Social and Economic Influence of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Flander Belgium


 Migration has a long history since the birth of humanity. The largest movements of people in history were the barbarian migrations that overran the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and the Atlantic Migration to the Americas from the early 1800s to the early decades of the 20th century. For a thousand years, from the end of the Roman Empire in the West until the middle of the 15th century, the history of Europe, Asia, and North Africa consists of an almost unbroken series of invasions, wars, and conquests. Arabs, Mongols, Franks, Vikings, Christian Crusaders, and Turks all crossed vast areas searching for new lands to conquer.

 There are different types of migrations; like studying abroad, political asylum, family re unification, business, jobs etc. Through migration, there is some influence to both sending and receiving country. Migration influences different aspects of social and economical conditions. The standard of living could be improved in both sending and receiving country. For example in a receiving country one could change his standard of living drastically. A car for travelling around could be a basic need in a developed country but an immigrant enjoys it very well especially in start up of his/her living abroad and feel it a luxury. On the other hand through remittances in a sending country the rest of family member could also increase their standard of living. The migration flow is difficult to calculate. One cannot estimate on the basis of previous data, because some major issues, beyond the human control lead to this fluctuation; Such as unexpected war, unemployment trend in certain region, immigration policies of rich region, visa policies, natural disasters, imbalance between demand and supply in economy, entry of new members in EU with reference to Europe continental etc. The flow of highly trained persons; the Brain Drain, from sending country (most probably a poor country) to rich countries has arisen, more interest and concern than has any other aspect to the sending countries. Europe may contain a third of the world’s stock of immigrants but this figure is deceptive. The total number of non-nationals living in the European Union (EU) is very large - around 25 million in 2004. During 1945 and 1970 around 218,000 foreigners arrived in Flanders to work in mine sector. After this, need of “guest workers” continued in many forms within this society. In the past there were limited rights provided to immigrants but the recent situation is quite favourable in all respect. An immigrant has much more rights even almost the same as a Belgian. The foreigners have right of social security and family benefits. Health insurance and sickness leave could help them in difficult period same as the Belgian could get. Apart from other factors, religions have much more influence on integration of society. Although we could not find any official statistics regarding religious believers and practices but according to one survey conducted in 2000; most of the population is generally speaking; predominated by Roman Catholics. 47 percent of population considered they as practicing Catholics but a slightly larger number, 57.3 percent, identify themselves as belonging to the Catholic Church. Fifteen percent identify themselves as being Christian, but neither Catholic nor Protestant. 8.8 percent are non believers and another 8.5 percent identify them as belonging to the nonreligious philosophical community. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is one of the Islamic sects founded by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian India. The recent great number of conversion trend to the Ahmadiyya Community made worries to various countries without any special reason. This Included; Pakistan Indonesia, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and many others. Even so much so Pakistan has introduced the Blasphemy law of “Anti-Ahmadi Law of 1984” (see appendix 8.3) and made this part of their constitution. Many hindrances in the normal lives of Pakistani Ahmadies moved them to other countries by migration. In Flanders there are more than 1250 members of Ahmadiyya community. They are organised in different cities of Flanders like: Antwerpen, Beringen, Flemish area of Brussels, Hasselt, Lier, Oostende, Sint-Truiden, Tongeren and Turnhout. There are different nationalities and ethnic origins within Ahmadiyya community. In 2007 the federalGovernment paid €103 million to the recognized religious groups. This sum included €11.7 million to lay organizations and €6.7 million to Islamic religious groups; but Ahmadiyya Muslim community which is certainly recognized (KB 1984) are not being willing to accept any financial help from the state. This is a kind of self respect and dignity in society not to become burden on it. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian is the promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi (reformer of the later day) considered to be the spiritual leader of all religions awaited by them. This plays a basic logic of diversity within Ahmadiyya Community. Whatever ethnic origin within community is; their social and religious behaviour is the same everywhere.
In order to have social and economic influence of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community within Flanders, we conducted various interviews with members and collected different data. There are less health and physique problems in the community. Ownership of houses has been recently started due to long consuming process of immigration status and family re-unification procedure. The average fertility rate could not be calculated, however, with simple principle we derived an average of 1,25 children/ family in Flanders. Use of local language in daily life is a key element in social and economical influence. In Ahmadiyya Muslim community we found a high rate of 46% Dutch language followed by Urdu, French, Punjabi, English and Bangla in household spoken languages. Apart from the above current influences of Ahmadies within Flanders; there is another important future influence which is the education and career path of coming generation. Out of 368 male and female students; trend and career paths are different. Female chooses more traditional career paths like Nursing, Doctors, teachings, social work etc however, we found few engineers in female students too. On the other hand, males are more involved in professional studies. We found different studies trend in different areas like in Brussels area Business administration, office management, linguistics and general education as compared with Antwerpen region, there are more doctors, jeweller, architectures, teachers, preachers and in general education. The current average income of a nominal family is more than 2000 euro excluding the children benefits. Very less Ahmadies are taking social benefits from the state. Most of them prefer to work and start their own businesses. Apart from the 101 regular labour jobs in factories the other professions like IT engineers, doctors, and shopkeeper taxi drivers could also be observed in Flanders Ahmadies. The major flaw in Flanders is that an immigrant could not be given a chance according to their skill and educational qualifications. In order to overcome to this problem; Ahmadies are more taking part in trainings and to enhance other technical skills in order to maximise their chances of selection during job’s interview. Ahmadies are more social with local Flanders. A high daily frequency rate of meeting with neighbours could be observed among all Ahmadi immigrants in Flanders. Although they do not prefer to use internet and Blogs for their interactions with locals however, they use this technology for their social contacts with sending country and families behind. Most of Ahmadies spend their timings for community work. There are various pull and push factors of Ahmadies in Flanders which include Blasphemy Laws of Ahmadies in Pakistan, better economic conditions and better social life respectively. Every Ahmadi has a good social contact with their sending country. This also stimulates the remittances to their countries. An economic wave with these remittances could be the obvious result in that region which is most probably poor than the receiving country. Doing businesses, paying taxes, less rely on social benefits, less health problem in younger age are major advantages to Flanders. In order to give equal chances and job according to qualification, we developed a system which could help the policy makers to bring the immigrant as soon as possible to the job market and make them income generator soon after their arrival in Flanders. At the first reporting point of immigrants; municipality, asylum seeker centre etc; a full fledge information of an immigrants should be taken and uploaded into a central system, where every concerned department should have an access to. Here the most important information should be concerned with the special skill, experience and university education. If for example a university graduated with Master of Business administration degree could be consulted for their initial job in a diversified company or organisation. The companies and organisations should be motivated to hire immigrants by giving them a special premium on one hand, and comparatively less salary (but more than minimum level) could be offered to the immigrant on the other hand. A language course (Dutch) should be started in evening timings as well as on job. A dignity of self respect would be given to that employee. In this way all stakeholders would be benefited; state with taxes, companies with economical employees and immigrants on job market.
We conclude with this comment that there is no way to stop migration. Better to live, face and plan this reality in a positive way in order to get benefits out of it. Especially to “cash the blank cheque” of human capital which is already been built in sending country. One thing is certain; Immigration has a positive social and economic influence not only on sending but also on receiving country.



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