The far left, white supremacists, “Muslim” secularists and various ethnonationalist groups in Muslim countries always tend to bring up the question of why Muslims immigrate to secular western nations instead of going to Sharia abiding Muslim nations despite expressing favourable attitudes towards Sharia and disdain or lack of fanaticism towards secularism.
This question comes with baseless presumptions of Sharia abiding countries being poverty-stricken, war-torn areas brimming with civil strife and sectarian conflicts dominating the scene. They try to allude to Sharia or Islamic law being the primary catalyst that brings poverty, wars and other issues that plague the Muslim world. That Muslims only leave their home countries in order to avoid oppression within their countries and take advantage of the civil liberties that the west provides.
These arguments are all based on a stereotypical understanding of the Muslim world, ad hominem attacks, questionable cause fallacies and red herring fallacies that try to deflect from the real impetus behind issues.
According to Pew Research, around 35% of foreign-born Muslims are from South Asia out of which, 20% of Muslims come from India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Out of which both India and Bangladesh have secular constitutions and Afghanistan is one among many countries that have been victim to war crimes by the United States and its allies.
On similar notes, most Muslims that come to the United States are from predominantly secular establishments with Muslim majorities and hence the notion that Muslims go to the west for the sole sake of acquiring “individual liberties” and “political freedom” does not stand true and is a very eurocentric or anglocentric perception of why Muslims do travel to the west.
Muslims generally leave for the west due to better economic opportunities, better standards of living and higher education that would enable them to work anywhere in the world and give them greater opportunities since affidavits acquired from Western institutions are valued internationally.
Typically, a westerner would respond to this with a series of questions. The first one being, if sharia is so great, why is living standard, education and job opportunities not good in Muslim countries? Those that are usually more aware would also try to push you into the corner when you answer saying, “they don’t practice real Sharia”. Although this is true to a larger extent, most people that engage in dialogues do not wish to seek a change of heart and understand the circumstances or intricacies of Muslim beliefs.
But for the sake of entertaining them, Muslim majority countries with the best economics, education and living standards all have Islam as the state religion except for a select few not limited to Malaysia, Brunei, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq ( and Libya) before the American invasion among many other examples. The opposite is true however in the case of secular democracies with countries like Bangladesh, Syria, Tunisia and Albania among many others. The most atrocious among them are ex-soviet central Asian territories and Kemalist Turkey which, albeit being in opposition to the Soviets, did adapt their approach towards quelling religion and traditions in order to import Western cultural norms.
Needless to say, the topic of tyranny by past militant secularist establishments are criminally under-discussed. Turkey being the most popular contemporary instance of democratically elected leaders being overthrown or executed through military coups. Secularists usually state that the leaders have tried to undo the principles of Mustafa Kemal who introduced laik which is a more militant version of French secularism with reputed sources estimating massacre of 200,000 men across Turkey for wearing religious clothing and banning the Arabic call for prayer, the azan, which is conducted five times a day in all Muslim countries with no exception.
In addition, Ataturk took over the country’s 70,000 mosques and restricted the building of new mosques. Muftis and imams (prayer leaders) were appointed and regulated by the government, and religious instructions were taken over by the Ministry of National Education. Mosques were to preach according to Ataturk’s dictates and were used to spread the Kemalist ideology.
Muslims could travel to Gulf and North African countries and they, in fact, do. With Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslim males surpassing the number of natives in several gulf countries including UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. Many Gulf and North African Arab countries (with the exclusion of countries like Qatar and Kuwait) have a long history of suppressing Muslim religious scholars and leaders despite nominally instating Islam as the state religion with the recent exodus of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which has led to the incarceration of 60,000 opposing politicians and their family members. The highest in the world. It is oxymoronic to imply that Muslims that want the proper implementation of Sharia are the largest victims of political incarceration within countries that have Islam as state religion out of all places. Tora prison is one of the worst prisons in the world that go against basic human decency and also go against the declaration of human rights.
Official figures show that the criminal justice system is overburdened, with prisons at 160 percent capacity and jails at 300 percent capacity. Because of these conditions, inmates are frequently forced to sleep on top of one another on bare concrete floors in filthy facilities that lack the necessary equipment to cope with Egypt’s extreme weather.
Another noteworthy reason why Muslims leave for the west is due to the language barriers. Learning English is incentivised by all countries across the globe regardless of religion with even Islamic states not being exceptions. Even in Sharia abiding countries, Learning English is not only encouraged but also opens up a wide array of opportunities within the country and enables Muslims to move abroad which would make it further irrational to assume that educated Muslims from third world countries should move to the gulf and North African countries.
And hence, Muslims move to the west where they are still incarcerated for holding their opinions but nevertheless, have a larger degree of freedom and ability to express their religious beliefs and ideas which would not be possible in alleged Islamic states in the Middle East and afar.
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