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Why I am not a Muslim

About Identity, Difference and Respect


From: Stimmen der Zeit, 11/2007, P. 741-753
webmaster's own, not authorized translation


The eye-catching title, "Why I am not a Muslim" is at first embarrassing in different ways: complacent in its presentation, derogatory in its negation, trivial in its content. Grammatically it still pretends to be a question, but rhetorically it lets only expect answers. Here someone seems to know for good about himself and those from whom he distances himself.

The tone promises not the clarification of facts but self-assertion and confrontation, not thoughtfulness but polemics. From time immemorial on the book market the speech pattern is common, in many formal and positional variations: "Why I am no longer a Catholic," "... one now has to be atheist," "... one can no longer honestly be a Christian," "... I do not go to church", etc. {1} - and in this tenor finally also, "Why I am not a Muslim" {2}. There seems no longer any need for communication, no room for further understanding. The connections are cut. The idea that perhaps one could stand on the other side after all does not occur, should probably be denied reasonable people.

In such thinking the pattern admittedly devalues itself. It reduces too simply the complications of religious-ideological plurality. It draws the attention only to one alternative and has already settled it. Difficulties with justifying one's view-point, with which religious faith and ideological orientations otherwise have to do, seem here from the outset not to exist. It is no longer about making sure of one's position but about propagating it.

The history of religion shows the importance of strategies of demarcation for the forming of a common identity. They are obviously necessary in cultural experience-, learning- and enforcement processes, in a particularly pronounced way in the relationship between Christianity and Islam {3}. But it is also obvious which disastrous consequences - up to religious wars have already resulted from them, and how prolonged and cumbersome the efforts can be to at least somewhat overcome the trenches and blockades. Admittedly in our society the religious contrast-images fall far behind the dimensions and the drama of the fundamental historical clashes, but as social burden they are on all sides noticeable.



Question in Interreligious Responsibility

Not in every case the message why one is "not a Muslim" opens polemical defence. The question gets an importance of its own when one seriously and openly lets oneself in for it despite its obvious oddness. Then it becomes an exemplary case of interreligious responsibility, as it shall be outlined in the following from Christian premisses. We can see ourselves induced to it in many ways, first in direct talks, challenged from Muslim side or from non-Muslim - in the latter case occasionally in reproachfully aggressive tone: "Why do you not at once become a Muslim?" -, but then also beyond the in practice experienced accidental occasions in the theological discussion of the reasons for our faith. There is a significant difference whether we then casually pay attention to the other religions as mere moments of our cultural situation, as something that we should not pass over in our arguments, or find ourselves in our theology confronted with the believers of that religion themselves giving them an account be it at first and for a long distance only in an inner, intellectually represented dialogue {4}.

When we want to be responsible for what we think to know, what we believe and say, our seriousness decisively depends on whose judgment we - with approval or opposition - set great store. If we liked best to be heard only by those whom we already know as like-minded people, our cause would from the outset appear in an unfavourable light. And in the other case, even if those from whom we differ can of course not agree with our reasons, it would nevertheless be a gain if they could at least confirm that they see themselves understood and respected in our arguments.


Circumspect Justification

The positively approaching reflection, "Why I am a Christian" {5} at first looks only at one's own religious home, then lets above all think about the influences of our secular distant environment, about the worries, perhaps even fascinations coming from it. The other religions understandably are paid less attention to. They are only in rare cases real biographic alternatives. Nevertheless Christians are also unavoidably exposed to the experience of foreign religions: that they exist, how they exist, and what they mean to us - and is so asked from them about the reasons for their conviction - even though in historically, socially and individually changing intensity.

Today the situation is ambivalent in a significant way: on the one hand foreign religions, especially Islam, are geographically close to us and communicated by the media as never before,



often in the context of social and political conflicts; on the other hand just so an everyday approach is blocked. Also theology proves to be contradictory: on the one hand the discussions about the importance of non-Christian religions and the particularity of the Christian faith have considerably increased {6}; on the other hand these discussions seem above all for two reasons at the same time also little explosive: Firstly with it it is no longer as in former times about the salvation of those people who would be lost without the Christian faith and outside the. In this respect the situation is relaxed - up to widely accepted indifference. Secondly, the religions in their outer multitude, their inner diversity and their all-embracing bearings exceed by far the extent of what could be handled in a system. Reality goes beyond the theoretical approaches of every theology of religion, and eludes their attempts to cope with it.

Hence any theology, when referring to the other religions as a whole, will use enormous simplifications. The first and most fundamental one is already the cumulative wording "non-Christian religions", as if they - when summarized - became a clearly identifiable object, and the concept "religion" fitted all of them in the same sense. By such a view the reality of the concrete religions falls to a large extent by the wayside. Accordingly the attempts to answer for the Christian faith in a global overview - also in view of the other religions or at least of the "large" ones among them -, necessarily turns out to be lacking in content and pale. With good reason most textbooks of fundamental theology therefore do without getting involved with the individual religions. But so the problem to discuss the credibility of the Christian faith also in the context of the history of religion is only evaded {7}.

For the sake of seriousness and solidity and in responsibility for the Christian faith theological studies are to deal - in addition to the fundamental assessment of its situation - also with individual non-Christian religions and to look for the conversation with them {8}. This way follows also the personally drafted consideration "Why I am not a Muslim", but with it reduces the complexity of faith responsibility in three ways: First, by referring to Islam alone it disregards not only the other religions but also all other modern, often distressing alternative positions, be they atheist, agnostic or syncretistic. Secondly, an argumentation that approaches its topic in such a 'negative' way can confine itself to a few differences, which are considered to be important and already suffice as reasons and make further discussions unnecessary. A positive explanation of one's own identity would be incomparably more difficult. And thirdly, by saying "I" reasoning refrains from the claim to universal validity. It will nevertheless not be able to give arbitrary reasons, if it wants to be taken somewhat seriously.



This threefold simple approach is no tactical manoeuvre, no suppression of problems but self-restraint in a matter with which one otherwise easily takes on too much. In scientific literature it is widely scorned to say "I". Objectivity seems damaged by it, valid justification denied. One ought to think the situation was different in a religious context; but here too this linguistic form is not protected against criticism. Who, asked about his faith, falls back on personal reasons can be reproached by a mentality insisting on certainty that he succumbed to the "over-pressure of modern subjectivism" {9}. On that condition the religious "I" had a legitimate place only when tied up in the creed of a religious community.

But in religious matters the insisting on universal validity is already dubious by the large number of those among us whom we cannot deny open-mindedness, good will and reason and who nevertheless do not agree with what convinces us ourselves. The clearer we face such positional plurality, the more often we meet with people who do not share our orientations, and the closer besides they are to us, the more we are referred to the relative nature of our own position. The respective journey through life, its encounters, experiences and insights have an irreplaceable dignity. This is emphasized by the Second Vatican Council in its "Declaration on Religious Freedom" with the demand: "But truth has to be looked for (inquirenda est) in a way that corresponds to the dignity of the human person and its social nature, i.e. on the way of free search (... inquisitione libera)." {10} That the council with it in the first place mentions the "help of the teaching authority of the church or of instruction" is obvious, but in addition to that it also confirms that of the "exchange of ideas and of dialogue, by which people communicate each other the truth they have found or think they have found (invenerunt vel invenisse putant), so that they in searching truth (in veritate inquirenda) help each other."

That the supposed truth is put on the same level beside the real one and entrusted to communication is highly notable. In such a common making sure is room for subjectivity, for referring to one's personal origin, attachment and commitment. With it one gets, while remembering one's past, into a biographic network that can no longer be rationally reconstructed, especially since the social motivations of one's path through life go far beyond the intellectual moments mentioned in the text of the Council. Subjectivity has not only its own dignity but also its unforeseeable inscrutability.



The question "Why I am not a Muslim" is here not immediately personally asked but discussed in principle.



And so the following answers are not to be taken as individually own ones of the author (although they are that too), which could be reproached for only satisfying "the always latent curiosity of the contemporaries about what others 'feel'" {11}; rather they are an offer for reflection, a sequence of reasons that everybody can modify, correct or enrich according to his convictions. Though that admittedly makes good sense only for him who regards Islam at all as so significant that he wants to include it into the assessment and responsibility of his faith, here the Christian one. Then the differences are not a cause for holding a defect against others but to become aware of one's own characteristics.

Three groups of motives are here significant, different in character and weight: Firstly biographic ones, determined by most individual experiences and by arguments to be communicated only in a limited way but of powerful influence; secondly cultural ones, of social significance, but historically conditioned and not specifically religious or Christian; thirdly theological ones, related to the innermost core of faith but weak in motivation and persuasive power for those who do not already share the religious pre-conditions.


Biographic Reasons

Those of us who are Christians or Muslims are that throughout from their birth. Conversions are rare and have their special biographic conditions. Scarcely anybody will probably be so audacious to say: "I would in any case have turned to the faith that I now confess." Whatever we may - beyond our biographic factors - give as reasons for our religious affiliation: they are sensible reflections, necessary catching ups, subsequent taking the responsibility that cannot repeal the preceding fundamental fortuitousness of birth.

How strongly the borders to other religions are set to us becomes apparent when we compare them with our relationship to the inner-religious differences surrounding us. Our religious roots, whether in our family or a socially wider range, have in our social conditions generally little binding strength. The variability from intensely lived attachment up to total alienation is great even in our immediate circle of acquaintances. Changes in religious or political views happen socially inconspicuously and without life drama. The inhibition thresholds for it are obviously low. Even changes of denomination from one church to another have lost their formerly serious nature.

On the other hand we have a great distance to other religions, first also those who see themselves finally induced to a conversion. Reasons for this are not only the numerous culturally and religiously foreign features - these can sometimes be just charmingly attractive -, also not only inherited concepts of the enemy



and present fears of threats as they particularly put under strain the relationship to Islam - as far as these are wrong they can with some open-mindedness be corrected, and relativized where they do not concern the nature of religion; also the theological distinctions are not primarily decisive - about these is specially to be talked in the following; more than all that is relevant that we from our childhood and youth have not got on closer terms with other religions in the surroundings we are used to.

A single, small, but significant part of our relationship to Islam may suffice here as an example: for faithful Muslims the Koran is the most beautiful allocution, by which everyone who understands to listen rightly is moved by God {12}. That obviously cannot be reconstructed by someone who has not or only cursorily got to know this book, even blocked by prejudices. But even an intensive study of the Arabic language and a strong effort to feel the literary rank of the Koran do not catch up with the experience that Muslims gain from a lifelong familiarity with the Koran, listening to the recitations, praying in private silence, on weekdays and holidays, in consent and commitment. That in Islamic societies too this religious heritage is endangered and unfamiliar to not a few people does not devalue it as one of the many moments of Islamic life in the faith-giving strength of which outsiders do not participate. They can "gather by reading" (in German 'zusammenlesen' - in the excellent double sense of the word) the one or other piece and altogether a whole lot but will by it not reach the whole. So it suggests itself that they at first simply answer the reflecting question "Why I am not a Muslim?" in a realistic assessment: "Because I have not experienced being a Muslim in my life. Because I have settled in other things."

But as heavy as this reason weighs, it is not sufficient; for on the one hand some people see themselves obliged to cross the religious boundary set to them and turn to Islam, and on the other hand to those who are far from being a Muslim on reflecting on their distance further more material criteria are added.


Cultural Motives

Our biographic position is always also that of a particular cultural region and epoch, for us one in Europe and in the modern age. By it also our relation to the religions is affected. Of course "the" Western world and "the" modern age exist as little as "the" Islam and "the" Christianity; all the more these realities cannot in "their nature" be so defined that their position and their mutual relations were settled once and for all. The future is open in any case, for individual believers and for their communities. And yet there are in the given situation historically caused affinities.



Often one can hear that Islam in contrast to Christianity had not gone through "Enlightenment" and that's why it adapted itself only with difficulty to our culture or even remained foreign to it on principle. This judgment is dangerous in different ways: It works with a simple black-and-white - stereotype: the bright, enlightened reality faces the dark one - with it ties people wholesale down in their way of thinking and behaving, locks them out, and often leaves them as relief only the possibility to dissociate themselves more or less from their faith. Who so asserts his "enlightened" identity against others does it forcibly.

Nevertheless when one is on one's guard against this simplification one can point to achievements of Enlightenment that have, though with a lot of opposition and great efforts, been absorbed in the Christian area - whether they are already sufficiently assimilated may be doubted -, but equally cannot be found in the prevailing and socially effective appearance of Islam. How far specifically religious and theological factors are of importance with it, or whether it is for long distances only about a cultural non-simultaneity of the religions and thus about differences that one day will be outdated, can for the time being remain open.

"Enlightenment" means here the from the 17th/18th century outgoing triple encouragement: to examine valid traditions, to political emancipation and to personally independent orientation. The so bundled awakening hit the nerve of European Christianity but led it also to necessary reformations. Supposed certainties were broken down, on the one hand historically - by the critical research of the Scriptures, on the other hand philosophically - with serious consequences especially by denying the metaphysical world view of an eternal order prepared for man by God and accessible to his reason. Religious convictions were so shaken in their foundations. Added to that was the increased sensitivity opposite the destructive forces of religion in intolerance and aggressive self-assertion. Systems of rule that leaned on religion up to the church hierarchy were questioned, even fought.

With the getting through of the state neutral in religious affairs and the religious-ideological plurality of society denominations and churches got into an unusual situation of competition. Their sphere of influence was considerably limited; the religious life became a socially separate area.

The secular society offers a respectable room for individual self-determination. This admittedly means also a loss of stability and guidance; for the environment in which one can see one's convictions strengthened is diminished, alternatives present themselves; some familiar values and standards lose value. But it would be unrealistic and contrary to moral principles, if one wanted to insist on the old conditions or strive for their restoration; for this would always fall heaviest on those who have not got the power to put through their position.



So every group and individual person has - by recognizing some few but essential rules of the game (constitutional rights) - no choice but to participate according to its ability in negotiating what is to be valid generally, and privately to take responsibility for personal attitudes and actions going beyond that, in particular for religious ones.

For a long time the churches found it difficult to accept that; but from their biblical foundation they had guidelines that finally made it easier for them to overcome their opposition, yes, even to discover in the intentions of Enlightenment characteristics of their own.

Unlike Muhammad Jesus did not see it as his task to set up, to organize and to defend a polity, and the first Christians formed with their communities minorities that were far from claims to power and violent self-assertion. In view of the political balance of power and conflicts they could - remembering Jesus' teachings -, say to themselves, "Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and God what belongs to God" (Mk 12, 17), and: "All who reach for the sword will perish by the sword" (Mt 26, 52), even, "Put up no resistance to the wicked, but if somebody slaps your right cheek, offer him the other one" (Mt 5, 39). But the two last sentences of Christ's Passion and the Sermon on the Mount left the question unanswered what the responsibility for a polity could look like in case it was requested. Whether and how these ethical impulses can ever be applied to state policy is up to this day not foreseeable.

Hence it would be inappropriate complacently to play the beginnings of Christianity off against Islam. That is already denied by a look at the in the fourth century beginning Christian history of power, which cannot be dismissed as a mere apostasy of original Christianity and true Christian faith. Here too it is not about setting past against past and to set the one off against the other one, but to estimate the consequences for our current situation, for the present relationship between religion and politics. The urgent demand of the Koran: "Obey God and the messenger!" (3, 32 etc.) means from the beginning also powerful authority, be it against threatening enemies - with the call to fight "until there is no longer any rebellion and religion belongs totally to God" (8, 39) - or in arranging the life of the community: "You who believe obey God, the messenger and those among you who have the authority to issue instructions! If you dispute about something then bring it before God and the messenger ...!" (4, 59) So the inheritance regulations of the Koran (4, 7-12 and 176) conflict with Jesus' word: "Man, who has made me judge or arbitrator with you?" (Lk 12, 14)

Certainly Islam with such quotations is not to be measured with the same yardstick. Many things should also be seen: Muslims live no longer in a theocratic community as during the Prophet's lifetime.



They know no binding teaching authority, no hierarchical leading and decision-making powers. The Sunni quasi-clerical authorities have power mainly by the educational deficits of the respective population. According to Shiite tradition (before Khomeini propagated an opposing theory and practice) the spiritual leaders and religious scholars were in principle to have no political authority and power. According to the Sharia Islamic minorities are to comply with legal system of the states in which they live, as long as they are not barred from performing fundamental Islamic obligations (otherwise they should emigrate). Cultural pluralism and processes of group dynamics widely determine "the world of Islam" {13}. The places of its realization and tradition are family and mosque. In our Western society its character and fate depend in addition more than ever on individual attitudes. And the Islamic life is subject to similar erosions as the Christian.

But from all that does not result that Islam in its manifest expressions goes without tensions with the modern relationship between religion, state, society and personal freedom. How insistent distances can be, is felt where one tries to obtain understanding and rapprochement. So the repeated Muslim reference that tolerance was intrinsic to Islam from times immemorial fails to recognize the nature of modern religious freedom as an individual right of self-determination. This is just as foreign to Islam from its traditions as it was alien to medieval Christianity {14}.


Theological Reasons

Who wants to define his Christian difference to Islam in the way of a catechism will name as the most important moments: the Muslim rejection of Trinity and Incarnation, and so of Jesus being the Son of God, the disputing of the history of original sin and salvation, and finally the denial of Jesus' execution on the cross. But these parts of the Christian creed remain in such a listing still without any connection and let not recognize the underlying different character of the two ways of faith.

Muslims talk about the Koran as Christians about the Bible as "word of God", but refer as regards only its literary character to a considerably different book. The Bible is a library of numerous texts of different times and different traditions, of authors whose names are often not known. In contrast to that the Koran is - according to the Islamic faith - the word that God said to the Prophet, already formally conceived as God's and not the Prophet's speech. The idea that this book could have two authors - as in the traditional Christian understanding of the Scriptures one talked of an "original" and "secondary" authorship {15} - is alien to the Islamic theology.



Here God and man stand directly opposed to each other. Either we hear in what Mohammed proclaims God or man. To think both together seems to be refused.

Also beyond God's announcement of the Koran revelation according to Muslim faith is not a matter of human history and culture but of divine communication. That's why it - according to God's reliability - from the creation of man through all times is identical in its essential elements. "Say: We believe in God, in what was sent down to us, to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes, what was given to Moses und Jesus, what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We do not make any difference with none of them. We are devoted to it" (2, 136).

Accordingly in the Koran God does not open with Abraham a new history of choosing after the consequence of the prehistoric Fall of Man had led to the catastrophe of building the tower of Babel. In this view it would be quite absurd to include God himself into the way of disappointing experiences and to tell about him: "Then the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth" (Gen 6, 6). On the contrary, God is rather superior to all changes, admittedly "close" to men (2, 186) by listening to their prayers, yes, "closer than the carotid artery" (50, 16), by perceiving their most secret thoughts; but he does not bring in himself into the history of men, cannot be experienced in human community and affection, even in the suffering of a human being for others, does not communicate himself in man. "Nothing is equal to him" (42, 11). "So do not coin comparisons for God!" (16, 74). No creature can here be seen as God's "image", as "similar" to him (Gen 1, 26f.) About him can only be spoken because he puts the words at our disposal: "God coins the similes for man" (14, 25; 24, 35) {16}. Far away is here the assumption that our thoughts and speeches about God, even that of our "Holy Scriptures" could also be thought by us, that they had a history by us, were based on human culture, depended on its conditions and therefore also in the sense of Enlightenment could be examined and religion-critically questioned for their dependence on human needs and desires.

How intensely the Christian faith is founded on it that people come to an understanding about their experiences becomes apparent in the New Testament from Jesus' preaching and the professions to him up to the foundation of the church {17}. In both his work and in his suffering Jesus creates situations in which people first must find out what they are told and what they have to think of it. Even when his listeners - according to the composition at the beginning of Saint Mark's gospel - experience him as one who teaches "like someone who has authority" and are "extremely upset by his teaching" (Mk 1, 22), he appears in the following scene not yet as understandable, "and they asked each other, 'What does that mean?'" (Mk 1, 27). Jesus instigates that others consider him and his doings. This becomes also apparent in his telling parables.



Contrary to the theological interpretation St Mark's gospel in a later situation gives, (Mk 4, 10 - 12, 34), he even with them did not want to talk in a mysteriously dark way, so that the true meaning remained closed to "those who are outside", whereas he "explained everything" to his disciples; on the contrary, at first the parables were to be so far undetermined and in some moments even strange, so that the audience was to wonder how they had to understand what they'd heard. Hence the answer to the question "about the meaning of his parables" (Mk 4, 10) was not already given to them by the story-teller.

Accordingly Jesus also in addition was cause of dispute for his environment. The questions: "Who is he, that he ..."? (Lk 5, 21), "What is this for a man, that him ..." (Mk 4, 41) emerged in public as well as in the closer circle of the disciples. The judgment about what one should think of his claim, how it was to be understood, and what authority it had was still to be found. Despite all the firmness with which Jesus proclaimed God's "Kingdom" and called the disciples to follow him, he created an openness in which his companions were given a push to gain understanding themselves and to look for consequences: "Who do men say that I am? .... But who do you say that I am?" (Mk 8, 27.29; Cf. Mt 16, 13.15). The disciples are not simply given binding instruction, charged with the exact preaching; not the right profession is demanded of them, but they must first from their own experiences find their own language.

Even in the Easter scene of St Matthew's gospel, in which the Risen Lord appears to the "eleven disciples", is said that "some of them however doubted" (28, 17; Cf. Lk 24, 38). Even here the Evangelist leaves embarrassment, which he does not want to see already dispelled by the Easter events alone. It is still up to Jesus' disciples to say what they think of what they have experienced. The many-voiced New Testament writings testify how the building of the early Christian communities (in different institutional structures) was accompanied by the formulation of their creeds.

So they also clarified the fundamental question what access to their community they should grant non-Jews only after " no little turmoil and conflict" (Acts 15, 2) after "much quarrel" (15, 7), in formulation of objectives "with the whole community "(15, 22) and reaffirmed the result of their arguments with the formula "the Holy Spirit and we have decided" (15, 28). Hence the group dynamics of their own was by them regarded as a medium of revelation.

The protracted church communication about the question what was to be regarded as "Scripture" is informative for the relationship between Christianity and Islam. The "Holy Scripture" did not yet result from the commitment to "the gospel" of Jesus Christ. For centuries the question what belonged to the biblical canon was not decided. From the Muslim side this character of the Bible is often noted as a serious defect, as a "falsification" of the original word of God,



as a corruption of God's revelation by human traditions; particularly clearly tangible in the 'plural' of gospels: "according to Matthew", "according to Mark" etc., in the addition of St Paul's Letters and in the only far later decisions of the councils - what then altogether had to be regarded as "God's word" {18}.

But just that is the special feature of the Christian faith: that it hears the word of God in human testimonies, related to human history and experiences, depending on human initiatives and decisions; that consequently in this sense Christians have no Koran and see this not as deficit but as a fundamental moment of their identity.


Respectable Otherness

Who in view of Islam becomes aware of the significance of his own faith with it admittedly hardly gets a clear view of the foreign religion as an independent world of life. It is only a counterpart. But that lets little recognise of what Muslims on their part see as essence of their faith and what strengthens them in their religious self-confidence, also in their rejection of the Christian creed. But both, the awareness of one's own and the effort to understand the other out of itself belong together in the digestion of our religious and social situation. Only so we preserve the tension in which we can learn from and with each other {19}.

Where we do not succeed in it we either lapse into a rash self-confidence or religious indifference - or finally into both at the same time; and aggressive mentalities are there not far away, as we can constantly experience. So the talk across borders - an understanding in which we cannot reckon with consent in important topics - is indispensable. It cannot be told beforehand what we will achieve with it. Decisive is that we "chance it at all".



{1} See O. Langer, Warum ich nicht mehr katholisch bin (Neckenmarkt 2007); M. Onfray, Wir brauchen keinen Gott. Warum man jetzt Atheist sein muß (München 4 2006); F. Buggle, Denn sie wissen nicht, was sie glauben. Oder warum man redlicherweise nicht mehr Christ sein kann (Aschaffenburg ²2004, Reinbek 1992); B. Russell, Warum ich kein Christ bin (Reinbek 1988, Dresden 1932; "Why I am not a Christian", Vortr. 1927); O. Zurhellen, Warum wir nicht wieder katholisch werden wollen (Frankfurt 1913); J. Sickinger, Warum ich nicht in die Kirche gehe? (Hiefering 1888).

{2} I. Warraq, Warum ich kein Muslim bin (Berlin 2004; Why I am not a Muslim, Arnherst XY 1995); the author, once a Muslim, publishes under this pseudonym polemical texts of scientifically dubious value.



{3} See Identität durch Differenz? Wechselseitige Abgrenzungen in Christentum und Islam, edited by H. Schmid and others (Regensburg 2007).

{4} See H. Waldenfels, Dialog als Respekt vor fremder Subjekthaftigkeit, in: the same: Kontextuelle Fundamentaltheologie (Paderborn 42005) 424-426, on the necessity to let Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others become "co-designer of our church thinking, talking and acting" (424).

{5} See the to a large extent biographically structured contributions in: Warum ich Christ bin, edited by W. Jens (München 1979); also H. U. von Balthasar, Warum ich noch ein Christ bin - J. Ratzinger, Warum ich noch in der Kirche bin, in: the same authors, Zwei Plädoyers (München 1971); P. Schütz, Warum ich noch ein Christ bin (Augsburg 1996; Berlin 1937).

{6} See R. Bernhardt, Literaturbericht "Theologie der Religionen", in: ThR 72 (2007) 1-35, 127-149.

{7} Remarkable exceptions are Waldenfels (note 4): Das Christentum u. die Religionen (43-48); Gott in den Weltreligionen (127-132); Jesus in den Weltreligionen (235-247); Kirche u. Religionen (423-434); and: the same, Das Christentum im Streit der Religionen um die Wahrheit, in: HFTh², volume 2, 199-219.

{8} Exemplary for such a dialogical theology of religion is in the German language.area the "Theologische Forum Christentum - Islam" of the academy of the diocese Rottenburg-Stuttgart. "Identität durch Differenz" (note 3) has resulted from it.

{9} H. Deku, Die Konkurrenzlosigkeit des Christentums, in: Warum ich Christ bin (note 5) 100-129, in clear aversion against the title of the book and the intention of the editor, 100.

{10} DH 3. The spread translation into German talks here of the "Path of free research"; but this making the cognition of truth a highly scientific procedure does no justice to the context.

{11} Deku (note 9) 100.

{12} See N. Kermani, Gott ist schön. Das ästhetische Erleben des Koran (München 1999).

{13} Die Welten des Islam. Neunundzwanzig Vorschläge, das Unvertraute zu verstehen, edited by G. Rotter (Frankfurt 1993).

{14} See Freiheit der Religion. Christentum u. Islam unter dem Anspruch der Menschenrechte, edited by J. Schwartländer (Mainz 1993); M. Delgado, Toleranz u. Religionsfreiheit. Konvergenz u. Divergenz zwischen Europa u. der islamischen Welt, in: Der Islam in Europa, edited by U. Altermatt and others (Stuttgart 2006) 325-347).

{15} See H. Gabel, Inspiration III. Theologie- u. dogmengeschichtlich, in: LThK³, volume 5, 535-538, about "auctor principalis" and "auctor secundarius" (on the background of the original double meaning of "auctor" as "initiator" and "author") 536.

{16} See H. Zirker, Bildlosigkeit u. Bildhaftigkeit Gottes im Islam, in: religionen unterwegs 8 (2002) No. 4, 16-22.

{17} To the following (passage) see H. Zirker, Die Kirche als Kommunikationsgemeinschaft, in: Gottesrede - Glaubenspraxis. Perspektiven theologischer Handlungstheorie, edited by E. Arens (Darmstadt 1994) 69-88.

{18} See A. Th. Khoury u. L. Hagemann, Christentum u. Christen im Denken zeitgenössischer Muslime (Altenberge 1986) 61-164).

{19} See H. Zirker, Vom Islam lernen? Zur Herausforderung des christlichen Selbstverständnisses, in: Herausforderung Islam. Anfragen an das christliche Selbstverständnis, edited by H. Schmid and others (Stuttgart 2003) 127-150.


    {*} Religious indifference or rash self-confidence up to aggressive propaganda weigh upon the relationship of Christians and Muslims. HANS ZIRKER, professor of systematic theology at the Duisburg-Essen University, sees the different religious identity as "creditable otherness" and invites to give circumspectly reasons for the motivations of faith, to awaken so mutual understanding and interest.


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