First International Seminar on Germany and Islamic Culture
An event co-organised by
IAIS Malaysia and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Malaysia
There is an urgent need to inculcate better mutual understanding between different cultures and civilisations. Meaningful dialogue which does not shy away from pointing out differences and issues of concern is increasingly recognised as a necessary means of meeting this urgency. One of the most important aspects of this new global phenomenon of cultural diversity and pluralism is the global presence and impact of Islam and the Muslims. More than a third of the world’s Muslims today live as minorities. Islam is now the second largest religion in Europe after Christianity. For better or for worse, Muslims are now becoming a visible part of the European cultural landscape.
Owing to labour migration in the 1960s and several waves of political refugees since the 1970s, Islam has become a visible religion in Germany. As of 2009 there had been 4.3 million Muslims in the country (5.4% of the population). Of these, 1.9 million were German citizens (2.4%). There are also several thousand converts of German ancestry. The large majority of Muslims in Germany are of Turkish origin (63.2%), followed by smaller groups from other parts of the Muslim world. Most Muslims live in Berlin, the national capital, and the larger cities of former West Germany. However, unlike in most other European countries, sizeable Muslim communities exist in some rural regions of Germany. Owing to the lack of labour immigration before 1989 – the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall – there are only very few Muslims in East Germany, the former GDR. Most Turkish Muslims are Sunnites, but between a fifth and a quarter are believed to be Alevis. However, one should be aware of the fact that the history of German-Muslim relations dates back far into the Middle Ages ...
In light of the above considerations, the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS Malaysia), a think tank dedicated to the study and research on issues pertaining to contemporary Islam and Muslims and intercultural dialogue, and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Kuala Lumpur have agreed to jointly organise an international seminar on Germany and Islamic culture.
Three points are among the main objectives of the seminar:
- to inform the public of the various levels of interactions in the past until now between Germany and Muslims, and the Islamic world at large;
- to introduce to the public past and present German scholars and intellectuals who in their own respective ways have helped to build bridges between German culture and Islamic culture;
- to help Malaysia to appreciate the need to promote mutual understanding between Germany and the Islamic world.
Speakers from Germany will include; Prof. Dr. Mathias Rohe, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Rotraud Wielandt, and Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer.
Prof. Dr. Mathias Rohe (Chair of Civil Law, Private International Law and Comparative Law, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg), a former judge at the Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht) at Nuremberg. Professor Rohe, who did Islamic studies at Tübingen and Damascus, is the founding director of the Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe and the co-founder and (since October 2001) President of the Society for Arabic and Islamic Law. Among his research interests is the legal status of Islam in Germany and Europe and its development within the European context. Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Rotraud Wielandt, professor emerita of Islamic and Arabic Studies at Otto-Friedrich-Universität (Bamberg), too, is going to deliver a lecture at the seminar. Professor Wielandt’s work focuses geographically on the eastern Arabian region, as well as on Turkey, and thoughout her career she has worked extensively on Islamic theology and cultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth century, Christian-Muslim relations in modern times, as well as modern Arabic literature. Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer is Chair of Islamic Studies at the Free University Berlin. Her expertise is in topics related to modern Islamic history as well as in Islam, democracy, and modernity. She is the author of Hasan al-Banna (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2009), A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest until the Creation of the State of Israel (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), and Geschichte des Islam (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2005). IAIS Principal Research Fellow Dr Christoph Marcinkowski will present an overview of Germany’s contacts with the world of Islam throughout history.
The two-days event will be attended by scholars and students as well as members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Malaysia. It will be officially opened by former Malaysian Prime Minister and IAIS’ Patron, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, HE Dato’ Sri Anifah bin Haji Aman, Malaysia’s current Foreign Minister, and HE Dr Günter Gruber, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Malaysia.
Day One, 26 May 2010 (Wednesday)
|09:00am||Opening Ceremony, Welcome remarks : HE German Ambassador to Malaysia, Welcome remarks : Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Chairman/CEO, IAIS Malaysia|
|Official opening speech : YAB Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Former Prime Minister of Malaysia and Patron of IAIS Malaysia
|Topic : Germany and Islam: the Past|
|Presenter 1 : Professor Gudrun Krämer (Germany)|
|Presenter 2 : Dr. Christoph Marcinkowski, IAIS Malaysia|
|Topic : The Muslim Community in Germany : Origin, Development and Challenges|
|Presenter 1: Professor Mathias Rohe (Germany)|
|Presenter 2: Mr. Fatih Selim Inal (Germany)|
|Topic : Post-September 11 German Response to Islam and Muslims|
|Presenter: Professor Gudrun Krämer (Germany)|
|Respondent: Emeritus Professor Osman Bakar (Malaysia)|
|Day Two, 27 May 2010 (Thursday)|
|Topic : Islam and Pluralism : The Malaysian Experience|
|Presenter : Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali (Malaysia)|
|Topic : Muslims in a Pluralist Society : The German Experience|
|Presenter : Professor Rotraud Wielandt (Germany)|
|Topic : Islam as a Factor in Future German-Malaysian Relations|
|Panellist 1: Professor Mathias Rohe (Germany)|
|Panellist 2: Mohamed Aslam Haneef (Malaysia)
|Panellist 3: Professor Rotraud Wielandt (Germany)|
|Panellist 4: Khalid Jaafar (Malaysia)|
This two-day event – hosted by IAIS Malaysia on 26-27 May 2010 and organised jointly with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Malaysia – was officially opened by former Malaysian Prime Minister and IAIS’ Patron, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and Dr Günter Gruber, Germany’s ambassador to Malaysia. Speakers from Germany included Professors Mathias Rohe, Rotraud Wielandt, and Gudrun Krämer. On the part of IAIS, presentations were contributed by its Chairman and CEO Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali, its Deputy CEO Emeritus Professor Datuk Osman Bakar, and Dr Christoph Marcinkowski, IAIS Principal Research Fellow and long-time resident in Malaysia.
The main objectives of the seminar were to inform the public of the various levels of interactions that have existed in the past until now between Germany and Muslims, and the Islamic world at large, to introduce to the public past and present German scholars and intellectuals who in their own respective ways have helped to build bridges between German and Islamic culture, and to help Malaysia to appreciate the need to promote mutual understanding between Germany and the Islamic world. The seminar highlighted in particular the role played by religion in a secular European country like Germany and pointed out also some of the problems faced by that country’s Muslim minority, such as religious and cultural identity. The event featured also a frank exchange of views and ideas between the audience and the various speakers as to the role of faith and cultural expressions of religiosity in modern society.