Europe’s ‘Other’ Faith: Islam in German History and its Implications for Britain today

Dr James Hodkinson, Associate Professor of German Studies at the University of Warwick has been researching the differing ways that Islam has been viewed in various levels of western society, and how these views have changed over time.

Dr James Hodkinson and Dr. Abdullah Sahin, a leading Islamic educational theorist at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicester, are delivering a free public lecture in Coventry Cathedral on 4 May 2016, where they will discuss how Islamic faith and culture were represented across German history in the Nineteenth century. They will pick out key themes and reflect upon how they are playing out for Muslim communities and Islamic education in the UK today.

Covering literature, academic learning, politics and popular culture, Dr. Hodkinson’s research has tracked the changing face of Islam across German culture and society from around 1800 until 1918. In this time, knowledge of Islam deepens at German Universities (the subject of Islamic Studies comes into being), travel and migration to the Islamic world increase, and Germany becomes an Imperial power with interests in the Islamic world. As the German experience of Islam widens and deepens, in other words, so underlying political attitudes shift.

Dr Hodkinson’s research has identified key themes that emerge:

All relationships involve negotiating where our similarities and differences lie. Examples from the lecture show the obvious problems that arise when Islam is reduced to the ‘outsider’ or ‘enemy’ of Europe, though also how ‘friendship’ and ‘community’ with Muslims can often require a problematically ‘acceptable’ Muslim.

Tolerant attitudes and interfaith harmony are often seen to flow from knowledge and education. Knowledge we have of our others is never ‘given’ or ‘objective’. The lecture encourages reflection on the forms of education we are given today, formal and informal, by whom and to what ends.

Islam, as a faith flowing from written doctrine, is subject to differing interpretations. German scholars from this period demonstrate a wide spectrum of interpretations, including several which challenged key Islamic orthodoxies. Crucially, they did this not from a Western perspective, but through Islamic texts themselves. This reminds us that Islam has its own tools for self-criticism – tools that might be of value to us in the West.

Dr James Hodkinson said,

"My research aims to shine a light on the distorted representations of faith communities that occur during times of heightened political tension.

This free public lecture will cover areas such as: the history of interfaith relations and dialogue; the advantages and pitfalls of studying and learning about a faith different from one’s own and the tensions that occur when a minority faith has to exist within a society with a different majority faith, or within a secular context. Abdullah Sahin’s response will pick up on these themes and reflect upon how they connect with the issues that we are facing in the UK today as well as the value of looking afresh at history to inform our discussions on the present."

Members of the public and press are invited to learn more about this topic, that is of burning significance given today’s situation in the UK and globally.

Event details:

Wednesday May 4, 2016: doors open at 6:30 pm for a 7pm start

Register attendance public: j.r.hodkinson [a] (p) uk

Register attendance press: a.buxton.1 [a] (p) uk

Alex Buxton
Tel: 02476 150423
Mob: 07876 218166
a.buxton.1 [a] (p) uk