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A Deoband Madrassa in the Heart of Germany

A Deoband Madrassa in the Heart of Germany

Author: Dr. Sami Alrabaa
Publication: Islam-Watch
Date: February 1, 2009
URL: http://www.islam-watch.org/Sami/Deoband-Madrassa-in-the-Heart-of-Germany.htm

Wolfgang Borgfeld, who, after converting to Islam, changed his name to Muhammad Siddiq, established an association called "The House of Islam" south of Frankfurt. The "House", previously a hotel containing tens of rooms and several halls for seminars and conferences, is financed by the Saudis and Kuwaitis. It is, however, largely a madrassa, an Islamic religious school, without any official control.

Recently, I visited "The House of Islam". Mr. Siddiq was delighted to show me his school and meet his students. I was curious to find out what the students, 8-18 year-olds, have been learning there. I asked a 16 year-old girl why she was wearing a headscarf. She said she was proud of it, because, with it, she is fulfilling the commandment of Allah. I asked a 15 year-old boy what Jihad meant. His answer: "It is fighting for Islam to prevail." I asked further, also with weapons? "If need be, yes!" he heftily replied.

Mr. Borgfeld, or Muhammad Siddiq, as he prefers to be called, argues that Western societies are corrupt. They have been seduced by the amoral values and accoutrements of materialism and have deviated from the pristine teachings of their prophets, Moses and Jesus.

Mr. Siddiq spent two years studying Shari'a in Saudi Arabia (2000-02) and came back to Germany fully convinced that Wahabism is the best brand of Islam. He says, Wahabism is seeking to purify Islam from un-Islamic accretions; he emphasizes on the Shari'a established by the Koran and practices of Prophet Muhammad.

As I confronted Mr. Siddiq with an article posted by his students on the wall-magazine of the House, entitled "Muslims of the World are United against Corruption," he said, the first loyalty of Muslims is to their religion, then to the country they live in. He added that they also have a sacred mission to go anywhere and wage jihad to create a humane society, free of corruption and exploitation.

"From your students' articles posted on the House's wall magazine, one cannot escape the impression that your students sympathize with the Talibans," I told Siddiq. "That is true. There is a widespread misconception about the Talibans here in the West. The Talibans are demonized. What would you do if your country is occupied by foreign troops? Would you fight or keep quiet? You would certainly fight, and that is what the Talibans are doing," Siddiq retorted.

"But when the Talibans had the say in independent Afghanistan, they introduced and enforced a stone-age Islam, and gave Osama Bin Laden a refuge," I countered. Siddiq got upset and responded,

"That is not true. They wanted to apply the fundaments of Islam. In addition, it is their country, and they are free to practice their culture and religion the way they please, and for your information, the majority of Afghans support the Talibans. If the West believes in democracy of choice, they should accept that. But the West is hypocritical. As far as Bin Laden is concerned, he has nothing to do with terrorism. I advise you to read the books of all those who proved that, for example, Andreas von Bülow."

"Some of your students told me that they would use violence to advance Islam," I pointed out to Siddiq. To this he said, "We are an Islamic cultural center, we have got nothing to do with violence. We do not teach violence. You are confusing violence with jihad. Jihad means fighting for Islam with peaceful means. This is what we are teaching. The culprit of violence is the West. They are exploiting the poor in Muslim countries and supporting totalitarian regimes. In fact, all humans would fight their exploiters, and Muslims, in particular, are urged to do so by the Koran and Hadeeth."

After midday prayer, Siddiq took me around to show me the library of the House. Two authors caught my eyes, Yusuf Al Qaradhawi, an exile Egyptian Islamist cleric now based in Qatar and Abdulrazaq Sikander, head of the Binori Town madrassa in Karachi, Pakistan.

While I was sifting through the books of these radical authors, Siddiq put on a wide smile and told me that he was thankful to these pious people. "They often visit us here and bring their latest publications, in German. Their books are published in Saudi Arabia, and sent to us for free," said Siddiq .

As he saw me glancing through the book, entitled "Men and Women are Equal in Islam", by Abdulrazaq Sikander, he recommended me to read it. I pointed out: "But according to the Koran, men and women are not equal. The Koran says, women get half of the amount men get from inherited goods, and in terms of testimony two women are equal one man as a witness."

He replied that "This is true, but look at how women are treated in the West. They are supposed to work as hard as men to sustain their families. Women in Islam do not need to do so. The man must go out and earn the living for his family."

In the courtyard, I met some boys and girls. I said, "Let me test your knowledge of the holy Koran. You learn the Koran from cover to cover. Here are some passages which I'm going to read to you in Arabic, the language of the Prophet Muhammad." I read out the following passages and asked them to explain to me what I have read.

"O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people." (Sura 5, verse 51).

"And KILL them (the unbelievers) wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers." (Sura 2, verse 191).

"Men are superior to women because Allah has made so. Therefore good women are obedient, and (as to) those (women) on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and BEAT them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great." (Sura 4, verse 34).

O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time then call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other." (Sura 2, verse 282).

"They ask you for a decision of the law. Say: Allah gives you a decision concerning the person who has neither parents nor offspring; if a man dies (and) he has no son and he has a sister, she shall have half of what he leaves, and he shall be her heir she has no son; but if there be two (sisters), they shall have two-thirds of what he leaves; and if there are brethren, men and women, then the male shall have the like of the portion of two females; Allah makes clear to you, lest you err; and Allah knows all things." (Sura 4, verse 176).

None of the students could explain to me what I read in Arabic. Like most students in madrassas in non-Arab countries, they learn the Koran in Arabic by rote.

When I explained to them what those verses of the Koran meant, they said, "Alright! Allah wants us to act like that, and we must obey Him."

It is clear that boys and girls, who think like that, are perfect candidates for recruitment by militant Islamic organizations.

The House of Islam has now around 98 students. One third of them are converts. And they are quite zealous about Islam. Uta Rasche wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine (September 1, 2004) that "The number of those who converted to Islam (in Germany) is between 13,000 and 60,000, according to estimates. In any case, they make up only a small share of Germany's more than 3 million Muslims. But many converts have a very special story. Often they are extremely attached to their religion-and sometimes, they are particularly dangerous. They want to prove to themselves and their new fellow worshipers that they take their conversion seriously and therefore have a strong desire to demonstrate their religious commitment."

In March 2007, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a think tank based in Brussels, issued a report accusing the House of Islam of being a perfect breeding machine of terrorists.

Commenting on the ICG report, Siddiq said, "Describing our House as a terrorist-breeding machine is unfair. There are many faith schools in this country, but if a man or a woman who attended a Catholic school commits a crime, nobody describes the school they graduated from a breeding machine of criminals."

Siddiq added, "our mission is very humane and peaceful. Our objective is quite modest. We have recently prepared a program for training chaplains, both men and women. These candidates, especially men, are taught how to preach Islam properly, how to make Islam attractive in a society like Germany. Some of our students will be perfect chaplains; they speak German perfectly and have learned how to argue in favor of Islam."

In an article for the German weekly, Die Zeit, in July 2008 Albrecht Metzger concluded that the enemy, which the US is fighting in Afghanistan has been, to a great extent, created by the CIA. Albrecht explains: during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the US State Department financed authoring and publishing of books for schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan inciting readers to holy war against Allah's enemies, the Soviets. These books were designed and printed by an institute in Nebraska. Some texts included statements like, "Freedom fighters should sacrifice everything, life and property, in a bid to drive the invaders out of their land."

These books and similar ones in Saudi Arabia are still in use in Afghanistan, Pakistan and in all madrassas across the globe, including the House of Islam. Nothing has changed, except the enemy: it is now the US itself.

- Dr. Sami Alrabaa, an Arab ex-Muslim, is a Professor of Sociology and Arab/Muslim culture specialist. He is the author of Karin in Saudi Arabia, which recounts harrowing treatment of women in Saudi Arabia; Karin, a German woman, being one such victim. Previously, he has taught at Kuwait University, King Saud University, and Michigan State University.

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