Most recent article by: Stefan Weidner

Portrait of the last Ottoman Caliph, Abdulmecid II. Photo: Library of Congress

History of the Caliphate


We are all caliphs!

The history of the Caliphate is, with a few exceptions, an unstable and unhappy one. In this essay, Stefan Weidner explains why the self-appointed caliphs of today, like the ISIS leader in Iraq, have little in common with the caliphs of oldMore

Translations of Classical Islamic Literature

From the Emotional Orient to the Distortion of Islam

Why does classical Oriental poetry still sound so ornate to western ears? Blame the translations. These are still following the model of the eighteenth century, when the myth arose that Islamic poets were sentimental geniuses in the realm of emotion and romance. An essay by Stefan WeidnerMore

German tank in the desert during Nazi Germany's Africa Campaign (photo: Bundeswehr Archive)

German Wehrmacht Document on Islam

Ideological Vacuum

If it were not for the fact that the author of a code of conduct for Wehrmacht officers in Muslim countries – the army doctor Ernst Rodenwaldt – was a proven Nazi sympathiser, those in today's anti-Islamic milieu would most certainly hold him for a Muslim sympathizer. Stefan Weidner on an unusual historical manuscriptMore

Günter Grass (photo: dapd)

Debate about Günter Grass's Poem

The Best of Intentions, the Worst of Outcomes

Günter Grass is not an anti-Semite, as his critics and the politically conservative media are claiming; however, for an objective discussion about the dangers of a possible military strike against Iran, his poem is counterproductive, says Stefan WeidnerMore

Book market of the third Karachi Literature Festival (photo: Stefan Weidner)

Third Karachi Literature Festival

Long on Talent, Short on Time

Despite ongoing political difficulties in Pakistan, a thrilling but all-too-brief literature festival took place on 11 and 12 February in the nation's largest metropolis. Impressions from Karachi by Stefan WeidnerMore

The Egyptian publisher Mohammed Hashim (photo: picture alliance)

PEN Award for the Egyptian Publisher Mohammed Hashim


A Father of the Revolution

The publisher Mohammed Hashim has been awarded the Hermann Kesten Prize of the German PEN Club. Hashim has not only distinguished himself as a publisher, he has also been directly and substantially involved in supporting the Egyptian revolutionaries. Stefan Weidner sends us this tributeMore

Adonis during the award ceremony in Frankfurt on Sunday (photo: dapd)

Goethe Prize Awarded to Syrian Poet Adonis

Honouring Condescending Scepticism

It's the wrong time for the Goethe Prize winner Adonis to be criticizing the protests in his homeland, writes Stefan Weidner, Adonis's German translator, in his commentaryMore

People lighting candles for the victims of the massacre in Norway (photo: Matt Dunham/AP/dapd)

After the Massacre in Norway

Critics of Islam Face a Dilemma

The massacre in Norway reveals just how wrong critics of Islam have been: it wasn't a Muslim who went to war against the West – it was one of their own, someone who shared many of their views. That has made it clear: the true enemies of the anti-Islam movement are not the Muslims, but its own supporters. By Stefan WeidnerMore

Award Ceremony at the Paulskirche (photo: Wikipedia)

German Peace Prize for Boualem Sansal

A Good, Cowardly Choice

Awarding Boualem Sansal with the German Peace Prize is in fact not as courageous as it seems, writes Stefan Weidner: the Algerian author is one of those critics of Arab-Islamic conditions who make it easy for us to follow him, Weidner saysMore

Fuad Rifka (photo: dpa)

Obituary for Fuad Rifka

The Advocate of Lyrical Attentiveness

The renowned Lebanese poet Fuad Rifka died last Saturday at the age of 80. Alongside Adonis and Mahmud Darwish he was one of the great revivers of Arabic poetry, yet among those of his own generation he remained unique until the end. An obituary by Stefan WeidnerMore

Koran (photo: picture alliance)

The Koran as a Text from Late Antiquity

A European approach

In her comprehensive Koran study, Angelika Neuwirth, Director of the research project Corpus Coranicum, interprets the Koran as a text that was developed in the milieu of Late Antiquity theological debates. Stefan Weidner introduces the book and projectMore

Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif in the movie "Lawrence of  Arabia" of 1962 (photo: dpa)

The Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

The Recalcitrant Hero

With the benefit of hindsight, there is something superhuman about his character. However, more than almost anyone else, Lawrence embodies the transformation from hero to anti-hero that shaped literature in the twentieth century. By Stefan WeidnerMore