And now... Euro-Islam
EU home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini has declared that ‘one of the great religions of the world - Islam - is being abused to foster a new totalitarian ideology that challenges our way of life’.
What, pray, does Sgr Frattini know of the Qur’an, the Hadith, or Islamic theology? Muslims (that is those ‘in submission’) regard the most reliable Qur'anic commentary as being contained in the Qur'an itself: the Qur'an is explained by the Qur'an. The ways in which certain ayat clarify other ayat are regarded as being the most significant form of commentary. A second form of Qur'anic commentary is how Mohammed himself interpreted the Qur'an, and his comments on the Qur'an, as well as everything he alleged to have done or said, are recorded in the hadith collections. Yet even these schools of thought fracture into a plethora of other schools of interpretation; the process is complex, as is the case with all theology
So what qualifies Sgr Frattini to decide which of these schools should prevail? Upon what basis does he deny vast tranches of the Qur’an which incite violence, and promote those which talk of peace and co-existence? What does he know of history, hermeneutics, or textual criticism?
The role assumed by Sgr Frattini is rather like the EU ‘home affairs commissioner’ presuming to lecture the Pope on his interpretation of Scripture or Church tradition. Cranmer can’t quite see His Holiness taking theological lectures from anally-retentive or sexually incontinent politicians. Yet Sgr Frattini might as well inform the Vatican that the Commission is laying plans for the imposition of Lutheran theology across the EU. And all religious schools and religious leaders will be financed, run, and monitored by the State, and that state is the EU, to whom the Vatican will henceforth be subject .
Sgr Frattini is seeking to promote a ‘European Islam’, or ‘Islam de l'Europe’. He concedes ‘that this is quite difficult and ambitious, but the time has come to put on the table a political discussion to protect the large majority of Muslims living here peacefully who deplore and fight against radicalisation and the distortion of Islam for purposes of violence and hatred’.
The objective is to have Islam ‘fully and unambiguously respecting values and sanctity of life cherished in Europe…(including) everything mentioned in the Charter of Fundamental Rights’.
While Cranmer is in agreement that something needs to be done, and (of course) accords with the principle that theology should adapt to relate to culture, the main hurdle to Islamic integration emanates in the mosques. Only eight percent of imams preaching in British mosques were born in the UK, and only six percent of them speak English as a first language. While these imams are well-versed in the ‘traditional Islamic curriculum’, they are reported to ‘lack the skills to adapt to modern society’.
How can the EU possibly develop an effective policy to deal with this? Is this not an issue best dealt with according to the traditions and cultures of each individual nation state, under the principle of subsidiarity?