نحمده ونصلى ونسلم على رسوله الكريم
اعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Parallel Societies and Ghettoization
From a purely religious perspective, the “ghettoization” of Muslim minorities in places like India and Europe is actually a positive trend which should be further encouraged. Islam not only enjoins its adherents to adapt a collective and social lifestyle in which they become a closely-knit community, a jama’a, but also emphasizes the ideally separatist and isolationist facet of that community vis-à-vis the “other” (non-Muslims). Integration and assimilation are the supreme dangers to Muslim minority communities and on an individual level to one’s faith and piety. The Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa-aalihi wasallam) in order to illustrate the importance of keeping good company and avoiding unsavory company gave the parable of the perfumier and the blacksmith. One who hangs around a perfumier, even if he doesn’t buy any scent, will nevertheless emerge fragrant merely from having been in the atmosphere of the perfumier’s shop; however, one who lingers around a blacksmith will inevitably emerge from the forge with an undesirable odor. Likewise, a Muslim who keeps the company of unbelievers or wicked individuals will eventually be negatively affected by that bad company and begin to exhibit the undesirable qualities and behavior of his companions. For this reason, it is extremely important that Muslims avoid the company of and being around unbelievers as much as possible, and spend most of their time in an Islamic environment, surrounded by other Muslims and limiting their social interaction to those of their own community. The ideal Muslim community is centered around a mosque, where the men of piety and learning, the Ulama, play the central role of leadership and guiding the laity in their socio-political affairs. Muslim landlords and employers should always give preference to renting their units and hiring other Muslims for jobs, in order to maintain the “Muslim-ness” of the locality and discourage members of other communities from settling there. As much as possible, the Muslim minority has to set up parallel institutions such as schooling, health care services and even parallel tribunals to arbitrate and settle internal disputes in accordance with the Shari’a. In this respect, there is much we can learn from other isolationist communities such as the Haredim and the Amish. The trend of “ghettoization” should not be limited to Muslim minorities in non-Muslim dominant societies, but also in Muslim-majority countries where the masses are generally irreligious. In such places, the more religiously observant Muslims have to band together and set themselves apart from the rest of their people by creating parallel societies along the “state within a State” model.