Euroislam: Can Islamic Monotheism Meld with European Secularism?

By Mataré, Herbert F. | Mankind Quarterly, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Euroislam: Can Islamic Monotheism Meld with European Secularism?


Mataré, Herbert F., Mankind Quarterly


Euroislam: Can Islamic Monotheism Meld with European Secularism?

Demographic projections forecast a majority Moslem population in Europe within the next twenty years, due not only to increasing Muslim immigration but also to the current low birthrate of indigenous non-Muslim Europeans and the much higher birthrate of both immigrant and established Muslim communities in Europe. In this article a distinguished German scientist reviews two recent books by Muslim scholars which advocate a melding of a moderated form of Islam with European rationalism and secularism, and asks whether it is possible to combine belief in an all-powerful monotheistic deity with a culture inspired by rational, scientific secularism,

Die Islamische Herausforderung: Religion und Politik in Europa des 21. Jahrhunderts

(The Islamic Challenge: Religion and Politics in 21st Century Europe)

Bassam Tibi

Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (in German) 3rd Ed., 2008

The author is an immigrant into Europe who was born in Damascus but studied at German Universities and was granted German citizenship in 1976. Until his retirement he was a professor for International relations at the University of Göttingen in Germany and has held no less than eighteen visiting professorships at leading European and American universities including Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, Princeton, Cornell and even the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in Washington, D.C. Tibi has written extensively about conflict around the world and argues against racism, which he says is a European invention (as though ancient Egyptians had not practiced it against Negroes, and other societies around the world had not subjugated and despised other peoples long before Europeans built empires and introduced modern technology to the rest of the world). He has authored a number of books with the same general theme: that Europeans should overcome what he calls "Euro-arrogance" and "xenophobia" and should accept immigrants freely into Europe, modifying existing secular European culture in order to create a new continental-wide Euroislamic culture acceptable to its growing Muslim population.

He argues two main theses in this book. First, he describes what he considers to be the cause of the confrontational relations between Islam and the Western nations, speaking of a hatred of the West originating in the economic and technical inferiority of the Islamic world. Second, he proposes that the Western nations are too secular and need to reintroduce a sense of the "sacral" into their politics and everyday life, and that the Islamization of Europe may do just that.

To Tibi, Europe should accept a more full-blooded cultural pluralism, not just a state of multiculturalism in which secular Western culture remains dominant. Tibi talks about the "basic right" for strong religious rules and an increase in the influence of what he calls the "sacral." He considers himself to be a Moslem but believes that Islam needs to be reformed, and that Islam should merge with the European secular and scientific culture of Europe to create a new Europe-wide, Leitcultur, that will be acceptable to Muslims and would meld Islamic values into the existing European secular culture. This is the only way, he told Der Spiegel, that Europe can avoid a Huntington-style "clash of civilizations."

With today's massive migration of Muslims into Europe, Tibi observes that the Mediterranean has ceased to be a dividing frontier between the Muslim world and Europe. As an immigrant himself, he strongly opposes arguments for the restriction of immigration into Europe, condemning such suggestions in the usual way by calling them "racist." European culture, he says, will ultimately benefit from the growing percentage of Muslims in Europe because they will bring with them the idea of a religious "absolute"; and, to the extent that they themselves abandon jihad and violence, a new culture will emerge which he calls Euroislam. …

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