In the Name of Allah, most Compassionate, most Merciful
Islam in the West: Dr. Murad Hoffman
“Yes, our Prophet was an Arab of the Hashimite clan from the tribe of the Quraysh, and the Qur’an has been formulated in the dialect of that region. But that does not mean that Allah is Arabophone or that, in order to become a real Muslim, everyone has to turn into a 7th century Bedouin of the Hijaz. “
“Islam from its very beginning was considered a universal religion, valid for all times and all places.”
Part 1 I am a German, and I am a Muslim. It would be silly for me to be proud to be a German - did I chose my parents? - but am glad to be a German. In fact, I owe a great deal to having grown up within German culture and with the German language: both are problem-solving kits, so to speak. And yet, I am very glad indeed to be a Muslim. It would be silly for me to be proud to be Muslim - did I chose Islam, or was I not chosen by Allah to revert to His religion? Consequently, I feel quite at home in the Muslim world. In fact, whenever I am not there, I feel homesick for Makkah.
Am I torn between two cultures and two modes of behavior? Is there something puzzling about being a Western Muslim? Is being Occidental by birth and upbringing incompatible with being Muslim? I can answer all these questions in the negative: Islam from its very beginning was considered a universal religion, valid for all times and all places. Why else would Muhammad (as) have approached all potentates around Arabia, even before the conquest of Makkah, inviting them to adopt Islam? Why would the early Muslims have branched out like bush fire? This was the beginning of the globalization of Islam which only now, in the 20th and 21st centuries, is becoming a reality.
When I attend the annual conferences of the Egyptian High Islamic Council, I run into Muslims from Japan, the Ukraine, Venezuela and Colombia, Canada and Argentina, Korea and Finland, Sweden and South Africa. The cultural plurality there is such that I once counted 47 different head gears, i.e. 47 ways in which men covered their heads.
These nations have never been considered Islamic countries. But had Iran been considered potentially to be an Islamic country before it became Muslim, or Afghanistan, or Turkey, or Morocco, or India? If they were able to turn into Muslim countries after having been for centuries Christian or Hindu or Zoroastrian, why not one day Denmark or Portugal?
Yes, our Prophet was an Arab of the Hashimite clan from the tribe of the Quraysh, and the Qur’an has been formulated in the dialect of that region. But that does not mean that Allah is Arabophone or that, in order to become a real Muslim, everyone has to turn into a 7th century Bedouin of the Hijaz.
Islam and the Occident are not incompatible as such. But the relationship between the two is neither friendly nor easy. In fact, some of my fellow Muslims in Germany, Britain, France and the United States are rejecting Western civilization lock, stock and barrel, even demonizing it as the land of the kuffaar, where people live in a state of modern paganism similar to ancient jaahiliyyah, the realm of the Great Satan, as Ayatollah Khomeini put it.
Others, in contrast, are virtually enamored with each and every feature of Occidental culture. This is true mainly of Arab, Indo-Pakistani, Egyptian and Maghrebi students in the West, and also of second-generation children of working-class Muslim immigrants. Many of them are ready to totally assimilate every feature of Western civilization, to the point that they are no more than “cultural Muslims,” not practicing Islam any longer but indulging in the seductive consumer paradise of their guest countries. Strangely enough, both groups can advance rather good arguments in defense of their positions.