Comments by Rector of Islamic University Rotterdam Draw Attention

October 18, 2013

 

The rector of the Islamic University of Rotterdam (IUR) has become the target of press attention after publishing an article stating his views on various aspects of Islamic practice for Sunni and Alevi Muslims and his perspectives on current political events in Turkey. The publication appeared on the personal website of rector Ahmet Akgündüz in Turkish. It has been summarized in Dutch and English news sources in the Netherlands with considerable variation.

Newspaper Trouw notes that Akgündüz states the impossibility of dialogue with anyone who does not adhere to the six principles of faith and five pillars of Islam, and that it is not permissible to intermarry with or eat food slaughtered by some Alevi Muslims. According to Trouw, he further opposes the building of a Sunni-Alevi mosque complex nearby Ankara.

The English publication NIS news claims that Akgündüz’s publication calls opponents of Turkish Premier Erdogan “enemies of Islam”. Their quotation of Akgündüz’s statement that stoning is “one of the prescribed punishment within Islam” is amplified as material for the headline of their article “Islamic University Dean Supports Stoning”.

The unclarity over Akgündüz’s position and the controversial article prompted attention from the Dutch government, with members of the Liberal (VVD), Labour (PvDA), and Christian Democrat parties citing concern about the article, primarily due to the role of the Islamic University of Rotterdam in training Imams in the Netherlands.

In response to the controversy, the IUR has issued a press release stating that it stands in solidarity with the rector, emphasizing his academic qualifications and asserting that the views he presents in his writings are sufficiently neutral and not politically motivated. The press release also asserts that the statements in the media misquote Akgündüz’s position, directly contradicting the quoted positions regarding the acceptability of marriage to or eating meat slaughtered by Alevi Muslims.

Conversation in the press, and clarifications of Akgündüz’s position, is ongoing.

 

 

Personal website post of Ahmet Akgündüz (Turkish)- http://new.ahmetakgunduz.com/?p=112

NIS News (English)- http://www.nisnews.nl/islamic-university-dean-supports-stoning.html

Trouw (Dutch)- http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/5091/Religie/article/detail/3528817/2013/10/17/Rector-Islamitische-Uni-dialoog-met-niet-moslims-is-onmogelijk.dhtml

Press release IUR (Dutch)- http://www.nieuwwij.nl/nieuws/iur-onjuiste-berichtgeving/

Islamic university of Rotterdam receives accreditation

The Islamic University of Rotterdam received accreditation for its Master of Education for Moral Guide Programme on May 20, 2010, allowing it to enter the Dutch Higher Education System. It is now preparing applications for its other programmes, including the Bachelor of Islamic Sciences, Master of Islamic Sciences, and Master Imam Education. The University was founded in 1997, and also offers language, artistic, and musical training. Their accreditation is the culmination of an application process begun in 2003.

Dutch Muslims send divorce text messages

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that at least two Muslim men in the country have attempted to obtain divorce through digital means, according to comments by Shaikh Amer, a lecturer in Shari’a Studies at Rotterdam’s Islamic University. Amer notes cases in which men repeat the word “talaq” three times in an email, msn or text message. Critical Islamic scholars doubt whether the use of electronic media is secure enough. And under Islamic law, the paper notes, divorce is not legal until confirmed by a judge or imam.

First UK Sharia court up and running in Warwickshire

A Muslim college in Warwickshire is running the UK’s first official sharia law court. The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has used sharia law to settle more than 100 civil disputes between Muslims across the UK since it opened last December. The tribunal, which runs along side the British legal system, was set up by scholars and lawyers at Hijaz College Islamic University in Watling Street, Nuneaton.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, recently said there was no reason why sharia law, derived from several sources including the Koran, could not be used for contractual agreements and marital disputes. Cases already heard in Nuneaton include an inheritance dispute between three sisters and their two brothers, a divorce and a neighbour dispute. In the inheritance case, the men were given double their sisters’ inheritance. The divorce hearing ruled that a Somalian woman should be granted an Islamic khula (annulment) despite her husband’s strong objections. And in the neighbourhood dispute, the tribunal ruled that the losing party – a group of young Muslim graduates – should teach the winning party, who had young children. Les Reid reports.

Full-text article available here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Islam emerges choicest religion in Europe / In UK alone, 50,000 enter the fold every year

In a recent interview with the BBC, British Home Secretary Jackoi Smith made some interesting observations about the rapid spread of Islam in Europe. According to Smith, around 50,000 Britishers are converting to Islam each year and since 2001, four lakh Britishers have converted to Islam. He said the Muslim population in Britain has reached 20 lakh and followers of Islam are now the second biggest population in Britain after Christians. He even suggested setting up an Islamic University in Britain given the overwhelming population of the Muslims in that country. The momentum and intensity with which Islam is spreading in the West has puzzled the policy makers, religious scholars, researchers and media there. The conversions have especially gained unimaginable momentum after 9/11. Most of the researchers believe that the fast erosion of the religious and cultural values in the Western societies is pushing its people towards Islam that offers a more comprehensive, well-knit and value-oriented cultural, social and family structure. According to a recent report in the prestigious Time magazine, hundreds of new mosques are coming up in the West and most of the European cities now get to hear Azan (call for prayer) five times a day. In Rome a grand mosque is coming up at a whopping cost of $3 crore for which the land has been donated by the local government.