Is secularism being exploited in India?

"Arab world does not want a state without religion"

Islamic scholar Gudrun Krämer does not see a majority in Arab countries for the secular principle - in fact, however, it has been secularization in many cases - public lecture at the German Orientalist Day

According to scientific assessments, a consistent separation of religion and state cannot be enforced in Arab countries at the moment. The secular principle is widely rejected, and not only by Islamist forces, said the Berlin Islamic scholar Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer on Monday evening at the German Orientalist Day (DOT) at the University of Münster. Anyone who campaigns for secularity as a way to social pacification in countries of the Arab Spring or in Iran has not yet found a majority. “The separation of religion and politics is associated with atheism by many. And those who are godless have neither values ​​nor decency. ”So secular forces also shied away from pleading openly for secularism. "Religion and state are not necessarily one in Islam," said the expert. “The Koran and Sunna allow the secular principle - but not in the Reading that prevails in the Middle East today. "

According to the scientist, “real processes of secularization” in Arab societies have long been established - in politics, law, economics, culture and education. The rejection of the secular principle must be all the more astonishing. It is generally justified not only religiously, but also politically: "Secularism is presented as the ideology of authoritarian governments that enforce it violently against their own society," said the researcher at the Free University of Berlin. Examples are Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938), Tunisia under Habib Bourguiba (1903-2000) and Iraq under Saddam Hussein (1937-2006). “At the same time, secularists are denounced as agents of the West.” In this view, the separation of religion and state is a means of “colonization and cultural alienation”. For many Muslims this weighs just as much as the fear of a declining importance of Islam.

"Against moral guards into private life"

The Islamic scholar analyzed various examples of already existing processes of secularization in Arab societies: Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Egypt or the Gulf states largely agree that Islam should set rules in public space and that all Muslims should set their affiliation to it accordingly Make lifestyle publicly visible. “But if Islamist circles consistently do that too Privatewant to regulate life, they arouse the displeasure of even pious, practicing Muslims. Although these condemn alcohol, homoeroticism and prostitution, they do not want to be constantly called to order by moral guards. "This shows an" almost Victorian attitude 'My home is my castle' ".

But the border between private and public is on the move, said Prof. Krämer, referring to the Internet: "In the protection of cyber anonymity, social networks open up spaces for Muslims for content that is not tolerated in public discourse." towards authorities and neighbors, appearances are preserved. “How this will have a lasting effect on the separation of private and public in the Arab world, to which women in particular are subject, is open.” At the same time, an “Islamic market” is developing that includes Islamic media, consumer and entertainment goods and wellness offer. That is a dimension "which leaves the state sector far behind." It remains to be seen whether a free market with various religious offerings will develop, as in America, Western Europe and parts of East Asia.

"Sharia is not used exclusively anywhere"

With a view to the legal system, the expert explained: "Nowhere in the Arab world is Sharia applied exclusively today, not even in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, which claim to do so." Sharia is largely not a divine law, but legal law , because lawyers have developed them from the Koran and Sunna, always taking social realities into account. The Sharia never applied unreservedly in either the premodern or the modern. Today, for example, the criminal law, which in some countries provides for draconian corporal punishment for theft or illegal sexual intercourse, is not consistently observed.

"In view of the processes of secularization that cannot be overlooked, the question is not whether Muslims can live in a secular order," says Prof. Krämer. “It is adequately answered by millions of Muslims who do not want to reshape their societies in accordance with Sharia law - not only in Europe, America, Australia and the Russian Federation, but also in countries like India where Muslims are present represent a large minority. ”The question is now rather whether Muslims in the Arab world see the secular principle as a legitimate and desirable instrument for organizing their societies.

The public lecture in Münster's castle was called "Arcs of tension: Islam, secularization and the secular principle". Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer heads the Institute for Islamic Studies at the Free University of Berlin. She is also the director of the “Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies”. Her research interests include religion, law, politics, and society in modern Islam. In 2010, her research was awarded the renowned Gerda Henkel Prize. The 32nd German Orientalists Day will present new research results on Africa, Asia and the Arab world in 900 lectures and 80 panels until Friday. Around 1,300 oriental researchers from all over the world take part. (vvm)