Does God forbid us from having fun? Transcript of a discussion in Neukölln, Berlin

21 January 2014

Germany's Centre for Democratic Culture (ZDK) has published the transcript of a debate held in Berlin on the topic of the Islamic image of God. The debate featured prominent speakers including EFD Programme Director Ahmad Mansour, who also works closely with the ZDK. The speakers addressed a number of critical questions, including the image of God as a merciful vs. a punitive being; the image of God which young Muslims grow up with; the effect of this image on their daily lives; the ways in which this image is susceptible to manipulation by radical Islamists.

Ahmad states at the beginning of the debate: "I’m glad that we’re here having an inner-Islamic debate today, and that for once we're not discussing conflict with mainstream society or discrimination. And I’m glad that we all seem to be meeting in the middle: that we all acknowledge the danger of a punitive God, and that none of us wants to pass this image onto others. And if critical thinking is being encouraged in mosques, that’s a good thing. But one of the problems which we definitely still have is this unquestioned sense of 'truth', which is incompatible with critical thinking. Doubt is a good product of critical thinking – also in the democratic sense. But, especially for young people, it is too often seen as something lacking, something negative."

The transcript of the discussion is currently only available in German, and can be read here.