• Islam’s presence in Germany, misconception and perception – Is fear of Muslims justified? – analysis of perception with appropriate explanation.
• Islam in the German Media – Is the German Media negatively biased against Islam/Muslims? – a look at positive and negative aspects of German media articles.
Chapter I: Introduction
The world has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War and the introduction of modern technologies. The continuing struggle between the two dominating powers, the winners of the Second World War, has ended. Moreover, the developed technologies changed the way people perceive the world and convey information. It almost seemed that the world would finally enter peace. Yet, it was a naïve assertion. The conflicts continued throughout the 90’s in different regions of Africa and Asia. Not mentioning the economic crises in East Asia. The turning point was the 9/11 terror attacks. This even changed the way wars are fought and people perspectives on the Middle East, Islam and Muslims.
The focus and association changed drastically. In the 21st century, the world, led by the United States of America, entered into the war on terror. Islam became a term that easily stands for terror, subjugation, oppression, violence and backwardness. Islam became a major scapegoat in the hands of politicians who invested heavily on wars in order to repel each other. That said the proxy wars between Russian and the United States restarted across the Middle East and recently Ukraine (Eastern Europe).
1.1. Background and Overview
Islam as a religion is unique. There are numerous interpretations of the same texts, which form many sects and schools. Major ones like Shia and Sunni as well as the minors. It is often criticized because it is seen as one of the main factors of problems in the Middle East. However, colonialism of powers such as Britain and France played no less role in contribution to backwardness of the Middle East. Yet, this ‘’backwardness’’ is not really based on facts, rather on Western perspective. Nevertheless, Islam has been criticized even before. Because Islam was used as a political platform for the Caliphate and later for the Arabian Empire (as it was expanding). Considering this, Islam was a counterweight to European Christianity. Obviously, propaganda regarding the Muslim world followed a certain topic: Demonization of Islam.
Of course, the mass media as well as technologies transferring information did not exist. However, bellmen with instructions and author of various books/scriptures contributed to popularizing these concepts, which formed the ideas of Muslims and Islam that exist even today. The active attacks from terrorists made it even worse. Nevertheless, books and works from different periods of European history like Dante’s Inferno (Medieval), Of the Standard of Taste (Enlightenment) or The River War (20th century) tampered any positive views on Islam and Muslims. The problem is not really the criticism but the mockery and subjective opinions on Islam/Muslims, which in essence are negative. The holy text of Islam, the Qur’an and the related Hadith and Sunnah were/are often used and misinterpreted to support such criticism.
In the aftermath of 9/11, people developed more stereotypes about Muslims. Some of which that people in the Middle East think and act in only the ‘’Islamic Way’’. Thus, whatever negative attitude, act or speeches exist was automatically, related to Islam and the Qur’an. Non-Muslims failed to understand the difference between terror groups and Muslims as well as the way people live in the Middle East. It is not any different than in other countries. Of course, in certain ways the criticism is true, especially if one considers the Muslims who heavily rely on the Hadith and Sunnah. Nevertheless, the framing of Islam as a terrorist ideology has place in international media (Hayati, Hassan, Hassan, Osman, 2013: 104-121).
Considering the terror activity, emergence of ISIS and the refugee crisis are considered a problem in Europe, there is a change in political structure of the European system. The right wing extremist populism is on the rise. It can be seen from observing different countries election polls. The most prominent example however, is the existence of populism, populist groups, and parties in Germany. The rise of the far-right populist groups promises to become a huge problem. Especially if the trend spreads to other European countries. Today, Germany is the main stronghold for anti-Islamic groups.
The opinions of Islam, Qur’an and Muhamad are negatively prefixed. This was/is promoted further by the media in Germany (as in other Western countries) as well as some political parties with extreme views on immigration or refugees. The groups and parties also make an accent on anti-Islamic and anti-European (EU) comments, remarks and criticism. The groups like PEGIDA are marching, further ‘’fixing’’ social opinion. For now their numbers are less than they were a few months ago, however any new terrorist attack will change that. The experts and scholars are not doing any better. Their opinions are not any different than of those groups neither are they based on actual research on Islam, Qur’an, Muhammad’s life and the Hadith/Sunnah. Moreover, certain followers of the religion further worsen Islam’s image.
1.2. Methodology and Scope
The scope of the work is limited to the given criteria and hypothesis questions. These are provided in the next sub-chapter. Furthermore, the chosen region is Germany. Some other countries are mentioned but only as example or validation of historical aspect of the work. The paper uses both primary and secondary sources. The most prominent source is the book by Edward Said – Covering Islam. The work is also based on number of other researches and works. Some other, secondary sources will also be provided. Like speeches of Islamic scholar, that can be easily accessed online. The references were created by using RefWorks.
The dissertation is using mainly a qualitative data to analyze the issue(s). The quantitative method is used as well. However, to a smaller extent in chapter 3, where the statistics of German people’s perception of Islam is presented. For this two survey were chosen. Zick and Kupper (GFE – 2009) conduct the first one while the second one is provided by Pew Research Center (2015). The rest of chapter 3 is qualitative, based on perception and criticism of Islam and Muslims. The previous, chapter two, presents the literature review.
The chapter 4 primarily focuses on the German media and its perception of Islam/Muslims. The overall picture is provided for the reader in the beginning. The chapter uses two specific theories to argue the point. Moreover, the chapter provides examples of German media. The first two are daily subscription newspapers – Suddeutsche Zeitung and Frankfurter Rundshau. The second are German television – NDR and ZDF. All of the presented examples are liberal or liberal-left, mostly. The chapter then moves further by providing two examples from Cicero to show the difference and similarities of content between conservative and liberal media in Germany.
The next chapter (5) focuses on results of work and answering three hypothetical questions that form the main theory. The chapter will answer the main question and provide recommendations if deemed necessary.
The appendix exists to give additional information that includes pictures and statistics. Moreover, the appendix includes the terminology where the ‘’Islamic terms’’ are explained and criticized. The appendix takes a look at the PEGIDA case as well. A small case study was made to provide data and ask a specific, general question. The answer of course, depends on the opinion/perception of an individual reader. Yet, the case does provide its own stance.
The two main theories that are applied are the Agenda-Setting and the Framing theory.
Max McCombs and Donald Shaw developed the former in their study (Chapel Hill). The main idea is that the means such as the media can be easily used to influence the masses. Change opinion on certain issues. The assumption is that the media deliberately chooses on which reality to focus on by controlling the salience of the topics. Thus, it does not reflect reality but constructs it. Therefore, the media promotes specific issues of the Orient (with other, non-Islamic countries included) to form a specific agenda.
The second theory is the framing theory. Erving Goffman put it forth in his essay on the Organization of Experience. The idea is quite simple. The media presents the news to the audience in the way it influences their choices. The framing theory moves further than agenda setting, by presenting the view that the media chooses particular topics and presents gives them a specific meaning. In our case when the media gives news with a headline – Jihadists attacked the civilians. The key term here is ‘’Jihadists’’, even though the meaning itself is different from what is promoted by the media.
The thesis is using the classical scholarship approach towards Qur’an’s analysis. It is a Qur’anist (Qur’an centric) approach rather than Hadith/Sunnah approach. Moreover, the interpretation relies on the difference of the Meccan and Medina chapters. Which means that the Medina (from personal research – ex. Chapter 9 of the Qur’an) are attributed, primarily to Muhammad and his followers. While the Meccan are universal for his followers and modern Muslims alike. The Medina chapters are regarded be simply taken as examples for modern Muslims. Example, allowing murder in self-defense. Furthermore, this approach denies the abrogation principle as well as the interpretation of the Qur’anic script through secondary sources like Hadith/Sunnah, as the latter’s authenticity of certain materials are questionable.
This approach of the interpretation may be similar to Mahmoud Mohammed Taha’s (Ustaz Mahmoud Mohammed Taha) style of interpretation of the Qur’anic scripture.
(He was a Sudanese religious thinker with education in engineering. He was executed for ‘’apostasy’’ for this kind of preaching at the age of 76 by Gaafar Niemeiry regime.)
1.2.1. The Hypothesis
Two hypothetical questions form the overall theory can be determined. These are mentioned and analyzed in the subsequent chapters. They are the following:
• Chapter 3: Islam’s presence in Germany, misconception and perception – Is fear of Muslims justified? – analysis of perception with appropriate explanation.
• Chapter 4: Islam in the German Media – Is the German Media negatively biased against Islam/Muslims? – a look at positive and negative aspects of German media articles.
These are important to be answered to understand the overall theory and answer the main question of the work.
1.2.2. The Theory and the Research Question
The main theory of the research is that Islam is present in Germany and thus the perception of it (the Qur’an as well as the prophet of Islam) in the region is quite stereotypical and based on common misconceptions as well as fear. The different media outlets in Germany further harden these misconceptions and fear. The specific topics, such as terrorism and ‘’Islamic’’ violence are presented more frequently, along with special wording attached to the headlines. The result is the rise of populist groups in the region, which focus on eradication of the Orient (Islam) from Europe. Not to mention the constant demonization of Islam/Muslims by certain political parties in Germany. Some of which have presence within the media’s coverage.
The main theory can be summarized in – Covering Islam: Perception in Germany; a need for a PR campaign.
The main research question that is derived and needs to be answered is – Considering the perception of Islam in Germany, does it need a PR campaign?
Chapter II: Literature Review
This piece of work is important as it seeks to look at Islam, its presence, perception in Germany. This work focuses to contribute to works, namely, the book by Edward Said; Covering Islam and works that have been done on Islam/Media. The works that are listed in the literature review. This work aims at Germany as a region. It is crucial, because of the rise of the far right, populist groups and their political claims/goals. The topic is an active one. Therefore, there is it is an ongoing issue today with Islam (also within it) in Europe. An important aspect or a medium of the negativity are the news coverages and articles that are related to Islam and Muslims.
Moreover, this topic is important to myself. As the author of this thesis and a Muslim, I found that both Muslims and non-Muslims have distorted Islam (at least common interpretation) directly and indirectly. Non-Muslims in particular were prone to form their prejudice exclusively on the media news/articles they see/read. Ultimately, they try to associate Islam with terrorism, violence, oppression of women and destruction. Another reason for choosing Germany is that I have lived and studied here for four and a half years. As a Muslim, I have never head direct experiences of prejudice or discrimination towards my religion or myself. This is perhaps because of the fact that I do not look like a ‘’typical’’ Muslim. Rather I look more like a European. However, I still felt that people over here had specific perception of Muslims and Islam.
This literature review poses a thematic approach. This review contains primarily qualitative research. Quantitative is used for surveys. The literature will be reviewed under certain criteria:
• Overview – General information
• Methodology – Theory of the book
• Relations to the thesis – positive and negative
As being thematic, the literature is divided into three sub-topics:
• Islam, Qur’an and the Hadith/Sunnah
• Islam in Germany
Edward Said’s Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World is the first book that was chosen. It is the fundamental book of this thesis. Edward Said was an American literature critic and historian of Arab-decent. His book (Covering Islam) is one of the three works that focuses on the issue of Orientalism. The relations between Orient and Occident. Covering Islam in particular, aims on Islam’s representation in the Western Media. As the book was written during the Cold War, it does cover the ‘’hot’’ topic of the time – The Iranian Revolution.
Edward Said theorized in his book that the Western Media (the Occident), distorts the image of Islam. The methods the media uses, which are shown in the book, are similar to that of framing. Thus, the media deliberately chooses on which topic to focus on. Said provided example of it when he discussed the media coverage of women in Iran. Yet, the same media outlets never even discussed the very same issues that were present in Israel at that time.
His theory can be summarized in following hypothesis:
1. The Occident (West) focuses on the ‘’political’’ Islam. Politics of the Middle East and Islam, in their perception, are the same entity. Thus, military interventionism is justified.
2. The Orient (Islamic world) is seen as barbaric, backward and incapable of cultural or scientific advancements. While all the cultural or scientific developments by the Muslim world are discredited or ignored.
3. There is an unscientific imprecision among the Western scholars and lack of methodical studies on the Middle East region without a predisposition to certain prejudices.
The most prominent example is when media covers that the Islamic women are ‘’oppressed’’. These women ‘’fight’’ this oppression just as their counterparts do in the West. In short, Islam oppresses while the Western ‘’thinking’’ frees. Said does not lose his objectivity. He does discuss the problem with Muslims and their lack of interaction. Moreover, he gave example of the movie – the Death of the Princess, which was criticized by the Arab world. According to him, their arguments were incoherent. Moreover, talks about Ali Shariati, the ‘’good’’ Muslim.
Said’s work still holds significant ground even today. This particular book (Covering Islam) does trigger the two theories. The agenda setting and farming theories. He does not cover them directly, yet he provides hints to them.
For instance, Said provided example of Consolidated Edison and their portrayal of OPEC. Gaddafi, Khomeini, Arafat, and Hafez Al-Assad, are shown to ‘’control’’ the oil reserves of the United States. This TV add provided the notion that these people and their actions are associated with Islam. It is a clear framing theory where the media chooses the topic and gives it a specific meaning. Another example, that Said provides, is the portrayal of Muslims in the prime time, in the United States patiently insulting them with caricatures. It was done repeatedly. This repeated information increases the salience of the topic. Therefore, the agenda-setting theory can be easily applied to Said’s work as well.
In this particular way, Said’s book is related to the current dissertation. Moreover, the usage of the idea of Orientalism and relations between Islam and the West is also taken as a basis for the thesis. The most important part of the book for the dissertation is the chapter I: Islam as News and, at some point, chapter III: Knowledge and Power. Chapter II was not included as it focuses primarily on Iran.
Said aimed at Britain, France and the United States as the region of his research. Perhaps, it is because these were the dominant forces in the Western world at the time. Thus, this thesis will try to contribute to this immense work. As the thesis focuses on Germany.
What Said lacked in his book is the actual portrayal of Islam. He does criticize both Muslims and mainly non-Muslims, yet the criticism lacked counterarguments in the favor of Islam itself. Of course, if he included this then he could have lost objectivity. Therefore, this dissertation will also focus on providing criticism of Islam and explanation of it from a classical scholarship point of view.
Another important aspect to emphasize is when Said talked about the lack of studies in the Middle East. He is correct when he defined the issue, yet he did not narrow the problem into categories. For example, he could have noted that the criticism of Islam lacks knowledge of sectarian schools of thought. In this way, his arguments would have been more specific.
McCombs and Shaw conducted the second literature, upon which the thesis methodology is based – The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media. It was published in Public Opinion Quarterly. This particular book form the basis of the methodology of the dissertation. Max McCombs is a professor and a doctor whose research has earned him an international recognition. Along with Donald Shaw, a writer and a literary critic and the professor of the University of Virginia, they were able to come up with the book. Their continuous, joint efforts were acknowledged and awarded.
They argued that news, editors, newsroom staff and broadcasters gave importance to specific topic by simply increasing their salience. In other words, the more frequent the topic is presented the more important it is to the public. Their investigation focused on presidential campaign of 1968. The goal was to determine the match of what Chapel Hill voters said of the key issues of the campaign with that of mass media covered. The findings showed that a large amount of news about the campaign were not about the major issues rather it was focused on the campaign itself. The analysis of the campaign.
McCombs and Shaw’s work have a huge significance, especially nowadays. The overall theory of agenda setting is used to form the thesis. The dissertation may contribute to it by focusing on another, specific issue about Islam and its perception in Germany.
Erving Goffman’s Frame analysis: an essay on the organization of experience is the third literature upon which the thesis methodology is based. Mr. Goffman is an American sociologist with a Ph.D. from Chicago University. His research is primarily based on answering the questions of human behavior. According to his theory, people often try to make sense of the world through frames. Most often they use their primary frames, which are often taken for granted. The frames form depending on the information, impression or perception of certain things. He argues that the frames are composed of natural and social aspects. Social are built on natural. The usage is functional, thus the perception of information or communication depends on what frames do people use.
This theory is often used with the agenda setting. Therefore, this dissertation did the same in contrast with Islam and its framing in the media and people’s eyes.
Jowett Garth and O’Donnell Victoria are the authors of the next book that is being reviewed – Propaganda and Persuasion. As it is evident from the title, the main purpose of the research is to determine what propaganda and persuasion is. The book is composed of eight chapters. Each focuses on a particular sub-topic. From the first chapter, the two authors try to define what each of the terms represent. Moreover, the book provides the distinction and difference between the two.
The particular chapters, which were important for this research paper, are the following; Chapter 4 – Propaganda and Persuasion Examined and Chapter 5 – Propaganda and Psychological Warfare. The thesis does not focus on this book entirely, yet it is very important to promote these ideas. The book does talk about Germany. This book focuses more on the history of propaganda rather on the specific topic like Islam in Germany. Some chapters do make use of the agenda setting theory that builds the methodology of the dissertation.
Deepa Kumar’s article, Framing Islam: The Resurgence of Orientalism During the Bush II Era, specifically aims at Islam and its framing by the media. The chosen region is the United States. Moreover, the research primarily focuses on the Bush II era. Kumar bases her article on the work of Edward Said. Namely Orientalism.
Kumar’s paper seek to find the means by which the media (U.S) framed Islam and presented it to world based on certain criteria. The criteria or frames were used extensively to construct the image of Islam as well as the Middle East. These frames are the following:
• Islam is a monolithic religion
• Islam is sexist
• Muslim mind is not rational
• Islam is violent
• Islam spreads terrorism
These are also given in the dissertation (Chapter 4). That considered, Kumar argues that these kind of limited, biased and subjective framing of Islam can be found in the media news and people’s perception. He also argued that the West (U.S as the head) never spreads democracy. Instead, it actively intervenes to control the resources and the region.
Hayati Sofia, Hassan Fauziah, Hassan Salleh and Osman Nizam have researched on the issue of media labeling, framing, Islam, and terrorism. The paper is called – The Framing of International Media on Islam and Terrorism. The paper is based on works of other authors including Kumar. This paper is significant as it covers the Islam’s labeling of terrorism in the international media. Based on the work of Picard and Paul (2002), they argue that the media, journalists in particular, choose specific words to give violent acts a meaning. Furthermore, the paper’s objectives are clearly described. The main aim or significance is that the authors are trying to affect the policy makers in forming a group of non-biased news reporters for more clear and honest information.
The research question that the paper offered are the following:
1. What is the tendency of the labeling made by the selected media on Islam and terrorism after the death of Osama Bin Laden?
2. How the media frame Islam and relationship with terrorism after the death of Osama Bin Laden?
The paper offered research objectives as well. It defined the scope on which the authors focus on:
1. To determine a tendency of selected international mainstream printed media in revealing an attitude of labeling Islam and terrorism.
2. To investigate on the framing made by the media on Islam and its relationship with terrorism right after the death of Osama Bin Laden.
3. To identify the themes appear in the labeling of Islam by these selected media after the death of Osama Bin Laden.
The paper analyzed the two Western news agencies (magazines). What they found out is that the West did tell that the death of Osama Bin Laden will bring peace and make Muslims good again. However, the media coverage did not have this perception. The articles still linked Islam to war and terrorism. This paper is crucial for the thesis chapters, which talk about the media.
Literature on Islam
Patricia Crone focuses on the origins of the Islamic law. She puts it as Islamic patronage. The book – Roman, provincial and Islamic law: The origins of the Islamic patronate. The entire theory is that the Islamic law is based on the Roman law. In other words, the Roman jurisdiction was the main contributor in influencing the Post-Islamic Arabs. Thus, the Judaic law has little basis for the Islamic jurisdiction. To validate her thesis, she refers to the ‘’patronage’’ in Islam, which is found in the Roman law.
One of her arguments regarding the Hadith was that the traditions contain untraceable chains, which could have been fabricated (23-34). This particular part of the book is what has been taken as an important aspect for the thesis – questioning the authenticity of the Islamic tradition. In this particular way, this book is significant. It actively questions the traditions of Islamic law and seeks to find the source of jurisdiction.
Perhaps the main issue or rather a question is that – why did the Roman patronage influence the Arabs more than the Sassanids (Sassanian Empire)? Considering the latter empire was the dominant one. Another important point would be the issues with the Islamic knowledge. For instance the book gives a false explanation of the ‘’wala’’, the slavery laws in Islam. Yet, it is possible that the Arabian conquest brought in every kind of laws, depending on the region. Her other skepticism is the location of the ‘’cradle’’ of Islam. She argues that Mecca is not the place where Islam started.
Joseph Schacht, who authored ‘’The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence’’, seeks to build a critique of the Hadith verification methodology. Schacht argues that the very first verification method of the Hadith was put forward by Imam al-Shafi’i (820 CE). Late, his students continued the work. He bases his research on the prominent scholars of the 19th century Gustav Weil and Ignac Goldziher. He states the it was al-Shafi’i who started the tradition of Hadith and Sunnah. The method used by Schacht the following; he takes a glance on the al-Shafi’i’s work. He argues that there is lack of criticism of the Hadith from al-Shaf’i’s point of view. Thus, the scholar simply denied any dispute on the matter and simply focused on the jurisdiction, which fit his ideas. This particular literature holds an important aspect that is part of classical scholarship.
Qur’an by Monotheist Group, is a specific translation, the focus of which is on classical scholarship or classical Islam (Quranism). Of course, this school of thought is not the known one and not acknowledged by neither Sunni nor Shia, yet this particular one translated or interpreted the Qur’an in a different way. The interpretation focused on the structure of Islamic faith itself. A group of people who are neither Shia nor Sunni conducted this particular Qur’an (translation). There is a neutral observation at the Holy Scripture.
The problem with the mainstream translation is that both schools of thought try to interpret or translate it according to their needs. Because the Shia vs. Sunni conflict is a political one rather than religious. Shia or Sunni tend to add ‘’parenthesis’’ within the text to give verses a different meaning. Though these ‘’parenthesis’’ as words are not found in the Arabic version of the Qur’an. Furthermore, the main difference is that classical scholarship denies the abrogation rule that is prevalent in the Shia or Sunni view. The verses about abrogation are said to refer to previous texts rather than verses of the book itself. The texts; Bible, Torah etc. Another version is that the Arabic word ‘’ayat’’ should be translated as ‘’miracle’’ and not ‘’verse’’.
The main idea or claim of the authors (or any Quranist) is that the current version of Qur’anic translation is flawed and unclear. There is too much reliance on the Hadith/Sunnah within the Qur’anic interpretation. As some other schools, vary in methods of verification of the Hadith authenticity, the interpretation and addition of the ‘’parenthesis’’ is different. The group takes the Qur’an itself as sufficient for understanding it and relies on the interpretation according to the logic of the Qur’an. In other words, the goal is not to ‘’fit’’ the script on neither Western values nor Eastern culture. Moreover, the words like ‘’Allah’’ or ‘’Muslim’’ are translated (Appendix: Terminology).
The methodology that is used is quote simple:
This Qur’an (or any Quranist Qur’an) is not a ‘’reformation’’ of Islamic text. The Arabic language and most of the translation in this Qur’an is similar to mainstream. However, the Monotheist group’s method of translation is different. According to the group, this translation derives from many years of studying the Qur’an and the Arabic language. Sticking to a neutral stance, the authors look at the Arabic words and their roots. It is done as the Arabic language is quite complex. Words of the same root may lead to vast number of words, as the language does not have vowels as letters. The translation is constantly updated, if necessary.
Furthermore, there are no chapter headings in this Qur’an. The group has researched on the oldest records of Qur’an and found no supporting evidence that the chapter names actually existed. As evident from the Sanaa Qur’an (800 AD.).
The ‘’Basmallah’’ (In the name of God, the Almighty, the Merciful) of Chapter 1:1 is treated specially in the mainstream translation. For some reason the ‘’Basmallah’’ in chapter one is counted as a verse. The look at the oldest translation (Gold Qur’an, 800 AD.) showed the same result. Thus, this translation uses the same method as the mainstream by putting ‘’Basmallah’’ in chapter one as a verse. Other chapters do not contain this specific characteristic. Furthermore, there is a ‘’Basmallah’’ which is missing from chapter nine of the Qur’an. The group suggested that this could be simply part of chapter eight, thus the complete number of chapters is 113 and not 114. Yet, further investigation of the older versions of the Qur’an showed that the chapter nine is indeed a standalone text. There is a manmade separation between chapter 8 and 9. Therefore, the Monotheist group follows the mainstream convention of chapter 9.
The group does acknowledge the differences between the ‘’Warsh’’ and ‘’Hafs’’, printed versions of the Qur’an. However, there is no variation in the bulk text itself. There is a difference where the verse stop and in the spelling of certain words. Yet, these variations are insignificant, as the overall meaning of the verses does not change. Even though the verse separation of ‘’Warsh’’ is more similar to older versions of the Qur’an. The ‘’Hafs’’ was used for this Qur’an. Because the latter is more used in the Muslim world. Overall, there are ten versions of the Qur’an. These variations were found to be insignificant. Perhaps, it is due to the different usage or dialect of the Arabic language. For example, the Arabic (Warsh Qur’an) of North Africa is different from that of Saudi Arabia.
The group offers the ‘’rules’’ on how to study the Qur’an. The essential ones for non-Muslims were covered in Chapter III of the thesis. Some of these are basic common sense when reading any book:
• Language not a barrier
• Look at the full verse
• Look at the surrounding verses.
• Be aware of context
• Arrange similar topic verses together
• Look at the examples in the Qur’an – stories of prophets to related to the Qur’anic jurisdiction
• Be patient and seek the help of God – perhaps more fit for Muslims rather than non-Muslims.
This translation is important as a basis for the Qur’anic interpretation of this dissertation. Edip Yuksel’s translations of the Qur’an are based on classical Islam (Quranism) also. Some examples were used as well. However, his reformist translation focuses on the ‘’19’’ code that was found by the Egyptian biochemist – Rashad Khalifa. Yet, the latter translation is less likely to be found objective by a non-Muslim audience. Thus, the Qur’an by the Monotheist Group fits better for this purpose.
Bill Warner, is an author of series of books on Islam, or what he calls it ‘’Political Islam’’. It is a convenient way to cover his real feelings about Islam and Muslims. One of these books is the ‘’Sharia Law for the non-Muslim’’. This book, along with others, can be used as a summary of how the West perceives Islam. Of course, some of his points are important, especially when it comes to the difference between the Mecca and Medina verses. His idea is quite simple. He argued that Islam is more of a political system than religion and that Sharia law is inherently oppressive. There is nothing new to the claims. What Mr. Warner did is that he added ‘’Political Islam’’ as a term for his research. His book (Sharia law for the non-Muslim) specifically focused on that issue. His approach is, from what he calls, the Kaffir’s (the Unbeliever’s) point of view. He tried to make his work ‘’fact-based’’, yet there are no methods that were used to validate the sources. Most of which are Hadith and Sunnah, or what Warner calls it – The Trilogy (The ‘’Koran’’ the Hadith and Sira). For instance, he points out at the infamous slaughter of 800 Jews by Muhammad. No details of the execution are provided.
Moreover, Ibn Ishaq provided the authenticity of this particular source. He proposed these 145 years after the prophet’s death. Perhaps, Warner’s approach is what Said would call Orient or part of ‘’self-assumed scientific impartiality’’. As the author himself (Warner) points that, his work is from Kaffir’s point. Warner, as other critics, ignores Muhammad’s struggle against oppression, the persecution of Muslims. His focus is similar to the mainstream ideas (Appendix: Terminology or Chapter III).
Furthermore, there is no mention of Islamic sects. Their difference is obsolete in his thesis. Shia, Sunni, Quranist, and Ahmadiyya are all in one ‘’melting pot’’ of Warner’s Islam. The problem is that he focuses on the Wahhabi ideology (which in itself has an ‘’Occidentialist’’ approach towards the Western countries), which is political. However, he attributes this to Islam and Muslims. Although he claims that, the focus of his work is not on Islam as a religion. Warner simply labels Islam political, Muhammad a radical, and Sharia as violent set of laws. He does not even realize that, in actuality, he touches the religioned aspects. What he assumes is that Islam exists as a political force, a single entity, which aims to destroy and enslave. Thus, other interpretations (perhaps more accurate ones) of Islam are ignored and historical facts regarding Muhammad (which shows him as a decent human being) are discredited. For instance, he claims that Muhammad became a politician after he left Medina (the reasons are not provided), yet he does not acknowledge the fact that Muhammad had a chance to be one (Chapter III). His understanding of Islam is not different from those people who never studied Islam or from terror groups. His years of scientific research did not give any new ideas that, in general, de-humanize Muhammad and show Islam as a ‘’dangerous notion of the barbaric Orient’’.
Nevertheless, his research still holds a significance for the thesis. It is important to fully comprehend how the West perceives Islam. His work summarizes these set of vague ideas about Islam. Perhaps another problem is that he looked at the Qur’an (considering the context was taken off) from Hadith point of view. Furthermore, he does not provide the translations, which he used. Referring to God as ‘’Allah’’ without properly looking at translation. In this regards, the Monotheist Groups is more authentic when it comes to the Qur’an. He gives huge regards to Jews when he compares Qur’an to Mein Kampf. This pro-Jewish focus is obvious and it stands in the way of accepting Muhammad at least as a decent human. The Jews can never be bad.
A major point in his research is the extensive look at the difference between the Mecca and Medina chapters. According to his findings, Mecca does indeed contain 0% of material that is about Jihad (fighting in the way of God). While Medina has it. This gives the idea of the ‘’historical context’’ of the Median chapters. Thus, Ustaz Taha’s interpretation or the interpretation offered by this thesis can use this kind of information.
Literature on Islam in Germany
Tosuner Hajan, from Uninversity of Viadrina (EUV), conducted a report – The Media and Muslims in Germany. The focus of this report is on the four national daily newspapers: Suddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Welt, and Frankfurter Rundschau. Some of these were taken as examples for thesis itself. However, the difference is that the report based the research on certain criteria while the dissertation took a random look at positive/negative articles in the German media.
The particular focus of Tosuner (as she puts) is the critical look at the new phenomenon – New Racism. This specifically deals with anti-Muslim racism. The approach or method she uses is based on Dijk’s work (2000) – analysis of news content from their strategic point and relation to social context, instead of quantitative analysis.
Furthermore, Tosuner’s work refers to other, prominent studies on the topic – Islam in German media. These include; Schiffler, Schooman, and Jager. There are other examples, yet these in particular were helpful in the dissertation itself. Moreover, this thesis may contribute to findings of Tosuner and as an addition does cover Islam as a religion. Something that other works on this field lack.
Oktem Kerem and Reem Abou-El-Fadl, authored the chapter – Mutual misunderstandings? Muslims and Islam in the European media, Europe in the media of Muslim majority countries. Published by European Studies Center, Oxford. The listed regions include France and Germany.
The contributors seek to carry out the ‘’mutual misunderstandings’’ between Muslims and non-Muslims. Therefore, co-authors tried to shed a light on one of the most (if not the most currently) controversial issues in Europe –Islam. Moreover, they examined the Europe’s and European representation is majority Muslim countries. This is one of the works, which emphasizes the importance to understand the ways different people are presented in the media. This includes the magazines, television, radio as well as the internet. Furthermore, the book provides information and comparison of Kai Hafez and Edward Said. According to Kerem, Hafez’s arguments to invalidate Said turns against the former, as Said’s theory is further proven.