Dossier: Reform Islam

Mouhanad Khorchide (photo: dpa/picture-alliance)

Dispute about Prof Mouhanad Khorchide

A conflict of many layers

The dispute about Mouhanad Khorchide, director of the Centre for Islamic Theology at the University of Münster, is heating up. Although the conflict is ostensibly about the "correct" interpretation of Islam, it is also an attempt by the Islamic associations in Germany to make a show of strength to politicians. The dispute has dire consequences for the discipline of Islamic theology, which is still in its infancy in Germany. By Canan TopçuMore

Ihsan Eliacik (photo: DW/Senada Sokollu)

Interview with Turkish theologian Ihsan Eliacik

The Koran and social justice

Ihsan Eliacik is the first proponent of an "Islamic socialism" in Turkey. In his teachings, he criticises the neo-liberal policies of the AKP and calls for a socialist reading of the Koran. Interview by Ceyda NurtschMore

Muslim men praying in Berlin's Sehitlik Mosque (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Debate on European Islam


A Mined Terrain

The concept of European Islam has proved to be a constant source of controversy. For some it embodies the deliverance of Islam from everything that is perceived as backward looking and pre-modern. Others fear that a European Islam is a watered-down religion, a kind of government-controlled "state Islam", prepared to fully accommodate to the wishes of the authorities. By Claudia MendeMore

Pilgrims in Mecca (photo: DW/A. Abubakar)

Islamic Environmentalism

The Call to Eco-Jihad

Gradually – and unnoticed by most Muslims – Muslim intellectuals and scholars have, since the late 1960s, been developing an Islamic environmental theology. Their aim is to examine green principles such as sustainability, environmental protection, animal welfare, and biodiversity in terms of their compatibility with Islam. By Monika ZbidiMore

Junge Frauen auf der Deutschen Islam-Konferenz in Berlin 2013; Foto: picture-alliances/dpa

Muslims in Germany

Nice and Mild Sharia

Muslims should engage and transform this society. This would require them, however, to overcome the fear of being liked by some. Or is the only good Muslim a rejected Muslim? An essay by Charlotte WiedemannMore

Ancient Jewish manuscript discovered inside caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan (photo: The National Library of Israel, HO/AP/dapd)

Exchange between Christian, Jewish and Muslim Scholars

Exploring a Shared Heritage

Prof. Sabine Schmidtke, head of the Research Unit for the Study of Intellectual History in the Islamicate World at the Freie Universität Berlin, has a passion in life: working with ancient manuscripts. In the course of her work, she discovers common threads in the thinking of Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars. Arnfrid Schenk takes a closer look at her work and its significance outside the academic worldMore

A finger pointing at verses of the Koran (photo: Ulrike Hummel/DW)

Mouhanad Khorchide's Reformist Theology

De-politicizing the Koran

Mouhanad Khorchide aims to reconcile Islam with the modern world. His aim is to liberate the Koran from all outward trappings and return to the religion's spiritual core Claudia Mende introduces the man and his workMore

The inner courtyard of Al-Azhar University (photo: picture alliance/Bibliographisches Institut/Prof. Dr. H. Wilhelmy)

Al-Azhar and and Pan-Islamic Rationalism

The Demise of Islamic Centres of Moderation

The spread of extremism in Muslim societies in the past century can be attributed to a largely overlooked trend: the demise of religious institutions that once had global reach. Focusing on Egypt's Al-Azhar university, Hassan Hassan takes a look into the matterMore

Demonstration in Yemen (photo: dpa/picture alliance)

After the Arab Revolutions

Islamic Modernity

An enormous whirlwind of change has been unleashed by the upheavals in the Arab world and the long-term effects are unforeseeable. A middle course will have to be charted between the precepts of Islam and the demands of revolution. By Rainer HermannMore

Front cover of Al-Ghazali's 'Tiber al-masbuk' manuscript at the American University of Beirut (image:

The Decline of Islamic Scientific Thought


Don't Blame It on al-Ghazali

Academics are correct in pinpointing the exact period in which Muslims began turning away from scientific innovation – the 11th century – but in Abu Hamid Al Ghazali they have identified the wrong person. By Hassan HassanMore

Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri (photo: Getty Images)

Reformist Theologians in Iran

The Search for Montazeri's Heirs

Three years since the death of the Shiite dissident, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, there is still no one in Iran who can assume his role as the spiritual authority of the reform movement. Many critical clerics have been silenced since the crushing of protests in 2009. Yet, there is increasing support for efforts to reform Islamic law in the country. By Urs SartowiczMore

Praying Malian Muslim men in a refugee camp in Burkina Faso (photo: Peter Hille/DW)

Ansar Dine's religious leader Chérif Ousmane Haidara

''This is not Sharia, but banditry''

Ansar Dine is the name of a popular Sufi movement in Mali that has two million members. Charlotte Wiedemann spoke with its religious leader, Chérif Ousmane Haidara, about a stolen name, his anger with the Islamists and on a new alliance against WahhabismMore

Abdolkarim Soroush (photo: ISNA)

Iranian Reformist Thinkers in Exile

More Freedom, Less Impact?

Iran has forced intellectuals and clerics like Abdulkarim Soroush and Mohsen Kadivar into exile. These men once drove the debate about a reform of the political system and religion in Iran. They have found refuge in the West, where they can work, speak, and conduct research more freely. But what influence – if any – do they still have in Iran? By Urs SartowitzMore

Mouhanad Khorchide (photo: University of Münster/Peter Grewer)

Interview with Mouhanad Khorchide

''God Is Not A Dictator''

The Koran has thus far been subjected to erroneous interpretation, says Mouhanad Khorchide, professor of Islamic Religious Education at the University of Munster. Khorchide is calling for an emancipation of the faith. Interview by Arnfrid Schenk and Martin SpiewakMore

Image from the book ''Miteinander auf dem Weg'' (courtesy: Ernst Klett Verlag/Liliane Oser)

Textbook on Islam for German Schools

Conflicts between Tradition and Modernity

The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is introducing a schoolbook that introduces pupils to Islam. But is the teacher in it going to wear a headscarf or not, and is correct to use the Arabic term "Allah" for God? Ulrike Hummel reportsMore

Person reading the Koran (photo: dpa)

Islamic Law and Ethics


''We Are Calling for a New Interpretation of the Koran''

A new research centre in Qatar seeks to focus more attention on the ethical dimension of Islam. The founders of the centre and its director, Tariq Ramadan, are calling for a new interpretation of the Koran in order to advance a contemporary Islamic understanding of matters such as environmental ethics and gender issues. Christoph Dreyer spoke to the centre's deputy director, Jasser AudaMore