For centuries, Christian Europe experienced both conflict and coexistence with Islam. As the Ottoman Turkey’s collapse ended the conflict, the coexistence took the lead until the end of the Cold War. The end of the Cold War saw the highjack of Islam by quasi-Muslims leading the fight for a “true” Islam. Their fight brought to a holt Muslim’s integration into un-Muslim cultures.
Post 9/11 Europe is experiencing anti-Western Islamic discourses of Salafi origin. As a transnational religious-political movement within Sunni Islam, Salafism influences the current debate on the “true” Islam. Its interpretation of the religion reinforces incompatibility between the West and Islam. Though false, the Salafi argument is also becoming stronger by the existing Islamophobia.
Despite the radical interpretations coming from both sides, European Islam continues to exist. The adjustment of Muslims’ practices to Europe’s post-Enlightenment values and norms such as human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and gender equality still constitutes European Islam. Similar to grafting, an operation bringing together two unconnected worlds by integrating them into the coherent whole of a body, European Islam bridges it’s a religious and secular base.
In the European context, Islam tradition meets its limits by the requirements relevant in current circumstances; the tradition of Islam in Europe exist according to Muslims living in the Western cultures. European Islam is a system of coherent contradictions, enjoying the flexible interpretation of being Muslim or Islamic according to time and place even when this appears as a contradiction in terms. These ambiguity and plurality both in theory and practice of Islam are present for centuries within the Islamic world.
European Islam is not un-Islamic. It is in line with the Hanafi school of religious jurisprudence (fiqh). As one of the four major schools (madhhab) of Sunni Islamic legal reasoning and repositories of positive law, the Hanafi school recognize, as a legitimate, use of discretionary reasoning (ra’y) in cases where the strict application of fiqh’s analogy would be against something good (istihsan).
Accordingly, rationalism in Islamic jurisprudence signifies a perception of an attitude toward legal issues that are dictated by rational, pragmatic, and practical considerations. It is substantive legal reasoning that, for the most part, does not directly ground itself in Quran, the Islamic sacred book, nor Sunna, the example and customary practice of the Prophet Muhammad. Instead, legitimacy lays down in the persons of those men who had profound knowledge of, and fashions their lives after, the example of the Prophet and the exemplary forefathers (ulema).