Writing for Britain’s Spectator, Douglas Murray asked on September 7, 2015 ‘Where is the “Ummah” now?’

It seems a remarkably naive question.

Too valuable

Whilst Murray acknowledges that Lebanon and Jordan are doing their part in taking in displaced Syrians:

not one of the Gulf States – not one – has a resettlement programme for a single Syrian refugee.

A full list of countries can be found here.

Murray’s next column, which appeared five days later, was called ‘Now we know where the celebrated “Ummah” is’. He must have dug around a bit and found an explanation. He quoted Fahad Alshalami, Kuwaiti official, who explained why the Gulf States are not admitting Syrian refugees (emphases mine):

Kuwait and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries are too valuable to accept any refugees. Our countries are only fit for workers. It’s too costly to accept them here. Kuwait is too expensive for them anyway. As opposed to Lebanon and Turkey which are cheap. They are better suited for the Syrian refugees.

In the end it is not right for us to accept a people that are different from us. We don’t want people that suffer from internal stress and trauma in our country.

Here is the video with only minor differences in translation:

Humanitarian Jordan

Meanwhile, Jordan has taken in a significant proportion of Syrian refugees relative to their population over the past five years.

On September 15, Queen Rania gave an exclusive interview to Britain’s Sky News. She said:

We have had a wave of refugees coming into Jordan. To date we have 1.4 million Syrians in Jordan – 630,000 of them registered refugees.

That’s 20% of our population. To put that into context for you, it’s the equivalent of 12 million people coming to the UK, or 16 million going to Germany.

It has really been an immense strain on our economy, on our public services, on our infrastructure, and it has really overwhelmed our capacity to cope with the issue.

She hopes that European nations will arrive at a ‘consensus’ as to how to deal with the refugee crisis.

The problem is that, as my posts over the past several days have illustrated, there are more than Syrians fleeing their homelands:

Boat people and the religious conflict on board (also see note on France)

Islamic State militants could be with other boat people

Accommodating migrants: the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie  (and the truth behind Aylan Kurdi’s death)

The Calais crisis is nearly 20 years old

Migration chaos in Europe

More on the migrant situation

All of these posts are on my Marxism/Communism page under ‘Refugee situation 2015’.

Hijra — the spread of the ummah

There is another aspect to this wave of migration which led me to think that Douglas Murray’s original question about the ummah was naive and misguided.

Any armchair historian, myself included, will know about Muslim migration into Europe from the 7th to the 13th centuries. The Latin Library has an excellent timeline packed with detail. Of course, it continued intermittently afterward, for longer and shorter periods. Jan Sobieski and his men defeated the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century in Vienna, which is not that long ago in historical terms.

These occupations and invasions are part of Europe’s history and explain the guarded acceptance the average European accords Islam: cordial but cautious.

Today, everyone is familiar with the concept of jihad. However, a subtler version of expanding the ummah is called hijra — emigration.

Rebecca Gould, writing for Project Syndicate, has a good article which explains how Islam’s prophet used hijra to stay alive and protect his followers. In 622, he escaped from Mecca and headed to Medina:

He and his followers knew that as long as they remained in Mecca, they would be despised by non-Muslims; their very lives were in danger. And so, in an act of hijra – or migration – the prophet left the city of his birth. Islam would have a stable base, because Muslims in Medina would be free to worship according to the dictates of their faith.

The principle has been employed throughout Muslim history:

… with the systematic expulsion of Muslims from Spain in 1492, and later from lands seized by other colonial empires, hijra acquired a more violent meaning that anticipated its later association with jihad. Following these expulsions – most notably by the Spanish and Russian Empires – the concept came to signify not only the pressure to migrate, as during Mohammed’s lifetime, but also an ultimatum from the state: leave or you will be slaughtered.

It is still in use today:

For many modern Muslims, hijra represents the perpetual movement between memory and forgetting. It is what Muslims do when – like Palestinians and Chechens– they have been dispossessed by more powerful states. It is how they create homes amid the homelessness of exile and displacement that is part of their modern condition. It is the turn to narrative to keep the past – and oneself – alive in the present. Wherever and whenever in Islamic history there are stories of despair and loss, hijra emerges as a path to courage and spiritual victory. It is both a beginning – an origin story – and a denouement to trauma.

With regard to the present migration situation, hijra can be hijacked and used aggressively by a small but violent minority:

For the Islamic State’s crude and contrived medievalism, the past is of only instrumental value, to be refashioned in the service of violent conquest and savage repression. Far from being an ethical mode of remembering – a source of cultural continuity and consolation – hijra has been turned into a call to arms by this new self-proclaimed Caliphate, which the vast majority of Muslims today do not recognize as part of their religion.

On September 4, WND featured an article by Leo Hohmann which described the danger of the current migration crisis:

Evidence of that invasion came in February when an ISIS operative confirmed what many already suspected – the Islamic State is using the refugee crisis to form a fifth column of Muslim fighters inside Western nations.

The Syrian operative claimed more than 4,000 trained ISIS gunmen have already been smuggled into Europe – hidden among innocent refugees, reported the Express, a British newspaper.

Whilst Victor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, came under fire in asking only for Christian migrants, Clare Lopez, a senior Middle East analyst for the Center for Security Policy, said that his suspicions are correct:

Today, it is the nation-state system and any concept of national sovereignty that is under concerted attack by the forces of the global jihad movement,” Lopez told WND. “Jihad is not only a violent phenomenon but can be pursued by many other means, including hijra.”

The article goes on to say:

The ISIS smuggler, in his 30s with a neatly trimmed black beard, revealed to BuzzFeed that the ongoing clandestine operation has been a “complete success.”

Even subtler means — Germany

However, hijra does not need to occur in order for a host country’s society to change.

In Germany, subtler means, instituted by well-meaning locals, can also accommodate a migrant population.

In the Bavarian town of Pocking in the Passau district, the secondary school headteacher sent a letter home to parents advising their daughters how to dress with the Syrian refugee accommodation next to the school, Wilhelm-Diess-Gymnasium.

Martin Thalhammer composed a long letter in June 2015. It stated, in part:

The Syrian citizens are mainly Muslims and speak Arabic. The refugees are marked by their own culture. Because our school is directly next to where they are staying, modest clothing should be adhered to, in order to avoid discrepancies. Revealing tops or blouses, short shorts or miniskirts could lead to misunderstandings.

During the summer various media outlets asked him to explain his actions, especially when the parents objected. Surely, it is up to new arrivals to integrate into the local environment and become gentlemen. Thalhammer said:

When Muslim teenage boys go to open air swimming pools, they are overwhelmed when they see girls in bikinis,” he said.

These boys, who come from a culture where for women it is frowned upon to show naked skin, follow girls and bother them without realizing. Obviously this is concerning for us,” he continued …

“It was my responsibility to remind everyone that two cultures are coming together here,” he continued.

Sounds as if the majority culture is capitulating to the minority.

Elsewhere in Germany, early in September Saudi Arabia offered to:

build one mosque for every 100 refugees who entered Germany in extraordinary numbers last weekend.

It is unclear yet whether the German government will accept the offer.

Well, as Angela Merkel said of the migration:

What we are experiencing now is something that will occupy and change our country in coming years.

In other German news, some Muslim refugees are converting to Christianity. A Lutheran pastor in Berlin has baptised several Iranian families.

Professing the Christian faith helps refugees’ claims for settlement. However, Pastor Gottfried Martens of Trinity Church said:

motivation is unimportant.

Many, he said, are so taken by the Christian message that it changes their lives. And he estimates that only about 10 per cent of converts do not return to church after christening.

‘I know there are – again and again – people coming here because they have some kind of hope regarding their asylum,’ Martens said. 

‘I am inviting them to join us because I know that whoever comes here will not be left unchanged.’

I hope he is right.

Renouncing Islam — apostasy — leads to a death sentence. May God bless those who are sincere and bold in their conversion.

Why not create a new country elsewhere?

An Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawiris, wants to create a new nation for the refugees. On September 1 he tweeted that:

he was willing to buy an island from Greece or Italy to “host the migrants” and not hold back on any financing needed to make it a permanent home. He even suggested that it can become a new country called Hope. (Though he also suggested it could be “at least temporary until they can return to their countries.”)

It sounds like a feasible plan, and Sawiris is currently talking to the owners of two private Greek islands.

On the other hand, it might seem like too much work for the refugees and migrants to create their own nation, even if he pays them to build it. Still, it offers a hopeful solution that relieves existing countries of a growing burden.

Sawiris is taking on the project at the request of the UNHCR. He estimates the total cost would be between €90m and €100m. The tycoon has deep pockets, however. He is the chief executive of Orascom TNT which runs mobile phone networks in several Middle Eastern and African countries as well as in Korea. The company also runs underwater communications networks. Good luck to him.