By Abd Al Haqq Kielan
“My believing servants! My earth is vast, so worship Me and Me alone” 29:56
It took 1300 years from hidjra until the first Muslim community was established in Sweden.
Compare that to Christianity which took 800 years to reach Sweden.
Then it took more or less 400 years until that religion was accepted, and Sweden could be considered a Christian country.
Islam came to Sweden around 1945 with Tatar Muslims that were fleeing from Soviet terror. They established Muslim congregations in Finland and Sweden.
Later on immigration of workers resulted in thousands of Muslims from Yugoslavia and Turkey. Although they held a low profile as Muslims they started prayer halls in many larger cities. By the end of the 20:eth century the number of Muslims had risen to 350.000. Waves of refugees from Iraq, Bosnia and other war stricken areas had reached Sweden.
“But We shall be sure to guide to Our ways those who strive hard for Our cause:
God is with those who do good.” 29:69
Although some efforts had been done throughout the centuries to translate Koran and some studies of Islamic scriptures, the first translation by a Muslim of the holy Quran was published by Mohammed Knut Bernström 2000. This interpretation of the message of the Koran will probably be normative for the future and is a historical document over the arrival of Islam in Sweden.
But Islam is still presented in school books, newspapers and other media as something exotic, alien and threatening. In reality there has been, in the Western world, an undercurrent of hatred towards Islam from the Crusades up to our time. This aggressive hate has replaced Communism with Islam as World enemy no 1 in the period after the fall of the Soviet Union.
After the 9/11 disaster there has been a hardening of the propaganda against Islam and Muslims. All over Europe and even i Sweden political parties with an agenda of hate against Muslims have sprung up. In the meantime new refugees have arrived in this country and the number of Muslims in Sweden is now estimated at more than 500.000. Many come from East Africa and recently from Syria.
The economic crisis in the West has made it difficult for many immigrants to find jobs. Few of the new Swedes have higher education or economical wealth.
This means that the Muslims have a very weak cultural, social, financial and even religious base to stand upon.
The Muslims, individuals and families that come to a foreign land are depending on religious and cultural infrastructures to be able to maintain an Islamic way of life. The “islamofobic” atmosphere and growing segregation leads to a feeling of threat of annihilation and a very pessimistic view of the future. We can already see how unemployment, lack of adequate school education, fear and segregation forces primitive patterns of reaction to surface. We see young people attracted to extreme political groups, even violent.
“You are the best community singled out for people:
You order what is right, forbid what is wrong and believe in God.” 3:110
We must work to integrate Islam on Swedish ground, meaning that there has to be room for Islamic beliefs, thinking, ethics, culture next to and coexistent with beliefs, thinking, ethics, culture of the majority population. This must happen before all traces of Islamic religiosity are rooted out in Sweden. There must be a place for our Muslim culture in this country.
Integration means coexistence and cooperation, not assimilation and annihilation of one part.
Islam does not force Christians, secularists or anyone to submit. It is possible and easy for Muslims to accept and respect a multicultural and even multireligious society, not just in theory but in historically proven practice. Islamic cultures have been tolerant and have made possible the golden age of learning, art and spiritual growth that started the renaissance and age of enlightenment.
What kind of people brought the Islamic Civilization to all the parts of the world?
They were learned leaders, of pious Muslim brotherhoods, successful traders and brokers, and in many countries landowners, courtiers and farmers.
They brought along an intellectual and spiritual tradition where knowledge of the Islamic law, ways of economical transactions and not least personal development based on the tradional pious brotherhoods of Islam. These forerunners had the learning, charisma and economical basis to establish and adjust traditional Islam to various and shifting practical situations.
When so many of these ingredients are almost totally missing one must ask oneself: What would a Swedish Muslim culture look like? What steps should be next on the way there?
“The [Muslim] believers, the Jews, the Christians and the Sabians –
All those who believe in God and the Last Day and do good – will have their rewards with their Lord.
No fear for them, nor will they grieve.” 2:62
We are now at the crossroads for the future of Islam in Sweden. We must choose the way of traditional Islam, successful throughout history and not be led astray into a scared and aggressive path of extremism and political fanatics.
Colonialism has created many problems and people all over the “Third World” are still suffering enormous problems of deprivation, dictatorships and exploitation.
This has led to new, radical and basically un-Islamic ways of thinking in parts of the postcolonial world.
Violent solutions to social problems have had negative effects. No goals of Islam have been attained by hate and terrorism.
A leadership that preaches that path will lead its flock on to steep and dangerous ways and the survival of the group will be threatened. The children will be lost to the more progressive secular society.
Muslims have always gained success and built cultures through peaceful and positive cooperation with the populations of new areas. Fear and petty aggressiveness was never the way of the Muslims.
Faith is the driving force, knowledge, wisdom and science gives the direction and the sacred knowledge builds the foundation for a Swedish Muslim culture. Lack of Islamic knowledge is a major threat to our survival here, and it is in our hands to fend of the disaster of secularization. For this we need real Islamic learned, Alims, in the Swedish Islamic society. Traditional Islam based on Koran, the way of the Prophet and worked out by the great giants of Islamic knowledge is the cure.
Newly invented sects and cults of extreme and violent political nature must be discouraged and avoided.
A civilization is not static but a dynamic process that works in the society, giving and taking in a never ending fertilizing flow. In this we find that Islam throughout history has contributed to mankind not only spiritually but culturally.
No one except God knows what a Swedish Muslim culture will be like in the future. But we know that the presence of learned Muslims, well-educated imams, a traditional education of our youth, and people who practice the sacred knowledge always has brought forth great civilizations.