Why is Islam misunderstood?
"Basic knowledge of Islam"With facts against misunderstandings
"Do not think, ladies and gentlemen, that religion in the Islamic world is the overriding, all-determining factor. It is one of several. In half an hour or three quarters of an hour you will know more."
Andreas Kaplony is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. With lectures like this one he wants to reach the broader public. The series that started in 2016 is called "Basic Knowledge of Islam". Andreas Kaplony is therefore concerned with the fundamentals and correcting misunderstandings that he has identified. For example:
"How Islam spread. Science knows very well that Islam did not spread with a mission 1,000 years ago, nor with 'holy war', but as a kind of dripping down from an elite culture. That is all knowledge that you actually know. "
"Clearly for professionals"
But what science knows does not mean that the general public knows by a long way. Therefore, the series is intended to convey reliable scientific facts.
"The misunderstanding is actually not a question of knowledge, but there are very fundamental things that are very clear to the experts. An example is that the Koran is ostensibly a book, but actually a collection of sermons. Nobody else knew that. The people always thought the Koran is the same as the Bible, in green or blue or yellow, so to speak, just a little different. And we all knew: No, they are actually oral sermons that you have written down. A collection of 111 sermons. "
It is also important to Andreas Kaplony that Islam is not simply "Islam", but is divided into different currents. He names four: Sunnis, Shiites, mystics and modern political-religious movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafists.
"Bringing that across to society at large may not have been our strength. And we want to expand that."
"This is our strength and our weakness"
Andreas Kaplony is very satisfied with the response to "Basic Knowledge of Islam": In some cases, more than 600 interested people came to the individual events - although the German-language Islamic studies are sometimes considered to be a little brittle:
"We are known for being particularly sober. And we are known for being particularly close to the lyrics in the details. That is our strength and our weakness."
A must-have when it comes to basic knowledge of Islam: the Kaaba in Mecca in Saudi Arabia (picture alliance / Anadolu Agency / Mustafa Ciftci)
This accuracy is a weakness because Islamic studies are often delayed in reacting to it.
"That also means that we are not that fast in external communication. We are slow and just right to the point."
"There are many people who know more"
Andreas Kaplony hopes to subvert black and white thinking with this scientific precision. He is also already recognizing the first changes in the Islam debate:
"I would say there are a lot of people who know more."
And so the professor wants to continue mediating between Islamic studies and the public, even if this attempt may surprise one or the other.
"In our scientific community, this service is actually not that valued by the public. It would be better if you write another article, or write another book, or do one more conference."
"Listen to people well too"
Andreas Kaplony, on the other hand, advocates the exchange between science and the public, because that could make the debates - in this case about Islam - more objective: through very basic "basic knowledge".
"To stay in contact, to listen carefully to people, to take up questions and to the best of our knowledge and belief - really try to answer - I think we should just do more. I am grateful that many people participated and continued join in. And I think that's a good direction. "
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