Do dreams have any meaning in Islam?

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In this interview film, YouTuber Hatice Schmidt visits Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy and talks to him about the subject of the Koran.

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[Quietly, quiet music begins to play. You can see the roofs of houses in the Maltese city of Valletta, in the background the sea and a cloudless, sunny sky. Hatice Schmidt is now standing on a terrace, a light wind is blowing through her hair. In her hand Hatice is holding a blue mug with the words "Malta" and the Maltese cross as a symbol of the country.]

Hatice: Good Morning! I'm still here in Malta, in Valletta, enjoying the unbelievably good weather, the perfect view and my tea. I am really grateful that I am allowed to do this, that it was made possible for me. And I'm also really happy that it worked out to meet another expert.

[Hatice can now be heard off-voice. The following film images can also be seen: the flag of Malta waving on a flagpole, an empty, narrow, uphill alley in the old town with parked cars, a pedestrian zone with people strolling, the port of the city with cargo ships, a fortress over the sea, the dome of a large one Church etc.]

Hatice: I read in the comments or in general on the Internet that certain Koran passages are interpreted very differently, or that certain Koran passages even call for violence. And when I read the Koran, for example, I never interpreted it to mean that I now have to use violence. Therefore I am pleased to have Prof. Dr. Meet Ömer Özsoy. I hope that he can answer these and other questions about the Koran and give me his own perspective on the Koran.

Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy is a theologian and professor of Koran exegesis at the University of Frankfurt. And now I have to read that out to you briefly: "He is considered to be one of the leading Koran exegetes in Europe and in particular stands for an examination of the Koran from the perspective of a historical-critical Koran hermeneutics."

Now that I have read "Exegesis of the Koran", I would like to include it. also ask what that means. And that's exactly why I'm meeting the professor in the upper Baraka garden. Because there should be a wonderful view there.

[Again soft music plays while Hatice can still be heard off-voice. The following pictures can be seen: Hatice and Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy is leaning against the railing of a viewing terrace with his back to the camera and talking. Then the two of them stroll through the arches and paths of the Baraka Garden, past benches and a fountain, while they continue to talk animatedly.]

Hatice: Before I met Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy asked my questions, he offered me the "you" and we talked about all kinds of things. About dreams, for example. And also a little bit about the Koran. Ömer told me that for Muslims the Koran is God's last revelation in the world. This revelation came gradually over a period of around 23 years in the 7th century, and it was proclaimed to the first listeners by the prophet Mohammed ibn 'Abd Allah as an oral word first in the city of Mecca, then in the city of Medina. The first recipients of the revelation during this period were not readers of the Koran, but listeners. This also explains that the word "Koran" comes from the verb "recite, recite" and means "lecture". But of course I also asked my questions.

[Hatice can now be seen in close-up in front of an antique brick wall and speaks directly into the camera. With a curious expression on her face, she asks her first question and underlines it with lively hand movements.]

Hatice: Is the Koran like a poem in German lessons where everyone can interpret freely? Or is the Koran so written down in its interpretations as the book, the "Koran", is written down?

[Now Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy can be seen in a blue shirt with the top button open and the sleeves rolled up. Sometimes we see him a little closer, to the left behind him a building with columns and the roofs of the city. In some settings the camera moves a few steps backwards so that Prof. Dr. Özsoy can be seen leaning on the railing of the garden terrace with one elbow. He looks at someone who is invisible, speaks lively, but also thoughtfully. The name "Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy" is displayed in handwriting on the right. While we Prof. Dr. Hear Özsoy speak, every now and then we briefly see a cut to Hatice, who is listening attentively.]

Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy: The Koran is a finished book, which means on the one hand stable and on the other hand limited. That means we are not able to continue writing the Koran. But history continues and gives us new problems, new circumstances, new questions to which we as Muslims want and should respond. This state of affairs has challenged and preoccupied Muslim scholarship, beginning with the first generation and immediately after the Prophet's death - because the revelation did not go on. And Muslim scholarship has resorted to different mechanisms and instruments in order not to continue writing the Koran, but to make the Koran speak again in relation to the new circumstances and questions.

At this point it is important to point out that the first generations perceived and experienced the Koran as a revelation, as a salutation, as a current dialogue. And therefore, in their perception, the Koran from the Sunnah, i.e. H. was not considered separately from the first practice, from the first interpretation of revelation by the prophet, by the early church.

[Hatice is shown.]

Hatice: I met with Bekim Agai in the last episode and talked about Islamic history. Therefore, to start with, the question: Can you say when the Koran, i.e. the book, was written?

[Prof. Dr. Özsoy can be seen, in between a cut to Hatice.]

Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy: The Koran in the form we have today is already a written book. But it wasn't originally. It was only after the Prophet's death that the need arose to put the Koran between two covers and to prepare a standard text. Because the text of the Koran was in private hands until the death of the Prophet, until the time of the first Caliph Abu Bakr. And he hired a commission to make a copy based on these private copies and the memories of people who knew the Koran by heart. That was done in 633. But due to the still primitive writing technique of Arabic at that time, but also partly due to the different dialects and other factors, the need arose again under the third Caliph Osman to reduce the variety in the spelling and reading of the Koran to the minimum. In terms of our terminology: To turn the Qur'an into a canonical text from the many different versions of the Qur'an.

Osman has again formed a commission with the task of producing a canonical text on the basis of the Mushaf, i.e. H. of Abu Bakr's copy. This standard text has been reproduced. One copy remained in Medina in the Caliphate. Others were sent to other centers in the empire, so that all later handwritten and printed editions of the Koran from today can be traced back to this editorial work under Caliph Osman and therefore naturally also claim to go back to the time of the Prophet.

In the last studies on the surviving Koran manuscripts in various libraries around the world, including the university library in Tübingen, it was found through radiocarbon analysis that the manuscripts that are still preserved today are actually even older than we previously suspected, and some of them go back to this time of Osman.

[Now Hatice can be seen again, underscoring her next question with strong gestures.]

Hatice: Since the last episode I have thought a lot about the fact that Islamic history is a process. Is that the same with the Koran? Is the Koran always being reinterpreted? And who is it?

[Again Prof. Dr. Özsoy in the picture. Hatice is shown listening briefly.]

Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy: The first interesting question would be what the Qur'an actually said in its time of creation, the time of revelation. In the Islamic tradition of science, the so-called Tefsir science, the Koran exegesis, is responsible for this question. But the answers to this question only give us what the Koran said at the time. A second possible question would be existentially more interesting for Muslims: what what the Koran said then could mean for me today. It goes without saying that the interpretations, opinions or answers to this question diverge and a variety emerges. Therefore, in the Islamic context, one cannot speak of an authoritative body such as the church, which should then decide what is actually meant and what can legitimately be derived from the Koran today.

[Cut to Hatice]

Hatice: How can I deal with the Koran today?

[Most of the time, Prof. Dr. Özsoy in the picture, but also Hatice is shown more often listening.]

Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy: I would advise lay readers of the Koran that they should not trust any translations of the Koran or only one translation of the Koran. If you compare any passage in two different Quran translations you would understand what I mean.

How do we read other texts, human texts? We ask about the author's intention, we ask about the context. But somehow you don't usually do that when reading the Koran. There are cases where we should say: No, that is not possible. How in modern times the Koran text is interpreted or misinterpreted in all possible directions, excluding the context of the respective Koran passages. One should be careful there. What is really exegesis, what is Eisegesis.

[Hatice can be seen asking her question with an expression half embarrassed, half excited.]

Hatice: Sorry for asking, but what exactly does "exegesis" mean?

[Cut back to Prof. Dr. Özsoy]

Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy: "Exegesis" means "interpreting", interpreting a meaning from the text. But "Eisegese" means reading my context into the text. That happens very often, especially in modern times.

[The camera shows Hatice again.]

Hatice: I have the feeling that in current discussions about the Koran certain passages are interpreted in such a way that they call for violence, or that the violence is excused with certain passages. Personally, I've never read it like that, but what is the Koran about it now?

[Cut back to Prof. Dr. Özsoy]

Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy: At the moment, like many of my colleagues, I see an alliance between Muslim hate preachers and non-Muslim Islam haters in this context: Both sides insist on reading the Koran and such passages of the Koran or women-related passages of the Koran anachronistically. Namely, without reference to their contexts and the situations in which they were revealed. To turn the Koran into a religion of violence or a religion of blood. The Koran was not written in a vacuum, but was revealed in a time when wars were being waged. All these peaceful or warlike relationships were not only observed by the Koran, but accompanied and guided. In the end we have the result that we have traces of these times in the Koran, which we cannot simply transfer to today, but should classify and understand them in their context. Then it is easy to see that the Koranic revelation actually, even in these warlike and powerful-sounding statements, aims at a peaceful world. But you can only hear or read that out with a historical reading of the Koran.

We can say that Muslims are not only authorized to interpret the Koran, but they are obliged to do so. To make the Koran speak in its time and context. And diversity emerges again in the discourse. And to live with this diversity is the original Islamic tradition.

[Soft music starts playing. The sea and horizon of the city of Valletta can be seen again, on the right in the picture the city fortress. The waves, the shadows of the clouds visible on the water and the boats moving through the picture flicker in time-lapse optics. Then you can see how the large shutters of a balcony room are closed. The gap through which the light falls becomes smaller and smaller until it is finally completely dark in the room. Then a fully packed suitcase, then a blue front door of a house, is closed by Hatice's hand. The camera moves through a narrow alley in a moving car, only a thin strip of sky can be seen upwards. Now the car is moving along a wider street, in the next picture Hatice can be seen sitting in the plane. We can see the start of the plane through the small airplane window, it is now dark. The speed of the accelerating aircraft turns water droplets on the panes into shimmering silver streaks. The camera goes out of focus and the lights of the airport turn into blurry circles of different colors. Hatice can now be seen in a beige coat in front of an airport building, it is night. She speaks directly into the camera, while the following texts, written in white handwriting, appear next to her: "Many thanks to the Federal Agency for Civic Education", "My journey continues next week - I hope with you" and a small heart symbol. ]

Hatice: I'm back in cold Germany and I had a super exciting trip. I would like to thank everyone again, Ömer, the Federal Agency for Civic Education, which made this trip possible for me. Even if this journey now feels a bit like it is over, the journey is only just beginning. I will meet a lot of other experts. No matter where they are, I'll find them all and ask them. That means there will be more parts to follow. I hope that you will definitely be there. And if you still have questions about this episode, then knock everything into the comments. Because the Federal Agency for Civic Education provides us with experts who accompany us a little on this trip with our questions. And if you still want general information, check the info box again. I would like to thank you for tune in and hope that you will also be there for the next episodes! [Finally we see the handwritten message "Thank you very much for watching!" against the blurred background of the shot of Hatice before

additional Information

  • Editing, editing, camera, script, music, sound: Meimberg GmbH

  • Speaker: Hatice Schmidt, Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy

  • Scientific advice: Saliha Kubilay, Marie Meimberg, Prof. Dr. Armina Omerika

  • Interview partner: Prof. Dr. Ömer Özsoy

  • Production: 22/10/2015

  • Playing time: 00:14:31

  • ed. by: Federal Agency for Civic Education



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