Living The Quran
From Issue: 967 [Read full issue]
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Sura 2: Verse 218
In this passage, those who are persecuted for their belief and are forced into exile are given hope. There is an obvious historical context: the people 'who believed and those who emigrated and exerted themselves in the path of God' are the early Muslims in Mecca. They had no option but to migrate to Medina along with the Prophet Muhammad.
The Quran sees migration as an option for all those who suffer religious intolerance, or other forms of oppression and persecution. This is not just the way of the Prophet Muhammad, but most prophets. Prophet Abraham, who was threatened by his own people, had to go into exile. Moses and the Israelites had to flee the oppression of the Pharaoh.
The Quran sees migration as a beneficial exercise. It is encouraged not just to escape oppression but also in the pursuit of learning. Migrants and refugees are to be helped and supported. They add intellectual and economic capital to a community, fill gaps in the labour markets and contribute to the economy of both countries: the one they have left behind and the one they have made their new home.
The moral imperative to oppose oppression and persecution as well as to aid those who flee its clutches should remind us that we still can be one community, a community of common humanity. Such a community must exert itself in practical, humane ways to protect the weak, the needy, all those who suffer, whatever their origin, belief or identity, because they are, just like us, God's creatures: part of the sacred trust that is our duty to sustain and nurture.
"Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam" - Ziauddin Sardar, pp. 159-160