Won't Muslims just Integrate?
I’ve been an Anglican minister working for, with, and among Muslims now for well over a decade--much of that in Muslim-majority cities and countries. In the Muslim world there is no concern about integration. I don’t even know what that word is in Arabic, and I’m pretty good at Arabic. The whole idea of integration is really Western at heart. The very idea that immigrants will integrate assumes a lot of stuff that should not be assumed.
Let me give you some context. I serve at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. The name of the Anglican church in Spain is ‘The Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church’. In all of Spain we have a single diocese with a single bishop. We’re small. We’re poor. But Europe is a great place to be for mission to and among Muslims. Like every country in the West Spain is experiencing steady, substantial numbers of Muslims arriving every month. In a nutshell, they come because Islam creates lousy countries and lousy societies--the kind that no one, including Muslims, wants to live in.
Now Spain is a dying country. Spaniards don’t have children. It’s that simple. I’m not happy about this but it’s not a secret. Demographers had to invent a new word to talk about what’s happening in Spain: ultra-low fertility. “Low fertility” already was a category. But to describe Spain, Portugal, Poland, and Japan (among others) a new term was needed: ultra-low. The average Spanish woman will have 1.3 children. Historically that is what we’d expect during a time of plague or war. But Spain is doing this...voluntarily? Yes.
Ah, people say, but we will be saved by immigration! Most of our immigrants are Muslims and they will integrate into Spanish culture! So Spanish culture and tradition will not die out. The new Spaniards will not have the same ancestry as other Spaniards, but they will have the same values, the same traditions, the same habits. They will carry forward Spain.
Now you can replicate this argument for Canada, Denmark (where I recently did some teaching), France, the UK, or wherever. But the argument fails. Completely.
Why is that? The answer is too long for this post. But this is the sort of question I researched in order to write my new book, Two Stories of Everything: The Competing Metanarratives of Islam and Christianity. And my answer, in detail, is given in that book. If you’d like to read a summary of the book go here. Or maybe you’ve heard that Muslims have fewer children once they have immigrated, so don’t worry about a Muslim majority! That argument also fails and I explain it in the book as well. But so many Muslims are converting to Christianity! I know about it. I wrote the book on it, literally (Living among the Breakage). But that doesn’t change the fact that Europe’s future is Islam. Read the book.
As a new regular contributing author for this blog I’m looking forward to continuing to explore questions of Islam and the Church’s mission to Muslims. Sometimes I’ll go to theology, other times to the Bible, sometimes to the contemporary sociological research, but all in all I will be focusing on areas related to the Church and Islam. Stay in touch. Let me know if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to address in future blogs.
Dr. Duane Alexander Miller has an MA in Theology and the main areas of research for his PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. He has taught all over the world and is currently an at-large lecturer and researcher at The Christian Institute of Islamic Studies. Duane and his wife, Sharon, now live in Madrid with their three children where they teach and minister at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer. You can contact Duane here.