As we know, the world is facing a refugee crisis.
We see it on the news daily, to the point where many of us in the West are likely desensitized to the scenes of refugee camps, capsized boats, and bodies of children washing up on the shores of neighboring countries.
Globally, there are countless millions of refugees– over 6 million of them are refugees fleeing the war in Syria alone. U.S policy and intervention in the region accomplished what many critics predicted from the beginning: we destabilized the entire area, created inner conflicts within regions, and left a gaping hole that was filled by extremists who continue to inflict chaos and destruction.
So, what to do with the all the refugees we helped create?
When President Obama indicated the United States would take in 10,000 of them, a good chunk of the country flipped their lid. Even some “Christian” leaders such as Franklin Graham have advocated that the United States not take in any of the refugees at all– a position that now represents that of the American right-wing.
Instead of welcoming in the stranger and providing for their needs (you know, Jesus stuff), the retort has been the same over and over again whether by right-wing talking heads, or random commenters on the Internet:
The Islamic countries need to do their fair share, they say.
I’m sure you’ve heard it too. People may phrase it differently, but the words are all the same: they should be helping their own people.
There is an unchallenged, underlying assumption in this position that we need to dispel– an assumption that we are the hospitable ones, that we are the ones who are the most generous, and that we are the ones doing all the work.
The reality is, none of that is true.
As Amnesty International has stated, rich nations like the United States “host the fewest and do the least” when it comes to helping refugees. Sure, we’ve taken in 10,000, but that’s a token amount in the big picture, and conservative Christians resisted that every step of the way.
So, if it’s not the United States or even Europe who is doing the most to help refugees, who is welcoming the most and doing the most?
Predominantly Muslim countries, that’s who.
As reported by Aljazeera, there are just 10 countries who host a majority of the world’s refugees, and the top five on that list are countries which are a majority Muslim:
On top of that list is Jordan, a country I just returned from a few days ago. This was my second invited trip to Jordan, and one of the biggest take-aways I came home with was a deeper appreciation for the generosity and radical hospitality that is so unique to the Muslim world. The gentle kindness I experience when among Muslims is second to none– it’s one of the few places in the world where you can be walking down the street one minute, and sitting as the guest of honor in a stranger’s house the next. Islamic hospitality is truly extraordinary on the global scene.
As we see from the statistics on who is doing the most to help refugees, it’s clear that Islamic hospitality isn’t just something that one finds in the small, day-t0-day experiences when among Muslims; their hospitality is so great that it is reflected in the fact that they are global leaders in setting the example of caring for strangers.
As people who claim to want to follow Jesus, we have a lot to learn from the Christ-like example of our Muslim brothers and sisters in the Middle East who have a long tradition of welcoming in the stranger.
The beautiful, selfless, and generous hospitality of Muslim nations is an example we should all aspire to, if we truly want to make Christians Christ-like again.
So, the next time you hear someone say, “Oh yeah? Well, I’d love to see the Muslim countries help out!” just remind them that Muslim countries are actually the ones who best care for the hungry, the naked, and the homeless, and that we could learn from their example.
Some Christians in the U.S. can certainly learn some things from some Muslims (and visa versa) about hospitality. I’m not contesting the point that Christians need to work on our hospitality or that accepting 10k or more Syrian refugees would be the just thing to do, but what the numbers above don’t take into account is overall immigration. The U.S. takes in hundreds of thousands of people from central and south America and Asia who are fleeing all sorts of problems, but who aren’t designated official refugees.
What matters more than raw numbers though, is the attitude of the host country’s people. Are Syria’s neighbors welcoming the refugees with open arms or are they “taking them in” merely because they’re there and a reality? And what is our attitude toward the reality of immigrants fleeing strife in their home country?
How about making birth control, including abortion, more widely available?
Overpopulation, including a huge mass of underemployed and angry young people, contributes hugely to these countries’ instability and misery.
I am not surprised by the figures you provided us. Unfortunately, most Christians see our faith as a “safe” faith. For some reason they seem to think that Jesus means for us to take care of our own first and if there is anything left give it to the refugees. Or that when God told the Jews to welcome the refugees in the Old Testament, God meant only if they become Jews and if they don’t refuse entry. If bringing in refugees seems to them to be dangerous they feel that God is ok with us not letting in refugees because they may be a danger to our children. In fact they seem to have forgotten our obligation to the poor as if that is somehow optional or solved by throwing money at it. Heaven begins on earth and Christians are the ones who are to do it, remembering that the second part of greatest commandment is to love others as we love ourselves. (First part tells us to love our God with all our hearts, soul and minds).
Thank you for this, especially the chart. I’ve argued with people about how Islamic countries “Don’t do anything to help.” I’ve offered links to the Red Crescent, to other Islamic disaster-relief groups and stats on refugee aid. For some reason, people assume if they don’t know something, it doesn’t exist. This stuff isn’t hard to find…
Well, it’s a bit easier now. I can link to this article and to your chart. Thanks again.
I have nothing with letting those countries help their own. But one must understand the complexities of the area. The west must take affirmative action to protect those that have no one. Those refugees are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and belong to various religious sub-groups as well. All those who are in minority in their country of origin or in the country that houses them are at risk of violent reprisal, even after reaching refugee camps. The west should commit to taking those people who will face the largest threat first of all. This will also make it easier for those countries to take care of the remaining refugees once sectarian violence is out of the picture (an issue they can’t handle as their institutions have never proven able to cope with these types of challenges).
Are secular states more apt to help Muslim refugees?