Muslims in the contemporary world? 3. How and to what extent have historical developments affected the present Islamic principles and practice for citizenship and naturalization for both Muslims and non-Muslims (in non-Muslim as well as Muslim-majority countries)? 4. What are the basic criteria upon which an individual can be considered a “citizen” of a certain country from an Islamic ethical perspective? How similar/different are these criteria


from the contemporary legal frameworks adopted by Western countries? Which frameworks seem closer to the Islamic ethical perspective? 5. What is the mix between religious and secular laws and policies of Muslim majority states towards migration and citizenship, and how have these been applied in terms of nationality, gender and religion? 6. What are the key ethical principles that guide Muslims living in non-Muslim countries where there is a rise in Islamophobic nationalism? 7. What is the status of the nation state in Islamic political thought? Concluding Remarks Submissions that address Islamic ethics on any of these or similar questions and themes are welcome. We do urge, however, that submissions: (a) consider both sides of the topic (viz. Islamic ethics and rights of movement and settlement), as outlined above; (b) avoid adopting an atomistic approach which delves into minute and fragmented details without linking them to the bigger picture; and (c) provide rigorous and in-depth analysis of the material dealt with in a way that leads to new and innovative scholarly knowledge.



CILE Background Paper Final - Research Center for Islamic

CILE Migration Seminar January 28-30, 2018 Migration and Islamic Ethics – Issues of Residence, Naturalization and Citizenship Introduction This semina...

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