Friday, April 07, 2006

European Islam

RFE-RL reports on a conference of European imams being held in Vienna on issues of integrating Muslims into Europe without losing their religious identity. I found the framing of this issue rather interesting simply because yesterday I saw a talk by Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia, who supervises all the ulama over millions of Balkan Muslims while issueing fatwas for their guidance. He came across as very Western, and had he been a Jew rather than a Muslim the event would have been unremarkable.

His talk, while advertised as dealing with the importance of shari'a in rebuilding Bosnia, dealt mainly with the nature of shari'a itself, with Ceric indicating he practiced an approach based more in kalam than the standard study of classical Islamic thought and precedents. Kalam refers to Islam's religious philosophy, and in the context of shari'a can get to the ultimate purpose of the religious law, such as safeguarding people's dignity, property, and so on. The issues involved were ones I've paid little attention to over the years, so I won't try to comment further, except to note that during the Ottoman period Sarajevo became an important center of Islamic learning, and continued as such until 1946. If Ceric is any indication of current thought in Bosnia, then I hope that Europe's long-standing Islamic tradition can in the post-communist world rebuild itself as an important part of both Europe and the umma, despite the alleged clash of civilizations in which we are enmeshed.

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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