British Muslims under the Influence of Globalization and Migration

Scientific Essay, 2014

40 Pages


Table of Contents

1. Preface

2.1 Globalization, Migration and the Function of Religion
2.2 Immigration, Politics and Religion in Past and Present
2.3 Modern British Society under the Focus of Islam
2.4 Conclusion: Muslims in the Focus of Race Relations

3. Outlook

4. Bibliography

1. Preface

During the last two decades globalization as the most important energetic phenomenon of our time has had many effects on mankind's life. The changes and consequences resulting from this can be seen in social, political, cultural, religious and economical fields all of which have undergone vast and fundamental changes.

The relationship between globalization, migration and religion which is of special interest here is one of many constellations which have emerged from the radical developments that are still taking place. It is, however, especially religions and their concepts of humanity which had to cope with this constellation of globalization and ongoing migration movements. Globalization and migration hit all major religions severely and let them into the direction of fundamental elements which seem to form the perfect background for this new development called globalization. The result from this was a stressing of only a few theological aspects and a dualistic image of the world which excludes people of another belief. To label this as a completely new phenomenon for mankind, humans or their notions of humanity would be wrong since history shows us many examples of migration movements and religious changes (the Jews in Babylon; Amish people in America etc.).

Today, however, the situation turns out to be different if one looks at modern Islam, the most active of all major religions. Islam in the face of the 21st century seems to prove that ghetto- , exile- or diasporiclike situations will automatically lead to fundamentalism and a radicalization of Islam.

The results from this triangle of globalization, migration and religion (Islam) have already changed the world in two ways. They are first responsible for the West and its treatment of foreigners (esp. Muslims) and their integration into society. The so called 'War on Terror' started by the Bush government in the aftermath of 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraque as well as the civil uproars in countries like Tunesia, Lybia, Egypt or Syria in the final analysis form the second parts of this development. Their consequences on notions like human and humanity are vast since it is humans who are in the focus of this process.

2.1 Globalization, Migration and the Function of Religion

Modern migration which has become an international phenomenon is often considered to be the result of what has to be understood by another development shaping the world of the 21st century – globalization. Globalization is above all an economical movement, which causes gaps between countries, continents, cultures and religions. It divides more than it combines. There is a connection between globalization and migration, yet it would be wrong to confine this affinity to our time. Migration in the widest sense implies several levels which depend on one another.[1] It is thus necessary to have a closer look at the term itself and its relationship to religion.A final step will be an analysis of migration to Europe. Great Britain is here of particular interest since Muslim migration is responsible for many changes in British society and above all for the literary reflection of the novels presented here. Migration, globalization and the notion of a multicultural society are often used as catch phrases in today’s socio-political discussions. The term migration[2], which has reached a new and outstanding position in connection to what has to be understood by globalization[3] is no invention of modern times. Individual human beings, groups of people and whole nations have migrated since mankind`s early history. Migrational movements played a central role in the colonization of whole continents (USA/Latin America etc.) and they were responsible for central events of man`s civilization. Generally speaking the aim of migration was, is and will be to improve the standard of living (Han, 2006: 1).From a historical point of view, large periods of migration always brought about significant changes in the social, economic and religious sectors of a society. Nevertheless, each of them must be considered in its own historical context (Oswald, 2007: 3).[4] Apart from the intention to improve one’s standard of living migration must also be connected to other factors. It was and is above all the result of an escape from war zones or expulsion. The increasing presence of military activities after World War Two has pushed this development. The 20th century must be looked upon as a century of migration because of escaping war zones, the 21st century adds as further reasons the need to find work along the trend to escape from environmentally polluted areas (Oswald, 2007: 64; Loughry, 2011: 238).[5] It is needless to say that the increasing mobility of complete population groups is also due to the integration of the world markets in the course of the current globalization processes. To give a precise definition of the term migration therefore seems to be a difficult task because migration must be analyzed from many scientific points of view. An objective analysis must include economical, legal, educational, psychological and religious aspects. Nevertheless migration covers three dimensions which connect all these different points of view. These are:

1. A change of place
2. A change of social ties in the sense of an improvement of the living conditions[6]
3. Borderline experiences in the widest sense Migration must then be understood as a geographic change of a former way of life along all other major realms, plus an extreme experience of social, political and cultural facts. It is therefore something which must be considered to contain an enormous psychological and social achievement. The vast majority of these achievements are covered by women also because their number has constantly increased. In the year 2005 the official number of worldwide migration was around 191 million people. In the year 2008 this number went up to around 200 million. The female part in the last four years was around fifty percent with a rising tendency.[7] Treibel (2009) says above this development:

“In vielen Regionen der Welt ist der ´typische Arbeitsmigrant` nicht mehr männlichen, sondern weiblichen Geschlechts. Das rechtfertigt von einer Feminisierung der Migration zu sprechen“ (ibid.: 116).

The mixture of elements brought from migrants and the conditions of the host society start a process of dynamic character.[8] Parts of it result from the coming together of ethical and religious conditions. When people migrate ethnically and culturally developed forces meet nationally structured states with the result of changes as far as modes of life, values or religion are concerned. All these changes – both positive and negative – can be seen in connection to the role of the transported religion.[9] One clear result from this is the fact that transported religions often appear to have a more intensive and fundamental character than at home. The reasons for this seem to lie in the notion of an identity provider and in the competitive situation as far as other religions are concerned. Historical examples for this are the exile situations of Jews in Egypt and Babylon. The present processes of globalization and migration deliver an ideal basis for radical Christians, Jews and Muslims since their religions originally had a nomadic character, the perfect basis in today’s world where modern man has once again become nomadic. Cahoone (2007) on this:

“These religions … have promoted an ideal sedentarization and address themselves more to the migrant components than the nomadic ones” (ibid.: 285). It here becomes clear that if you transfer this development on fundamental Islam that the radical forms of Islam embody a perfect result of this background.”

The most pertinent example for the importance of religion and migration is the role of Islam and its presence in Europe. Modern Islam under the focus of globalization and migration disposes of two central elements; the pattern for identity building and a competitive role to other religions. Connected to both is its notion as the only true realization of God`s revelation.[10] Whenever a religion is transported into a new surrounding, two extreme developments can follow. One might result in the fact that religion is seen as a factor which stabilizes within the new society (religion is seen as a basis for a peaceful coexistence), the other implies an opposite possibility. Religion is experienced as an element which separates. This again could mean that migrants begin to isolate themselves in order to keep their identity as long as possible or that they become active in the sense of missionary work. Whenever a society is prepared for a pluralistic handling of migration and religion, rigid social, cultural or religious separation must not be exercised. If this framework does not exist or is in danger from either side then the result is a society centered on mutual separation (Oswald, 2007: 119ff.). The realization of this separation can best be seen in global cities in which ethnic and cultural disintegration are exercised (Nuschler, 2009: 25). A further characteristic of this isolation is the close connection to the former home, be it of an ethnic, cultural or religious connection of the same kind (Han, 2006: 188). The direction of the development in Europe is yet open because migration processes are dynamic. Nevertheless, the aim of migration must result in a ´win-win-situation` which means migration must stand for a profit of both sides. In the long run, the separation from one another must result in co-operation. The basis for this can lie in a fair dialogue. Governments must provide the frameworks for this while delivering a policy of migration, integration and social balance which is based on responsibility on all sides. Any alternative to this would result in social turmoil and religious separation, the ideal basis for a constant conflict. The main task of governments will without doubt be the fight against poverty and controlling the explosion in world population. The millennium summit in New York (2000) put these two problems on its priority list and its aim was to reduce the occurrence of poverty to 50% by 2015 – in the face of current world problems a fairly naive venture. Ongoing globalization processes, the continuing migration waves to Europe and the revival of fundamentalist movements in all religions but especially in Islam pose a threat to this aim, too. The renaissance of fundamentalist developments in Islam in times of migration clearly shows that the role of religion here has to be reconsidered anew. Lehmann (2005) says about this context:

“Wie immer man diese Dinge beurteilt: Das Thema Migration und Religion besitzt für das Europa eine besondere Bedeutung. Denn wenn man bedenkt, dass Europa im Prozess der politischen und wirtschaftlichen Vereinigung zugleich ein Immigrationskontinent ist, in den Migranten aus allen Erdteilen einwandern (sei es als Asylsuchende und Flüchtlinge oder als Wirtschafts= migranten), dann dürfte Religion im Europa von morgen wieder eine deutlich größere Rolle spielen als in dem weithin säkularisierten Europa am Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts“ (ibid.: 13).

It is particularly in the 21st century in which the number of refugees originanting from Muslim countries has constantly increased. The political uproars in Tunisia, Lybia, Egypt or Syria in the years 2010–2012 plus the continuing influx to Europe from the southern hemisphere are consequences of the ´postcolonial constellation` (cf. Han 2000). They can therefore not be separated from the history of colonial expansion, capitalistic structures and the dominant role of Europe or the USA (cf. Osterhammel 2006). To judge migration critically or to fight against it corresponds to political and historical ignorance. Migration of individual people, groups, culture or religion always implies the possibility of innovation because of the (positive) creation of a competitive situation in which people from totally different ethnic, social or religious backgrounds can strive for the best solution. Part of its competition process is, of course, the existence of different political and religious systems. Any classification of the positive elements of migration as the only remedy to the source of all evil is as naive as pushing aside its dynamics in connection to positive developments and solutions to current problems. The alternative to this would be the image of a state as a barricade of wagons. The latest developments within the context of migration and globalization have made clear that such globalization processes have toppled ethic, regional and religious boundaries. The result of this is a kind of yearning for universality and unity. This feeling will only be an illusion if the problem of human solidarity is not properly solved. Since capitalism and profit thinking rule globalization we have to talk about a force, which too often does not unite but separates. One product of this separation was and is religious competition, which itself disposes of fundamental forces which again form the means for worldwide religious conflicts.

2.2 Immigration, Politics and Religion in Past and Present

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The political, cultural and economic changes within the British Empire and their development into the concept of the Commonwealth included vast changes for the mother country, England. The newly gained self-confidence of the former colonies along with the fear of an uncontrolled influx of migrants formed the basis for laws whose primary aim was nothing else but a limited control of immigration in the sense of a stemming of migration.[11] In essence, these laws meant diverging away from the long accepted concept of the civis Britannicus sum notion[12], which guaranteed free access to England for all her citizens. This idea of free entrance into England was suddenly declared to be a myth. This change, nevertheless, has to be seen in its historical context (the Cold War period, a strong Communism, fear for riots due to racial discrimination in the USA etc.) it clearly stands for the fact that the majority of the British public plus the politicians in power did neither accept nor want an uncontrolled influx to England. What was desired was an assimilation of a small and therefore controllable group of immigrants.[13] These restrictive measures at first turned out to be successful yet between 1950 – 70 the influx to England was out of control. The following chart clearly shows this:

The political discussions between supporters and opponents of a restricted form of immigration were controversially led. The riots in Nottingham and London in 1958 brought this matter into public awareness, a development of which the British public was reminded in 2005 and 2011 when the attacks on the London Underground and open riots took place. The media here did their share, too, because some of them played the radical card. Spenser (1997) about the earlier riots:

“It has been suggested that the riots may have contributed indirectly to the legislation in that they helped to restore the race question from the obscurity into which it had declined after the flurry of interest in 1955 to a subject of media and public interest. This may well be so, particularly as the riots occurred at a time when Asian and black immigration was in decline and the government had very recently concluded that legislation was not yet necessary. Indeed, the period between spring of 1958 and spring of 1960 is one during which old-fashioned administrative controls apparently enjoyed an Indian summer of success. There is no doubt that initially the riots were seen by the government first and foremost as a source of strong additional pressure for immigration legislation. The assumption was made that the riots would be used by groups who favored immigration controls as evidence of the social problems that would inevitably arise from black and white living together and therefore, of the need to strictly limit further ´colored` immigration” (ibid.: 99).

In short: Many British politicians suddenly talked about a term which had long been neglected in public discussions, racism. Hansen (2000) on this new trend:

“It is rather argued that the ´state` created racism where none (or perhaps less?) would otherwise have existed, placed racism at the core of British national identity and used the racism it had ´constructed` to justify migration controls” (ibid.: 12).

The notion of the term race and the seemingly superior role of the white race taken from it has a long tradition and therefore an intellectual basis in the natural science, philosophy and literature of the 18th and 19th century. J. A. Cobineau`s “Essay on the Inequality of Human Races” (1853) is commonly regarded as one of the most influential works on this matter. Even Voltaire, Kant and Hume used the idea of a superior white race and supported it (Childs, 1997: 189/190). A logical conclusion from this concept of different valued races was the consequence of a moral obligation of the white civilized race to lead all other (uncivilized) races politically, morally and religiously. Thus the intellectual, moral and religious foundation of colonialism was laid and the gaps between the white race and all other races widened (Childs, 1997: 191). A result of this was in the long run the attempt of colonies and migrants to copy everything connected to the term white (Said, 1978: 226/227). Race and racial quality above others were turned into ideological weapons which were used to gain and manifest political power, economical exploitation plus a morally and religiously based superiority. It was only in the year 1993 that existing forms of racism and xenophobia were officially criticized by the Macpherson Report. The social consequences of the riots mentioned above and the ongoing discussions on foreigners and migration led to the most important legal decision after World War Two – The Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1962. Its main aim simply speaking was a stricter control of migrational movements to Great Britain. This legislation yet resulted in a counter reaction i.e. an increase in migrant numbers. Basically speaking this law contained the following demands:


[1] Migration and globalization always had and will have a special effect on literature. Contemporary literature deals (apart from a reflection of migration processes from former colonies) more and more with a description of the consequences of migration processes as results from global conflicts and economical developments. Globalization which splits the world apart into poor and rich areas has become a literary matter, deeply established in todays novel (see Brick Lane (2003) by Monica Ali, Nadeem Aslam`s Maps for Lost Lovers (2004), Zahid Hussain The Curry Mile (2006), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) by Hamid Mohsin, Guantanamo Boy (2009) by Anna Perera or Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim (2011).

[2] A concise sociological survey on the term migration is given by Pries (2001). Pries not only offers a profound presentation of the term migration and the several theoretical approaches to it he also constantly stresses its outstanding role for the modern, globalized world. Pries, like Held et al. (1999) is convinced that international migration processes shape new political and social realities because in the course of emigration to and immigration into other countries a mixture of two countries will be the result (Pries, 2001: 12ff.; 37ff.; 49).

[3] For the catchphrases migration and migratory see Angenendt (2009). Angenendt provides a profound survey on this matter. He defines globalization as a growing international, economical, political and cultural connection and as a modern version of the traditional exchange trade. He says: “Weitgehende Einigkeit besteht aber über die Disziplingrenzen hinweg, dass die als Globalisierung bezeichneten Zusammenhänge keine neuen Erscheinungen sind, sondern dass es um die Folgen des arbeitsteiligen Wirtschaftens geht, dass schon seit jeher mit Tausch und Handel verbunden war“ (ibd.: 38). Brosch/ Kunow (2005) have pointed out the importance of intercultural communication in times of economical and cultural globalization. Both stress the key position of the new and open form of communication from the sociological point of view. For them modern man`s mobility has brought about the end of the “romance of nation and narration” (ibid.: 3). Clark (1997) in this context talks about a “global culture” and a “global consciousness” (ibid.: 23). The effects of globalization are dramatic because one result is some form of “Marktfundamentalismus” (Loomba 2005: 218) which is responsible for a dissolution of national, cultural, geographic and religious borders because it preaches the gospel of economic growth.

[4] Migration in the classical and modern sense causes an instability in human beings because their local, regional and national frameworks are destroyed. This has a vast influence on literature (Appadurai, 2002: 174).

[5] Taylor (2010) also talks about a difference of migration based on the wish to find work and the need to escape, she yet focuses it on people from the Third World. For her people in the West, the USA or other rich countries also migrate yet for different reasons such as an appropriate lifestyle (ibid., 2010: 1).

[6] This includes the breaking away of women from traditional male structures (Treibel, 2009: 103-123).

[7] See International Organization for Migration, 2008 World Migration, IOM World Migration Series, Vol. Commission on International Migration, Geneva 2006; also see Angenendt, 2009: 40/41.

[8] Scientists here differ between push and pull factors. Push factors are e. g. economic need, hunger, war or ecological disasters. Pull factors are attractive elements such as a liberal politics of asylum or the economic strength of a country (Galtung, 2009: 11).

[9] It is striking to see that this development has been neglected although its importance is undoubted. Lehmann (2005) clearly states:

“Das Thema Migration wurde in den letzten Jahren und Jahrhunderten mit vielerlei Problemen und Fragen in Verbindung gebracht, nicht aber, oder jedenfalls nur höchst selten, mit dem Thema Religion” (ibid.: 1).

Also see Robinson (1996). Some scientists see a connection between globalization and fundamentally oriented groups. These religious movements are partly seen to be responsible for political crises, open violence or economic insecurity. Two of their most striking characteristics are their apocalyptic character and their dualistic concept of the world.

[10] Angenendt (2009) sees a connection between Islam and its threat to national states (ibid.: 4). Roy (2010a) uses this idea and also stresses the connection between migration, globalization and religion (ibid: 225-226). For him globalization processes are not only responsible for the return of religion they are also the reason for the massive changes taking place in many societies around the globe. In this context he talks about “Akkulturation” and “Dekulturation” (ibid.: 209) which are responsible for a permanent separation of religions from territory, state and society. For him religious fundamentalism is also the best adapted form of religion in todays world because it accepts its separation from traditional culture and follows the right of university from this (ibid: 24). On this matter also see Scheffer (29.01.2000; Davie 2007; Sarrazin 2010; Berger 2010).

[11] Joppke (1999) differs between three types of immigration: - a restricted and tolerated form of immigration - an immigration which is wanted - an immigration which is not wanted (ibid.: 19-21)

[12] For a closer analysis of the term ´ civis Britannicus sum` see Hansen, 2000: 250/251.

[13] Trade unions did not play a central role in this discussion. Even the Ministry of Employment which could have promoted a controlled form of immigration in times of full employment turned out to be a hardliner against immigration to England. For the role of the trade unions and the role of the ministries during that period see Castles/ Kosack (1973); Bleich (1999).

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British Muslims under the Influence of Globalization and Migration
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Matthias Dickert (Author), 2014, British Muslims under the Influence of Globalization and Migration, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • guest on 3/23/2015

    Die Zusammenhänge der Globalisierung, Immigration und der Religion werden kurz, aber verständlich und sprachlich sehr gut dargestellt. Jedes Kapitel ist am Ende kurz zusammengefasst, was mir sehr gut gefallen hat und mir dadurch ebenfalls bewusst wurde welch eine entscheidende Rolle die Religion spielt. Die Geschichte Englands und des Islams wurde zum Teil ebenfalls aufgegriffen, wodurch die Zusammenhänge leichter zu erschließen sind.
    Absolut empfehlenswert!

  • guest on 3/16/2015

    Really informative and well written !
    It has all the information you need and on top the author uses good formualtions.
    The best thing about the book is that each chapter is summarised at the end.
    So you will never forget any of the most important facts.
    I definitely recommend it.

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