What You Should Know about Annemarie Schimmel’s pioneering take on Islam

The late Islamic German scholar Orientalism, Annemarie Schimmel, is one of the most important features of which is openness to the other.


Never before has any orientalist received such a level of appreciation as Mary Schimmel, a researcher of Islamic sciences, since everyone, especially Muslims, respects her for her superior abilities in dealing purely objectively with Arab and Islamic culture, and for making every effort to nullify the malicious claims, which Some tried to fabricate it against the true Islamic religion.


Anne Marie Schimmel was born in the German city of Erfurt in 1922 and mastered the Arabic language at the age of fifteen. After studying Islamic sciences, Arabic language, and literature, she obtained a doctorate and then a professorship in 1946, at the age of twenty-four, from the University of Berlin.

In 1954 she was appointed as a professor of Islamic history at Ankara University, after which she moved to Harvard University in the US to work as a professor of Indo-Islamic cultural sciences for more than twenty-five years.
In 1995 Annemarie Schimmel was awarded the German Publishers Prize, and to celebrate her 75th birthday the Institute of Oriental Sciences at the University of Bonn was named after her.

During her lifetime, the German Lady of Orientalism received the highest honors and awards from both inside and outside Germany. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Tehran in 1990. Schimmel is known to be one of the most knowledgeable German orientalists in Islam.

She had contributed, to a qualitative shift in the German school of Orientalism. One of the most important features of this shift is an objective and positive openness to Islamic culture and an awareness of the importance of civilized dialogue and intellectual communication with the other.

In many of her books, the late German Orientalist looked to Sufism as a bridge between religions and civilizations. She also saw that Sufism is not just a romantic asceticism that is limited to the negation of the world, but rather that it is a revival of hearts and a renunciation of meaning over what has no meaning. What we desperately need today for people of all races, religions, and cultures is to live together in peace.

Before her death in 2003, the German Lady of Orientalism refused that the values ​​of understanding, for which she had dedicated her life, go unheeded. Therefore, she recommended her life companions always meet in a forum for religious and cultural dialogue, with the ultimate goal of linking bridges of friendship and understanding between Europe and the Islamic world.

Lady of Orientalism Crossing Intercultural Boundaries

The dream of Marie Schimmel has begun to come true, as two people from two different cultures and religions chair the Anne Marie Schimmel Forum for Religious and Cultural Dialogue.

They are Afghani Ghulam Totakhil, former head of the Muslim Council of Germany, and German Klaus Leveringhausen, former commissioner of the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia for the integration of immigrants.

In an interview, both the two people affirm the highest values ​​that unite them, which is mutual respect despite the difference in faith. Marie Schimmel’s path is the path of dialogue and discussion, and that encourages representatives of religions and cultures in one forum to serve peace. The final goal of Schimmel’s forums is to “avoid the outbreak of conflicts between civilizations.

Many people believe that Marie Schimmel’s cultural heritage belongs to all humanity, so it is open to the cultures of the world. The Schimmel method, says that if you want to get to know a culture and its nature, you have to get to know it from the inside, and not take special criteria to judge the other.”

It is well known that Ms. Schimmel has moved away from the methods of scientific research, which are limited to analysis and dividing the whole into parts so that the other can be understood. Therefore, she was able to understand the Islamic culture as a whole by getting close to it and its children.

People held a global conference under the name “East and West – Alternatives to the Clash of Civilizations”. This conference received great attention from the German media and public opinion.

Another conference under the title “The Development of Islamic Thought and European Enlightenment”, in the presence of many distinguished international figures from the fields of science, politics, media, and economics was held.

A symposium on “Integration of Islamic culture and European civilizations” was organized to show through it how the Europeans and Muslims worked together throughout history to enrich each other. The world belongs to everyone, so we have to benefit from each other.”

The Qur’an and the Bible are God’s heavenly books

Presenting a correct image of Islam is also a preoccupation for those in charge of the forum. “We want to present Western societies with an objective image of Islam and not just a cosmetic image,” Totakhil said.

“Because of the behavior of some Muslims and the distortion of the image of Islam in the West, some European media outlets, on the one hand, and security agencies and some politicians, on the other, have led to the European public opinion having a distorted view of Islam.

This is because of discussing difficult issues that are not of importance, and as a result, Islamic public opinion turned against the West, and western public opinion turned against the Muslims.

It was possible to avoid these problems from the beginning, so we want to talk about Islam objectively, and we also want to talk about the image of the West among Muslims, and we must not forget that the image of the West among Muslims is not free of incorrect perceptions”. Totakhil said.


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