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It’s always a pleasure to be in Germany. I have such nice memories of the “Wissenschaftscollegue”. I was one of the ﬁrst in the very beginning of ‘87 to be invited to this wonderful institution which has now created a very worldwide network of intellectuals who are all extremely attached to that institution. I am also particularly happy to address to you some words about concerns which are old concerns. I had been asked by Dr. Jakob to deal with the title “Islam and the chances for tolerance”. Are there neglected Islamic traditions? This is his articulation of the subject. And I found it as a very nice introduction to what I want to say but I proposed to him rather to announce the title “Islam – to reform or to subvert?” And I give very, very great importance to the concept of subversion. To subvert, to subvert intellectually, not religiously; and to subvert intellectually because we are subverted – I mean, all our societies, contemporaly societies, are subverted by violence, political violence covered by references to religion. It’s all political but we cover what’s going on in politics in Europe, in America and of course in what we call the Muslim world. And we’re now all covering this political violence by reference to religion. I say this because, you see, we witness in Europe and I was the last two weeks during the elections in America. The importance of references to religion in America and the way these references are made in America which is a purely imaginery, ideological, uncritical way of referring to religion, whether it is the Catholic religion or Protestant or all other religions which exist in this great and admireable society – I mean the United States – and one is struck by this return of religion as we’re repeating a sociologist and political scientist since now 50 years. The return of religion – we thought that that return of religion was special to underdeveloped countries, to countries which are still missing the intellectual and cultural resources to enhance their level of thinking and to enhance their relation to the past, the religious past, the cultural past, the intellectual past and to have a distance – a critical distance – to that past, especially when we speak about values. We use all these references, we are struggling for OUR values, OUR values and we’re getting back actually to the framework, the theological framework in which all our cultures in Europe as well as in Muslim countries but, we speak always of Muslims and the West; there are other societies, there are other religions of which we are not speaking at all. And this also is one of the examples which shows that we are very far from that intellectual posture consisting in getting out from the religious framework of thinking for the reasons I shall give. But getting out from that framework, which framework to use to get out from that long past to which every society belongs, on which every culture depends, on which every kind level of thinking depends – to get out from all this. Where are the tools? Where is the intellectual framework that we can use safely to propose to our societies an alternative of references, an alternative of values? Where is it? We used to say: “Modernize it!” We have repeated modernity again since the end of the 2nd World War and at the end of the 2nd World War we started with a universal declaration of human rights by the United Nations which the Catholic church and Saudi Arabia refused, both, to sign. Yes, it has to be mentioned. And we have to ask why because there is such a difference, such an intellectual difference between the history of the Catholic church and the Catholic religion. And we had yesterday in the lecture a very good example of that difference with this Cusanus in the 17th century who studied the Qur’an so carefully, with such attention, with such empathy and at the same time with a critical mind to help the Pope to understand what’s going on with that religion. In the 17th century Islam was still powerful politically in the Mediterranean area because the Ottoman sultan in Istanbul commanded a whole Empire that stretched from Iraq to Algeria and included the south of Europe, the Balkans. So, in the 17th century there was intellect. Cusanuns was not alone to do that. Richard Simon, who is a contemporary of Cusanus, was the ﬁrst to look at the old Testament with theological tools, with historical tools and he did it because since the Renaissance there had already been cultural, intellectual changes in Europe which affected the way to look at religion, the way to understand and interpret religion. And, I just say that the Ottoman Empire was large and still powerful but at the same time when these intellectual events were taking place, what was going on in terms of intellectual life in that large Empire under the command of the Ottomans? What was going on in the other large Empire commanded by the Safavid dynasty which started almost at the same time in Persia. And what was going on in the Mongol Empire in India etc.? What was going on at that same time in what we call Muslim world in terms of intellectual life, of intellectual events? This kind of comparison, historical comparison between the intellectual history of Islam and the intellectual history of Catholic and now Protestant expression of Christianity since Luther? This kind of comparison is absent from our scholarship. We study both worlds separately. Each one has its own history. I had the curiosity to look at the bibliography of the history of the Ottoman Empire, in Germany, in France, in Italy, in Europe let’s say. Which side is mainly considered in that history, military side and political side of the dynasty of the Sultans? You can hardly ﬁnd a reliable article showing the situation of intellectual life, of scientiﬁc life in the whole Empire in that period. And we go on focusing – especially since we have all this trouble – on contemporary Islam repeating again and again what Islam has to say about socialism in the time of Nasser, in the time of the socialist revolution, the Arab socialist revolution in the time of the Baath. And when socialist revolution failed totally we started to speak about Islam and democracy; Islam and tolerance, which is the subject of our meeting here. And as I said it is an excellent way to enter in the subject. But how to enter in the subject? Shall we repeat again and again what we said already in all conferences? And, collegues, how many times have we met together? How many times have we been gathered in many institutions to talk exactly about this topic which, considered from the point of view of a critical history, obliges us to repeat these courses which are totally anachronistic. We live in a perpetually anachronism in terms of historical criticism because it is a nonsense even to ask any kind of relationship between tolerance, a modern concept introduced in thinking inside European and Christian culture in the 17th and 18th centuries. With John Locke, with David Hume, with Rousseau, with Voltaire, with the philosophical encyclopedia and all this stuff. And here we are obliged, if I may say, to talk and to ﬁnd out, where are the verses of the Qur’an? Where are the – this is what you asked – neglected Islamic traditions, there are traditions there to be found but it has been neglected. This translates exactly this kind of intellectual tradition – we can present it like this – which we got as scholars and we come and we obey. I have
no verse to give you. I will not start quoting any verses, not even selecting from the Qur’an as it is done worldwide. Since Muslims started to manipulate their own texts to manipulate men to select fragmented verses, for example, this is just a very small fragment, “La Ekraha Fil Din” – no constrains in religion (Es gibt keinen Glaubenszwang). It’s absolutely stupid. You can’t imagine how stupid it is to proceed like this. And there are books written about this to demonstrate that the Qur’an already established a full concept of tolerance. And we go like this and we do that. I repeat: it’s not only people who had no opportunity to go to the university and to learn at the university. They’re also scholars, not all of them, there are some, I say some. What do I mean by subverting? Subverting is to start ﬁrst from taking what I call all the ofﬁcially closed corpuses of texts, ofﬁcially closed corpus. The four gospels are the ofﬁcial closed corpus which command the whole thinking of Catholic theology. Until today we refer to it. You understand, I hope. Corpus is a linguistic concept. It means body, a body of texts put together in a volume. And linguistics today raises so many problems about this ﬁrst step consisting in putting together a number of texts and saying these are the texts, like the text of the constitution which is used in Karlsruhe, to which we have absolutely to refer – to debate and to decide, not only about what concerns law but what concerns my spiritual life, my ethical behavior, my interpretation of the world, my relation to the past, the meaning of the names that I am giving to all my life in my society. This is the corpus. This corpus is ofﬁcially constituted. It is a historical elaboration through a supervision of authorities because with the gospels, in the time the four gospels were selected, there were so many gospels circulating in Europe but those gospels were declared authentic. I start with this example because we are in Germany. I know that in Germany all people know that, not all people of course. The specialist, those great philologists spend all their time looking at the texts but German people, they don’t mind about it. It’s gospels and we go on with it and we live with it. Why ask these questions? What is a corpus, what are the functions of a corpus? What’s the ideological use made of a corpus, of religious texts – we call them sacred texts, holy scriptures? Exactly the same thing happened with the Qur’an. The Qur’an is an ofﬁcially closed corpus, a number of texts which are critical historian questions, has the right to question. But until now he has not the right to question. They did it in Europe, philologists worked quietly in comfortable universities protected now by the rule of law. They could do their job although what they did did not affect the United States and Europe, does not affect the people’s way of thinking about their relation to the gospels and their relation to the Catholic religion. Which means that scholarship can exist, it can be provided, fully provided. You can have wonderful resources like – I repeat – in the United States you all know the campuses, wonderful campuses. So many resources, everything provided. But where does all this knowledge go? Why doesn’t it affect the relation to religion in the United States? Why are tele-evangelists through television commanding the social imaginery of all Americans about religion. And everything that has been written by theologians, by historians etc. it’s nothing, it doesn’t exist, it’s just like in Cairo, or like in Damascus, or like in Teheran. The relation to religion on the level of people in the United States is absolutely comparable, culturally comparable, psychologically comparable, intellectually comparable. So what is happening with our scholarship, what are we doing? I complain because I’ve been repeating this about the Qur’an for 40 years now but nobody cares, nobody cares including the collegues, especially in Islam. I have never read anyone of my collegues taking up seriously the concept of the ofﬁcially closed corpus, applying it systematically, historically, philologically, theologically, ideologically, anthropologically, yes all these. I claim all these operations because if we do not go through these operations. We cannot achieve ﬁrst an operative scholarship. What is an operative scholarship? A scholarship which would affect, which would affect deeply the system of education and the scholarly discourse of the teacher from the elementary school up to the university. To shape a new discourse, that would be communicated by professors at the secondary level so that this scholarship is not buried in great and wonderful libraries. I raise these questions, as you know, for many reasons, of course. But in France we had that, so educative experience of the way France has dealt with the issue of the veil. Here we are obliged to reconsider the whole issue of modernity, the whole issue of the intellectual frame in which all Europeans are thinking, are using the arguments and using the propositions and the knowledge to look at this unprecedented phenomenon of our religion, Islam, coming suddenly to Europe, brought by whom? Not intellectuals, very few; not rich people, very few, it is brought by lay people – Gastarbeiter, workers. These are the people who came, and they came with their heads. What was in their heads? The people who were brought up in Muslim societies in the 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s; what was the teaching given to these people at school after the independence of these societies? This is a big problem which is absolutely neglected, not taken into consideration. Because all these people who came have been brain-washed at school, not only by the media and the ofﬁcial discourse, brain-washed at school by the scholarly discourse, the so-called educative discourse at school with the benediction of the state, not only the approval but the insistance of the state to teach Islam in such a way that you are just brain-washed. You cannot look anymore to the world, not even your mother, yes, children come from school to their mother and tell her: ”You are not a good Muslim, please, you have to veil now”. Conﬂicts in the families between the teenager coming from school because he heard what a so-called teacher said about Islam and he gets into tension with his mother, his father, his sisters, in the family. This has never been considered, seriously neither of course in Muslim societies. But we could expect that in European societies, democratic, taking care of the citizens even those who are not citizens – this is the purpose of true democracy. My friend Stephan Wild knows that for 30 years I have been ﬁghting in all members of the European Union at the level of the commission to try to convince Governments ﬁrst about shaping and initiating a new scholarship of Islam where Islam would be taught in a critical manner in its foundations. I have not told enough about that. We have to deal with the sources of Islamic theology to show that there is no Islamic theology, a reliable one, in terms of integrating in the theological reﬂection. All these new problems, all these new historical challenges of the encounters between religions in the same space of citizenship, this has not been taken into consideration because this is totally new. So many religions living together in the same space of citizenship, do you know what that means? In terms of the responsibility of the state, of the democratic state to provide answers to this new situation. There is no way for Muslims and Christians to speak
even together. And we talk about dialog, dialog, dialog repeating what I said in the beginning, repeating the tradition. And if you touch it and say one word that would not be acceptable to the orthodox control of these founding sources of the faith of religion, the dialog breaks. You come immediately to violence, ﬁghting and total rupture because the foundations so far are not studied at the level of scholarship so that we show the distance, the intellectual distance, the scientiﬁc distance between any discourse used by any Muslim today. On the Qur’an, on the Haddis, on what they call the Usul because the subversion should start from the roots - the foundations, not from the consequences, not from the knowledge derived as we say, derived from the sources, we do not touch the sources, we derive knowledge, we take out the knowledge from the sources. But the sources raise so many historical problems, so many linguistic problems, so many cultural problems that it is unusable. The more we use it as we do, the more we strengthen, the more we nourish what sociologists call the imaginary social. Excuse me, the word “imaginary”, doesn’t translate in English. What French understand when they say imaginaire sociale – la production imaginaire de la societé. If you say “imaginary production of society” no American would understand. And they would say: you speak jargon! You come here with your Parisian jargon. Yes, yes, it happens like this. Here we are in Germany, in Europe, it does something about that, but not all, I don’t know, how do you feel about this concept of imaginaire as we use it French thinking and as you use it here? It’s a general problem. That’s why I say the subversion has to come also in the modernity as we use it. It is unbelievable that French scholarship, German scholarship, British scholarship, Italian scholarship in Europe have such distance, such a lack of intellectual communication, intellectual collaboration to build up the same references to produce another type, another type of reason, of reason, of reason. This is the point of the subversion. Reason is not subverted, ladies and gentlemen. Modern reason that we’re using with Muslims looking to fundamentalists. This reason is not adequate to do the work required by the present expression of Islam, or the present expression of Judaism, or the present expression of aspects I would say – I make a difference, deﬁnitely. There is a difference which is historical and which is obvious. But there is still in Catholic and Protestant expressions of today many aspects which are just those that we try to understand and to master in Islamic expressions. So, what should be the program? Because there should be a program to follow, to take up issues, like, for example, that issue which happened in Holland two weeks ago. A grandson of Van Gogh, or a nephew of Van Gogh has been assasinated by a young Maroccan. Just this event. Where is the scholarship which can analyse, deconstruct – it’s the time to pronounce this word. Scholars write “deconstruction”, nobody understands, it’s gossip, it doesn’t work, it’s terrible. My friend Derrida, we are born together in the same country and we are linked by a historical solidarity as Algerians. You cannot imagine what was in the mind of that man who died recently and the way his collegues – French collegues – treated him. He never came to the University to teach. Look, the sectarian milieu, as our Professor would say, the sectarian milieu which he described in the 2nd and 3rd century of the Hisra. It is in our universities, the sectarian milieu. Here is an example of the way modern thinking is working: deconstructing this terrible event, who is commanding it? Who is presenting this event? And how is it presented to all the people, the imaginary again of people? Only the media, only the media, exclusively the media, like for 9-11 . Since 9-11, how many intellectual voices have analysed this so complex event, so subversive event. It is subversive not only from the side of Islam but subversive with violence as I say, not with thinking. Besides, the point is to bring up the thinking underneath. There is a thinking underneath this event and there is a historical memory commanding that event. And the historical memory goes back. First to the treaty of Yalta, yes, the treaty of Yalta, what has happened? In Germany you know it! What happened in Yalta? Germany doesn’t exist, Germany doesn’t exist! Yalta, four big nations, weakened nations, met and decided to map geopolitically the world, the whole world. Mapping the world, what does it mean, mapping the world? Dividing, tracing the frontiers of the world. The frontiers from the point of view of the four powers as we call them. Without taking into consideration the people and the colonies. All Muslim countries were colonized already in 1945. They became independent only after 1945. And it’s a long history just since 1945. How many wars have been raised in the Muslim world that related to Europe and America? So, I come back to the program if I have still some minutes. The program, as I said is to provide our societies with tools for thinking, tools for teaching. And these tools only can be provided if the academic people play a role in taking into consideration the presence of new populations coming from outside. And taking seriously the backwardness, the cultural backwardness, the discrepancies, social, psychological, cultural discrepancies between people who have been allowed to come here and who became citizens of these countries to help them not to be integrated in the society as it is but to present to them a different image of these societies, I mean in European societies. I hope you see what I mean. To present that picture, that new picture to open a new political horizon for their future in these societies. These people need to get out not only from their ideologized religion but to get out also from the political pressure in which they live in their own countries of origin and the isolation, the social isolation, the psychological isolation in which they are living in countries which – we repeat – they are democratic but where democracy in Europe, in America is going through a crisis. There is a crisis of legitimacy of democracy. When we see the way Bush has been reelected, when we analyse the discourses used by the two candidates and we compare the discourses and the philosophical references and the lining the discourses of the two candidates. And we see the result of the election. We’re obliged to raise the question of legitimacy because legitimacy is above legality. You can have legality, you can provide legality but if you do not have legitimacy that people can have in their heart and to which people can adhere. There is no obedience, no adhesion and there is a lack of that legitimacy. We see it also in the elections as we go through it in European countries. I can speak about France which I know but I can speak also of other countries. Here is a point that we are not looking seriously to start from the critcism of our way of referring to values and to present the problems
of values and to apply them to European values, western values. The same criticism which would be more easily accepted, listened to by those Muslims using their values as they do. About values in Germany, Nietzsche. I don’t know, how do you refer to Nietzsche? What Nietzsche represents in the German culture in the German way of thinking at least about values, I’m not speaking of other things, immediately when we say “Nietzsche”, there are a lot of problems emerging; but as far as we know about this philosopher, he was the one who has worked and thought for what he called the “second enlightenment”. The ﬁrst enlightenment being in the 18th century, he fought intellectually, philosophically for a second enlightenment. I have no time to give you the details of that but those of you who are familiar with this issue, it is extremely important. And Nietzsche has a subversive thinking, subversive thinking on essential issues, the genealogy of values. He is the initiator of methodology for the critics of values. Exactly this has to be made, applied, here, in Europe, for all Muslims living here, they have to hear it, they have to discuss it, to debate about it. And then by this way, I think, if it is done properly on the level of scholarship and if it is done properly on the level of teaching, the programs of teaching and the way the programs are taught to the teenagers. I know what I’m saying here because this is the blind point of all systems of education in Europe. The systems of education. 14 ages where now in each class you can ﬁnd 60% of the people from Muslim origin. And they never hear anything about Islam but ﬁve prayers a day, they have to go to the pilgrimage, there is the Qur’an which has been brought up by the angel Gabriel and stupidities. Stupidities at school which the teenagers refuse radically because they receive it as a ridiculous presentation. But scholars and professors don’t consider it as ridiculous, because they teach it. These are really big problems. We do not exist. Our voices do not exist, sociologically speaking. And they exist very weakly in the realm of academic life, in the realm of intellectual life. I apologize for having taken more time than I should. But I think it is worth presenting this subversion for all of us, all inherited cultures, all inherited systems of thinking, all of them, all of them. Thank you