The British educational system has recently been gripped by some troubling issues. Reports have emerged that so-called ‘Islamic extremism’/hate-speech is being deceptively promoted in some Birmingham schools. Writing in the Mail on Sunday on June 15, David Cameron has strongly denounced the promotion of values opposed to British values:

 “So I believe we need to be far more muscular in promoting British values and the institutions that uphold them.

“The values I’m talking about — a belief in freedom, tolerance of others, accepting personal and social responsibility, respecting and upholding the rule of law — are the things we should try to live by every day.”

Muslim minorities in Western countries

Which leads us to the following critical questions:  Are these British values opposed to Islamic values? Can Muslims living in Britain and other Western countries ever hope to reconcile their faith and loyalty to their respective countries of residence? 

Interestingly, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has himself answered these questions by teaching that “love for one’s country is part of one’s faith”. Elaborating on this saying, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, addressing German non-Muslim dignitaries in 2012 said: 

“To truly love God and Islam requires a person to love his nation. It is clear, therefore, that there can be no conflict of interest between a person’s love for God and love for his country….God Almighty has forbidden all forms of treachery or rebellion, whether against one’s country or government.”

If love for one’s country is also part of Islam, then it is a given that Muslim minorities should not have issues with showing loyalty to their country. Differences of opinion, when they arise, should be voiced out clearly, in a sensible manner, while remaining within the limits of decent speech.

Non-Muslim minorities in Islamic countries

One cannot consider the issue of Muslim minorities living in Western countries without looking at the other side of the coin –– that is, non-Muslim minorities in Muslim-majority countries. 

Too often, non-Muslim minorities in supposedly ‘Islamic’ countries are denied the freedom of religion that Muslim minorities enjoy in the West, despite the fact that Islam guarantees this fundamental right to all. 

One burning issue which Islamic countries face is: Should ‘Shariah’ (i.e. Islamic law) be legislated and imposed on Muslims and non-Muslims alike? 

Islamic law, or any other religious law, cannot be imposed perforce. The Holy Quran says that there should be no coercion in religion (2:257). 

Legislating ‘Shariah’ would mean forcefully imposing religious practices on people who do not share the underlying beliefs behind those practices. 

Furthermore, the Holy Quran does not specify any specific form of government other than a beneficent one that is based on absolute justice:

The Holy Quran mandates the strict practice of absolute justice regardless of differences in faith, race, creed or any other distinction. 

True Islamic teachings, as practised by the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh), promote a secular government with equal rights and privileges for its citizens and a separation of mosque and state. 

A prime example of this is the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) Charter of Medina, often cited as the world’s first true constitution, which recognized all of Medina’s citizens, irrespective of religious bent, to form ‘one community’. n