Imams to preach moderate beliefs at Ramadan

A Ramadan greetings card (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Petr Kratochvil)A Ramadan greetings card (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Petr Kratochvil)

A total of 45 imams from Morocco will preach the so-called "healthy Islam" in the Netherlands during Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month that starts on June 18th. 

This has been arranged by the Liaison Committee for Muslims and Government, CMO, in an effort to counter the radicalization of Muslim youth, the Volkskrant reported on Monday. The CMO represents 380 mosques in the Netherlands.

According to CMO spokesperson Yassin Elforkani, these Moroccan imams preach in the moderate Malikite tradition, which states that Islam can be interpreted in various ways, depending on time and place. "The claim of absolute truth is one of the greatest dangers of faith", Elforkani said to the newspaper. "The 45 imams will say this. It is important that they do this, especially during Ramadan."

Jan Jaap de Ruiter, an Arabist ant the Tilburg University, doubts that the CMO's approach will be effective. "Once they are under the caliphate's spell, a moderate message has no appeal. For them the certainty of belief is the major attraction of the caliphate." De Ruiter said to the Volkskrant. "Yassin Elforkani thinks that radicalization can be fought with knowledge of the Koran. I doubt that." He also thinks that the Moroccan imams will be ineffective. De Ruiter is not impressed by the moderation of these imams. "Moderation is the new mantra. Every presentation of every imam suggests that he is moderate. The 45 imams in question won't say anything shocking. They will call on the young people to do their best and be good citizens, that works. And that they must submit to the competent authority." Ruiter believes that this will make the Muslim youth think of the Moroccan King, not the Dutch authorities.

Elforkani admits that getting imams from Morocco is not the best option, but s the only option they have. "We as a Muslim community have not invested enough in Dutch imam training." he said. And the imam training the Netherlands does have, currently only at the VU, does not pay enough attention to the "very high demands" that imams face.