The latest issue of the semestrial magazine ‘Islam in 21st Century’ is released. The magazine is aimed at enlightening Muslims and motivate them to shift to modern Islam promoting tolerance and openness. Enlightenment started with prominent Muslim scientists like Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina, and Al-Farabi, who saved Europe from dark times, enlightened its people and helped them achieve their renaissance.
The issue consists of several sections: the first is written by Eva Janadin, researcher specialized in early and modern Islamic thought. It discusses keynotes and ideas demonstrated during a relevant conference held recently at the UNESCO palace. The second section is entitled ‘Islam and Environment’ or ‘Islam and Animal Kingdom’, a theological field of discovery or rediscovery; it’s written by researcher Omero Marongiu-Perria, a sociologist specialized in Islam studies in France, and a theologist interested in interfaith dialogue, mainly between Islam and Christianity. Among his works are ‘It’s Time to Eliminate False Ideas about Islam, and Muslims,’ and ‘France’s Muslims…the Big Ordeal’.
The third section was written by Moroccan researcher Marwan Sinaceur. It discusses hijab (veil), and raises important questions about it: is it an Islamic idea? Is it exclusive to Islam like many assume or was it common in past religions and civilizations?
The fourth and last section features a long, interesting interview with the Berlin-based Turkish-German researcher and lawyer Seyran Ateş, who moved to Berlin with her family in 1969, when she was six years old. She has many works that focus on women and men rights, and she spent 35 years of her life fighting the conventional, patriarchal, and theological voices targeting women. She recently inaugurated the Ibn Rushd- Goethe Mosque in Berlin. Ateş, who belongs to the liberal Islamic movement, said she had the idea of establishing a mosque after she attended the German Islam Conference for four years, and after she realized that most Islamic organizations and associations in Germany are close-minded and do not represent her as a tolerant, liberal Muslim.
She’s a Muslim believer who needs a mosque that reflects her religious convictions and lifestyle, and so do many other Muslim men and women in Germany. The German-Turkish researcher believes that although Ibn Rushd (1126-1198), an Arab, Muslim scientist lived in a different era than Goethe (1749-1832), the German, Christian philosopher, they have many intellectual similarities. Both were prominent, curious scientists with wide knowledge; they both linked the east and the west, and were open to several religions, civilizations, and views. Ibn Rushd was interested in Greek philosophy, mostly Aristotle, while Goethe was a big fan of the Islamic civilization. They both focused on what connects the Orient and the Occident, and preferred tolerance over hatred and fanaticism. They both presented a model that could help us reach a novel, open-minded, and tolerant approach of Islam capable of facing the darkness currently dominating the Muslim communities in the West. The Ibn Rushd- Goethe model could also help us cohabitate despite our religious, ethnic, ideological, and racial differences.
The magazine issue was opened with a long introduction written by Eva Janadin, who said that when we take a close look at the French presidential elections, we notice that Islam issues were discussed in the worst forms, and fueled with hatred, offense, and rejection of Muslims by far-right groups. The French media lacks voices that confront these discussions and denounce the frightening pictures of Islam the popular extremists promote. These voices should boast the right understanding of Islam that represents justice and righteousness. Unlike the far-right leaders, most of the liberal French leaders differentiate between Islam as a great spiritual religion, and the extremist and fanatic current of political Islam that supports ‘Al Qaeda’ and ‘ISIS’. Therefore, we shouldn’t mix the far and moderate rights because this merge has become a synonym of division and disintegration amidst a growing discrimination against people with Magrebi origins.
In contrast, we notice another phenomenon: France is still the top European country supporting openness towards foreigners and migrants. This openness is reflected in a growing number of mixed marriages between indigenous French and Muslim immigrants. Despite everything, France remains the country of lights, revolution, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen announced in 1789. It’s the country with the universal motto: Freedom, equality, fraternity.
For his part, researcher Hakim Al Qarawi believes that some French Muslim youth felt that they don’t fit in the French community, so they resorted to the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ and extremist groups. Job opportunities, care, and acceptance could have saved them from the route of bloody jihadists. Then, Qarawi asks: how can we explain that 90 percent of extremists are French, speak French, and have a French culture although they come from Maghrebi origins? And how can we explain that 30 percent of them are indigenous French who joined Islam for the first time, then became extremist?
Anyway, we should not speak about the regions that the French Republic lost, but about the regions that the republic neglected. There are many unfortunate suburbs and neighborhoods that are deprived of education, security, doctors, and hospitals…therefore, the only solution to face extremism is to invest in developing and improving the Muslim suburbs surrounding the French cities. This would determine the future of France: the country could recover or deteriorate if it declined to address this huge challenge. The state should save the marginalized suburbs from isolation, poverty, misery, unemployment, and desperation. But the problem with fighting extremism is also intellectual: intellects should promote a whole new enlightened thought about Islam and its massive, multi-faceted heritage that cannot be overshadowed by a dark movement that believes in ‘sacred violence’ and justifies random explosive attacks. This is not Islam, it’s crime. Believing in God and violence are two parallels that can never meet.
The true Islam forbids religious violence because it’s the religion of mercy, and Muslim intellects should promote a new approach that opposes the wrong movements distorting the image of Islam worldwide. They should reread the and reinterpret the old texts with a modern perspective to avoid the persistence of this nightmare in the 100 coming years! The renewal of religious thought is the solution, rescue, and salvation. And this is what the ‘Islam in 21st Century’ magazine seeks to do.