A very good op ed in Stuff from Muhammad Umar.
Similarly, I am not shy to say that there will be some extremist people present in the Muslim community, and also, there are several conservative people.
But there are many who want to be integrated, who are just like normal day-to-day Kiwis.
Why there are several conservative people present in western societies, why some become extremists, and others become more tolerant and open minded, is very hard to understand.
But one way to comprehend this is by understanding the difference between Islam (faith) and Islamism (ideology, or in other words, the fundamentalist version of islam).
By the end of 19th century, many Muslims were living under European rule, and their power was diminishing.
Turkey and Malaysia went towards secularism and reformism versions of islam. But some Middle Eastern regions went towards Islamism, and the idea that Muslims are lagging behind the west because they are not good Muslims.
In this version, they need to be devoted Muslims and reject the influence of the West in order to gain back glory.
Islamist groups (Islamism inspired) were there before 9/11, but after this incident, the rise of Islamist groups helped shift some Muslims away from their national identities, towards a more exclusive Muslim ummah one.
When some of these migrants with Islamist thinking (Muslim ummah) come to New Zealand and other western countries with preconceived conservative ideas, because they cannot change the society here by preaching or by force, they become even more conservative in their own thoughts.
They will sometimes start doing hardcore rituals with even more passion, they will meet with only other similar mindset and ethnic backgrounds.They will celebrate only their own festivals and become wary of all other thoughts.
Some will just stay in their bubbles. Some of the very conservative ones will get strongly associated with Madrassahs and mosques, thinking that this would be a salvage against all the sins they see in the society, and will save them from hell fire.
These Madrassahs have the potential to become breeding spaces for Islamist thinking where men, women and children go learn hardcore rigid Islamic beliefs. …
Not everyone is like this. There are people who don’t get into the trap of Islamism, or who were just weakly associated with political ideology of islam.
There are people who just accept Islam as personal faith, and to get connected with God. They accept science and logic, admire the west, and want to learn from them.
These people meet and greet and make friendships with all others irrespective of their religion, race or language.
These are the Muslims who become critical thinkers and free thinkers.
They become more moderate, they become more flexible, they become more integrated into society.
They raise questions on their preconceived ideas and learn.
They accept everyone and stop looking at everything from religion’s lens.
These are the people who are not fascinated by the ideas of death and afterlife. Instead, they connect with life itself and with humanity.
There are many of these people in New Zealand society.