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 "Integrating Islam Into Secular Germany"

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PostSubject: "Integrating Islam Into Secular Germany"   Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:18 pm


Islam's status in Germany




"New generations of Muslims were born and socialized in Germany."



Backround Information:

Muslims started to immigrate to the Federal Republic of Germany in significant numbers back in the 1960s. For a long time, the public took little notice of their presence. Most Muslims were unskilled guest workers mainly from Turkey and North African countries and lived in modest quarters. In small praying areas that were usually located on the outskirts, they pursued their religious activities beyond the attention of their social environment.

However, in Germany, Islam experienced a rapid change during the past 10 years. The number of Muslims increased to about 3.5 million, large mosques were built, big organizations were established, and new generations of Muslims were born and socialized in Germany. All in all, Islam has struck root in Germany.




Part of Germany and Europe:



German's former president Horst Khler expressed his greetings for Muslims on the occasion of `Eid Al-Fitr. Muslim representatives appeared in the evening news and clear words came from the Federal Minister of Interior, Wolfgang Schuble, during the official conference on Islam:


"Islam is part of Germany and of Europe. Islam is part of our present and of our future."


Such statements reveal a change in awareness that takes place not only among officials but also within the society. Efforts to integrate Islam and Muslims in the social system are in full swing.



However, the crucial question is how to deal with this "part of society." Indeed, the permanent Muslim presence is finally perceived as a social reality. However, German people are in the throes of a process of adaptation to changed social conditions that result inter alia in the emergence and establishment of religions and cultures heretofore unknown to the society, such as Islam.



Mosques, Muslim clothing, and some Islamic customs are phenomena that were long (and in some places are still) unfamiliar and strange to Germans. Now, these phenomena are challenging a society that is evermore getting rid of religious bindings.



This process of adaptation does not involve only Muslims. How can they practice their religion within and as part of their secular German society? How can they become integral and valuable members of the society so that Islam becomes generally accepted and legally recognized?




Integration into Society


Thus, the question of integration has become one of the main questions on the agendas of Muslim organizations. However, up to now, the political commitment of these organizations is focused on pursuing official and legal acknowledgment as well as safeguarding free practice of religion, so far with little success.



Furthermore, these organizations have to continually justify themselves with regard to criminal or terrorist acts committed or prepared by Muslims worldwide. But yet, they neither have common or individual strategies or a concept for better integration of Muslims nor carry out "professional" integration work in their local communities.



On the contrary, in some mosques, a bad mode of expression toward the society predominates and a very strict, intolerant understanding of Islam is propagated. Thus, the aim of supporting integration, which is declared by Muslim representatives, sometimes becomes untrustworthy. Moreover, the organizational structure of Muslim organizations has in many ways been obstructive for the implementation of some Muslims' interest in political decision-making.




Islamic Organizations:



The manifold ways in which the religious and social life of Muslims became organized are difficult to understand. Even Germany's Muslims themselves do not know much about these ways. The religious life of Germany's Muslims became predominantly, but not entirely, organized in the form of organizations and federations. These are mostly formally registered as "religious associations."



However, none of the existing organizations has attained the legal acknowledgment as a "religious community" or the status of a "body of the public right." In fact, the Islamic form of organization in Germany reflects the history of Muslim migration when members of certain religious or ethnic groups immigrated together.



Thus, Muslim organizations have arranged themselves according to the ethnic roots of their members. They are more or less in contact or associated with political or religious players in the countries of origin. They still have quite weak links with their social environment. This implies a number of structures described below.



First, a huge part of religious life is arranged in the shape of several formal organizations and associations, which can be subdivided according to ethnic composition and religiopolitical background.



Nationwide, there are six Sunni-Turkish organizations and one Alevi-Turkish organization that administer local communities. There are also three Sunni-Arab organizations and two associations for European Muslims originating from Balkan states. The Turkish federations are the largest in terms of numbers of either members or mosques attached to them.



The Turkish Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (DTB) , which cooperates with the Presidency for Religious Affairs in Turkey , is the one with the highest numerical strength. For instance, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, one-third of the 712 mosques is attached to (DTB).



Second, beside this order, Muslim unions are also structured following the federal system. Germany is a federation consisting of 16 states, each with its own parliament and government. Accordingly, some organizations have joined together to form umbrella associations that act on a federal level, such as the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) and the Council of Islam (Islamrat).



Furthermore, additional umbrella organizations emerge on the level of federal state, such as Shura Niedersachsen. The latter formations are especially important because culture and religiopolitics in Germany are under the responsibility of the individual federal states.





Third, in addition to the arrangement in the form of unions, organizations, and umbrella associations, there are also independent forms of self-organization of religious life of Muslims. A large variety of religious groups, projects, local associations, and activities have evolved: independent women groups, media projects, student associations, and mosques.


Thus, nowadays the structure of Muslims in Germany is increasingly shaped and influenced by the activities of younger generations of German Muslims. Nevertheless, the established organizations still provide and maintain a significant part of the religious infrastructure and represent the interests of practicing Muslims.



In view of these complex structures, the German authorities and social players wonder quite rightly: Who is the right contact person? What is the authoritative and reliable "address of Islam" in Germany?




Who



The issue of an authorized representative office that acts for the majority of Muslims is important, especially on the level of federal state. In the federal state, the parliament discusses and legislates important laws related to religion. Because a recognized Muslim entity does not exist, Muslim positions and statements are frequently excluded from the process of decision-making and from crucial discussions, such as religious instruction for Muslims in German schools or the question of legality of wearing a headscarf as a teacher.


All for One, One for All:



The lack of cooperation and unity among Muslim associations has weakened the voice of Muslims as much as minimized the effectiveness of their political participation. Muslim community leaders have finally recognized this. In April 2007, they founded the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM).



In this council, the representatives of the two umbrella associations joined with the largest two Turkish organizations. This way, almost all nationwide Muslim associations and organizations are represented in the council.



The main purpose of the council is to exchange views about important Muslim affairs among the members and to synchronize their positions. This shows that Muslim representatives are trying to lay the foundations for better and more effective contributions to the political and public debate about the Muslim presence and the future of Islam in Germany. Yet, this form of cooperation implies neither a structural reform nor a launch of a great unification process. Everything can remain unaffected.



But the struggle for integrating Muslims is not only taking place on the higher political levels. Activities of integration are mainly carried out on a regional level in towns where people live side by side. There, many Muslim communities have increased their efforts to cooperate and exchange views with the local authorities and with other social and religious groups.



So many mosques of different organizations have broadened their activities and functions in the past few years. They are still providing Muslims with the basic religious needs (praying areas, lessons, etc.) according to their individual capacities.



In addition, an increasing number of Muslim communities also address themselves to public relations and dialogue. There is a trend toward more openness, exchange of information with the social environment, and integration activities (e.g. lessons for pupils and language courses in the mosques).



Despite all efforts, there are some reverse trends to be noted. Despite the organizations' striving for unity and the openness of many local communities, there are also cases of fragmentation, such as Muslim groups that detach themselves from their communities to create their own "private" praying areas as well as other cases of segregation from the rest of the society.



Nevertheless, Islam has become a part of Germany long time ago, but it seems more time is needed before Muslims and non-Muslims can get accustomed to this reality and before they can find and develop sustainable modes for a peaceful and fruitful coexistence in a plural society.





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This article was copied with slight modifications and was by: Raida Chabibis

Raida Chabibis a German-Syrian political scientist and PhD student. She received her MA from the University of Bonn. She works as an assistant researcher in a research project at the Department of Religious Science, University of Bochum. She is preparing her PhD dissertation on the forms of Islamic organizations in Germany. She also writes for a number of German Islamic websites and newspapers.

The article and short description of Mrs. Chabibis were derived from www.islamonline.net

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So what do you think? Do you think there is hope for Germany? Please give your responses.
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PostSubject: Re: "Integrating Islam Into Secular Germany"   Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:55 pm

Dang! I don't think I can reply all in one day....I'll reply tomorrow....coherently.

Allah Hafiz
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PostSubject: Re: "Integrating Islam Into Secular Germany"   Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:03 pm

Assalaymulaykum,

Umm...this sort of a big thing..

Germany has had a huge Muslim population for some time now...
Hence, I ask, is there a future for Germany?



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PostSubject: Re: "Integrating Islam Into Secular Germany"   Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:13 pm

Well, lets hope so! Inshallah Smile

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PostSubject: Re: "Integrating Islam Into Secular Germany"   Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:34 pm

This was one long heck of an article. Reallyyy got my mind on the spur. From what I understand the Muslims already inhabited most of Italy and Spain, and that's where they came from.
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PostSubject: Re: "Integrating Islam Into Secular Germany"   Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:49 pm

Degree wrote:
This was one long heck of an article. Reallyyy got my mind on the spur. From what I understand the Muslims already inhabited most of Italy and Spain, and that's where they came from.

Assalamulaykum,

Are you joking!
You are saying that the majority of muslims in Germany cam from Spain and Italy. Did you even read the article?

It says most Muslims in Germany are mostly from Turkey and North Africa.
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PostSubject: Re: "Integrating Islam Into Secular Germany"   Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:32 pm

Why did they ever seek asylum in Germany? What oppurtunities did Germany have that the Muslims came for? Elaborate Romi.

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