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People and Politics Forum 19.09.2008

"Can a German-language Koran improve the integration of Muslim immigrants?"

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Lessons in Islam - A young teacher breaks taboos in Germany.

Lamy Kaddor, born in Germany to a Syrian father, wants to make her religion more accessible to children and young people. She's written two books about Islam, a children's Koran and a text book - both in German. The books contain illustrations depicting the prophet Mohammed - a practice forbidden by Islam. Conservative muslim scholars are not impressed by Kaddor's work. But the kids love the open atmosphere in her classes, where no question is taboo. Now, her teaching methods could be used as a model for lessons in the subject in schools around the country.

Our Question is:

"Can a German-language Koran improve the integration of Muslim immigrants?"

Yes, it can says Nabid Zafri, in Bangladesh:

"A German-language Koran is a good idea because it promotes integration. That's an important factor for the numerous Muslims living on German soil, and I'm in absolute support."

It's a step forward, says Daniel Studzinski, in Singapore:

"It's a bit like Luther's German translation of the Latin Bible: introducing a fresh wind and breaking the chains of a closed religion with all its bans and linguistic barriers of religious segregation. It's like a reminder of the Enlightenment that changed Christian religion. And, indeed, it's a little-known fact that most Muslims haven't read the Koran, at least in a language they understand. I'm learning how difficult this is from the family of my Muslim wife. Islamic integration within European culture and society can only happen through mutual understanding."

There's basic agreement from Ghassen Belaid, in Tunisia:

"Should it be promoted? Yes, but only if the German-language Koran is seen as an added edition to the Arabic original, and meanings aren't changed or fabricated."

Gudrun Koletzki, in Germany, is all for it:

"It will serve the cause of integration, just the way the teacher in your report put it."

A cautionary note from Lee Davis, in the USA:

"No, it‘s not the written word that's important. The only thing that really matters is what those words mean to the reader."

Praise from Martin Burmeister, in Venezuela:

"Any text books or scripts - from this side or the other - advance the understanding of other cultures, and a Koran in German would certainly advance the integration of Mulsim foreigners in Germany."

Gerhard Seeger, in the Philippines, says it should be followed up:

"It's worth a try and could be helpful. Opposition from religiously conservative circles was to be expected. Let's hope it stays verbal, and evil deeds aren't carried out by mad fundamentalists."

A view strongly rebuffed by Hussein A. in Finland:

"A German Koran already exists and we don't need a "liberal-minded" teacher to write a new one. What I am saying is that you can't break the Koran's rules to introduce Islam. The Koran contains answers to all the questions affecting religion, life and especially learning.And if you can't find the answers then you must ask those who know and not invent answers...I think parents should pick the religion teacher for their children, as the state should not determine what is learned, and how. I don't think there should be a "German" Koran.... There are other ways of furthering integration, but you have picked the wrong one, and it can only go wrong."

Points picked up by Polla D. Ibrahim, in Iraq:

"I think that this teacher does not understand Islam well. If she understood she would never symbolise the prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) in pictures because in Islam it is not permitted to symbolise any of the prophets in photos. ...There is no such thing as a Koran translation, but there is a thing called "Tafser" which means you read parts of the Koran ..and there is an explanation by Islamic scientists who have a lot of information about it. I am doing that myself.... She can assemble the rules and then write a book in German with quotes from the Koran. In my point of view it is more suitable and she can teach her students and make them understand Islam - advised by the opinion of a religious scientist.The Koran is sent from Allah to all people in the world, and it is the right of the peoples to understand it clearly to have great faith..."

Touati Rabah, in Algeria, says a German Koran makes one thing clear..

"It shows that the three great monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism,Islam) have a common spirit. Terrorist attacks by Islamist groups have nothing in common with the real,tolerant Islam that preaches love thy neighbour."

Charles Smyth, in Britain. says:

"A German language Koran, as such, can hardly do any harm, so long as Germany is not burdened with the cost of producing and distributing it, in accordance with Islamic demands. Otherwise it is a job for King Fahad publishing, Ryadh. In this particular instance, as per Lamy Kaddor, the issue is over a set of books which veer sufficiently from the tolerated texts in such a way as could be considered reformist, and could be used to counter hard line Islamic teaching. Even so, it would be better to arrange for them to be published online so as to avoid problems of distribution and production costs. Could be the opportunity Deutsche Welle has been looking for."

Yonas Zennia,in Canada, has reservations:

"I see no harm in reading a translated testatment. However, the depiction of the Prophet may be deemed a provocation, even by moderate/liberal standards. If this is a publicity stunt on Lamy's part, she sure will enjoy several perks from the West if this raises sentiments in Muslim streets where the unemployed youth have the time to rally."

Firas Ghrawi, in Syria, is also skeptical:

"Well it's such a great idea is to make a German-language Koran ... but it should be made by an Arab man who knows German as well because in Arabic there are words that may contain several meanings because of the punctuation marks ... Arabs have explanation books for the Koran which was written 1400 years ago, so many words have been changed and there are lots of mysterious words and sentences ... Translating the Koran without paying attention may turn Koran into a meaningless book"

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.