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Yursil Kidwai: Germany Forgets: Islamic Values are Christian Values

23 October 2010 Huffington Post 4 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

recent survey in Germany shows that 13 percent of its citizens would welcome a Fuhrer, and 60 percent would restrict the practice of Islam. More than a third of Germans feel “overrun by foreigners”.

In this political environment German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a weekend meeting of her Christian Democratic Union Party:

Of course the tendency had been to say, “let’s adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side, and be happy to be living with each other.” But this concept has failed, and failed utterly… We feel bound to the Christian image of humanity – that is what defines us. Those who do not accept this are in the wrong place here.

Joachim Herrmann, interior minister stated:

There is no reason to integrate Islam into our system of values. Germany does not want to integrate Islam, but to retain its own cultural identity.

These words have brought up two important questions: what are Christian values, and how does Islam differ from them?

Christian values have been traditionally described as worship, fidelity, renunciation of worldly goods, renunciation of violence, forgiveness, and unconditional love.

Islam shares all these values. In fact, the two faiths share so much that Richard Bulliet, history professor at Columbia University, has posited the term “Islamo-Christian Civilization” as a more accurate representation of the society we have today. A historical perspective on Muslim contribution to Western society, and how it helped Europe escape the Dark Ages, helps shed light on the shared society we have today. For example, it is widely recognized that it was Muslim thinkers, mathematicians and scientists who were the inspiration for the much needed Renaissance period of Western civilization.

In How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization, Jonathan Lyons writes, “Today many tend to see religion as the enemy of scientific progress. Yet early Islam openly encouraged and nurtured intellectual inquiry of all kinds.”

Yet, today’s Islamophobes have attempted to, through brute force tactics, paint Islam as fundamentally against the peace, forgiveness and love of Christianity. They overlook that Christianity has also had a complex understanding around their values and needed time to develop them. While early Christians were pacifist martyrs who would rather die than raise a finger against their oppressors, modern Christian societies have found Christian justifications for the Inquisition, the Crusades, Nazism and countless modern military actions.

Case in point, Germany has up to 3500 troops taking part in the “International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan,” who have actively engaged and participated in violence.

This process of maturing Christian understandings have allowed for violent missteps, but they have also allowed for concepts such as self-defense and justice to develop within Western societies. We now define the result as basic human rights. Islam does more than just agree with these conclusions on basic human virtues and values of forgiveness and love, justice and self-defense: Muslims helped develop them.

While using the buzzwords of religion in her party affiliation (Christian Democratic Union) and in her speech, Merkel isn’t being a Christian purist when it comes to values. These politicians are using faith as an overarching container for the trappings of German cultural expression: their specific complaints have little to do with religious or theological debates and have more to do with immigrant languages, accents, and dress.

It may be that Merkel finds that Muslims are not so easily buying into the decadence of consumption and consumerism that are representative of a culture grounded in capitalist principles more than Christian ones. In this case, German politicians may be better off looking to these impoverished immigrants, working the menial jobs that native Germans don’t want, to relearn and reaffirm Islamo-Christian principles of acceptance, tolerance, sacrifice and love. After all, multikulti is Islamo-Christian.

Follow Yursil Kidwai on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yursil

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4 Comments »

  1. maybe the best of the Christian values are also Islamic values—but there are other “Christian values” that Islam would not agree with such as the idea of superiority—in Islam everyone is created equal—including women—-the anti-science, anti-intellectualism of Christianity is also different from Islam that values the pursuit of knowledge another aspect that is diffrent is the idea of a lack of accountability in Christianity stemming from their doctrine of atuomatic salvation–whereas in Islam accountabilty and respsonsibilty both colective and individual is stressed……..

  2. This is so tediously boring and untrue. If a Christian extremist group were to do to another country what Islamic extremists have done all over the world (by way of terror), Christins would stand up all over the world and DENOUNCE it…but where is the Islamic Denunciation of all the suicide bomber in Israel? Where is the Islamic outrage over what happened on 9/11? There was none, just rejoicing and dancing in the streets all over the world where the chants of “death to the infidels” were spoken. Then we have the absolutely INSANE promise from all Islamic groups who threaten to kill anyone even making a cartoon of Mohammed, yet people can take the Crucifix, with Jesus on it, and put it upside down in a Jar of URINE, and it’s called ART. Put Mohammed on a stick and put him in URINE and see what happens to you. This article is pure rubbish and crap.

  3. European civilization does not have a long history of religious freedom or equality and even today it is debatable how “free” Europe really is. Many EU countries do not have freedom of speech. The right of women to vote or own property in the West has only existed for 100 years, in some countries it is even more recent. In Switzerland women were only given the right to vote in 1971, and women of Liechtenstein had to wait until 1984. The hijab ban in France and some German states is an example of religious freedoms being denied.

    In the past Christian Europe was ruled by Christian monarchs who claimed their authority came directly from God or Christ. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, equality for women, personal liberty- these are not Christian values at all. They are modern, secular values. In Feudal Europe, when Christianity was at the peak of its influence, the majority of people lived like slaves and questioning authority was unthinkable.

  4. The fact is that there is a major cultural confrontation going on. It is between the secularists, the Christians and the Muslims. Since less than 30% of Germans are religiously active, it appears that the secularists are winning.

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