German Muslims and politicians are demanding that imams in Germany speak German and remain acquainted with the country’s political, social and cultural norms so that they can provide context-specific religious guidance.

Imam Ferid Heider, who grew up in Berlin and serves as imam at two of the city’s mosques, believes that only those who are intimately acquainted with the political, social and economic situation of a place can issue adequate fatwas to Muslims. He says that fatwas should always refer to a specific case and set of circumstances, and that it is important to have “Islamic scholars in Europe that have either grown up here or have lived here for a long time.”

Legal scholars in traditional Islamic countries view fatwas from the West as threatening to Islam and prefer to issue their own fatwas for Muslims in the West. But law professor and Islamic law expert Mathias Rohe feels this is a worrying development, stating that the fatwas have roots in Saudi Arabia, and imams there have issued opinions demanding that Muslims in Europe hold themselves apart from what is, in their view, a faithless world.

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