Why is nationalism haraam in Islam

Haram and halal - Religious commandments and practices among young Muslims. Interview with Paula Schrode

Religious commandments and rituals play an important role for many Muslims. These commandments and practices are by no means rigid and are shared by all Muslims. Paula Schrode conducts research on religious practices among Muslims in Germany and has dealt in particular with the changing understanding of Islamic dietary rules. In an interview, the doctor of Islamic studies describes the importance of religious commandments in the everyday life of young Muslims.

In your work you not only describe eating rules as an important aspect of individual religious practice, but also emphasize the social component of these rules. What exactly is this social aspect of the dietary rules?

Paula Schrode: There are actually two aspects: Eating is an elementary community-building practice. Conversely, wherever eating together and the mutual sharing of food are restricted by religiously based food bans, group boundaries and social distance are automatically marked. The second aspect is more specific: As soon as one is dealing with substances that come from slaughtered animals, according to the widespread Islamic view, it depends on the religious affiliation of the butcher whether the food in question is permitted for Muslims or not. If I want to strictly follow these rules, I often have to consider not only the specific ingredients, but also the socio-religious origin of a product. In a pluralist society, of course, this becomes a very complex matter.

The everyday life of Muslims in Germany has changed noticeably in recent years - and with it social expectations and practices. Are these changes reflected in the way people deal with dietary rules - but in a broader sense also in other religious practices?

Schrode: There are of course very different types of religiosity, but within the more practicing group, many young Muslims today do not see their religion as a continuation of the traditions of their parents or the group of origin, but as an individual project that is pursued independently - albeit by no means in isolation: New, multiethnic German religious networks and spaces for discourse are emerging here. New media create access to discourses that used to be the domain of scholars, that is, as a layperson you not only decide for yourself which authorities you want to adhere to, you also compare and question their fatwas, begin your own research and continue religious education . The interactive search for answers on the Internet has become a religious practice in its own right. Extensive discussions are held in the forums on all ritual regulations and areas of life on which Islamic law expresses itself. This unmistakable abundance of questions and cases of doubt or rumors about supposedly contaminated food also has an unsettling effect. It can be observed again and again how forum users, after extensive debates, finally tend to stricter and thus from a religious point of view more certain interpretations. Such observations do not necessarily say something about the actual private practice of these users, but above all about the rules of these new religious discourses, in which Muslim lay people are actively involved in the formation and control of their orthodoxy.

You speak of religion as an “individual project” in which, for example, very different ways of dealing with rules and norms can be expressed. What does this mean for a young person's relationship with their parents?

Schrode: “Individual project” means that you pursue it independently and for yourself, instead of just continuing the traditions of your social environment or family. Accordingly, religious young people also look for their own offers or mosque communities that they may perceive as more authentic. However, this does not mean individualism, in which everyone now designs their own personal Islam: As a rule, these young Muslims start out with certain, authentic norms as a basis in their self-image that must not be abandoned. Concrete interpretations can vary as long as they can be conveyed as “Islamic” within the logic of the discourse. Young people who acquire such discourse knowledge definitely question traditional authorities. To give an example: In some milieus there is the phenomenon that parents only want to accept spouses from their own ethnic group for their children. But I have heard several times of cases in which young Muslims have finally prevailed against the resistance of their parents, with the religious argument that it is not a question of ethnic origin, but rather that the partner is a good Muslim . If young people share certain basic religious norms with their parents, a well-founded religious knowledge can also prevail against family traditions in the event of a conflict. In this constellation, however, the aim is not necessarily to redefine the boundaries of the religious discourse, but primarily to confirm its validity. So it would not be very promising, for example, to argue in an Islamic way for marriage with an atheist partner.

For non-Muslims - for example, for teachers who work with young Muslims in school It is often difficult to understand that the beliefs and religious practices among young Muslims are often very different, even though they all describe themselves as Muslims. Sometimes this diversity of the lived Islam does not appear as normality, but as an expression of arbitrariness and arbitrariness, which can result in certain religious beliefs not being taken seriously and being dismissed as insignificant or “made up”. As a teacher, what do you have to keep in mind when faced with such questions?

Schrode: What is permitted or forbidden in Islam and what is practiced and how - Islamic law and its implementation - are the results of widely ramified interpretive traditions that are based not only on the Koran, but on much more extensive sources that are related to one another. Because of this complexity, it is unlikely that two scholars can be found who agree on all questions. This is very similar in secular legal discourses, which nonetheless - just like the Islamic ones - are by no means arbitrary. So this has nothing to do with arbitrariness or arbitrariness, only it is perhaps difficult for non-Muslims to understand that formal things such as the right date for certain practices - for example during Ramadan - are legal issues that have to be taken seriously from an Islamic point of view. On the other hand, teachers cannot of course be expected to incorporate the most varied of legal traditions into everyday school life and to create space for everything that is somehow religiously justified. I am therefore critical of many of the debates that have recently been conducted about the role of religion in school: Instead of constantly emphasizing religion and singling it out as prominent among all other identifying features, it seems important to me not to suggest to children that one expected from the outset to identify with certain traditions just because their parents are of one or more origins. If schools, as state institutions, then privilege certain orthodoxy by creating corresponding structures of possibility, they indirectly turn individual forms of expression or the renunciation of religion into a deviation and thus intervene problematically in religious power structures. In my opinion, religious practice and the protection of religious teachings should not be part of public education in an increasingly plural society. However, the political trend is precisely to promote and shape these identities at school in a targeted manner. And then often not only religious instruction, but also everyday school life in general should be based on this requirement, which the teachers can hardly be expected to do.

Dr. Paula Schrode is an Islamic scholar at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg. Her main research interests are Islam in Germany, transnational aspects of Islam and Islam and nationalism in Turkey. In her book “Sunni-Islamic Discourses on Halal Diet. Constitution of religious practice and social positioning among Muslims in Germany ”(Würzburg: Ergon, 2010) she reproduces the results of her current research.

Götz Nordbruch conducted the interview for ufuq.de.