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Guest comment: 100 years of the Constitution and the Koran

Austria celebrates the 100th anniversary of its federal constitution. This is not only an occasion to pay tribute to and respect the constitution, but also to position an important issue relating to Islam in Europe. There are politicizing and extremist ideologies that interpret the Koran politically and see in it a "constitution" that stands above the national constitution. Such currents create uncertainty and confusion, and indeed among not a few Muslims. They warn Muslims against putting human laws above divine ones, as if man-made constitutions were in competition with the Koran.

At the same time, anti-Islamic extremist groups generally deny Muslims loyalty to the constitution and the basic democratic order. With the help of the politicizing interpretations of the Koran, they incite against Muslims.

On such an important issue, both Muslims and the majority society need clarity, also in order to break down barriers in dialogue and to get closer. One must not leave the interpretation sovereignty to the extremists. Unfortunately, there is a lack of clear statements and perhaps also the courage. An intensive theological, didactic and social discussion of such topics would be necessary in order to reduce the confusion among Muslims and in the majority society.

The Austrian Constitution - beginning with its first article: "Austria is a democratic republic. Its rights come from the people" - is based on the understanding that all people, regardless of religion, but also without religious denomination, share with one another. Principles such as democracy, the rule of law, the separation of powers and human rights are elementary framework conditions for peaceful coexistence. You do not contradict the Koran.

The Koran does not claim to be a constitution.

The Koran does not speak out against modern democracy. Rather, it does not require a specific form of government. For Muslims it is a source of spiritual power and is defined by its name as the book of guidance, mercy and light. The term "constitution" is not mentioned for him. The Koran also does not have the character of a constitution. The language of the constitution is clear and unambiguous, after all, it should not become the pawn of lawyers and politicians. The Koran is different: Part of its linguistic "miracle character" is that it contains unambiguous and ambiguous verses (Koran 3: 7). Individual verses only consist of separate letters. That is unimaginable in a constitution.

Those who see a constitution in the Koran also regard the Charter of Medina - the initiative of Muhammad for the coexistence of ethnic groups and religions in Medina - as a constitution (ar. Dustur al-Madina). That is a contradiction: the Koran and the charter cannot be the constitution at the same time. In truth, neither are. The modern state, including the constitution, is an achievement of modernity.

If every religion were to put its own script above the constitution, peaceful coexistence would be impossible. The Austrian constitution enables this kind of coexistence - for all people.