Friday 6 December 2013

Bassam Tibi's 'Euro-Islam'

Bassam Tibi
The idea of  'Euro-Islam' is the brainchild of Syrian-born but Germany-based political scientist and international relations specialist Bassam Tibi (b. 1944). First developed in the 1990s, he highlighted it again in his book Islam in Global Politics (2011) as a 'vision for bridging' differences not only between Muslims and non-Muslims, but also in order to overcome internal divides among Muslims themselves.

A recent article revisits the notion and the controversies that surround Euro-Islam: 'For some it embodies the deliverance of Islam from everything that is perceived as backward looking and pre-modern. Others fear that a European Islam is a watered-down religion, a kind of government-controlled "state Islam"'.

Euro-Islam was the developed on the back of Tibi's unsparing criticism of traditional Islam, accusing the Muslim world of having 'experienced nothing akin to the Enlightenment' and therefore in dear need of:
An alternative model to the Islam practiced in the Arab world and to everything that appears deplorable there. [...] Muslims should adopt the dominant European culture as their own, and many considered this to be nothing less than a call to assimilation. Since this inauspicious start, discussions on a European variety of Islam have been sharply polarized. 
In the case of Germany, the country where Tibi has spent his entire academic career, the so-called German Islam Conference initiated by one-time Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble 'has also asserted its desire to make a contribution to European Islam, thereby giving it the air of a project imposed from above' (see also the post of 26 November 2011) This is exactly the point seized by the critics of 'Euro-Islam', who regard it as 'an attempt by outsiders to interfere in an internal Islamic debate'.

In view of these critiques and also considering the fact that upon Bassam Tibi's retirement from his Professorship at the University of Goettingen his Centre for International Studies and Islamology was closed in 2009, it remains to be seen how viable this concept will be in the future as increasingly well-educated, integrated and assertive European Muslims  develop their own ways of articulating their multi-layered identities as European citizens and Muslims.

Click here to read to full article.

For further readings check the selection below