Friday, January 19, 2007

Muslim converts in Germany

... and also at Der Spiegel, an interesting piece on Germans converting to Islam.
A soon-to-be-published study on Islamic life in Germany confirms the Cologne doctor's impression. The study sheds light on a phenomenon that may seem surprising given the image of Islam in Germany, where the religion is often associated with terrorism, forced marriages and honor killings: In Germany, some 4,000 people converted to Islam between July 2004 and June 2005. The study, which was financed by the Interior Ministry and carried out by the Soest-based Muslim institute Islam Archive Germany, reveals that the number of converts increased four-fold in comparison to the previous year.

The figure of 4,000 conversions means the usual explanations for why Germans convert are no longer sufficient. The annual number of converts remained constant -- at about 300 -- until three years ago. The converts were mainly women "who married a Muslim partner," Muhammad Salim Abdullah from the Islam Archive points out. Today, people are increasingly converting "of their own free will," he says, adding that the converts still include many women, but also plenty of university graduates -- middle-class citizens like Kai Lühr.
The article goes on to try and find some sociological links -- personal crises, wanting to stand out, etc.
Sometimes the newly-acquired Muslim values can clash with Western principles, in the opinion of some. The key question is how literally Islam's holy book is interpreted. "Converts tend to practise their religion in a more puritanical fashion," says Wohlrab-Sahr. "Born Muslims are often more liberal."

A Hamburg lawyer's office provides an intriguing example of what she means. Thirty-six-year-old Nils Bergner prays to Allah five times a day. The German convert works together with a Turkish friend Ali Özkan, also a Muslim. The two visit the mosque together, but it's only in the German's office that the prayer rug is regularly rolled out. "I just can't manage it," says Özkan. "The first prayer is at 6:00 a.m. -- much too early."

Recently, they were invited to dinner. The desert was tiramisu. Bergner hesitated because of the alcohol in the recipe. "I said, you can't be serious," Özkan recalls. "Go ahead and eat it, I said. It's just a flavoring." But Bergner left the tiramisu untouched.
As one says in Hindi for the zeal of a convert ... naya musulman. New Muslim.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Deutsche Angst - keine Antwort durch Islam

Religion is for people who do not want a personal God. The one true living God who made heaven and earth came walking in the garden asking, "Adam, where are you?" God and His man had a fresh, personal relationship that involved daily fellowship. But that relationship was broken by the man. Adam's sin (disobedience) brought shame and fear. Those who prefer 'clear and strict rules for behavior' are still slaves to that shame and fear. God has said, "I will guide you with my eye." Doesn't that sound very personal, very interactive, very intimate? Personal relationship, personal accountability, a living relationship with the living God. These are frightening things for a generation of lonely, isolated people whose primary interest is SELF. 'Self' is their true god, no matter what religion they practice. Self, as a god, is never satisfied and is cannot be a source of true peace. That may come only from outside one's self, it comes only from the 'Prince of Peace' himself... Jesus Christ. "This is eternal life, to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." Do you know Him?