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GLOBALIA

Magazine

Quarterly | Issue 01 | January 2008 EUR 6, USD 9, GBP 4.50, AED 32, MYR 29, ZAR 60

A new focus on the world Malaysia: Dr. Mahathir, the man who supports the Dinar economy. Markets: Halal market analysis. The industry is undergoing a shift. Islam and the Poets: a Muslim perspective on European thought.


Civis Britannia sum. A legal essay by Ahmad Thomson, page 22

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EDITORIAL By Abu Bakr Rieger.

6

COVER STORY Far from retiring: Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad.

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FINANCE Dollar on a downward spiral. Seven countries that may abandon the US dollar.

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INTERVIEW Mother of all money? Conversation about the financial system.

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MARKETS Halal market analysis. The industry is undergoing a shift.

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LAW Civis Britannia sum. A legal essay by Ahmad Thomson.

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WORLD EURASIA The Western Balkans. An assesment by the European Union. Muslims in Croatia. Interview with Mufti Sevko Omerbasic.


CONCEPT AND EDITORIAL

Freiburg attracts many tourists, page 54

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WORLD GLOBAL Modern politics. On the political consequences of terrorism.

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GERMANY Forced to change. An evaluation of Muslim organisations.

38 42

INTERVIEW MEDIA

PRINTING msk marketingserviceköln

CULTURE

LITERATURE A visit to Globalia. On the famous book by Jean-Christophe Rufin.

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ASSOCIATE EDITOR Sulaiman Wilms DISTRIBUTION IZ Medien GmbH

The poets and Islam. A Muslim perspective on European thought.

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PUBLISHER IZ Medien GmbH Beilsteinerstr. 121 12681 Berlin Germany

Al-Andalus shines on. The new Mosque of Granada in focus.

Leagues ahead. Germany: Islamische Zeitung leads the discourse.

44

CHIEF EDITOR Abu Bakr Rieger

TRAVEL Pearl of the Black Forest. Europe is to be found in its smaller cities.

GLOBALIA Magazine reserves the right to shorten letters. Readers’ letters, guest articles and quotations do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Editors, nor do articles by named authors. PHONE +49 (0)30 240 48974 MOBILE +49 (0)179 967 8018 FAX +49 (0)30 240 48975 E-mail wilms@unternehmen.com WEBSITE www.globaliamagazine.com


EDITORIAL

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


EDITORIAL

a sinister world in which everything was

EDITORIAL

forbidden. In 2004 the French author JeanChristophe Rufin published a similarly eerie

BY ABU BAKR RIEGER

novel entitled Globalia. In Globalia, Rufin describes a world devoid of history in which,

The new models which seek to explain our situation – be it the meaning of our lives, our cultures, or our sciences – must take a complete view. GLOBALIA strives to indicate some of these new views and ideas.

he explains, everything is allowed. Rufin is one of the great European thinkers who, in the age of technology, sees not only political sovereignty threatened, but human freedom itself. At a literary fair in Cologne, Rufin was asked where he saw hope for the human species.The Frenchman’s simple answer was, “We need a Book.”

Dear Readers,

People make history. Trade between people brings peace. One of our aims is to stimulate

I hope you enjoy this and the forthcoming

We are very pleased to present to you our new

discussion between the elites who trade

Issues of GLOBALIA Magazine.

magazine, which is published in Berlin:

globally.We will examine especially the points

GLOBALIA Magazine.

of view of important business-people, thinkers

Warmest regards,

and artists from the new urban centres of After some preparation we are finally ready

this world such as Berlin, Istanbul, Dubai and

Abu Bakr Rieger

to launch a media project consisting of

Kuala Lumpur.

Editor

traditional printed publications, a creative website, and a progressive multimedia offering.

Our editorial objective, and with that our journalistic goal, is to portray the latest developments on the great continents. As

Together with some new partners we hope to build a strong place in the market for this truly global magazine over the course of 2008. The world is in constant change, and to understand the way it is today we have to think in global terms. The extraordinary technical achievements of recent years have

Muslims we will of course be observing the new, constructive role that Muslims have to play. In this Issue we acknowledge the work of one of Asia’s great political figures, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad. The success he brought Malaysia is undisputed. His efforts to defend its political sovereignty against the

expanded our horizons, yet they also threaten

machinations of global speculation deserve

our freedom, our traditions and our cultural

a review – for they too are a story of success.

distinctions. The relationship between

Like Tayyib Erdogan, the similarly successful

economics and politics has also changed

Turkish Prime Minister, Mahathir has often

dramatically over the past decades. The new

defended Islam against false accusations.

models which seek to explain our situation

Neither politician would accept the idea that

– be it the meaning of our lives, our cultures,

terrorism can be “Islamic”.

or our sciences – must take a complete view. GLOBALIA strives to indicate some of these

When the visionary George Orwell published

new views and ideas.

his famous future-novel 1984, he described

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COVER STORY

In 1981 there were only two universities, after Mahathir there were 16.

for this enormous land-mass, a peaceful order

FAR FROM RETIRING

which includes the vast numbers of Muslims

DR. MAHATHIR’S ADVICE IS STILL SOUGHT

who are Europeans and Asians. 31 October 2003. At almost 78 years of age,

At almost 78 years of age, the head of the Malaysian government officially stepped down. As for what had been achieved in the country since Mahathir came to power, the press drew a positive balance.

the head of the Malaysian government officially stepped down from the post which he had taken up in 1981.As for what had been achieved in the country since Mahathir came to power, the press drew a positive balance. In 1981 there were only two universities, after Mahathir there were 16. The number of doctors rose from 2,000 to 15,300, hospitals

Istanbul 2007. Dr. Mahathir, former Head of

Istanbul – this time hosted by the European

from 88 to 374. “What he achieved for the

State, speaks about the role of European

Muslim Union (EMU) – Mahathir’s poised

development of our economy and infra-

Muslims and the future of the Eurasian

rhetoric captivated the audience at his first

structure was phenomenal,” claims Chandra

continent. Malaysia’s former Prime Minister

speech of 2007, which he used to forge an

Muzzaffar, Director of JUST World Trust, an

is a politician to whom the concept of

intellectual link between the continents. The

independent think-tank based in Penang,

retirement remains distant. Between lecture

Eurasian continent, stated the politician, is

northern Malaysia. His enthusiasm climbs to

tours and a series of honorary positions,

developing its own gravitational force

rapture-point: “He spoke out for the poor

Mahathir is now busy founding a think-tank

following the epoch of trans-Atlantic relations.

and the oppressed, but he also expanded

(GAPID) for Muslim developing countries. In

His thinking revolves around a new nomos

trade relations and brought foreign investors

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


COVER STORY

into the country. He ensured that Malaysia was able to develop quickly and at the same time remain stable.” The analyst considers Mahathir’s greatest service to be his attempt to build up international relations. Mahathir,

BEETWEEN WAR AND FINANCE SELECTED QUOTES

continues Chandra, was always active on behalf of people who were oppressed, whether in Palestine, Bosnia or Iraq. During the Balkan War Malaysia stood firmly at the side of the persecuted Muslims. Though some years have passed since he left power, Mahathir’s advice is still sought throughout the world. He does not leave Istanbul before meeting in private with Turkish

On the war in Iraq

On capitalism

“What has this war gained for America and

“It’s quite obvious that when the Eastern Bloc

Britain? Nothing except the unnecessary death

was still there, it was a tustle between capi-

of American soldiers, destruction of Iraq and

talism and communism. Once communism

higher oil prices. There is no democracy in

was defeated, capitalism could expand and

Iraq, for which American soldiers were

show its true self. It is no longer constrained

supposed to die. Invading a country today

by the need to be nice so that people will

Prime Minister Tayyib Erdogan. The two

does not end in conquest and subjugation of

choose their so-called free-market system as

Muslim politicians may belong to different

the people. The occupying forces would be

opposed a centrally planned system. So

generations, but they both embody the

continuously attacked by guerillas and

because of that, nowadays there is nothing

possibility of a meeting between Islam and

terrorists.War is no longer an option for even

to restrain capital, and capital is demanding

modernity. Both agree that ‘Islamic terrorism’

the most powerful countries in the settlement

that it should be able to go anywhere and do

is nothing but a cynical neologism. Muslim

of international disputes.”

whatever it likes.”

terrorists may exist, but, both are convinced, there certainly can be no Islamic terrorism.

An appeal to the American people, Perdana Global Peace Initiative

Both of them are of the view that the Muslims

On “Collateral damage”

can achieve a real future only with an

“If the innocent people who died in the attack

economic concept, not with anarchic violence.

on Afghanistan and those who have been

Neither politician sees a contradiction in

dying from lack of food and medical care in

adhering to Islamic tradition while being open

Iraq are considered collateral, are the 3,000

to technical progress.

who died in New York, and the 200 in Bali also just collateral whose deaths are necessary

And indeed, Mahathir’s powerful political philosophy follows all of the categories of

for operations to succeed?” 2003, speech to the Non-Aligned Movement in Kuala Lumpur

reason. His thinking was put to the practical

1 February 2007, interview with the USAmerican broadcaster PBS

On currency trading “I mention all these because society must be protected from unscrupulous profiteers. I know I am taking a big risk to suggest it, but I am saying that currency trading is unnecessary, unproductive and immoral. It should be stopped. It should be made illegal. We don’t need currency trading.We need to buy money only when we want to finance real trade. Otherwise we should not buy or sell currencies as we sell commodities.” 20 September 1997, at the annual seminar of

test on at least one occasion in the economic

On suicide bombings

sphere. The assault on Malaysia’s national

“Suicide is expressly forbidden in Islam. It is

integrity in the 1990s was not by armies and

a grave sin. And the deliberate killing of

Prosperity and peace

tanks, it was by other methods. Currency

innocent civilians is either murder or an act

“Prosperous countries, on the other hand,

of terror. We should not shy away from

are more likely to be peaceful and less of a

accepting that. Once we have done that we

burden to the rest of the world. A prosper-

could, of course, explain and understand the

thy-neighbour policy would therefore give a

causes of suicide bombing and acts of terror.

better return than a beggar-thy-neighbour

understood that it was his country’s political

This is not difficult to do in the case of

policy.”

sovereignty that was at stake. Mahathir, a

Palestine.”

20 September 1997, at the annual seminar of

Muslim, followed the logic of the

23 May 2003, Interview with Amir Taheri

the World Bank in Hong Kong

speculators attacked the national economy and with it the ringgit. The Prime Minister’s response was to remain cool. Mahathir

the World Bank in Hong Kong

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COVER STORY

THE MUSLIM WORLD TODAY EXCERPTS FROM A TALK BY TUN DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD IN ISTANBUL incapable of even producing their own basic needs. In fact even for their own defence they have to source their weapons from the nonMuslims. (...) But there is also Fard al-Kifayah, which must be performed by a member or some members of the Muslim community. Failing which, the whole community would bear the sin, which the individual performance of Fard al-’Ayn cannot expiate. Thus it is incumbent upon a Muslim community to have experts in the fields of defence, in agriculture and food production, in medicine and so on, so That there should be European Muslims at all

see Muslims and Muslim countries languish-

that the community is well provided for and

is a blessing. I believe that many Europeans

ing in poverty and misery, unable even to

can look after its well-being.

are now accepting Islam because they have

feed themselves, much less to develop and

lost faith in Christianity or they themselves

prosper their communities and nations. (...)

(...) If we want Islam to be respected, to win

feel spiritually lost. We should be happy and

We see a state of denial among other Muslims

support – if not convert non-Muslims – we

grateful to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, that

where they claim that although they are being

there are still Europeans who are Muslim.

oppressed and looked down upon, although

But there is little that is pleasing about the

they are poverty-stricken and miserable,

present situation of European Muslims and

actually they are better off than their

indeed of Islam and the Muslims generally.

tormentors and oppressors. In fact some contend that being miserable, poor and

Today we hear open condemnation of Islam

oppressed is what makes them good Muslims.

as a religion which promotes terrorism. (...)

(...) This is self-deception of a high degree. In

We see Muslim countries being invaded and

reality this world is as much for the Muslims

Muslims slaughtered. And we see Muslims

as it is for those of other faiths.

have to show that Muslims are good, successful people. In the first place we must develop a good capacity for governing our communities and countries. Most Muslim countries today are not well-governed and are not capable of development. They are largely consumer communities or nations incapable of industrialising and producing their modern needs. The education standards are low and as I said earlier they do not produce great

and their countries unable to help or protect

scholars as they did in the past. In a fast

their brothers and sisters because they are all

The question is, have we tried? The obvious

weak or they do not really regard other

answer is that we have not. If we look back

changing world they are not innovative,

Muslims as their brothers. (...)

we must notice that the greatness of the

always depending on others to come up with

Islamic civilization was due to the efforts

new ideas or products which they then buy

Yet we see many Muslim countries richer

made and work done by the early Muslims.

at inflated prices.

then they have ever been before, richer than

(...) We know that at one time the Muslims

even their rich detractors. We see Muslim

were the most successful people. They

Tun Dr. Mahathir’s lecture “The European

countries holding the key to the well-being

succeeded in building a great civilization. (...)

Muslims – Role and Responsibility” was

and prosperity of the world, but this has not

Muslims are certainly backward in this field.

given at the Eurasian Symposium of the

been used in the interests of Islam and the

They have become the consumers of the

European Muslim Union in Istanbul in

Muslims. (...) In the midst of this wealth we

products of modern knowledge and are quite

January 2007.

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


COVER STORY

Enlightenment entirely, the tradition of reason

between the demand worldwide and in a

nation in soft tourism and in its power and

and rationalism. The country could not be

particular country, but these fluctuations are

water reserves. Bosnia needs a buyer for its

saved by amassing irrational debts. He did not

insignificant,” according to Mahathir. The

moribund national airline and investors for the

accept any of the IMF’s super-loan rescue

local gold price would determine the

expansion of modern transport routes. In

packages. Not without admiration, the elite

exchange rate between the local currency

Bosnia, people remember with respect the

of Europe watched his brilliant crisis-

and the Dinar, enabling the price of import-

politician’s efforts to ensure the state’s survival

management of the financial collapse of 1997

ed goods to be compared in Dinars and the

during the Balkan War. Today, threats to the

and 1998. His defence of political sovereignty

local currency, and also allowing local goods

country’s sovereignty are more of an economic

in the age of globalisation earned him the

to be exported. Furthermore, Dr. Mahathir,

nature.The juiciest cuts of the Balkan economy

respect of the whole world.

the Dinar could be used as a Central Bank

have long been sold off, and after the

reserve. This would mean that traders would

Conference it was still uncertain whether the

not need to deal with physical Dinars, and only

little nation could really look forward to an

the balance-sheet difference between the

economic future in the bitter wind of global

imports and exports of two countries would

competition.

In 2002, Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad actively began to apply the conclusions he had drawn from the currency crisis. He announced that his government had developed mechanisms for the use of the Gold Dinar in international trade. Mahathir was convinced that using a currency of this kind, which is based on the value of gold itself, would almost completely eliminate the

have to be paid in gold. “This will reduce the necessity to move the Gold Dinar around.The

After a life in politics, Mahathir knows the

surplus or deficit can be credited or debited

harsh rules of unfettered economics. In view

against future imports and exports.” Mahathir

of the difficult challenges of globalisation,

had linked his political experience to an

Mahathir finds himself very much in

economic vision.

agreement with the scepticism of those major European intellectuals who believe that

risk of speculation. “We have already established the methods for its use, and these can be applied to rectify any problems that occur,” ... “It will allow international trade to continue growing, since the cost of transactions will be reduced considerably because reserves to cover massive exchangerate fluctuations will no longer be needed,” stated Dr. Mahathir at the opening of the Islamic Capital Market Conference in Kuala

Scene-change, Sarajevo, summer 2007. At a

democracies are challenged less by Islamism

GAPID event, Mahathir attempts to make use

than by capitalism. What is becoming

of his excellent international contacts and

apparent, politically speaking – as under-

mobilise the economic strength of the Islamic

stood by some European thinkers – is the

world for the future of the little nation of

global threat of a totalitarian capitalism, a

Bosnia.A pragmatist, he believes that Muslims

capitalism which no longer stands in need of

are not so much born politicians as born

democracy.

business-people. Mahathir sees great potential for the south-eastern European

Text Khalil Breuer

Lumpur. The proposal explicitly intended the gold currency as a means of exchange in

Putrajaya became a new administrative centre during Dr. Mahathir’s fourth tenure.

international trade, not in any way as a replacement for any country’s currency. With ingenuity, Mahathir thus linked tradition to modernity. The Islamic Dinar and Dirham were part of Islamic Law for more than 1,000 years.According to the standard of the second Khalif,‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, one Dinar equals 4.24 g of gold, while one Dirham corresponds to 3 g of silver. Gold has a particular value based on demand for the material. “Its value may fluctuate depending on the difference

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FINANCE

The Greenback is losing more and more buying power.

seen as a signal that a break from the dollar

DOLLAR ON A DOWNWARD SPIRAL

currency peg is imminent. The kingdom is

SEVEN COUNTRIES THAT MAY ABANDON THE US DOLLAR

taking “appropriate measures” to protect itself from letting the dollar cause problems for its own economy. They are concerned

It is no secret that the dollar is on a downward spiral. Its value is dropping, and the Fed isn’t doing a whole lot to change that. As a result, some countries are considering a shift away from the dollar to preserve their assets. These states are considering a move from the dollar.

about the threat of inflation and do not want to deal with “recessionary conditions” in the US. Hans Redeker of BNP Paribas believes this creates a “very dangerous situation for the dollar,” as Saudi Arabia alone has management of $800 billion. Experts fear that a break from the dollar in Saudi Arabia could set off a “stampede” from the dollar in the Middle East, a region that manages

It is no secret that the dollar is on a down-

and how they will affect its value and the US

ward spiral. Its value is dropping, and the Fed

economy.

$3,500 billion.

South Korea

isn’t doing a whole lot to change that. As a

In 2005, Korea announced its intention to

result, a number of countries are considering

Saudi Arabia

a shift away from the dollar to preserve their

The Telegraph reports that for the first time,

other than the US. Although they are simply

assets. Here are seven of the countries

Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates

making plans to diversify for the future, that

currently considering a move from the dollar,

along with the US Federal Reserve. This is

does not mean a large dollar drop isn’t in the

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

shift its investments to currencies of countries


FINANCE

works. There are whispers that the Bank of

recommended commercial banks, government

alternative to trading oil and other

Korea is planning to sell $1 billion of US bonds

departments, and private businesses to do

commodities in dollars. In 2006, Russian

in the near future, after a $100 million sale

the same. In 1997, the Central Bank of Sudan

President Vladimir Putin expressed interest in

this past August.

made a similar recommendation in response

establishing a Russian stock exchange which

to US sanctions from former President Clinton,

would allow “oil, gas, and other goods to be

China

but the implementation failed. This time

paid for in roubles.” Russia’s intentions are

After already dropping the dollar peg in 2005,

around, 31 Sudanese companies have become

no secret – in the past, they have made it clear

China has more trouble up its sleeve.

subject to sanctions, preventing them from

that they are wary of holding too many dollar

Currently, China is threatening a “nuclear

doing trade or financial transactions with the

reserves. In 2004, Russian Central Bank First

option” of huge dollar liquidation in response

US. Officially, the sanctions are reported to

Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev remarked,

to possible trade sanctions intended to force

have had little effect, but there are indications

“Most of our reserves are in dollars, and that

a yuan revaluation. Although China “doesn’t

that the economy is suffering due to these

is a cause for concern.” He went on to explain

want any undesirable phenomena in the

restrictions. A decision to move Sudan away

that, after considering the dollar’s rate against

global financial order,” its large sum of US

from the dollar is intended to allow the

the euro, Russia is “discussing the possibility

dollars does serve as a “bargaining chip”.As

country to work around these sanctions as

of changing the reserve structure.” Then in

we have noted in the past, China has the

well as any implemented in the future.

2005, Russia put an end to its dollar peg,

power to take the wind out of the dollar.

However, a Khartoum committee recently

opting to move towards a euro alignment.

concluded that proposals for a reduced

Venezuela

dependence on the dollar are “not feasible”.

Venezuela holds little loyalty to the dollar. In

Regardless, it is clear that Sudan’s intent is

fact they have shown overt disapproval,

to attempt a break from the dollar in the

choosing to establish barter deals for oil.

future.

These barter deals, established under Hugo

They have discussed pricing oil in euros, a move that could produce a large shift away from the dollar and towards the euro, as Russia is the world’s second-largest exporter.

What does this all mean? Countries are growing weary of losing money

Chavez, allow Venezuela to trade oil with 12

Iran

Latin American countries and Cuba without

Iran is perhaps the most likely candidate for

using the dollar, shorting the US its usual

an imminent abandonment of the dollar.

subsidy. Chavez is not shy about this decision,

Recently, Iran requested that its shipments to

and has publicly encouraged others to adopt

Japan be traded for yen instead of dollars.

similar arrangements. In 2000, Chavez

Further, Iran has plans in the works to create

recommended to OPEC that they “take

an open commodity exchange called the Iran

advantage of high-tech electronic barter and

Oil Bourse. This exchange would make it

bi-lateral exchanges of its oil with its

possible to trade oil and gas in non-dollar

developing country customers,” or in other

currencies, the euro in particular. Although

words, stop using the dollar, or even the euro,

the oil bourse has missed at least three of its

for oil transactions. In September, Chavez

announced opening dates, it serves to make

instructed Venezuela’s state oil company

clear Iran’s intentions for the dollar. As of

Petroleos de Venezuela SA to change its dollar

October 2007, Iran receives non-dollar

dollar will be sorely missed if it is lost. The

investments to euros and other currencies in

currencies for 85% of its oil exports, and has

dollar’s status as a cheaply-produced US

order to mitigate risk.

plans to move the remaining 15% to

export is a vital part of the American economy.

currencies like the United Arab Emirates

Losing this status could rock the financial

dirham.

lives of both Americans and the worldwide

Sudan Sudan is, once again, planning to convert its

Russia

currencies.

Iran is not alone in its desire to establish an

they

have

protect their financial interests, and a number of them want to end the US oversight that comes with using the dollar.Although it’s not clear how many of these countries will actually follow through on an abandonment of the dollar, it is clear that its status as a world currency is in trouble. Obviously, an abandonment of the dollar is bad news for the currency. Simply put, as demand lessens, its value drops.Additionally, the revenue generated from the use of the

economy.

dollar holdings to the euro and other Additionally,

on the falling dollar. Many of them want to

Text The Muslim Observer

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INTERVIEW

MOTHER OF ALL MONEY? A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM

What do Muslims think about topics such as financial methods, globalisation, and alternatives to the predicted speculative crisis in the world’s finance markets? Until now, most of what we have heard has been about so-called ’IslamicBanking’. What do Muslims think about topics such

The enormous liquidity required for that is

as financial methods, globalisation, and

made possible through ever greater

alternatives to the predicted speculative

indebtedness – look at the USA – and through

crisis in the world’s finance markets?

a worldwide acceleration of growth in money

Until now, most of what we have heard

supply. Indebtedness and money supply

has been about so-called ’Islamic-

growth, in their turn, lead to inflation and a

Banking’, an attempt to re-create

loss of purchasing power. This is where gold

capitalism with an Islamic face. It was this

and silver come in – as documented protection

hot topic which we discussed with

against inflation and the decline of value. By

Mohamed Abbas, who is responsible for

their inherent value the precious metals

customer relations at e-dinar FZ LLC, a

remain inflation-neutral and protect their

Dubai-based Internet firm involved in

owner from depreciation.

gold and silver trading. The following views expressed by Mohamed Abbas are his own personal opinions and not necessarily those of his employer. Globalia: Mr Abbas, the whole world is talking about globalisation and all things associated with it. Do you see a

Globalia: So these money supplies are the fuel of globalisation, so to speak? Mohamed Abbas: Let me explain that in a bit more detail. The original ‘empowering’ of globalisation was based on the freely moveable utilisation of large capital sums for implementing consolidation and acquisition

connection between that and the re-

strategies that had to be coordinated

awakening interest in gold and silver?

internationally. In other words, globalisation causes unnaturally high liquidity, and world

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

Mohamed Abbas: I see only an indirect

economic growth, both of which are extended

connection, if any. The global consolidation

beyond what is naturally compatible – we see

of the world economy has caused the

this in the continual acceleration of

simultaneous management of large capital

environmental pollution and the associated

amounts in different markets and continents.

climatic catastrophes.This super-capital, which


INTERVIEW

For the Eurozone this means that in seven years, twice as many euros will be in circulation as there are today. Although this ought to provoke some reflection, no-one seems to resist. While the state uses this situation to finance its financial mismanagement, the citizen is left struggling with more and more cheap money, and in the long-term we as workers and normal salaried employees are the ones who suffer from this ruinous monetary policy. Globalia: Is that why the topic of gold is more popular than ever?

Source of wealth: South African worker in a gold mine.

Mohamed Abbas: As you might probably know, e-dinar works with Emirates Gold (the largest gold and silver producer in the Middle

today is in the service of fewer and fewer

Western countries are today creating new

East) to produce the Gold Dinar and Silver

people, is used as a means for total economic

money at a rate of up to 13 per cent per

Dirham as the traditional currency of the

consolidation (call it globalisation) and has

annum.

Muslims in accordance with the exact

successfully freed itself from the need to

historical standards. The Dinar and Dirham

satisfy any moral or ethical requirements. In

Globalia: Where does this money come

were used for more than 1200 years, all the

other words, the global use of capital is

from?

way from China to Europe and Africa, as the

guaranteed through the ‘free market

most important means of payment, and are

economy’ and as such cannot be brought into

Mohamed Abbas: The new money doesn’t

the most significant and enduring bi-metallic

question. The necessary liquidity is based on

bring any new value along with it, since it is

currency in the history of humankind. The

increasing indebtedness and a growth of the

born in a magical fashion – it is created out

Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham are therefore

money supply, which have taken on alarming

of nothing – and it is not backed up by

highly symbolic in character. On a practical

proportions. While this steadily growing

inherent value like gold. Instead it ‘borrows’

level, gold and silver are ideal to avoid the

indebtedness forces a growing slice of the

its value, as it were, from existing money,

aforementioned inflation. Since gold and silver

gross domestic product to be spent servicing

with the result that every year the existing

are not created out of nothing, rather have

interest payments, money is being printed

money loses a corresponding share of its

to be wrestled out of the ground, then

without end – until the trees are used up, so

purchasing power. The M3 growth rate is

transported and refined, they have a

to speak – and the M3, as the broadest

clearly closer to real inflation than the too-

guaranteed inherent value which is based on

measure of money supply, grows at 12 to 13

low, glossed-over inflation figures that central

a combination of the cost of obtaining and

per cent annually in the USA and the

banks use for their official reports.

producing them, their rarity, and demand in

Eurozone. In poorer regions, money supply is

Interestingly, the US Federal Reserve (the Fed)

the market. This inherent value prevents a

growing considerably faster.

stopped measuring and publishing the M3 at

reduction in purchasing power. Historically,

the end of 2006, most likely in order to allow

gold and silver are regarded as immune to

In other words, in order to guarantee the

it to keep driving its miraculous reproduction

inflation.When inflation is high, gold and sil-

liquidity needed for globalisation and to

of money higher and higher, unencumbered

ver prices therefore rise more quickly – some-

finance the indebtedness it causes, the

by bothersome criticism.

thing we have certainly seen in recent years.

12

13


INTERVIEW

Globalia: Does this mean we should

worldwide paper value – including money,

for the flourishing of science, arts and trade

return to some kind of gold standard?

stocks and shares, bonds and derivatives – lies

in the European Renaissance.

somewhere between USD 250 and 400 billion, Mohamed Abbas:As you likely know, the last

depending on which estimates and sources

For Muslims the use of gold and silver is not

official gold standard, which was anchored

you choose. To give you a visual idea, all the

some kind of backwards-looking romanticism.

in the Bretton-Woods Agreement, was finally

gold in the world could be stored easily in a

This is demonstrated by the payment of Zakat

dissolved by President Nixon in 1971. That

medium sized hall.

(a 2.5% tax calculated on standing wealth), which has to be paid in gold and silver – and

meant the removal of what was then a partial backing of the US dollar by gold.At the same

One of the effects of a new gold standard

time this was the formal end of gold as the

would be that the retroactive backing of the

reserve currency.The wondrous reproduction

world’s paper money by gold would cause a

of paper money which began in 1971 resulted

50 to 100-fold increase in the gold price –

in extreme inflation and raging interest rates

something which in reality would not be

Mohamed Abbas: The Qur’an specifies that a

– up until 1980 both were well over 10 per

feasible.

means of payment must possess an inherent

also by normal daily transactions. Globalia: Why is that?

value that corresponds to its purchasing

cent – and one of the biggest bull-runs on gold in history, in which its per-ounce price rose

A new gold standard can only be implemented

power.All types of promise of payment – and

by 2000 per cent in ten years; in 1971 gold

after the inevitable collapse of the world

our modern paper money is nothing other

cost 44 US dollars and by 1980 it cost 850.

financial system. The question is not if, but

than that – are forbidden and cannot be used

Although the only way to reconstruct the

when. Only then will gold find its way back

in payment transactions, because they are

necessary fiscal discipline would be to link

to its historical role as the ‘mother of all

inextricably linked to interest, and Muslims

money growth to gold – governments have

money’.

may not have involvement with interest. For example, as soon as new paper money is

amply demonstrated their inability to maintain such discipline themselves – such a process

Globalia: Can you tell us something about

created, it is ‘loaned’ at an internal interest

could no longer be implemented in the

the reality of the Gold Dinar and the

rate by the Central Bank to the commercial

developing world today. We have already

Silver Dirham in the past, and their basis

banks, who in turn lend it at higher interest

passed the point of no return and are on

in Islamic Law?

rates to their customers. In the context of the fractional-reserve system this business is

course for a financial collision in the world economy. Even if it were possible to reinstate

Mohamed Abbas: As I mentioned before, the

extremely profitable. The fractional-reserve

a partial gold standard, the resulting

Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham are the

system means that a commercial bank is able

deceleration in economic expansion and

traditional currency of the Muslims, and were

to lend out the same single euro between 20

money supply growth would tend to bring an

used as an accepted means of payment all

and 40 times. At five per cent interest per

economic and financial collapse forward in

the way from China to Europe and Africa for

year, the bank is earning 100 to 200 per cent

the West rather than delay it – something

more than 1200 years. They are the most

annually from the interest on loans covered

which, incidentally, does not apply to the

important and enduring bi-metallic currency

by its customer’s cash deposits. Such a

poorest countries in the world, as I will

in the history of man. A lesser known fact is

miraculous increase of wealth is of course

explain. Thus for the rich countries there

that the first European gold and silver

only possible if you accept money created

remains only the unattractive prospect of

currencies of the late Middle Ages were based

out of nothing, and would fail miserably with

confronting their own collapse with open

on, and also copied, the Muslim coins. The

a physical gold and silver currency. That is

eyes.

Muslim coins quickly established themselves

why Islam prohibits promises of payment as

in the trading centres of that time such as

a means of payment. The Prophet

Let’s look briefly at some key figures. While

Venice and Barcelona, and found their way

Muhammad, may the blessings and peace of

the world’s above-ground gold stocks –

from there to the largest cities and royal

Allah be upon him, said: “A time will certainly

including all bullion, jewellery and coins –

houses of northern Europe. The spread of

come upon mankind when nothing will be of

amount to around 160,000 tons (nearly USD

European gold and silver currencies in the

use except a Dinar and a Dirham.” In the year

4 billion at today’s market price), the

late Middle Ages, in turn, laid the foundation

695 of the Christian calendar, the Khalif

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


INTERVIEW

‘Abdalmalik minted the first Dirhams, thereby

without inherent value, and so on – ‘Islamic

country with some 200 million Muslims. In our

establishing the official standard of ‘Umar

Banking’ is just as weak and sickly as the

work with developing countries we orient

ibn Al-Khattab. In the following years, on the

Western model.

ourselves around the motto: If you have

order of the Khalif, the Dirham was produced

nothing to lose you can only win. We are

in all the regions of Islam with the inscription,

Globalia: Do you see the Dinar as an

confident that Indonesia in particular will

“Allah is Unique,Allah is Eternal”. In addition

alternative for the peoples and regions

soon take definite steps towards a gold and

he ordered that all human and animal figures

which have been hit especially hard by

silver currency.

be removed from the coins and that these be

globalisation? If so, how do you think it

replaced by letters. This order was upheld for

will take shape?

the next 1200 years.Typical inscriptions were

Globalia: Can you give us some final words from your practical experience?

“La ilaha ill’Allah” (There is no god except

Mohamed Abbas: The gold and coin trade in

Allah) and “Alhamdulillah” (All praise is due

the Western world is naturally very strictly

Mohamed Abbas: It is interesting that the

to Allah) on one side with the prayer on the

regulated – for example through taxation.

Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham enjoy great

The Muslims must of course respect these

popularity with coin collectors and precious

laws. But we see a natural market for the

metal investors throughout the world. This

Dinar in the poorest countries of the world,

certainly has to do with their outstanding

in which a small stratum of extremely rich

quality, their cost-effectiveness, and the fact

individuals stand on top of the impoverished

that the coins can only be purchased through

masses. These lands have not yet had the

us. That gives them a certain exclusivity.

Prophet “sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam” (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and sometimes verses from the Qur’an on the other side. Gold and silver remained the official currency of Islam until the fall of the Khalifate at the beginning of the 20th century.

opportunity to form a middle class. As soon

Globalia: But have there not been many attempts to ‘islamicise’ the dominant financial

system

and

bring

the

corresponding products into line?

as a middle class has formed, an ever larger proportion of the population profit from the continually expansive and, in the mediumterm, ruinous monetary policies, and so they take no interest in an alternative money system which tends towards being more

Mohamed Abbas: Yes, there is an outright euphoria

about

‘Islamic

restrictive.

Banking’.

Interestingly, the Western banking giants such

We have been presenting our ideas and

as HSBC, Citybank and UBS can be seen

concepts in Malaysia and Indonesia since the

striving the hardest to attract previously

end of the 1990s, and now our work is

neglected Muslim customers with their

beginning to bear fruit. In Indonesia the

‘Islamic Banking’ schemes. From the reasons

interest is enormous. No wonder, given the

I gave earlier, we see ‘Islamic Banking’ as

Rupiah’s annual devaluation of over 30 per

nothing more than an insignificant variation

cent, and an average daily income of less

on the Western banking model, and in no

than one US dollar. If we set these key figures

way an acceptable alternative to it, from an

against an annual increase in gold price of

Islamic perspective. The only difference is in

20 to 25 per cent, then the advantages of a

the semantics and the calculation model

gold currency for Indonesia become obvious

through which the banks siphon off their

– and above all because they simply have

profits from the customer. Since they haven’t

nothing to lose.

changed the basics – such as the mythical reproduction of money, the means of payment

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim

Impression from the gold bazar in Kuwait

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MARKETS

industry that will need to be tackled with a

HALAL MARKET ANALYSIS

great deal of skill and intelligence.These are:

THE INDUSTRY IS UNDERGOING A SHIFT • Integrity • Capacity

As the Halal market continues to expand, we see it entering a new phase. The early adaptors have established their positions, and the floodgates are opening. The aroma of revenue is in the air, but there is more than just following your nose.

• Finance • Communication These four issues form the core components for the future development of the Halal industry,

whether

viewed

from

a

governmental, corporate or private company perspective.The focus may shift, but the issues remain the same.

Halal is currently in the process of undergoing

poultry suppliers, ingredient suppliers,

st

a paradigm shift. With the staging of the 1

restaurant chains, shipping companies, banks

Malaysian International Halal Showcase,

and retailers are elbowing each other for their

Halal Integrity: the cornerstone

MIHAS, in August 2004, and the simultaneous

place around the Halal buffet table with their

Halal and Haram form a part of the

publication of the pilot of The Halal Journal,

eyes on the choicest cuts.

fundamental behavioural parameters sent down to us by Allah, via the final Messenger,

Halal became, for the first time, the defining factor for a new market. At the inaugural

Similarly, governments, NGOs and agencies

Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant

World

2006,

are shifting their attention onto the Halal

him peace, to mankind. Without the

representatives from every sector of the Halal

sector as a means of gaining market share for

Messenger, and the Deen of Islam, we would

Halal

Forum

in

May

not have this guidance, nor this opportunity.

industry assembled in Kuala Lumpur; at that point, Halal became an industry.

Halal and Haram form a

There are some Qur’anic verses in Surat

Indeed, if Halal lives up to its inherent

part of the fundamental

Ibrahim that are relevant to all of us in the

potential, it will represent a paradigm shift

behavioural parameters

Halal industry:

in the global market. Halal is a market

sent down to us by Allah,

parameter that is based on belief in, and

“Do you do not see how Allah makes a likeness of a good word: a good tree

consequent obedience to a Divine command.

via the final Messenger

whose roots are firm and whose branches

While kosher commands market respect in a

to mankind, Muhammad.

are in heaven? It bears its fruit regularly

similar field, it pales into insignificance when

by the permission of its Lord.Allah makes

placed alongside the emerging potential of

likenesses for people so that perhaps

the Halal market.With close to 2 billion people

their national produce, and in some cases as

they may pay heed. The likeness of a

having Halal as their number one choice – and

a means of developing their own national

corrupt word is that of a rotten tree,

the majority of the other 4.5 billion people

economies. While the market swirls with

uprooted on the surface of the earth. It

generally amenable to eating Halal – the

superlatives there are a host of not

has no staying power.”

market implications are staggering. It is small

insignificant hurdles to be surmounted before

wonder, therefore, that many of the biggest

Halal can make the critical metamorphosis

Given that the global food industry, for the

names in every sector of the market have

from an emerging bud into a fully-opened

most part, had little or no interest in the Halal

sharpened their focus on Halal.

flower.

sector until comparatively recently, most of the application of Halal has been based on

The biggest food manufacturers, meat and

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

There are four key areas within the Halal

converting existing procedures from non-


MARKETS

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MARKETS

Halal to Halal, rather than building them as Halal compliant from the ground up. Halal compliance has in general been promoted and established by small independent Islamic bodies that have audited and certified the predominantly non-Muslim producers, thereby ensuring that the Muslim consumer has Halal meat available for purchase. While this arrangement has enabled a viable Halal market to emerge, it contains an inherent imbalance that has led to its own set of problems. Halal certification is a profitable and as yet unregulated activity; with Halal certification a pre-requisite to accessing the Muslim markets, food producers have generally, and understandably, taken the line of least resistance when it comes to getting Halal certification. In the last decade we have witnessed a proliferation of break-away Islamic bodies competing with each other, often fiercely, for a share of the lucrative certification market. Undercutting on price and turn-around time has become commonplace, often with insults and allegations following closely behind. Government-run certification agencies, where they exist, have fared only slightly better. Often bogged down in a maze of bureaucratic procedure, and with little or no incentive to be efficient, Halal certification – and even renewals – can take months, making efficient production almost impossible. This aspect of Halal integrity has become the most critical issue facing the Halal industry, and it is essential that we, as an industry, get it right. Halal certification must become an efficient, transparent and industry-compliant procedure in the Halal market, and the extent to which

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

A halal seal which has been issued in Malaysia


MARKETS

we succeed in establishing excellence in the

us, and the best choice from all points of

For these reasons, and others, the Muslims

arena of Halal integrity will determine our

view.

have up until now been slow to recognise the

success in the overall market.

opportunities that exist in this market.

Developing Capacity Making profit is permitted, it is in itself Halal.

It is not just the corporate sector that is

This is not an easy challenge, as the causes

However, if we let the profit motive have too

gearing up to meet the expanding demand

of delay and inefficient channels of delivery

much power, and compromise the integrity of

in the Halal market; an increasing number of

are usually embedded in the actual structure

either our products on one hand or our

national governments have made Halal an

of government in many countries. Inefficiency

services on the other, we will have let slip the

actual, or a least a potential, tool for the

is an integral part of the system. Clearly, those

very component upon which this vast market

development of the national economy. And

Muslim lands still under the direct rule of an

rests. Quite simply, the market needs more

so they should. There are of course varying

Amir, King or Sultan have a certain advantage

Halal-certified products, and there is no way

approaches to Halal depending on where you

if they can give an order and then see it

to achieve this without improving the

look, but both the Muslim and non-Muslim

carried out without the all-too-familiar

certification process. With the right

majority countries have recognised that Halal

bureaucratic turf wars.

foundations in place, Halal can be developed

warrants a closer look in order to take it to

to overlap with many other market factors

the next level.

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is

The biggest challenge for the non-Muslims

Ethical investment, environmental concern

involved in the Halal market is to gain an

and fair trade are terms that are showing up

authentic understanding of their Muslim

on Wall Street as well as the High Street.

customers’ beliefs, requirements and

Being a good corporate citizen has an effect

preferences.The best means of nurturing this

on the bottom line. It was at one time thought

understanding is through a genuine

that the average burger-eater or coffee-drinker

collaboration with the Muslims within their

did not care very much about ethical corporate

own borders, those who, at both the

behaviour. But it has been proven otherwise,

production and certification stages, are the

and there are a growing number of major

ones giving them access to the Halal market

brands that are following down those paths

in the first place. Certainly, in places such as

that were first cut through the corporate

Thailand and the Philippines, the development

jungle by men and women more at home in

of the Halal industry in the Muslim majority

dungarees and sandals than pin-stripe suits.

not stressed; they do not see the knife, nor

areas of the country has been put forward as

Doing good is turning out to be good business.

witness the slaughter, nor even the residue

an effective way to gain stability and

of slaughter, of other animals.

economic progress.

such as environmental and social compliance, health awareness, fair trade and animal welfare. All of these elements fall within the broader scope of the meaning of Halal, and they are all strengthening market forces in their own right. The stakeholders in the Halal industry must become leaders in these fields also. We cannot simply leave others to champion causes such as fair trade or animal welfare without constructive input and collaboration from the Halal industry. Animal welfare in particular is an issue of enormous importance to us.Animals must be well fed, watered and

However, at present, as in the Halal market, those organisations that are leading the way

Our scientific communities similarly have an

For the Muslim world in general, the

in energy conservation, environmental

obligation to test the hypothesis that Halal

challenges and opportunities that exist in the

concern, fair trade and animal welfare are all

treatment and slaughter, as well as being

Halal market are many and complex. Mostly

lead by non-Muslims. How many times do

kinder to the animal, also produces the best

underdeveloped, the Muslim countries are

we, as Muslims, ask Allah to give us good in

meat; safer, healthier, cleaner, and with a

primarily net importers of food. The Muslim

this world and good in the Next? The plot of

better shelf life. Allah has commanded

food producers have, for the most part, not

Allah, or if you prefer, circumstance and

mankind to eat ‘Halal and Tayyib’, and we

seen any need to develop Halal standards for

common interest have made the Halal market

therefore have a responsibility to demonstrate,

their own domestic use, nor the need to give

precisely the arena in which this supplication

by scientific methodology, why it is better for

Halal any definition or status under the law.

can be fulfilled.

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MARKETS

Islamic banking is slowly waking up to the

However, this is the absolute baseline in terms

advantages; we have a much larger consumer

fact that it cannot just try to be usury without

of communicating a message. In this respect

base who do not need as much persuasion.

usury. We can of course take the alcohol out

we have much to learn from the pioneers of

They are already actively looking out for Halal

of the wine, but surely we can think of better

the organic, environmental and fair trade

products among the sea of all the rest, going

ways to use the grapes!

lobbies. In every case, these groups needed

out of their way to frequent specialist shops

to educate and inform the public about the

and markets to get what they are looking for.

Those Islamic financial institutions that realise

benefits – health, moral, social, environmental

that there is an emerging Halal market

– of the products and services on offer. In

Halal has the highest potential for brand value

economy where ‘value’ refers to more than

almost every case the price was higher than

and brand loyalty compared with all the rest;

something to be entered into an Excel sheet

normal, so the message needed to be

we have not even started to develop this

are the ones who are going to play the lead-

sufficiently compelling to convert the browser

aspect of our market. The brand specialists

ing roles in the next chapter of Islamic

into the purchaser. The message, over time,

now tell us that the successful brands of

banking.

had to generate a tipping point.

tomorrow will represent real cultural, social and religious values; they will have

Quality – of service, of product and of life – is going play as important a role as quantity in the years to come, and Halal is pivotal to this transition. Halal, in its fullest sense, provides the full set of parameters for a market arena in which ethical behaviour is as important as the numbers leading to the bottom line.

Delivering the Message

The Halal industry is today in a similar zone

authenticity and integrity; they will speak for

to the one occupied by these market sectors

the individual identity as well as the corporate

a decade or two ago in that they were niche

one; corporations will have to live their brand

product ranges aiming for the mainstream

values.

and upmarket shelves. For their campaign they used every available opportunity, every

All of these key factors could have been

available surface and medium to get their

written for the Halal market. Halal scores very

message across.

highly in all of these areas, and it remains for the corporations and their marketing teams

Go to the supermarket; find the organic

to understand how to engineer this cross-

section; look at the packaging, read the box,

over of values into the Halal arena. In part,

examine the labels; there is a message there.

this will require a paradigm shift in attitude

Look at the fair trade message, it’s on the

– primarily to ourselves and our own products

packet, the leaflet, the merchandising, the

and services. We, the Muslims, have for too

T-shirt, the rock concert. Some of the

long seen ourselves as running to catch up,

question of how we deliver the message

messages have even become the wallpaper

or as minorities trying to fit in. No-one will

about the benefits and qualities of Halal

on coffee shop walls.

believe in your product if you do not believe

The issues connected to Halal and Haram, as core components of the Deen of Islam, are essentially parts of a message. Delivering, establishing and embodying this message are fundamental aspects of developing the Halal market. But beyond those three aspects, the

in it yourself, and there is nothing that is more

remains an almost totally unexplored area. In this respect, the packaging and marketing

convincing than being convinced yourself.

The main issue discussed today is whether or

of Halal products and services are critical

not putting a Halal logo on the product gives

issues for our industry, issues that are poised

When these values – whether it is from the

added value; overall, with a few marked

to go through an order-of-magnitude

outside in or the inside out, top down or

exceptions, the consensus is that clear proof

transformation. We have to change our

bottom up – permeate our directors, managers

of Halal certification adds value. Customers

mindset from one whereby we are quietly

and staff, then we will be able to nurture our

look for it and like to see it. It saves the

helping people to fulfill a religious obligation

industry through the next critical phase of

confusing, and sometimes almost impossible

to demonstrating convincingly why we are the

growth. It is all based on the people.

task of reading all the ingredients – micro-

best choice – for everyone. The brand manager of one of the famous

ingredients often appear in micro text! A Halal logo makes life easier.

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

In the Halal market, we have several

coffee chains wrote that he knew he had


MARKETS

Big producers find the new market attractive

succeeded when he heard on of the baristas

and, in principle, there are enough elements

worlds. We all have the opportunity to play

say,“We are not in the coffee business, serving

in harmonious alignment to move to the next

an active role in the development of a dynamic

people; we are in the people business, serving

stage of growth.

new market paradigm, one that transcends race, national boundaries and geography, one

coffee.� Stakeholders, large and small, representing all

that promises considerable financial reward,

Making the Transition

the elements of the Halal value chain want

and at the same time, most importantly, is

In order to enable our industry to shift gear,

to see growth and change. There are enough

pleasing to Allah.

we have to develop all of the pieces at the same time. Integrity; Capacity; Finance; Communication.We need all of them to move

The Halal industry is today in a similar zone to the one occupied

ahead in concert to allow the metamorphosis

by the organic, environmental and fair trade sectors a decade

to take place.

or two ago in that they were niche product ranges aiming for

This is where the hard work really begins. So

the mainstream and upmarket shelves.

far, we have talked; now we need to strategise, plan, commit, act.There are a host of obstacles in front of us; different standards; certification issues; competition, greed, indifference; government bureaucracy and political manoeuvring.All of these need to be overcome. But the wind and the tide are in our favour. Things move when there is a convergence of common interest towards a common goal,

committed individuals of high integrity who

We continually ask for good in this world and

would like to see this industry, and this market

good in the Next. Our chosen industry gives

succeed. For many of them, their commitment

us the opportunity to have that. Let us not

to Halal goes far beyond the limits of their

waste that chance.

job description, beyond their corporation and beyond financial consideration.

For more information, contact info@imaratconsultants.com

For those fortunate ones, the Halal industry is, literally, giving them the best of both Text Abdul Hamid Evans

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LAW

As with everything in life, empires come and

CIVIS BRITANNIA SUM

go. The Pax Britannica has gone the way of

A LEGAL ESSAY BY AHMAD THOMSON

the Pax Romana – and the Pax Americana is a far cry from its predecessors.

Indefinite detention without charge, without hope, without independent legal representation or trial; torture, and “evidence” obtained through torture used in court – we are all aware that these things happen.

President Bush has publicly declared that “those who murder innocent woman and children are evil.” He is right – and yet he appears to be oblivious of the hundreds of thousands of innocent woman and children who have been killed by means of the American military-industrial complex since

No-one in this day and age can begin an

him with rods. When the chief captain

the end of World War II in countries such as

article with a Latin title without providing a

commanded that Paul “should be examined

Vietnam, Argentina, Columbia, Peru, Chile,

quote or two: “In the bygone days of Empire,

by scourging”, Paul asked a centurion: “Is it

Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine – to name but

the Australian sheep farmer, the Gold Coast

lawful for you to scourge a man that is a

a few.

witch doctor and the Bengali peasant shared

Roman, and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:24-5) But then of course none of these victims had

a common bond. All owed allegiance to the British sovereign; all were British subjects by

“I therefore fearlessly challenge the verdict

given their allegiance to the United States of

virtue of that allegiance.As Edmund Burke put

which this ... House is to give,” said Lord

America – and therefore, following that

it, these were ties ‘which, though light as air,

Palmerston on the 25th of June 1850, quoting

ancient reasoning, they were not entitled to

are as strong as links of iron.’ In a moment

Cicero, “... whether, as the Roman, in days of

its protection.

of difficulty or danger, a man’s British citizenship could easily be his most valuable possession. In 1849, when Don Pacifico, a Jewish merchant of Malta, was refused compensation by the Greek government for injuries he had suffered at the hands of some of its citizens, Lord Palmerston, Britain’s Prime Minister, sent the British navy to blockade Piraeus. British subjects the world over, Palmerston told the House of Commons at the time, could boast as proudly of their citizenship as St. Paul did when he said: ‘Civis Romanus sum.’” (Time, March 8, 1971)

old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say “Civis Romanus sum”; so also a

And although international human rights law

British subject, in whatever land he may be,

is not based on any oath of allegiance and is

shall feel confident that the watchful eye and

meant to apply to everyone, equally,

the strong arm of England will protect him

everywhere – in practice it is often observed

against injustice and wrong.”

selectively.

Implicit in this oath of allegiance and the

The human rights of the victims of Srebrenica,

protection afforded through it is that anyone

for example, did not save them from their

who had not given their allegiance was not

fate – and yet the UN troops who collected

entitled to such protection. If Paul had not

their weapons and then betrayed their trust

been a Roman citizen, there would have been

were immune from prosecution.

no restriction on his being “examined by This plea, “Civis Romanus sum” – “I am a

scourging”, that is, on his being tortured in

And although, for example, the Attorney

Roman citizen”, sufficed in ancient Rome to

order to elicit information.

General advised that regime change was not permissible under international law as a

stop arbitrary condemnation, bonds and scourging. No Roman citizen could be

If Don Pacifico had not been a British subject,

justification for the invasion of Iraq, the

condemned unheard; by the Valerian Law he

Lord Palmerston would not have ordered the

inevitable civilian ‘collateral damage’ of the

could not be bound; and by the Sempronian

blockade of Piraeus in order to secure justice

shock and awe bombing spree that was

Law it was forbidden to scourge him or beat

for him.

deemed necessary in order to have a tyrant

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


LAW

London: police and young Muslims in front of a Mosque in Brixton

and his henchmen ultimately hanged was

the precaution of being embedded – that is,

protect us, anyone can be arrested on the

accepted as unavoidable, with no remedies

of accepting to be told what they may and

grounds of a suspicion which does not even

or compensation either for the victims or their

may not report.

have to be reasonable – and if deemed

surviving relatives in accordance with human

necessary, we can, for example, be extradited

rights law.These are the harsh realities of the

Indefinite detention without charge, without

to the USA even when there is no prima facie

world in which we live – harsh realities which

hope, without independent legal representa-

evidence to support either the extradition

impinge on our daily lives even in the British

tion or trial; torture, and ‘evidence’ obtained

request or indeed a prosecution in the UK.

Isles.

through torture used in court – we are all aware that these things happen.

A British citizen may say, “Civis Britannia

We are told that such measures are intelligence-led – but what if the intelligence

sum” – “I am a British citizen.” But for an

We all hope that we will not fall under

is mistaken, or worse still, cynically uncaring

unfortunate few, a combination of rendition

suspicion, maybe even be wounded or

or disinterested? What if being called

for torture and Guantanamo Bay style

executed by mistake – we are all aware that

Muhammad or Khan is enough to warrant

detention camps has guaranteed, inter alia,

these things happen.

arrest?

and exchanged for a bounty of a few hundred

We all know that under the current legislation,

It is not surprising, in this climate, that neo-

dollars, and of journalists who did not take

which we are told has been promulgated to

con think-tanks seek to marginalise

the ‘arrest’ of people who were kidnapped

22

23


LAW

mainstream Muslims and misrepresent Muslim organisations in the name of promoting social cohesion, while knowing full well that the intended result of their strategy should result in the opposite, so that ultimately their quarry should be cowed into tolerating their intolerance. This is why I found the presentation of Justice Albie Sachs at the Minority Lawyers Conference 2007 such a source of inspiration and hope: Here stood a man who had been given a unique experience in life, who had not only witnessed what appeared impossible, but who had taken part in making what appeared to be impossible happen. He had spoken the truth in the court of a tyrant. He had spoken out against ignorance and bias, blind prejudice, inhuman treatment, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and institutional murder – to the extent that the people whom he criticised tried without success to have him blown up and killed. And then when the apartheid state was dismantled, he did not busy himself with seeking revenge, but rather he busied himself with establishing justice and making his part of the world a better place. As Justice Albie Sachs humbly concluded, without a trace of bitterness in his voice, “If this could happen in South Africa, then it can happen anywhere.” Published in The Muslim Lawyer, Volume 5, Issue 1, Dhu’l-Qada 1428, November 2007.

Text Ahmad Thomson

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

24

25


EURASIA

reform agenda. This is blamed in part on

IN THE WESTERN BALKANS

“complex

AN ASSESSMENT BY THE EUROPEAN UNION

disregard of the Dayton Agreement, and

institutional

arrangements,

nationalist rhetoric.” Limited capacity has been recorded in democracy and the rule of

Despite some economic progress, the European Union says that corruption, organised crime and ethnic tensions are continuing to obstruct progress in the Western Balkans.

law, and politicians in Sarajevo and Banja Luka, the capitals of Bosnia’s two autonomous entities, are criticised for not demonstrating a willingness to take further political responsibility. “Urgent measures are needed to ensure effective functioning of state-level institutions,” the report says

Albania

The fight against corruption and organised

While Albania is recognised as a country that

crime is acknowledged by the Commission to

continuously played the constructive role in

have been in the focus of the Albanian

regional stability, the European Commission

leadership’s endeavours. However, it states

considers that the political system has not

that corruption remains widespread in the

the Bosnian Serbs’ Republika Srpska and the

improved because of the democratic culture

country.The report acknowledges that Tirana

Federation that brings together mostly

that dominates in Albania. “Political parties’

has continued to investigate and prosecute

Bosniaks (Muslims) and Croats. “Overall

lack of will to cooperate continued to hold

human trafficking vigorously, and that border

performance of executive and legislative

back reforms, particularly in the electoral and

controls have been strengthened. However,

institutions has remained poor. Discussions on

judicial field,” says this year’s progress report.

Albania remains a “significant transit country

constitutional reform have stalled,” the report

It notes that judicial reforms have made very

for human beings.” Civil society in Albania is

notes.

limited progress during the year, and the

described as weak. Its representatives, the

judiciary’s function has been of a poor standard

report says, are not sufficiently involved in

Bosnia has made little progress in the fight

because of “corruption and shortfalls in

policy-making, and they lack resources,

against

organisational capacity, advocacy skills and

widespread and constitutes a serious

regional links. Albania’s economy has been

problem.” The Commission considers that

growing fast, and the Commission considers

more determined action is needed, and notes

that macroeconomic stability has been

that the National Anti-Corruption Strategy

maintained even while the external deficit

has not been implemented properly. As in all

has further widened, due to the crisis in the

Western Balkans countries, the inadequacies

energy sector. However, the rule of law is

in the fight against organised crime and

seen as influencing Albania’s economic

corruption remain a cause of concern in

development. “Inadequate implementation

Bosnia. “The legal framework to fight

of the rule of law continues to impede the

organised crime is in place but law

smooth functioning of the market economy

implementation needs to be improved.”

independence, transparency and efficiency”.

At one of the mass graves in Srebrenica.

In addition, the Commission says it is not aware of any progress in coordination between the central state and its two entities,

corruption,

“which

remains

and affects the business climate,” the progress report concludes.

While it is recognised that Bosnia has made strides in reducing its dependence on the

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

Bosnia and Herzegovina

international community through the

The Commission says that Bosnia and

replacement of international judges and

Herzegovina has been lagging behind in the

prosecutors by local ones, the report notes


EURASIA

that “the fragmentation of the judicial system and disparities in the legal framework continue to hamper the operation of the judiciary.” Human rights and the protection of minorities remain problem areas, due in part to religious intolerance. “Further efforts are necessary to combat intolerance and ethnic discrimination,” the report says. The report points out that cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, has improved and that “it is now at a generally satisfactory level.” However, it recalls that full cooperation with the ICTY is a precondition for signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement as part of Bosnia’s integration with the EU, and to meet key European Partnership priorities. The report says that Bosnia has made little progress in establishing a functioning market economy. The economy itself has expanded rapidly, and overall macroeconomic stability has been maintained, but there are still threats to fiscal sustainability. “The persistence of very high unemployment remains a major cause of concern,” the report says. The slowdown in reforms is seen as the result of an unfavourable political climate and weak domestic consensus on the fundamentals of economic policy.

Macedonia Frequent tensions and problems in achieving constructive dialogue between major political actors have undermined the effective functioning of political institutions and led to a slowdown of reforms in Macedonia, according to the European Commission’s assessment of this EU candidate which has yet to start accession talks with Brussels. The report

says

that

the

absence

of

communication between key leaders in the

26

27


EURASIA

country and the behaviour of the opposition

uneven. The report notes that while large

political parties representing the different

have had a negative influence on the work

quantities of drugs have been seized,

ethnic communities,” the report says.

of political institutions. “The boycott of

insufficient progress has been made in

Parliament by one of the major opposition

tackling human trafficking.

It is said that the country has been implementing administrative reform gradually,

parties as well as the poor quality of cooperation between the President and the

The report on Macedonia notes that the

while it is confirmed that the second phase

Prime Minister has hindered the effective

country has made some progress in political

which relates to fiscal decentralisation, has

functioning of the political institutions,” the

criteria, while implementation of the 2001

begun. “Public administration remains weak

report says. The Commission notes that the

Ohrid Agreement, which brought an end to

and inefficient, and civil service legislation is

fight against graft in the country has yielded

a six-month conflict between ethnic Albanian

little used,” the report says. The economy in

some results, but recalls that “corruption is

guerrillas and the security forces, continues

widespread and constitutes a very serious

to contribute to the consolidation of

problem.” The coordination of activities

democracy and the rule of law.“Further efforts

among the different institutions in the fight

are needed to implement the agreement fully

against organised crime is assessed as

and to consolidate confidence between the

Macedonia has registered a markedly accelerated growth, and the Commission’s assessment is that macroeconomic stability has been maintained as structural reforms have made further progress. It acknowledges that Skopje has made further efforts to improve its ability to assume the obligations of membership. However, it says that Macedonia still faces major shortcomings in implementing and enforcing legislation effectively. The report concludes that Macedonia cannot, as yet, participate fully in EU policies because its institutional and administrative capacity is insufficient.

Kosovo Despite delays determining its long-term status, UN-administered Kosovo has managed to maintain stability regarding democracy and the rule of law. “The status issue has continued to dominate Kosovo’s politics,” noted the report, which is the third in a row to be published separately from Serbia. The Assembly’s work has shown improvement during the past year, but the Commission considers that “the Assembly’s law-making and

administrative

capacities

need

strengthening.” The efficiency of public administration has Kosovo: Muslim grandfather with his grandson.

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

shown some improvement, but in the


EURASIA

assessment of the report’s authors, Kosovo’s central and local administration remains weak and inefficient. Civil servants are still

MUSLIMS IN CROATIA

vulnerable to political influence,” the report

INTERVIEW WITH MUFTI SEVKO OMERBASIC

says. The judicial system in Kosovo also has serious inadequacies, according to the document. “It is weak and vulnerable, while

Globalia: How do you view the situa-

Mufti Sevko Omerbasic: Despite our

tion of the Muslims in your region?

considerable difficulties in Croatia we

operating in a complex legal environment in which there is considerable uncertainty.”

should not be discontented with the Mufti Sevko Omerbasic:The situation of the

situation. Fundamental changes in politics

Muslims in my Region is little different from

and in state structures demand a new

Responsibilities in the field of combating

that of the Muslims in other regions – it is

approach to religion. Even though we might

money-laundering have been transferred only

not very good. The period of transition has

be behind, we are striving to catch up with

partially from the UN administration to

produced shortcomings among Muslims,

the Muslim in Western Europe. Since the

Kosovo’s provisional institutions. “Uneven

even among intellectuals.The Muslims have

break-up of the former federation of

progress can be reported in combating

a wrong approach to their Deen. Ignorance

Yugoslavia, eight new madrasas, three high

money-laundering. Investigations in a number

about Islam and its discourse can be seen

schools and many Islamic institutions have

of cases were concluded but no court

both among the ‘Ulama and the common

established.

sentences have been handed down yet,”

people.This requires a questioning of one’s

report says. It also notes the lack of specialised prosecutors to deal with money-laundering, and says that economic crimes remain a major challenge.

own relation to the Deen.

Globalia:What kind of assistance would you like to receive from abroad?

Globalia: With whom are the Muslims cooperating?

Mufti Sevko Omerbasic:The Muslims in the region are able to solve their problems with-

Mufti Sevko Omerbasic: Muslims in the

“Kosovo is one of the main traffic routes for

out help from others, as demonstrated by

Balkans have lived for a long time under

drugs to Western Europe,” according to the

the reconstruction of our Mosques in

communism, which has consumed both

Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Sanjak.

Commission. However, the report notes also

their material and their spiritual substance.

Cooperation with other Muslims is, however,

that there is no strategy to prevent or combat

After communism the Muslims of the

important to us to improve our activities and

the illegal transport and use of drugs. “Drug

Balkans experienced a lot of suffering. The

creativity.

trafficking remains a serious problem.” The

Muslims in these regions have lived long

report recalls that the number of cases of

in isolation without knowing what other

Globalia: How do you view the situation

organised crime investigated increased

Muslims were doing in the rest of the world.

of the young Muslims?

substantially in the first half of 2007.

New forms of spreading Islam with new people are necessary in order to attain

Mufti Sevko Omerbasic:The situation of the

The economy has also been influenced by

future visions. The cooperation among the

young Muslims is quite serious because

Kosovo’s unresolved status. As the report

Muslims in the Balkans is better than among

they have come out of the war with

those in the West. There are communities

wounded souls. Those who grew up under

who are in contact with each other: Croatia,

communism had no education in the basics

Bosnia, Montenegro, Sanjak and Slovenia.

of the Deen.Young people are on the other

There is close cooperation with Macedonia

hand part of the Internet revolution, they

and Kosovo. We want to strengthen these

have a sounder, better approach to Islam,

ties.

so there may be conflicts with the older

notes, “economic development continues to be seriously impeded by political uncertainties, insufficient rule of law, limited production capacity and weak infrastructure.”The report concludes that Kosovo “has made little progress towards establishing a functioning market economy.”

generation. Globalia: What are the main problems in your Region?

Article Gjeraqina Tuhina, Brussels

Text Malik Sezgin

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29


GLOBAL

Newspaper headlines after the attacks in London.

IMF and WTO, a new and fundamental

MODERN POLITICS

question is being posed: what would happen

ON THE POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF TERRORISM

if capitalism, which economically encapsulates democracy, were to penetrate all of that system’s political institutions so deeply that

The political consequences of terrorism are especially devastating for the Islamic community – but also for non-Muslims.

its own purported political form no longer offered any kind of democratic correction to it? The problem, therefore, is not democracy, the problem is radically intolerant capitalism. Already the great majority of all conflicts are

There is little doubt that the mass murder of

21st century, were it not for the emergence

11 September 2001 represents a turning-

of new but very real opponents: archaic

point in recent political discourse. Since the

hordes of terrorists, the masses of the poor,

fall of communism, only democratic culture

anti-globalists, and a sprinkling of nationally

so-distant future, global capitalism no longer

and its big brother capitalism have really

operative despots.

were to need democracy?

a Western point of view at least. Political

And yet that supposed model of success,

The German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk

rivalry on a world scale has run out of rivals,

democracy and capitalism, is today the subject

describes the pressure to change that is clearly

political dialectics has no more adversaries.

of considerable suspicion, including in the

being exerted by global capital on the

The democratic culture, which by definition

West. While the Islamic world plunges into

nationally bound democracies. Sloterdijk

is without alternative, has now arrived in its

casino capitalism, over here many are

believes that, within a ‘world interior of

own totality. So it was that democracy’s

reflecting on the shadier aspects of that

capital’, even freedom (which in his view

triumph seemed assured at the opening of the

system. Quite aside from the debt-traps of the

could only be rescued by an unrealistic union

due not to a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ but to economic disorder. What then if, in the not-

remained to unfold across the planet – from

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


GLOBAL

of asceticism and democracy) is a matter up

world’s new divide does not lie between

for debate. The space in which freedom can

cultures, it separates the Rich and the Poor.

operate, claims Sloterdijk, is shrinking, and we

Materially speaking we Germans still live in

are living through nothing other than a

a sheltered zone.The establishment of Camps

transition to post-liberal forms: “We have the

around the edges of our affluent society and

choice between a party-dictatorial mode, as

the emergence of the political figure of Homo

in China, a state-dictatorial mode, as in the

Sacer, who has nothing left but his body, is

Soviet Union, an electoral-dictatorial mode,

the fault of the modernism of our global

as in the USA, and finally a media-dictatorial

principles of order. Our corporations are

mode as in Berlusconi’s Italy. Berlusconism is

marauding in Africa and they are not

the European test-balloon of the emerging

establishing a Nomos. It is in our relationship

Neo-authoritarian Age.”

with the South that the gaping chasm is revealed between the Christian claim of

Today, professing a belief in democracy is

Europe and its actual policies.

conditional on an answer to the question, “What kind of democracy?” But the prevailing

In the Islamic world, it is widely known that

superficial debate does not wish to make

the political realm is cleft with deep

time for that. We as Muslims, however,

contradictions. In the Arabian lands, led by

required as we are to embrace democratic

despots and little more than makeshift

values obediently, are the very people to begin

dictatorships, the masses that democracy will

asking.What are human rights worth without

bring them civil rights and a just distribution

civil rights? What does global democracy

of prosperity. Zakat, which is an indicator of

mean today? Is China a democracy? Or is

the just distribution of prosperity from within

China perhaps a kind of new capitalist Ideal

Islam, has been degraded in the Islamic world

State with unfettered freedom for capital,

to a politically insignificant ritual. And yet

and with a government that undertakes the

the Muslim intellect remains unsettled by the

dirty work of monitoring the workers, as the

hypocritical question aimed at Islamic nations

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek so

– whether they are capable of democracy? –

powerfully states. Zizek also identifies the

when everyone knows full well that barely a

creeping erosion of the democratic form in

despot would remain a day in power without

that enthusiastic role-model, the West. He

the support of the West. Our wealth depends

examines the weight of real possibilities for

to a considerable degree on the daily battle

political participation, comparing them with

for a share of scarce resources. What would

the “Close-doors” button in a lift. Involvement

happen if democratically elected governments

is becoming abstract, inconsequential; to the

in Riyadh or Tripoli were to sell their oil to third

politically minded human being, participation

parties?

appears almost illusory. The much-vaunted Enlightenment of which Of course, Earth remains an unsettled place,

we are so proud here in the West persists in

and compared with large tracts of our planet,

avoiding the economic realm.We still ‘believe’

life between Berlin and Baden-Baden is still

in endless growth, in the reduction of debt

fairly cosy. But this cosiness may be deceptive.

mountains and in our natural right to acquire

The Melilla refugee drama showed that the

the world’s resources.

30

31


GLOBAL

The magical multiplication of money is one

considers

an

community – but also for non-Muslims. One

of the absurd aspects of the capitalist religion.

accompanying symptom of globalisation and

has only to reflect on the obvious weakening

However, the limits of wealth have of course

a very modern entity indeed. They are the

of the important anti-globalisation movement

not disappeared, which is why good old

dismal children of modernisation; Muslims

– a movement which has invigorated the

geopolitics necessarily returns. We are no

who never knew the context of mosque,

political debate. As Muslims we do not just

longer fighting for Lebensraum, but for oil for

market and Zakat in their places of

bemoan the superficial loss of image; that

our cars. For Western democracies the problem

upbringing,

of

longing for recognition which can be observed

now is how to democratically ‘legitimise’ their

revolutionary ‘Shock Troops’ (one of Sayyid

among today’s Muslim functionaries is in fact

thirst for new resources. What is interesting

Qutb’s modernist terms).Their suicide appears

a secular activity. But this does not preclude

in all this is that the founding acts of

to Zizek more the action of someone in doubt,

annoyance.

democracy deliberately overlook the people’s

who simply has to know at last what he

right to self-determination – the sole

basically does not know and spiritually could

The limitless political term ‘Islamist’ is of

legitimate subject of democracy, that is.

never experience: whether there is another

course a gross simplification, and like every

room behind the door. As a modernist An analysis of terrorism today shows that as

other simplification it is one of the known

ideology, says Zizek in his brilliant analysis

a phenomenon it not only enhances the

preludes of a persecution which must be

Welcome to the Desert of the Real, they want

Global Security State, it also legitimises the

genuinely feared – quite aside from the

capitalism without capitalism. An imaginary

necessity of a global empire. John Gray

typical, inscrutable German incapacity to

land of orthodoxy, without economic

respect orthodox religious life-practices. The

alternatives, but with scarf-wearing women

political observer will also have noticed that

and a ban on alcohol. Meanwhile, even to the

the term racism has been silently removed

A reliable friend in the “war on terror”.

Terror/Al-Qaida

and

now

to

be

members

terrorists, the Dollar is the most highly prized cultural asset of all.

from the debate. But more to the point is the regrettable fact that, beneath Terror’s clouds of dust, even Islam itself is hardly

In liberalism, wanting to die for a political cause is unthinkable, hence in political theory and within the value-scheme, the terrorist or suicide bomber is a political figure of absolutely no worth whatsoever. He is not

recognisable. In the public arena, when advice is sought about Islam, it is as if all that exists were hair-brained fundamentalism or a banal esotericism. In either case, Islam loses its character as a credible alternative way of life.

even an enemy, he has no values, and since inhuman, he is basically an animal. Cage,

The denunciation of belief has now assumed

camp and leash are the reasonable civilising

shocking proportions. On the Muslim side

measures. The outrageous acts themselves

what is needed is a critique of Islamic

pursue an inescapable bio-political logic: the perpetrator utilises his body, but not his faith, against an opponent imagined to be overwhelmingly more powerful. He has nothing left other than this body, and in contravention to the Revelation he finally defiles that very existence which should have brought him to the Next World.All’s bad that ends bad. The political consequences of terrorism are especially devastating for the Islamic

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

modernism – but a critique which leads into Islam, not out of Islam. The key points are clear: Islam is neither an ideology nor a totalitarian life-form. Neither is it, as an organic life-pattern, a system with totalitarian ambitions. Islamic thinking lives from the autonomy of its own terminology. Even without the flowery language of tolerance, Islam respected other ways of life in close proximity and for hundreds of years on end. Text Abu Bakr Rieger, Berlin


GERMANY

Text Sulaiman Wilms, Berlin

Cologne: joint press conference with the heads of Muslim organisations in Germany.

The landscape of German Muslim now

FORCED TO CHANGE

comprises immigrants, their children (who

AN EVALUATION OF MUSLIM ORGANISATIONS

are noticeably better integrated into German society than their parents), and a growing number of new indigenous Muslims

Existing Islamic organisations will have to evolve if they want to represent the Deen and the next generation of Muslims in Germany. Creative projects are crucial.

(estimates range from 60,000 to 200,000). Observers estimate that there are currently 3.4 million Muslims in Germany, roughly three quarters of which are either Turkish citizens or their descendents. Representative polls show that 84 per cent of all Muslims want to stay in Germany; 600,000 of them are already

After decades of a somewhat informal

Introducing Muslims in Germany

existence, the Muslims have recently come

A notable Muslim presence emerged in

under the spotlight of public scrutiny, which

Germany with the arrival of the Gastarbeiter,

has triggered an interest in the subject of

or guest-workers. From the 1960s onwards,

In order to meet their religious needs, Muslims

Islam. Mounir Azzaoui, a former spokesman

workers from what was then Yugoslavia and

founded associations which went about

for the Central Council of Muslims in Germany

later from Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco came

opening temporary prayer rooms, and these

(Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland, ZMD),

to Germany. At first the influx was regulated

were the first visible signs of a Muslim

stated that “the last five years were

by restricting the duration of stay, but before

presence in Germany. Gradually, Muslims and

characterised by crises, terrorist attacks, a

long a more permanent immigration had

their organisations searched for more

debate about cartoons and statements by

evolved, the main factor in this process being

permanent places to practice their religion.

the Pope. Every three months or so we had

regulations governing the unity of immigrant

Today there are more than 2,000 prayer rooms

something even bigger to discuss.�

families.

in which the daily prayers are established, and

German citizens.

32

33


GERMANY

159 recognisable mosque buildings have been erected. Another 140 large-scale mosques are currently at the planning stage.

Organised Islam in Germany Organised Islam has until now been dominated numerically by organisations that are constituted and separated along ethnic lines, and of these, four are currently setting the tone. The strongest of these are two Turkish mosque associations: the Turkishstate-influenced DITIB, which has the greatest number of Mosques, and the independent Union of Islamic Cultural Centres (Verband der Islamischen Kulturzentren,VIKZ). Two umbrella organisations also exist: the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland, ZMD) and the Islamic Council of Germany (Islamrat für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland), the dominant member of the latter being the Milli Görüs Islamic Community (IGMG), which has Turkish roots.The most important member of the Central Council is the Arab-rooted Islamic Community

in

Germany

(Islamische

Gemeinschaft in Deutschland, IGD). Both umbrella organisations have dozens of other members, but none of these rival the IGMG or IGD in membership numbers or political leverage. Dr. Ayyub Köhler, veteran German Muslim and President of the Central Council, sees the ‘internal tasks’ of his umbrella organisation in the “support of and care for the communities and member organisations.” These, he says, are “matters of religious and social education and training. Then there is the support we offer in legal and theological matters as well as activities to improve conditions for practising the religion.” The new mosque in Duisburg, a former industrial centre in the Ruhr Conurbation, is one example of more than a hundred in the coming years.

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

More and more young Muslims consider the


GERMANY

lingering ethnic focus to be an obstacle to

background.” In dealing with the case of

conference. In addition, the DIK coordinates

Islam in Germany. “It is a problem that the

institutionalised Islam, Zaimoglu is of the

three task forces with periodical meetings on

biggest group of Muslims originates from

opinion that one has to deal quite regularly

Homeland Security; media; questions of

Turkey, because it means that Islamic topics

with the concept of “representatives who

representation; and a future of Islam as a

become synonymous with Turkish problems,”

solidify a certain hierarchy”.

body of public law - a longstanding wish for

observes a young Muslim student from

Muslim organisations.

Cologne. Fairness demands the acknowledg-

Malik Sezgin, Secretary General of the

ment that there also other ethnic groups

European Muslim Union, confirms this critique

The Islamische Zeitung has pointed out on

which are at least partly under foreign

on the grounds of ethnical focus of the

numerous occassions that the discussions

influence. Especially the attempts by Muslim

existing bodies within Germany. Sezgin,

held during the course of the conference has

organisations to totally delineate Islam as

himself from an immigrant background,

been done over the heads of Muslims -

free from terror and suicide bombings have

explains that indigenous European Muslims

ignoring the process of consultation at a

been hampered by ideologies from the Middle

are going to play a role of increasing impor-

ground level. Muslims skeptical of the latter

East. Mounir Azzaoui assesses the given state

tance in spreading and maintaining Islam in

event, coupled with independent observers,

of Islamic teaching as ‘problematic’. ‘It is

Germany. In doing so, this body of people

are indeed doubtful about the given

indeed a central problem of the current

will find themselves having to be the key

combination of representation within the

platforms that there is no sophisticated

mechanism in effecting a positive change

conference - the dynamics of the DIK consists

teaching, which deals with the local situation

within the country’s Muslim community,

of only four practising Muslims in comparison

of Muslims’. Organisations are missing this

“because they understand the language of the

to more than 30 political, executive and

point when they think in political terms only.

place as well as the intellectual and spiritual

academic participants. This of course has led

heritage of the Germans”.

skeptics to question the fact that not enough leverage will be granted to them in the

It is confirmed amongst both the younger generation of Muslims and the new Muslims

Contacts with German Politics

process of actively progressing as a

that there is a basic backlog in the demand

Despite the partial increase of polarisation of

community. The success of the DIK, it has

for this teaching. There is further a growing

the German society by the media coverage

been stated, will manifest itself in years to

undercurrent as well as an outspoken critique

on Islam, the realisation that Muslims - also

come - if any at all.

on some of the positions of the Islamic

through their organisations - cannot be

organisations. In our encounters in Germany,

negated any longer is becoming evident.

The aforementioned Feridun Zaimoglu

the three main areas of this critique are

Political decisions in recent years have clearly

criticised the absence of a practising Muslim

facilitated around areas such as the lack of

demonstrated this. The country’s Home

woman in the conference. “It cannot be like

an independent teaching of Islam; the non-

Secretary, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, and

this. Women who value Islam as their belief

existence of a sustainable network of Awqaf;

incumbent Chancellor, Dr.Angela Merkel, both

and the core of their lives should not be

and the predominant focus of Islamic

conservative politicians, acknowledge this

excluded.”

organisations on their own structural needs.

reality.

Difficult Search for Unity

The opinion of the well-known GermanTurkish writer Feridun Zaimoglu can be seen

Dr. Schäuble illustrated his willingness to talk

Founding a new mechanism to achieve the

as the general consensus of the German sit-

with the Muslims in their presently organised

‘Unity of Muslims’, the four great Muslim

uation, when he stated: “Maybe it is time to

form by hosting the German Conference on

organisations in Germany established in April

ask what the so-called ‘organised Islam’ can

Islam (Deutsche Islam Konferenz (DIK)). The

2007 the “Coordination Council of the

do and can’t. I would rather place emphasis

DIK, held in May of this year, brought Dr.

Muslims” (KRM).All participating bodies have

on the younger generation of Muslim men and

Schäuble to the meeting table for the second

two votes in this new council, however due

women, which will soon be the avant-garde

time with representatives of the four biggest

to its size, the DITIB has three votes. The

of

Muslim organisations in a a one-day

councils chair speaker changes every six

Germans

with

an

immigration

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35


GERMANY

months and is agreed upon by the four

Council is the development of a common

for the unity of the Muslims, as well as the

members. Complete mutual consent exists in

position for the training of future Imams in

constant demands of politics and the public”

all important Islamic communities in the

Germany. It would be helpful in this context

have been fulfilled.

rejection of terrorism and racism. Modalities

to have a stronger presence on the Internet

of how to apply the rules of Zakat and other

in order to publicly clarify the common

Concerning the question of Muslim

elements of the Islamic life-transaction

grounds.

organisations, Feridun Zaimoglu holds a rather contrary position: “Institutionalised Islam? I

beyond the five daily prayers are much more difficult to agree upon. There is still

Already in the founding phase of the Council,

disagreement about the times of the

when its leading members stood in front of

beginning and the end of Ramadan.The unity

the press, all participants had been very

ends here - at least until now.

optimistic. “The time of the guest workers and also of the immigrants is over” says the

am not interested!”. Furthermore, he calls for more self-confidence of the Muslims.“They should not give in too easily to any pressure.” Ahmad Gross, teacher, author and Muslim activist, is optimistic about the prospects of

On the other side of the spectrum, there is

chairman of the Islamic Council,Ali Kizilkaya.

Muslims in Germany. “The pressure on

an overall growing will of the Muslims to

The majority of the Muslims were born in

Muslims is growing to a point where we have

coordinate their communities and to

Germany and did not migrate. “We are part

to understand our existence here as a chance

strengthen their daily Islamic lives. The main

of Germany. Bekir Alboga, the new spokesman

given by Allah. Leaving all propaganda and

arguments between the organisations are

of the Coordination Council, explains “that

madness of this time aside, the West is

based on old conflicts. They have almost no

the Council has proven its performance also

discovering Islam. Everyone passes through

reality any more, and it is only a matter of time

to the public.” He states further that with the

a different door, but people are in the end

before the new generation settles it. One of

“integration of the four Islamic umbrella

looking for the mercy of Allah.”

the most pressing task for the Coordination

organisations, the wishes of the Muslim base

Difficult, but necessary The generation of young and new Muslims has an exceptionally ambiguous stance towards ‘organised Islam’. They call for more activities for and by the Muslims of Germany. There is however, states Mounir Azzaoui in conclusion, a large reservoir of potential capable skills in the community. Until now, these positive faculties “have not been called up by the great structures.” Important fields of activity are economy; media; and everywhere else - “where there are Muslims who are willing to participate”. So far, there is a lack of independent and yet practising body of Muslims, including native German Muslims, who are able to develop visions for the future of Islam in Germany. First and foremost, it is the youth that want and need to have correct Islamic guidance, which leads neither into fundamentalism, nor into esotericism.

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

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INTERVIEW

Granada: view on the New Mosque from its garden.

Globalia: What does it mean to the

AL-ANDALUS SHINES ON THE NEW MOSQUE OF GRANADA IN FOCUS

An interview with Abdulhasib Casti単eira, Director of the new mosque in Granada, on the institution, its activities, and its importance for the Muslims of Europe.

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

Muslim world that Islam has re-entered Spain at a time when Islam is being degraded globally?

Abdulhasib Casti単eira: I think it is a sign of the vitality, validity and relevance of Islam in this modern age. Also it is a sign that Islam has not been erased from the hearts and minds of the people of Spain. Eight hundred years of Islamic civilisation in Al-Andalus left


INTERVIEW

Text Muhammad Dockrat

vast reserves of knowledge that are still drawn

the non-Muslim population towards this

natural and true to us as Muslims, but to the

upon today by the World Islamic Community

momentous undertaking of reviving the

Spanish people it is something very new. For

and by non-Muslims as well. As a living

Deen in Spain?

the last five hundred years we have been

element, a living existential element Islam

taught that the country was a Christian

has been erased from the surface of the Iberian

Abdulhasib Casti単eira: I would say in the last

country invaded by Islam, and that they

peninsula, so it is a sign of the vitality, validity

thirty years, since the death of General Franco,

destroyed our unity.This has been basically the

and relevance of Islam that people are taking

there has been an increase in sympathy

official Catholic version of history up until the

it on existentially in their daily lives.

towards Islam in intellectual circles, academic

1970s, but now it has completely changed, in

circles and among those knowledgeable about

the textbooks and even in the discourse of the

Globalia: The history of Spain is vast and

culture and history. The Islamic era was one

authorities. Last year, in 2006, the Prime

extraordinary.What are the sentiments of

of the greatest times in Spain.This may sound

Minister said that Spain is indebted to Islam

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39


INTERVIEW

for its history. All this is very new. People will

Abdulhasib Castiñeira: Granada in history is

Muslims remained under Christian rule. They

now say Islam is not terrorism, Islam is not

the last place in which Islam held sovereign

suffered the genocide and religious

backwards, we know it in our cities, we know

power in Europe. It was a monarchy which

persecution of the Inquisition.They remained

it in our monuments, we know it in our own

surrendered power to the Christian monarchy

up until the middle of the seventeenth century

history.This is the truth and it can grow faster

in 1492, and then for another two hundred

in large communities.The Alhambra, because

in Spain then in any other European country.

and fifty years the indigenous Spanish

of its great beauty and extraordinary craft

Globalia: What is the role played by the Spanish Muslim community and the Mosque of Granada in establishing spiritual kinship throughout Europe? Abdulhasib Castiñeira: I think among everyone who comes to Granada – and there are many Muslims from the United Kingdom, Germany and France – who come for holidays and cultural visits, everyone recognises that Granada has a very strong meaning and a very significant place in the hearts and memory of the Muslims, and it is there that our mosque is located. Not only that but we are situated in the most historical quarter opposite the Alhambra Palace, and our mosque has become a model for all of Europe in that it is a mosque open to all people, not only Muslims. It fulfils the role of ‘Ibadah, which is the first role of a Mosque, and it is the heart of the community and also a place of interaction with society. Every day there are many activities. Every day of the year it is open to people, to the non-Muslims of Granada – but also to visitors, researchers, teachers, university groups and schools. The Mosque of Granada is one of the founding members of the EMU. We have attended all the assemblies and general meetings of the organisation. We have a strong contribution to make because we join history and the present day, and I think Granada will become a place of hospitality, meeting, protection and discussion for all European Muslims. Globalia: What sets Granada apart from other European cities?

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

A prominent place. The head of the Islamic Community of Spain Malik Ruiz is addressing visitors of a celebration.


INTERVIEW

and the talent of its architecture, was not

Globalia: Granada Mosque has one of

high calibre repository of correct knowledge.

destroyed.When Spain goes around the world

the finest Khatibs in Shaykh Muhammad

His advice individually, collectively, to the

and promotes itself at tourist fairs in New York

Kasbi. Can you tell me something about

authorities and to the leaders of the

or Singapore, the Alhambra is its symbol – as

him and his influence on the community?

community is of the highest value.

Muslim monument – the Alhambra is always

Abdulhasib Castiñeira: Shaykh Muhammad

Globalia:All across the non-Muslim world

the symbol for Spain.

Kasbi is a gift from Allah of incalculable value,

in countries such as South Africa,

to the Muslims in Spain and the community

Germany and many others, there are

Granada is a small provincial town with three

in Granada. He is extracted from another age.

divisions between the indigenous

hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. For

His own life experience, he tells us, is exactly

Muslims and the migrant population. Is

the past twenty years it has also been a model

like that of the Sahabah, milking goats,

this the case in Spain?

city in all of Spain where immigrant Muslims

travelling on donkeys and going to get water

have been accepted and have made themselves

from the well. He comes from a very well

a niche in society and contributed to the

known area, which has dedicated itself

economy, but not as industrial workers. They

entirely to scholarship. One remarkable thing

have created an atmosphere and ambiance of

is how a man who never travelled out of

Islamic revival with their souks and bazaars,

southern Morocco speaks such a high Arabic.

and have somehow recreated a Moorish

Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula are

presence in the city, which is very beneficial to

dumbfounded when they hear him, he has so

the economy and tourism. They have also

much eloquence, poetry and sayings from his

somehow managed to integrate into society

language, which in itself is a miracle.

the Taj Mahal is for India, which is also a

without major clashes or difficulties.All of that makes Granada significant.

The region of the Souse where he comes from is known as the “spiritual reserve of the

Globalia: When I looked at the Granada

Maghrib”. They have nothing else, no

Mosque website [insert domain] I could

agriculture and no cattle so the land is

not help noticing that the community is

basically desert, but they have cultivated, at

very active. What are your expectations

a very high level, extraordinary Madrasahs

for the coming year?

that have maintained the same method and teachings for a thousand years. Allah has

Abdulhasib Castiñeira: That has never been the case in Spain, which remains connected with South America and North Africa. The condition of and relationships between the immigrant and indigenous populations are much better here than in other European countries. It is by taking a sort of moral and intellectual leadership that the immigrants will prevent themselves from being marginalised and ghettoised, which is what has happened to the economic immigrants of the UK. They have defined themselves in ghettos and allowed themselves to be put in a corner because they have not taken on their responsibilities as Muslims, to be role models with clear intellectual understanding of the challenges of the moment. We are trying to

Abdulhasib Castiñeira: We are, after three

given him the gift of discrimination and

take down the barriers by encouraging

years, becoming more organised and

wisdom and depth that enables him to

everyone to aspire to the highest responsibility

professional – if you want to call it that – in

understand perfectly and with great delicacy

of Islam in this age.

our approach, programmes, teaching, and

the realities of Europe today. We have succeeded in different ways. Last

reaching out to society intellectually in our publications. We are hoping to host more

So he is not just someone who knows the

year, twenty leaders from the Muslim

open local and international conferences at

books and laws and the Qur’an, he is someone

communities of Spain met with the Prime

the Mosque. We have an event in July on the

who judges and interprets and counsels,

Minister. We also visited the Ministry of

6 , 7 and 8 which is a summer celebration

always with great wisdom and with great

Justice, which deals with minorities and

of Islam in Europe which we do every year.

acuity. He has also been trained as a Qadi.

religions, and we are visited regularly by the

We also plan to invite scholars throughout the

He knows how to judge in contexts of place,

local governor. We are striving hard to

year, and we have a programme of talks and

time and people. He is not just a repository

establish that the Muslims have an important

seminars.

of knowledge – although he is that – he is a

role to play in modern lives.

th

th

th

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MEDIA

various cultural backgrounds as well as the

LEAGUES AHEAD

capacity to unify Muslim and non-Muslim

GERMANY: ISLAMISCHE ZEITUNG LEADS THE DISCOURSE

writers. Its regular interview feature in particular aims to facilitate ‘encounters’ with relevant non-Muslim voices.

For those who follow the newspaper it is a clear window into modern politics. The Islamische Zeitung analyses the present global and local situation. It reaches out to the Muslims and to non-Muslim communities alike.

The IZ aims to bring together Muslim communities of different origins, and hopes also to integrate Muslims and non-Muslims. It counters the stereotypes and negative images of Muslims presented in the general media by providing a positive image of Islam and Muslims. Islamische Zeitung was

The media has become the main tool to

through subscription, direct sales, and a

condemning terrorism and suicide attacks

transport and diffuse ideas, which is why the

system of distributing to selected outlets.

long before 9/11 and has continued to do so ever since. It has clearly defined itself outside

Muslims in Europe must assert themselves in the media to further their cause. Islam is a

The project is set up as a limited company.

of modern-day dialectics, but stays within the

Divinely ordained religion – not a culture or

The publishers and editorial staff are not

confines of true politics and gives a Muslim

a political ideology – yet it has acquired

under any particular national or foreign

view to the rapidly changing world.

something of a negative taint in mainstream

political influence. The Islamische Zeitung is

European media. For this reason the need is

also financially independent, not dominated

For those who follow the newspaper it is a

all the more pressing. Twelve years ago a

by foreign or local sponsors. Although the

clear window into modern politics. The

small group of young European Muslims

editorial perspective is broad, the team of

Islamische Zeitung analyses the present global

began an attempt to offer positive information

authors, chief and deputy editors and

and local situation. It reaches out to the

about the Deen to their German non-Muslim

publishers maintain certain boundaries to

Muslims and to non-Muslim communities

neighbours, and to unify the German-speaking

ensure a ‘Middle Path’.

alike. The IZ offers a fresh perspective – especially to non-Muslims – on subjects which

Muslims by means of a media project. The IZ is known to have been the first public

are otherwise usually depicted within a

Germany’s umbrella organisations aside, the

Muslim voice in Germany to denounce suicide

stereotypical framework.

Islamische Zeitung (or IZ) has now become

attacks, terror and other extreme, modernist

the independent voice of the German-

deformations of Islam. This is especially

Since the editorial team is multi-ethnic and

speaking Muslim community. Since its launch

important for the positive existence of

its binding factor is the German language,

it has established itself all over Germany,

Muslims in Europe. Likewise, the editorial

this newspaper functions as a bridge between

Switzerland and Austria. At present the IZ is

team has defended with similar vigour the

Islam and non-Muslim Germans. IZ is

the most read and widely distributed German-

Pillars of Islam, and never give voice to those

therefore perfectly positioned to demonstrate

speaking Muslim publication in Germany.

authors who would attack the Prophet or the

that Islam is not a culture of foreigners, but

basics of the Deen.

instead a thrilling phenomenon which is also relevant to people who may otherwise have

Currently the IZ has two main cornerstones of activity and is in the process of adding

The publisher and founder of the project is

overlooked it. The IZ has enabled German

more services.There is a daily updated website

Abu Bakr Rieger and its Chief Editor is

Muslims to show that Islam is not alien to

(with more than 5,000 visitors a day) as well

Sulaiman Wilms – both Muslims of German

Europe but rather its highest possibility – as

as a printed edition (10,000 copies every

origin. It is fundamentally diverse in that it is

demonstrated by the Islamic civilisations of

month). Readers receive the newspaper

a multi-ethnic newspaper, having writers from

Spain, Sicily, the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


MEDIA

Keeping in touch. Open communication is one of the cornerstones of Germany’s Islamische Zeitung.

Islamische Zeitung co-operates with Muslim

towards its good or bad aspects IZ discusses

IZ has taken an active part in many

organisations in various European countries,

pros and cons of modern-day globalisation,

conferences which aim to build a future

namely: the UK, Spain,Turkey, Russia and the

not from a puritanical view but rather from

generation of Muslims who know their time

Balkans, as well as many countries outside

a historical one. Islam has always known

and can secure the Deen of Islam in their

Europe such as Morocco and South Africa. It

globalisation. In a sense it is part of the

epoch.

also works with media organisations in the

Muslim heritage if one considers the Hajj or

Middle East.

the spread of Islam through markets and

Educating and drawing in the youth –

trade.

especially in the case of Muslims, since we are sailing on troubled waters in every place

It pays close attention to meaningful events within the Islamic world, and broadcasts the

Apart from its intellectual offerings it contains

– is of the utmost importance.There are many

views of Muslim intellectuals from throughout

a mouth-watering section for those with a

aspects to building up young men and woman

the world’s Muslim communities.

liking for the spice of life, indulging the reader

who can take hold of the reigns of the future

with tastes of Far-Eastern,Arab and European

and understand their epoch and place, so

An important pillar of the content is an

Muslim lifestyles. This section covers the

that they may be able to contribute to the

adherence to correct Islamic teaching

different ways of life of Muslims in different

future of Europe. It is for this reason that

according to the traditional Islamic schools

regions. It explores the multi-cultural legacies

Islamische Zeitung has collaborated with the

of law, while maintaining that they are

of Islam from Sarajevo to Samarkand,

youth to establish firm grounds on which to

applicable to our times. In doing this the

featuring cuisine, clothes, cultural activities

tread.

Islamische Zeitung defends the Deen as a

(such as different celebrations) and behaviour-

living, dynamic phenomenon. The Islam

patterns, as well as contemporary subjects

Anyone interested in this dynamic approach

section includes articles by respected scholars

related to Muslim lifestyle and Islamic

to forming a basis for the Muslim community

and personalities from all over the Muslim

practice.

should feel free to contact the newspaper at any time via their website:

world. It investigates the biographies of modern and

www.islamische-zeitung.de

The IZ incorporates Muslim scholars of varying

historical personalities such as Ibn Khaldun,

origin from Germany and Europe in order to

Ibn Rushd, Ibn Al-’Arabi and others. Of course

IZ also invites other newspapers, magazines

fulfil this aim.

there is a special emphasis on the feminine

and broadcasters to co-operate, and hopes to

aspect of the Deen, following the famous

make inroads into new and exciting avenues

One of its regular features looks at

saying: “Half of the Deen is from Aisha,” the

that have not yet been explored.

globalisation. Rather than a polarising

wife of the Prophet.

Text Mohammed Dockrat

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CULTURE

Statue of the poets Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller.

be one of the decisive factors, especially when

THE POETS AND ISLAM

we discuss integration. The situation in

A MUSLIM PERSPECTIVE ON EUROPEAN THOUGHT

Germany, in terms of simple figures, is as follows:

A short talk given at Wolfsburg Islamic Centre on Sunday 2 September 2007 to mark the occasion of the Mosque’s one-year anniversary.

• 16 million Muslims in Europe • 3.4 million of these Muslims live currently in Germany – of those, 84 per cent wish to live in Germany permanently • More than 600,000 Muslims already possess

Ladies and Gentlemen,

deeper importance once again. It has always

a German passport

Of course, if I undertake to present the

been a key issue. Right back in 1814 Goethe

• 77 conventional mosques and more than

relationship between the German poets and

wrote in his West-Eastern Divan, “The actual,

Islam in the space of 20 minutes, I am bound

the only, the deepest theme of world and

to fail. But this implies at least that such a

human history, beneath which all other

relationship exists – and that it is much too

themes are subsumed, remains the conflict

complex and too multi-faceted to sum up in

between rejection and belief.”

just a few minutes.

2000 prayer rooms exist in Germany • 123 large mosques are currently at the planning stage in Germany. It would be naïve to believe that such an enormous integration process could take place without any difficulties whatsoever. But then

It is perhaps no coincidence that the subject

again there are voices that deny absolutely

There is no doubt that the dialogue between

of religion is gaining in import again. The

the possibility of integrating Islam into our

poetry, thought and belief is assuming a

religion we belong to appears once more to

polity. For example, Wehler, a philosopher of

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


CULTURE

history, published an article in the newspaper

The question with which one actually has to

I am sure we can safely say that the Moors

die tageszeitung in 2002 entitled Das

respond is:“Is Islam actually a culture at all?”

had more important things to do.

Türkenproblem – the Problem of the Turks –

It is my conviction that we must refute this

and sparked a debate which rages on bitterly

idea absolutely. Islam brings forth cultures;

We meet here today in this beautiful mosque,

to this day:

filters and influences cultures; but is itself not

and one of our intentions is to indicate some

a culture.You can be an American, a German,

of the spiritual inspiration that can emerge

an Afrikaner, an Asian or an Eskimo – belong

between thinkers and believers. By inviting

to the most diverse of cultural environments

each other in this way we are also doing the

– but still be a Muslim as well.

opposite of what terrorists and ideologues do,

“The example shows that it just doesn’t work. Germany does not have a problem with foreigners, it has a problem with Turks. This Muslim diaspora is in principle impossible to integrate. Federal Germany has, since its formation, coped gallantly with an immigrant population of what is now ten per cent. But

who must fear, avoid and fight against the To reverse the argument, so to speak, one of

Other in order to preserve their own identities.

the important contributions European Muslims must now make is to filter out

Unfortunately, Islam and terrorism are

actively those incidences in Europe wherein

mentioned today in the same breath, a fact

Islamic life is culturally hijacked and

for which we have the nihilism of suicide

This typical position is one which I would

transgressed against.This applies in particular

bombers to thank. But while we appreciate

dispute, and that on a very personal level. If

wherever culture is ‘sold’ to us too quickly as

fully the debate which has been going on

you will permit me this example – I myself

Islam.

since 11 September, we should call to mind

at a certain point there comes a limit to what one can expect of a complex society.”

the observation of the thinker Peter Sloterdijk:

and my children, who all were born as Muslims, represent the error in the argument

To mention one example, the wearing of the

of Mr Wehler and anyone else who claims that

Burka is, for a German Muslim woman who

“We have in fact sanctified terrorism. One has

Europe is incompatible with Islam.

practices Islam correctly, fully untenable, both

only to think of the book Powers of Ten, in

culturally and Islamically. A study of the

which we witness a journey through the

Cannot my son Yusuf, who was born in

centuries-long periods during which Islam

cosmos – from the biggest to the smallest –

Weimar, a German Muslim, be integrated into

flourished in Al-Andalus shows that dress

in which the same image is retained, but

this Europe? Only because he, just like every

code was not only dealt with flexibly, but

enlarged each time by the power of ten. First

other Muslim, prays, fasts, or will one day

changed frequently – especially among

you see heaps of galaxies, then the Milky

pay Zakat and take the journey to Mecca,

women.

Way, Earth, a country, a city, a garden, then

inshallah? If, like Ibn al-Arabi, we recognise the identity

The Austro-German Hugo von Hofmannsthal was fascinated by Islam.

of a person by his language, then it is of course absolutely scandalous not to welcome the young Muslims who live here – who often speak better German than Arabic or Turkish – just as one would welcome my children as German Muslims. When we hear Huntington speaking about a ‘Clash of Civilisations’, then, as far as Islam is concerned, we may be witnessing what will be an epoch-making misunderstanding – but hopefully not.

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CULTURE

a couple lying there on the lawn. Finally the camera zooms into the microscopic world, bringing forth to our vision the elementary particles. We experience the power of enlargement in three dimensions. Something very similar is happening with Terror: pinpricksized effects that exist in real life are being magnified by our media to assume the magnitude of galactic phenomena.” Today let us take another perspective; let us think for once positively about the relationship between Islam and Europe, but not, of course, ignoring the problems of integrating millions of different Muslims. Let us simply hope together that the relationship between Germans and Muslims is viewed more and more not just as normal, but in the traditional manner of a forging of links. After all, if we think about Islam in Europe then we must immediately recall the great cities and places of European culture. One only has to think of Sarajevo, Cordoba and Weimar. Weimar especially, that city of German classics which is so close to the German heart, prefigured the encounter between Europe and Islam in the great figure of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Manfred Osten wrote an apt summary of this old-new dialogue with Islam in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on 22.05.2002: “A dialogue of an excelling modernity? Goethe was clearly aware of the cultural schism between Islam and the West at an early stage, and the concomitant necessity for the Great Dialogue. It may be that his attempt at such a dialogue, the cycle of poems entitled West-Östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan) which he wrote in 1814, must be viewed through Nietzsche’s verdict that Goethe was ‘an incident without further consequences in the history of the

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


CULTURE

Germans.’ Even today, many German scholars

of the smallest detail, and without Whose

the intellect to examine more closely and to

encounter his intercultural genius with

will and permission nothing can occur.”

ascertain; and, if performed correctly, from thence derives that certainty which is the

reservation. And yet, by writing this book all those 200 years ago, Goethe did nothing less

With these beautiful words, Goethe confirms

goal in which man finds complete

than prepare the ground for the dialogue

the connection between people who,

reassurance. You can see that this teaching

with Islam. The strategy which he pursued is

according to him, are anyway better described

lacks nothing, and that for all our systems we

based on a thorough examination of what is

as open-minded citizens of the world, not

are no further on, and that absolutely nobody

apparently foreign, which for him leads to

narrow-minded nationalists.

can get anywhere with them.”

Qur’an is the most important religious

Goethe, the creator of the West-Eastern Divan,

It is precisely this intellectual confidence, this

document in the history of mankind alongside

who famously “did not reject the suspicion

relishing in intellectual engagement, this

recognition, indeed in the conviction that the

the Bible.” What really interested Goethe about Islam?

After all, if we think about Islam in Europe then we must

This is a fascinating question, and still an

immediately recall the great cities and places of European

open one. Goethe, the genius of his century,

culture. One only has to think of Sarajevo, Cordoba and Weimar.

certainly found in Islam a confirmation of his

Weimar especially, that city of German classics which is so close

longing for Unity and his deep belief in

to the German heart, prefigured the encounter between Europe

Destiny.

and Islam in the great figure of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. To mention but one example, in his famous conversations with Eckermann, Goethe admired the integral Islamic approach to

that he himself was a Muslim,” reveals himself

composure and self-assurance in the face of

education. “...What is remarkable are the

as knowledgeable even of the Islamic

contradiction, that we Muslims now

teachings with which the Mohammedans

methodology of thought. He reminds us as

sometimes lack. Only in active engagement

begin their education. As the foundation of

Muslims that when it comes to our Revelation,

with thought, argumentation and the

their religion, they establish in their youth

we think not dialectically but in terms of the

contradictions of modernity can we as

the conviction that man cannot encounter

whole.

Muslims find and preserve our own intellectual position. That, at least, is the

anything but what an all-guiding Divinity has long ago decreed; this equips and reassures

Goethe argued: “The Mohammedans

them for their entire lives, and leaves them

thereupon begin their teaching of philosophy

needing little else.”

with the doctrine that nothing exists about

Of course, language and the capacity for

which you cannot say the opposite. They

language are essential for an encounter of this

Goethe therefore identifies belief in Destiny

exercise the minds of their youths by having

kind here in Germany, the land of poets and

as the actual link between all believers. He

them find and articulate the contrary opinion

thinkers.And which Muslim parents would in

continues: “... there is basically some of this

of every proposition, which inescapably leads

fact not want their children to speak our

belief in each and every one of us, without

to great skill in thought and speech.”

language?

not have my name on it will not hit me’, says

He then continues to reflect on this superiority

Indeed, sometimes it is the language of the

the soldier in battle.And how should he keep

of Islamic thinking: “Then, once the opposite

Other that helps us to comprehend what is

up his courage and spirits under extreme

has been claimed about every proposition,

of value to us. For example, our world-famous

danger without such confidence? ...[It is] a

doubt arises as to which is actually true. But

poet Rainer Maria Rilke gave the following

doctrine of a Providence which remains aware

they do not tarry in doubt. Rather, it drives

quite beautiful insight defining the nature of

counsel of the poet of old.

us having been taught it.‘The bullet that does

46

47


CULTURE

religion: “[...] Religion is something infinitely

openness of Rilke’s is today truly exemplary.

awe about creation. And perhaps also an

easy, simple. It is not a knowledge, not a

And the enthusiasm is certainly mutual and

amazement at the common human ground

content of feeling [...], it is not a duty and not

not restricted to the German language. Rainer

which all great poetry reveals to us again

abstinence, it is not a limitation. Rather, it is

Maria Rilke wrote to Lou Andreas-Salome on

and again, regardless of confession.

in the perfected expanse of the universe: a

19.12.1912 from Ronda in Andalusia: “..I am

direction of the heart. [...] When the Arab

reading the Qur’an here and am in awe, awe,

It is precisely this awe which is opposed by

turns to the east at certain times and

awe – and once again my love of Arabic is

the experience of nihilism – whose basic

prostrates himself, that is religion. It is hardly

awoken.”

a ‘belief’. It has no opposite. It is being moved naturally within an existence through which

Is it anything other than this awe that we

the wind of God blows three times daily, by

Muslims now want to convey in our mosques?

being at the very least: supple [...]” This

An awe of Destiny, an awe of language, an

The Andalusian town of Ronda was one of the places where Rilke encountered Islam.

experience, according to modern German philosophy, is boredom. Only if our mosques are open, our prayers, thought and actions are alive, will we ensure that our young people do not become bored in our mosques. Ibn al Arabi, another great European figure, considered boredom something quite inconceivable in Islam. His motto is truly Greek: “Everything flows”. For this reason I would

like

to

conclude

with

this

philosophically important extract from Ibn al-Arabi’s Meccan Revelations: “Some people do not know that Allah reveals Himself anew in every moment, and that every one of these revelations is different from the last. If somebody is lacking this perception, he may dwell endlessly in a single revelation [of Allah], the witnessing of which seems prolonged to him. He is then overcome by boredom, yet boredom in this dwelling place is a lack of reverence for the Divine, since ‘they are dubious about the new creation’ in every moment (Qur’an 50:15).They imagine that the situation is not changing, so a veil is drawn in front of them and this causes a lack of reverence, once Allah has withdrawn from them knowledge about themselves and about Himself. They therefore imagine that they are the same in every moment.” Thank you very much for listening. Text Abu Bakr Rieger, Berlin

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008


48

49


LITERATURE

themselves politically incorrectly in Globalia

A VISIT TO GLOBALIA

do not receive visitations from dark figures,

ON THE FAMOUS BOOK BY JEAN-CHRISTOPHE RUFIN

their careers are simply “accelerated a little”. What is so agreeable about Rufin is that he

Rufin sees his book as a continuation of the Orwellian theme of 1984. But, he says, the situation today is quite different. “Now everything is no longer forbidden, everything is allowed.” Yet his analysis goes a step further.

himself does not come from an intellectual non-zone. So far, the vigilant literary section of the newspaper Die Welt (‘A Life like d’Artagnan’) has only managed to accuse him personally of having sold too many books. All the more interesting for the discussion, then, if we can refrain from obscuring the uncomfortable thesis of this book by debating

A birdsong polyphonic chimes in the

Rufin sees his book as a continuation of the

about the author – if, that is, there is any

auditorium. Jean-Christophe Rufin smiles at

Orwellian theme of 1984. But, he says, the

discussion at all. In Cologne, after Rufin’s

this prelude to Globalia. The 53-year-old

situation today is quite different. “Now

friendly presentation, no questions were

chairman of Campaign Against Hunger has

everything is no longer forbidden, everything

allowed from the audience – “just in case”,

written a novel about a future world; or it

is allowed.” And yet Rufin’s analysis goes a

so to speak.

could be set once upon a time in the future-

step further. The system which in Orwell’s

present. While LitCologne (a limited liability

time could be mastered by the good or the

Rufin is no ideologist, rather a kind of modern

company) hopes to present him as a literary

bad, in this way or that, has now become

adventurer, someone who plies the non-zones

figure and aesthete – asks him to give

autonomous. Indeed, the old categories of

of this world, frequently visiting Brazil, for

readings of what he calls “the descriptive

good and bad have become questionable

example. Neither is Rufin a theorist among

passages” – the author would rather speak

since they have both been integrated into

arrogant idealists.An ‘Author sans Frontières’,

about his book’s political theses. Rufin

the political system. Globalia is a pleasingly

he has for years been dealing with the modern

proceeds to do so with typically French charm,

open book, written beyond good and bad. Its

contradiction between the First and the Third

subject is the sinister, emerging integrative

Worlds without intending to teach. He does,

power of modern states.

however, intend to think. “We now have,”

and, commendably, without wagging the moral finger.

states Rufin, “two humanisms.” One Refugee, trapped in Mellila

Globalia describes the end-station of the

humanism for the North and one for the

technological project, and Rufin casts it in an

South.

enthralling literary mould. It is the totalitarian

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

form which has asserted itself in the

“Globalia,” Rufin explains, “is not a utopian

’protected’ zones of Globalia. Globalia makes

future novel. Globalia describes current

excessive use of the rhetoric of freedom,

situations, exaggerated, but still actual

human rights and, above all, absolute security,

possibilities.” Every time Rufin returns from

while the unquestionability of these absolute,

the Third World, where the scandalous

almost religiously transfigured concepts

biopolitical phenomenon of ‘bare life’ grows

means at the same time the end of any

ever clearer, his view becomes clearer too.We

genuine public debate about the political

already live, the author tells us, under a well-

substance of Globalia’s democracy. It is

supplied safety dome like in Globalia, even

accepted. And anyway, there are no

if in a permanent state of security-mania.

alternatives left. People who express

Rufin describes with sober directness the


LITERATURE

peculiar effects of globalisation. For example,

people, he says, can no longer find orientation.

during a stay in Brazil he noticed that all the

He tells of an Albanian friend who, in the

undertakers were open day and night, and

time of Stalinism, used to transcribe by night

outside their shops were long queues of

books that were only allowed to be borrowed

children’s coffins. They cannot afford the

for one day, in order that he could own them

debate about shop opening times in Brazil.

fully.

Of course, Rufin also touches on our current

Globalia cannot defeat any enemy, it is

political landscape, allusions to which

threatened only from within. In Globalia,

permeate Globalia, most of which was written

boredom is the price and the prevailing mood

during the run-up to the Iraq War. An

of nihilistic existence. Rufin recounts a

atmosphere of manipulation dominates the

trekking tour in South Africa which inspired

world, to which Rufin, as former State

him to write the book. After walking a long

Secretary of the French Defence Ministry, is

way through the wilderness he came upon a

naturally attuned. In Globalia, manipulation

policeman who asked him for his entry card

becomes a recognised means of exercising

with a barcode. Rufin protested. The officer

media power, terrorist acts become an integral

explained to him that without the coded entry

part of domestic politics, the constant threat

card, they could neither search for him nor

of terrorism justifies absolute obedience, and

find him.The seed of the Globalia theme had

political enemies are needed in order to sound

found Rufin.

out the political mood among the home population. It is in today’s security mania that

Baikal and Kate, the heroes of the novel,

Rufin sees “the existential insecurity and

attempt to break out of the security zones

emptiness of the modern human being”.

while on a trekking tour, longing for love,

Terrorism is everywhere and nowhere, is not

adventure and exceptional experiences. The

accidentally without any recognisable political

immediate social contact with people outside

content, and acts without a tangible leader.

the artificial dome under which Globalia is situated, whether enemies or not, lifts their

What to do? It is not only a “certain critical

mood straight away. They can breath again,

distancing from democracy” which Rufin

despite the desolation of the non-zones.They

quietly advocates in Cologne, or the natural

are not terrorists, nor politicians, they are

French mistrust of the authorities which the

without nationality or citizenship, but within

experienced author embodies. Rufin does not

them an adventurous heart still beats audibly.

respond to the call for reform-debates; rather,

That suffices.

as befits a political author, he demands deeper reading. Books, to Rufin, as suggested by one

Change in Globalia can no longer be cast in

of Globalia’s central themes, are valuable

the mould of political programmes. Baikal

stores of treasure, bridges that lead to the past

and Kate save their youth by an intuitive flight

and to the future. Books produce social and

which must at first succeed without a definite

intellectual movements. “The readers never

objective, but which finds its meaning in its

write to me,” sighs Rufin, hinting the solitude

nature as a path, as a new beginning. Rufin

of a poet. In the modern bookstores, with

continuously plays on the necessary relation

their vast stocks of literature and science,

between poetic and political perception. Kate

50

51


LITERATURE

and Baikal are neither sensible nor pragmatic, and are thus original figures. Not until they act together do they discover the possibility of love. Both want one thing above all else: to break out of Globalia and have a destiny at last. There is no doubt that Globalia is a European book. It reflects the European’s mistrust of the leviathan

and

scepticism

regarding

technology. “Within the Gestell (framework), everything becomes stock,” perceived Martin Heidegger in his early and striking description of the integrative nature of planetary technology.The ‘Old’ Europe may be spiritually tired, but it is under no illusions, remains dangerous, and doubts the irrational thesis of our parties promising endless growth and global wellbeing. But where to? With his depiction of Globalia, Rufin dares cautiously to question the meaning of our historical existence. Globalia shows how it might end, but not how it must end. Because one understands every side and can recognise all the motives of modern life in Globalia, this end appears possible. In Globalia, history itself ends.Who, after all, can still make history? The former bearers of political sovereignty, be they nations, peoples, civil movements or trade unions, have long since dispersed. Man lives an atomised life. Globalia is full of abundance, and yet it is an eternal, aimless building site. The themes of the novel correspond with the here and now. Certainly one of the weaknesses of day-to-day politics is that it retains little contact with the timeless questions of political poetry. The German Federal President’s in 2005, which was supposed to “show the way forward”, was in the end mainly about man in his modern

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | January 2008

Heiligendamm: Surronding the conference centre with military barbed wire in advance of the G8 Summit. The rich nations are seperating themselves from the poorer rest.


LITERATURE

Text Abu Bakr Rieger

Jean-Christophe Rufin

role as worker, and as a stock item of human

in sensing the real danger, that of the loss of

Protection” in Globalia). On the one hand it

capital, and was indeed nothing other than

one’s own right to decide.

is the watcher over the political enemies of

day-to-day politics. “Work more” – because

the state, on the other it serves powerful

of the imminent collapse – a constructive

Rufin has succeeded in triggering several

corporate entities, protecting them against

political vision? Whatever the case, such a

stimulating debates about the development

the threat of industrial espionage – a twin role

limited vision of the future human being will

of “democratic culture” in Germany.With the

and a self-image that throws up fundamental

not inspire anyone. Politics and voters

questions.

continue to be driven along by the pressing

There is no doubt that Globalia

questions of globalisation. Rufin, on the other

is a European book. It reflects

Do we need new protectors of the

the European’s scepticism

Constitution? Globalia’s modern relevance

hand, aims to push thinking to new adventures.

about technology.

Does politics act, or only react? Away from

also lies in the formulation of one of the core political questions of this time: can the global economy be controlled democratically at all?

the spotlight, the key political figure in

justification of historical experience, the

Unnoticed, the Nation State, or rather the

Globalia is honest and, when pressed by Kate,

founding fathers of the Grundgesetz,

Party State, has departed from that economic-

admits that politics is nothing more than

Germany’s Basic Law, recognised the threat

political neutrality imposed upon it by the

theatre. It is clear that Rufin is an important

above all in the political zone, and thankfully

Constitution. Increasingly, the victory of

inspiration for an overdue debate about the

mastered it. So far so good, and yet the new

capitalism is conceptually equated with the

nature of modern states – states which, as

dangers – and here one has to agree with

victory of democracy. Is it our victory? A

today’s service-providers to the unbridled

Rufin – are more of an economic nature:

society which daily celebrates the apocalypse

economic project, ever more frequently and

media concentration, democracy by public

of imminent economic break-down, however,

rashly categorise political and religious

mood, the political role of statistics, the

hardly has the strength for such critical

matters as “dangerous”, and neutralise them.

relationship between the parties and business,

analysis. The cohesion of Germany is built

The political biotope is wasting away, drying

and also the noteworthy, rarely discussed

increasingly on fear, not on a positive political

out. Anyone who wants not just to consume

new twin role of the Verfassungsschutz, or

vision. Globalia is built on precisely that same

politics but also to think politically, joins Rufin

Constitutional Protection Authority (“Social

fear.

52

53


TRAVEL

connects Freiburg conveniently to the international air network. The traces of its dramatic history can be seen all over the old part of the town. In the centre itself stands the impressive Münster cathedral – which, as was common among medieval churches, is oriented towards Jerusalem – and the cobbled market square. On the evening of 27 November 1944, the British Royal Air Force bombed Freiburg, killing 3000 people and destroying the entire Old City. Only the Münster remained standing. It is of course the city’s most famous building and landmark, and its 380-foot-high tower is considered one of the masterpieces of Gothic Snowy winter landscape in the valley of Freiburg

architecture. The Swiss author Carl Jacob Burckhard is said to have described it as the most beautiful spire in Christendom. Today, the historical market square, with its unusual view onto the surrounding

PEARL OF THE BLACK FOREST

woodlands, constitutes the old heart of the

EUROPE IS TO BE FOUND IN ITS SMALLER CITIES

city. At the famous weekly market you can find regional produce and hear the local dialect, known as Alemannische or Alemannic.

Not only does Freiburg itself deserve a visit, but also its environs. A peppering of little villages, the famous Titisee lake, and the rising mountains of the Black Forest await you. The region’s cuisine is rich with the influence of France.

Fascinating shops can be found nestling among the alleyways that diverge from the square,

accompanied

by

stone-lined

watercourses, the city’s old cleaning system. If such a thing as typical old-world German Gemütlichkeit still exists, then it is here in the Old City that you will taste it.

Fed up of the chaos of the big cities? Berlin,

summer Freiburg attracts many tourists, yet

Not only does the city itself deserve a visit,

Paris and London? The smaller cities are where

it still offers plenty of peace and quiet – and

but also its environs. A peppering of little

you will discover the real charm of Europe’s

southern German Gelassenheit.

villages, the famous Titisee lake, and the rising

cultural regions. One prime example is the city

mountains of the Black Forest await you. If

of Freiburg in the south-west of Germany.

Freiburg being at the meeting-point of three

you don’t want to drive far you can take a

Built on the banks of the little Dreisam river

countries, you can use it as a base to visit other

cable car up Freiburg’s local peak, the 1284-

in the beautiful Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald

cities that are well worth seeing such as Basle

metre Schauinsland, with the reward of a

area, the town is today home to 215,000

in nearby Switzerland and Colmar in nearby

wonderful view of the city’s picturesque

people, 30,000 of which are students. In

France. The Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport

surroundings.The region’s outstanding cuisine

GLOBALIA | Issue 01 | December 2007


TRAVEL

is rich with the influence of France. In the

of the valley’s attractions was known even to

to spend his whole life in the provinces of the

neighbouring Glottertal there are numerous

the Romans: the hot springs that today supply

Black Forest. Once you have been there, you

hotels and well-known gourmet restaurants.

such famous bathing resorts as Baden-Baden

will understand why.

and Badenweiler. Situated at the edge of Freiburg is home to a number of universities

Freiburg, the Keidel Mineral Thermal Spa is

Some Muslims also live in Freiburg, many of

and colleges, and has a total of almost 30,000

unique in the region. Boasting 1,800 square

them students. Near the station is an

students.The Albert Ludwigs University, which

metres of water-area it offers a hot natural

accounts for around 20,000 of these, was

bathing lake, a ‘sauna landscape’, a fun-pool

founded in 1457 and is one of Germany’s

with water-chutes, and bubbling relaxation

oldest and most renowned institutions of

pools in the mineral thermal spa. A number

higher learning. In the early 1970s an

of clinics featuring the very latest medical

ecological movement which was critical of

technology have settled in the area around

technology arose around the University.

the Baths.

unremarkable building, an unassuming little house in which the Muslim community gathers for Friday prayers. Yet here too there are plans for expansion.The local Muslims are not looking for anything grand, but a real little mosque with a minaret would, they believe, fit well into the city. The local

Students, townspeople and farmers from the whole region combined to prevent the

At the beginning of last century the city

authorities have already acknowledged the

construction of a nuclear power station in

became famous for its philosophy teachers.

fact and are searching for a suitable piece of

the volcanic Kaiserstuhl hills that lie alongside

Husserl founded the school of phenomenol-

land. All that would then remain is to decide

the Rhine, only to be disappointed when

ogy, and his student Martin Heidegger is

how the new mosque would be designed to

subsequently an even larger nuclear plant

considered perhaps the 20 century’s most

blend well with the architecture of the city.

was built in Fessenheim, on the other side of

important philosopher. Heidegger’s work

the river in France. Since that time Freiburg

represents an attempt to re-claim, on behalf

has had the status of a centre of innovation

of German philosophy, Unity as the foundation

for alternative energy sources such as solar

of thinking. You can purchase his and the

power. The question of the ecological future

works of other German thinkers and poets in

of mankind remains a much-discussed topic

the small but classy Zum Wetzstein bookshop

there.

in Salzstraße, where you will find Heidegger’s

th

Text Abu Bakr Rieger, Berlin

Waterfall at Stubenbach (Todtnauberg)

complete works, which encompass dozens of The current mayor belongs Germany’s

volumes. Certain unpublished works of the

alternative party, the Greens, and the city’s

century’s great thinker continue to be brought

environmental policies are considered

out at intervals.

exemplary. Rather than entering Freiburg by car you are better advised to use a bicycle or

His most famous book, Sein und Zeit (Being

the town’s efficient system of trams. Much like

and Time), was written in Todtnauberg, just

the rest of Germany, the environment is a hot

outside Freiburg. This small mountain village

topic in Freiburg. The city has set itself

became famous for the Hütte, a small cottage

ambitious targets for local climate protection,

in which Heidegger would retreat to think,

including 40 per cent cuts in CO2-emissions

often for weeks on end. Today you can take

by 2030. A 12-point plant details the main

a remarkable tour of the sites of his think-

areas of urban climate policy for the coming

ing, and enjoy not only the very particular

two years.

atmosphere but also plaques describing the thinker’s most important reference points and

People have been enjoying the mild climate

basic ideas. Heidegger himself never found

of the Upper Rhine for centuries, and another

himself drawn further afield, preferring instead

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55


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