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The first Islamic Conference in Germany is currently under way

For many years, the average bratwurst and folk music loving German saw Muslims as the working bees of the society. Most of them were brought from Turkey or Albania to help rebuilding the brittle German economy and destroyed infrastructure after WW2.
But instead of going back to their home countries as expected, the worker muslims decided to stay in Germany, having raised children in Germany and felt at home there.

The German society, not being used to foreign cultures until the 1950s found it difficult to deal with the new citizens of foreign origin and religion.

Muslims were frequently just addressed by their first names, assumed as Ali and Ayce, and heavily stereotyped, frequently portrayed as moustached roadside workers and fat headscarf wearing cleaners.

Muslim families tried to distance themselves in cultural suburbs as in Berlin Kreuzberg where they could talk in their own language, visit the mosques, live modestly to send money back home and eat imported food they knew.
In the 80s, Muslims,and Germans realized that they have largely failed to blend, as neither of them really was educated about how to break language and culture barriers. On top of that, the fall of the Wall in 1989 exposed millions of eastern Germans for the very first time to Islam and Muslims.

Islamic organizations began go flourish within the mainly sunni, shi'ite and alevi muslim communities in Germany. Second generation Muslims began interact and mix with the German society, visit higher schools and universities, and, of course, tried to be practicing muslims which often resulted in misunderstandings.

The Islamic Conference aims at clearing up those misunderstandings. It was called for by Interieur Minister De Maziere, in an attempt to integrate Muslims into German society and reduce racial and religious tensions due to stereotypes and prejudices.

It is trying to address and resolve gender and headscarf issues, as well as domestic violence in muslim families, forced marriages, and islamic school curriculum and the non regulated education for imams in German mosques. As an example, in the largely christian German society, the headscarf is traditionally a symbol of subordinance and enslavement of women, however a lot of Germans just seem to fail to see that it is a symbol of faith and freedom for muslim women. "A muslim woman living in Germany has to decide if she wants to lead a religious life or have a career, as she won't get a job wearing the recommended hijab", participant Erika Theissen, founder of the Muslim Women's Meeting and Educational Centre, is quoted. I

t sounds like a good attempt to broker understanding between Germans and Muslims.

Observers of the event however notice that the Islamic Council of Germany itself, and several other prominent german-islamic organizations are excluded, apparently a large part of Muslims in Germany didn't feel represented by them.

Other critics note that it is just an attempt to tamper with the teachings of Islam with discussions of having a moderate version of Islam taught in schools and the state regulation of Imams in mosques and building regulations for mosques. They say that the conference does not work to correct these stereotypes but to reinforce them and that the conference is based on the prejudice that Islam is a non-tolerant religion, unable to allow it's followers to integrate into another society.

While the conference does stimulate discussions in Germany, it is unfortunatly a fact that many people fail to see the need for a dialogue between Muslims and Westerners. The way it was before, that muslims did the low jobs and kept for themselves, this way seemed to have worked for them.

the labels read "stereotype and reality’: While the German Islamic Board of Muslims criticises the “presentation of religious leaders of the Islam”, effigy designer Jaques Tilly says: “We show turban wearer and terrorist. If someone wants to see something religious in this, it’s a very personal point of view.” C/ ASSOCIATED PRESS

islam Radio Stations - Free Internet Radio

islam Radio Stations - Free Internet Radio

from the Sahaba..

Once, a person was verbally abusing Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was curiously watching with a smile. After taking much abuse quietly, Abu Bakr responded to a few of his comments. At this, the Prophet exhibited his disapproval, got up and left. Abu Bakr caught up with the Prophet and wondered, 'O Messenger of Allaah, he was abusing me and you remained sitting. When I responded to him, you disapproved and got up.' The Messenger of Allaah responded, 'There was an angel with you responding to him. When you responded to him, Satan took his place.' He then said .. 'O Abu Bakr, there are three solid truths: If a person is wronged and he forbears it (without seeking revenge) just for the sake of Allaah almighty, Allaah will honour him and give him the upper hand with His help; if a person opens a door of giving gifts for cementing relationships with relatives, Allaah will give him abundance; and, if a person opens a door of seeking charity for himself to increase his wealth, Allaah will further reduce his wealth.' Reported from Abu Huraira in Mishkaah and Musnad Ahmad.

book review

Ok, so I promised you a book review... I really thought I should ditch it, it's too upsetting.

And also too upsetting for me to read that stuff again. I should have said inshallah, hindsight is better than no sight... astaghfirullah

So the book Why I am not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq defies the compelling title. There is not a single sentence in the whole book (but I didn't bother reading it a second time, for the sake of my Islam, I don't have time for rubbish) that explains why this person is not a Muslim.

Rather the title seems to have been sub-edited to make it more... let's say, islamophobic. The books that have the words muslim, islam and terror on it sell best, that's just a fact (not everyone wants to read books about sex).
The book cover is just plain stupid. The title is in bright red and yellow alarming colors on a black and white picture of Masjid al Haram - making it all look like a WW2 Nazi Propaganda picture.

From the first sentence to the last, the book is a compilation of all sorts of rumours and untruth that have been spread by ignorant people and islamophobes. I haven't found a single true thing in it.

This is not an easy start of an uninformed non muslim reader who would naturally pick this book up in an attempt to get some information about Islam.
Most people would think that the author has an islamic sounding name, people would think that he knows what he writes about.
Wrong, oh so wrong.

So it starts off with the authors view of the Rushdie Affair and proceeds to call for a total disestablishment of the core of Islam, continues with the ignorance of Christianity and Judaism (something that's not even mentioned in the index) and the devil enemy of Democracy - multiculturalism, (monotheistic) religions in general and more. The ironic thing is that the author calls for a strengthening of democracy in the UK (a monarchy) and the fighting off everything that does not support democracy, which made me laugh. Almost.

Just to mention the worst untruths that he claims to know by research and trustful sources are:

1) the religion of Islam and the Qur'an is a collection of stories that Muhammad saw heard through his travels and trading connections. However the author claims that our beloved Nabi even got confused when uttering the Qur'anic verses. In general he said that the teachings of the Quran were nothing new for the time of the Prophet (saw)

2) the Qur'an is not the word of god but the invention of a clever man who put the words that he heard from others into nice poetry in an attempt to put all the different religions into one

3) the Hajj and it's rituals are derived from pagan rituals that were practised before the establishment of Islam and the claim that they were practised in the times of Ibrahim is false.

4) women are dirty and the Prophet even refused to shake their hands and gave them the status of donkeys and dogs (he hasn't even read up on that topic, duh)

5) he claims that circumcision in general is part of pagan faith and not mentioned in the Qur'an (not in these words) and shouldn't be practised. In the introduction he said that his first memory is from his circumsision, I suppose they have cut a bit too much there...

and so on... he misquotes hadith (and hadith that don't even exist) and Qur'anic ayat, but surprisingly quotes a lot of Jewish references with accuracy (for instance he seemed to be a great fan of Goldziher http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ign%C3%A1c_Goldziher read here who that was and make up your mind if that's a good source)

My personal highlight was the history of apostates in Islam that he biographed and portraied as heros and martyrs for atheism and democracy. And the random quotes from people who didn't like Islam, anonymous of course such as "I tell you this country is being sodomized by religion" by a Pakistani businessman ex air officer..

towards the end of the book it becomes clear that the title was really ill chosen - Ibn Warraqs agenda is against muliticulturalism and religion in general, not just Islam. In the last paragraph he calls for the west to be vigorous (i suppose with violent and deceptive means) to ensure democratic values to prevail in the west which defeats the mere purpose of democracy.
Reading his references and the book, I cannot help but wonder if Ibn Warraq had a very bad ghost writer, or is a close friend of Salman Rushdie. I wouldn't be surprised.

I don't know, but what strikes me most about the books that I read from islamophobes and atheists or people who call for a change in their religion is that their tone and their writing is terribly arrogant.
Religion is about humility, but this is one aspect these people obviously miss. I once read a book about a Pakistani doctor who worked in Ryadh, she took terrible offence in having to veil there. Half her book was a verbal shredding of the hijab and niqab. As arrogant as she was she went to Hajj, cried as she was close with her creator, but went home as arrogant as before (and even critizised the two class accommodation at the hajj). Her constant mantra was that she had to explain that is a doctor, not the brown skinned pakistani or bangladeshi domestic servant that people thought she was.... say no more...

what are these times that the ones that are arrogant label the ones with humility stupid or misguided?

Surah 34, Sabah
Say: "Who gives you sustenance, from the heavens and the earth?" Say: "It is Allah. and certain it is that either we or ye are on right guidance or in manifest error!"
Say: "Ye shall not be questioned as to our sins, nor shall we be questioned as to what ye do."
Say: "Our Lord will gather us together and will in the end decide the matter between us (and you) in truth and justice: and He is the one to decide, the One Who knows all."
Say: "Show me those whom ye have joined with Him as partners: by no means (can ye). Nay, He is Allah, the Exalted in Power, the Wise."
We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.
They say: "When will this promise (come to pass) if ye are telling the truth?"
Say: "The appointment to you is for a Day, which ye cannot put back for an hour nor put forward."
The Unbelievers say: "We shall neither believe in this scripture nor in (any) that (came) before it." Couldst thou but see when the wrong-doers will be made to stand before their Lord, throwing back the word (of blame) on one another! Those who had been despised will say to the arrogant ones: "Had it not been for you, we should certainly have been believers!"
The arrogant ones will say to those who had been despised: "Was it we who kept you back from Guidance after it reached you? Nay, rather, it was ye who transgressed.
Those who had been despised will say to the arrogant ones: "Nay! it was a plot (of yours) by day and by night: Behold! Ye (constantly) ordered us to be ungrateful to Allah and to attribute equals to Him!" They will declare (their) repentance when they see the Penalty: We shall put yokes on the necks of the Unbelievers: It would only be a requital for their (ill) Deeds.
Never did We send a warner to a population, but the wealthy ones among them said: "We believe not in the (Message) with which ye have been sent."
They said: "We have more in wealth and in sons, and we cannot be punished."

needless to say

that I'm tearing my hair out right now...


I did live in Berlin, and believe me, Istanbul is far less oppressive in certain areas... (they are about to open the first nude hotel somewhere in Turkey. I still doubt that news, but it made German headlines... aoothu billahi... )
Those kind of film festivals where all sorts of bizarre situations are made to film are the newest craze in Europe. As if Hollywood isn't unreal enough...