22 Oct 2010
There is only one main opponent on the current battleground — Islam. It is therefore necessary that Jewish intellectuals and Muslims in Germany engage in a new relationship, writes the philosopher Almut Shulamit Bruckstein Coruh in this essay.
Every day in Germany, one hears talk of the Jewish-Christian tradition in the West. Usually, it is meant in the context of defending our system of the rule of law and the constitution, the liberal values of our society, and even “gender equality and the freedom of artistic expression, opinion, and religion”. On this battleground, there is one main opponent — Islam.
There was never any Jewish-Christian tradition. It is an invention of European modernity and a myth held dear by traumatized Germans. “Jewish-Christian” is a construction characterized by the notion of the dawn of progress, which reached its pinnacle in the reformation and the French Revolution.
In times like these, in which Muslim traditions stand under a cloud of suspicion, Coruh suggests that we need to renew the relationship between Jewish intellectuals and Muslims in this country.
Abu Bakr Rieger, the president of the EMU Foundation, an umbrella organization for informing about and promoting Islam in Europe, comments in an interview on the German Islam conference. According to him, the whole project has had its downsides from the beginning, when former German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble invited “liberal Muslims”, who were very critical of Islam themselves, to outnumber the more conservative representatives. Today, Abu Bakr Rieger sees similar problems arising from current Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière’s approach that caused two of the major Muslim organizations to withdraw from the Conference. Furthermore, while admitting that Muslims benefit a lot from the German rule of law, Abu Bakr Rieger is disappointed with de Maizière’s denial of anti-Islamic sentiments in Germany.
Lamya Kaddor, a prominent teacher of Islamic education, has published a book on her interpretation of a contemporary German Islam. The book with the title Muslimisch — Weiblich — Deutsch! (Muslim, Female, German!), subtitled “My path to a contemporary Islam”, comes at a time of strong debate in Germany on whether and how to criticise Islam.
By blending personal recollections, theological reflections, and political pleas, she formulates her vision of an Islam that befits modern German society. She investigates why most German Muslims have not yet arrived at such a modern and enlightened understanding of their religion and lists the obstacles she feels are preventing them from doing so.