The Great Migration of 2015

It has been two months since I last posted a blog.  Time, then, to offer my take on the issue dividing the 28 EU member countries into two opposing camps:  What to do about the massive number of Muslim asylum-seekers who have landed, and continue to land daily, on Europe’s shores.  Europe hasn’t seen people on the move in such numbers as this since the end of WWII.  In the month of August alone, a record number of refugees and migrants from the Middle East–104,460–made it onto European soil.  Germany’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel predicts that before the year is out, one million will have arrived in Germany.  Night after night on television, we see heart rending scenes of people jammed into dangerously-inadequate boats issued by unscrupulous human smugglers, determined nevertheless to make the perilous trip across the Mediterranean even though they and their children–like almost 3,000 earlier asylum-seekers–may drown before reaching land.

Canada and the United States are nations of immigrants.  I myself am the daughter of an immigrant.  My father, while still a teenager–only 16 years of age–was encouraged by his mother to forsake war-ravaged Europe and join an older sister of his who had emigrated earlier and was living in a small town on the Canadian prairies.  And so he did.  [For some reason unknown to me, his mother chose to stay put along with three other of his sisters.  His father had died when he was only six months old.]  Many of the asylum-seekers from the Middle East that we see on our TV nightly appear to be young males in their late teens or twenties–up to 71%, according to some observers–the same age as my father when he emigrated.

Some have noted that what we are witnessing today bears similarities to the Great Migration of Peoples into the Western Roman Empire that occurred in the 4th century.  In order to escape from the Huns–a fearsome Eastern nomadic people–Germanic tribes massed in great numbers on the borders of the Roman Empire.  In 376, the Visigoths were the first of the Germanic tribes to receive permission from the Roman authorities to settle on imperial land.  Two years later, the Visigoths, riled by the policies of their host, rebelled.  On 8 August 378 they attacked a Roman army at Adrianople.  Two-thirds of the Roman army were slaughtered, the Roman emperor Valens was killed and his body was  never recovered.  Thirty-four years later, the Visigoths led by their leader Alaric sacked the imperial capital, Rome.  The admission of the Germanic tribes turned out to be a primary contributing factor in the empire’s eventual downfall.

Witnessing  the ‘great migration of 2015’, we must not assume that all those clambering to get into Europe are fleeing the war in Syria or the savagery of the Islamic State (IS).  Some are, for certain.  Others are not refugees but rather, economic migrants intent on reaching the ‘Promised Land’, Germany.  But what if the dreams of those economic migrants never become a reality?  Today, they are armed only with backpacks and cell phones.  What if they don’t get the job they want, or achieve the lifestyle they had pictured for themselves?  What if they find the ‘decadence’ of post-Christian Europe intolerable?  And what if they turn on their host like the Visigoths centuries before?

How many of the young men now breaching Europe’s borders are just guys like my immigrant father, ready to work hard and assimilate, no one can say.  And therein lies the problem.  There are reasons to be worried.  Back in February of this year, IS revealed that it planned to flood Europe with as many as 500,000 refugees.  The predicted ‘invasion’ is happening before our very eyes. That there are IS terrorists sheltered among the migrants should be taken for granted.  In a videotaped killing of Coptic Christians, IS showed a masked fighter pointing across the Mediterranean towards Europe, saying, “We will conquer Rome, God willing.”  And an IS tweet reads, “We are coming, O Rome.”

The vast majority of migrants, undoubtedly, are peace-loving Muslims.  Something the noted scholar of Islam Robert Spencer has pointed out, however, is that the act of migrating to a non-Muslim country can be for a Muslim an act of piety which brings rewards.  It’s known as hijrah, migrating for the sake of Allah.  The Qur’an promises that

whoso migrateth for the cause of Allah will find much refuge and abundance in the earth and whoso forsaketh his home, a fugitive unto Allah and his messenger, and death overtaketh him, his reward is then incumbent upon Allah…(Surah 4:100).

This explains in part, I think, why migrants are not going to other Muslim countries, but to the West. Immigration to non-Muslim countries promotes the spread of Islam, as well as bestowing blessings on those who undertake it.  Do many or any of the migrants believe they are immigrating for the sake of Allah?  It could very well be.

Of one thing we can be sure:  The ‘great migration of 2015’ is going to change Europe irrevocably, and in ways we could never have even imagined.

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