Speech of former Prime-minister Ruud Lubbers at opening Academic Year 2014-2015
Opening academic year 2014-2015
September 15th, 2014
Is the Islam in confusion and how should IUR deal with that?
Dr. Ruud Lubbers
This by myself specified title is actually incorrect. I, myself, am confused about Islam.
How could it come so far that, after Osama bin Laden was killed, still new Osama bin Ladens kept coming?
How can it be, that every year less and less is realized of the two-state solution for the Promised Land?
How was it possible that the Arab Spring so quickly seem to be a false illusion and the bloodshed, and again blood, only increase?
And it only seems to be getting worse and worse.
And so I sigh more and more: Shall it never come to an end?
Certainly, I am aware that the existential drama in the Middle East as a result of resp. response to the Shoa is becoming oppressive; and I’m not even speaking about ISIS etc.. etc..
It should be for you, as Islamic University, enormously tough to live with this reality.
It should be for Muslims, wherever they live, but especially for the Palestinians, bitter that they, now already two generations ago, first began to be expelled from their home grounds to subsequently year after year through new Jewish settlements, a wall and whatever more, receive less living space and it went on and on, while they were no part of, nor participated to the events, what in the thirties and forties of the previous century were affected to European Jews and what later was being called Shoa.
Indeed, the history of the pogroms was typically European. For me, speaking here as born and raised in these countries, it is even more bizarre. The Netherlands, the country of which you are a part now, began as the Republic of the United Netherlands. The Golden Age here was strongly aided by the inflow of Sephardic Jews from Portugal and Spain, who there were victims of persecution, of pogroms; and later on Ashkenazi Jews from Central- and Eastern-Europe contributed a lot to economic growth and prosperity here in the low countries.
Since I am talking about history now, I want to mention the earlier famous saying here: “Rather Turkish than Popish”.With this, one intended to dislike Catholics and Rome so much, that you’d be better off to be in touch with Islam, which, at that time had an important center of power in Constantinople, so in Turkey.
But now back to my title and how you as Islamic University of Rotterdam should deal with what is happening in the Arab World and in Palestine; the bloodshed. The name of your institution consists of three words: Islamic, University, and Rotterdam.
Those who count their selves to the religious community of Islam, call their selves Muslims. This country, the Netherlands, has a tradition of Arabists. These were, as I learned in high school, educated people; educated in what Islam was, how Islam was founded and how this monotheistic faith – in that one God – after Judaism and Christianity knew its Prophet Muhammad, who unlike Judaism with many prophets and Christianity, the collective name of those who mention Christ as the Son of God that became human, see Muhammad as the only, the true Prophet. Muhammad taught his followers about Allah, the only God. But he himself was holy; so holy, that what he said received its place in the Quran, the holy book of and for Muslims. Anyway, your educational institution for Muslims here in Rotterdam calls itself Islamic. For what
that means, I just gave an awkward description; very awkward, I hear you thinking.
The second word says University. That testifies to ambition; it is not about a profession education, but teaches a “belief”, one of the monotheistic faiths itself. That shall occur worldwide wherever Muslims live and where those faith communities believe that besides an Imam – he who is a predecessor in the faith, the Islam, in what is good and possible – it is also necessary to provide education in the Islam, and that even at an academic level.
You are rightly proud of the fact that you have founded the Islamic University of Rotterdam.
Now, we are in the year 2014.
I am Catholic, so born and raised as a Christian. Politically, later on I became Christian Democrat. That Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA) was established as political party in 1980. Twenty-five years later, I felt the need to be part of “Colourful”, a working group within the CDA which committed itself for non-Christians, including Muslims of course. From there I came to you, the Islamic University of Rotterdam, as a guest. And
that again led to the invitation to speak here today, at the opening of your Academic Year. That brings me back to the title of my speech here, today. Is Islam in confusion and how should you deal with that?
Important seems to me that you do not only stand in the history and tradition of Islam, but also teach how in your opinion and academic understanding how Muslims can now position their selves the best as Dutch Muslims, living and working in the Netherlands; so completely Muslim, but also completely Dutch, state citizens of the Netherlands.
You, as Islamic University of Rotterdam can do important work by making clear that Islam in this era is globally practiced anyway in a various, diverse manner.
Many Muslims live in Indonesia. There it is even the majority. Yet those Muslims will repeat me without effort to be completely Muslim, but also to be completely citizen of the Republic of Indonesia.
As in this, you could also be able to teach that there are many countries of which their names, other than the Republic of Indonesia, begin with the word Islamic and then the name of the Republic of that Law State. And then – as it seems to me – as Islamic University of Rotterdam you should pay attention to the phenomenon of Islamic States, which consciously doesnt mention the words Republic and Law State because
they only consider the Sharia to be sufficient to organize the public domain. Indeed, to oblige anyone who lives there to comply with the Sharia.
With that, an historical border is being exceeded. That is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as it was established after the Second World War, along with the abolition of Colonialism.
Also that seems to me to be perfect educational material for your University, including the reasons why that limit – just as for example in the Republic of Indonesia – should not be exceeded in the Netherlands; and that therefore Muslims who intend to cross that line cannot be Dutch state citizen; and therefore lose that citizenship and all the rights and protection associated to it.
Allow me, here speaking to the Islamic University of Rotterdam, that I am very concerned about the parents of young people, who, as I just called a historical border, still intend to cross it. They will, hearing or reading about me, say or think: “Yes, but it still remains my child.” And then I’ll say: “Yes, but your child, and other young or already grown Muslims have the benefit to know that you cannot be a Dutch state citizen if you cross that historical border, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was intended to protect all people regardless of their faith, and to say that that limit, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is of null
and void value and may not be applicable to there where they exercise power.
Here, speaking at the start of a new Academic Year of your Islamic University of Rotterdam, I would also like to plead to offer some attention to Erasmus of Rotterdam in your curriculum. He lived more than six centuries ago and stood with the English Thomas More at the foot of Humanism. It would afterwards last more than half a millennium before it came to the aforementioned Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Also then – I mean when Erasmus lived – there came a low point in human civilization. In that time Rome was for, what was called the Inquisition, to – as they said – to keep the faith pure and prosecute every religious freedom. It is good that exactly here in Rotterdam your students concisely hear about Erasmus, the Humanist, and of the Inquisition.
Also, Hitler and Stalin in their demonic shape in the first half of the last century cannot – albeit briefly – be missing in your curriculum.
That explains why crossing out the historical border of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, should mean the end of Dutch state citizenship.
Finally. Let us make no mistake. The Quran itself, that which the Prophet has taught us, gives us ample inspiration and incitements to compassion
and humanity. Let that, so the Islam and the Quran, be and remain the core of your Education and Research.
And also in the rich history of Islam, there is so much to be proud of. Speak about that.
I would also like to address to you the so-called Arab Spring, named after the birthplace of the Prophet. What a joy about that at the beginning, and what a disappointment about it later. This should give substance to think about.
It would please me if later in the Islamic World is being said: “Look, at the beginning of this century we were Muslims, followers of the Prophet and living according to the Quran, in confusion how to do that in the 21st century, so many generations after the Prophet. We, in a generation that desired to have a meaning to “Our Common Future”, the assignment of not only the past, including to what the Prophet has brought us, respect the Qur’an and let us inspire by it, but also wanted to be aware of “Our Common Future”, that of our children and grandchildren.
Look there in Rotterdam, at that time the city of Erasmus, the Humanist, there in the Netherlands Muslims are solely a minority, but there is an Islamic University which makes clear that you can be there complete Muslim, believer in the Prophet and living according to the Quran, and
at the same time state citizen of a country where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being respected.
Yes, if likewise, later, after these harsh and confusing times, in the Islamic World is spoken like this about your University, then that would please me.
And to talk courage and strength into you, I conclude with the final words of the Earth Charter.
I wish you in your life and work here, at the Islamic University, “the joyful celebration of life”.
September 15th, 2014.