European Muslims and The Quran- Interpretation And Integration In Diaspora


Milel ve Nihal, no.5, pp.189-237, 2008 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Journal Name: Milel ve Nihal
  • Page Numbers: pp.189-237


In Islamic terminology, the term “diaspora” is hijra which indicates forcedly or voluntarily to live outside of home-country and to immigrate. The term of muhajir which literary means who has undergone the migration has more specifically been used to refer to those companions of the Prophet who migrated from Mecca to Medina. This event was very significant and marked the dawn of a new era of progress for the Muslim community. However, Muslim migrants are not merely concerned as foreigners or minorities in the Qur’anic discourse. In other words, diasporic situation which refers scattering and living outside of the “home land” has not merely a Qur’anic basement. Since the concept of “land” in the Qur’an are not demarcated geographically for Muslims as in the case of “Promised Land” for Jews.  As a modern discussion, Muslims particularly in Europe came about as a result of contemporary hijra, immigration which has its roots in European colonialism and more effectively in economic reasons right after World War Second. Muslims mostly came to the West as immigrants to gain employment, raise family and live quality in the new host countries. But, today Muslims are no longer primarily immigrant communities but rather second and third generations participating in civil societies and professional economic life, in spite of the fact that they continue to be mistakenly identified as religious minorities. On the other hand, the converted Muslims, as being originally French, American or British and religiously Muslim at the same time, cannot be naturally identified as minorities and the situation can not be called as diaspora. However, conceptualizing the Muslim community in Europe as minority or diasporic society may be dealing with the global discourse of “identity”. In the global sense, the Muslim community finds legitimacy for their demands to recognize their cultural distinctiveness and social rights. Conceptualization of diaspora may be also dealing with the justification of the situation. Since, regarding to discussion, the relevant Qur’anic narratives, prophetic models, historical samples i.e. leaving home in search of a new life where one can freely practice his/her religion have been intensively used as reference in order to legitimate and to endow their situation with Islamic meaning.  Many Muslims in the West, after a period of settling down, are becoming more enthusiastic, organized, assertive and active to be European citizen. However, this creates very complicated and obstacle questions on their identities: are they European or Muslim? If they are Muslim what about compatibility of Islam with European value system, like secular and liberal democracy, pluralism, diversity, gender equality? Or if they have European identity what about then to be a part of the global Muslim Umma /community and what about the Islamic traditional value systems. In other words, is there any theological barrier which restrains citizenship? On the other hand, having been living in the secular and liberal western society, Muslims in Europe technically should be free from the legal and religio-political systems and authorities of Islamic references. On the contrary, in order to successfully integrate them into Western society, they have very deeply referred to the Qur’an. Why this emphasis so much on the Qur’an? Since the Qur’an is the prime authority for the social, political, ethical and legal system of all Muslims, new challenges and concerns for European Muslims can/should be accommodated, integrated and legally justified through the applicable interpretation of the Qur’an as it was in every hermeneutical tradition in the history of Islam. This study will investigates this hermeneutical circle within the European context.