Thursday, May 31, 2012

Woman trains as Iman in Germany

Feature: Die Predigerin des Islam - Nachrichten Newsticker - News3 (DAPD) - WELT ONLINE

Hilal Sandikci preaches Islam, because she is looking for answers. She cannot stand open questions. Since Secondary School in Herten near Recklinghausen, the 23-year-old has been occupied with the Koran, which offers plenty of room for interpretation, and the religion that is so complex. Meanwhile, it has become a profession.

Hilal Sandikci was trained as a female Iman in a Turkish Cultural Centre. Since then, she teaches the Muslim faith to Turkish people. Because she wanted to preach Islam, but also in German, in parallel with her A-levels, she took the training for Imans.

"I've learned a lot from the training for imams," she says. "I have been given structures of how I respond and react to situations." They also can call on the instructor at any time and ask how what verse is to be interpreted. For Sandikci, the program is just a further step. As a further step, in autumn she will be one of the first students to study Islamic theology in Osnabrück. This is her dream.

Sandikci wears a long brown skirt to just above the ankles, and hands and face are unveiled. A scarf covers her hair. "This is required by the Koran," she says as she sits in a café in front of the Osnabrück-Islam Centre. Around her neck she wears a necklace with a bronze amulet. 
Depicted on it is an Arabic letter. In the Latin alphabet, it says "Waw", the symbol of the "servant of God." It is her life's motto: Be humble and live to serve God. So "Waw" was also chosen for the screen for her Facebook profile. She likes the symbol because "the baby in the womb has the form of Waw".

In order to realize their dream of a college degree, Sandikci was a year ago at the Emscher-Lippe training college in Gelsenkirchen. There was a fateful encounter. Actually it was only because of Islamist extremists that she entered the training program for imams in Osnabrück.

In her class was a Salafist. He blustered: "Women must obey men" or "You come all to hell. I just want to help you.." The Islamist hardliners put the Quran literally and threw a bad light on their religion, says Sandikci.

When she comes from a course of training program for imams, in whuch the director of the Islamic Institute, Bülent Ucar encourages Muslims to distance themselves from religious extremists, she said: "It made me angry that I got could not argue against it in German in front of my classmates ."

She talked to a student adviser about Gelsenkirchen, who then advised her about the program that educates the imams through the medium of German. In Osnabrück, she found "support for arguments, which can show to the Germans that we are not like that", and learned that Germany's largest institute of Islamic theology is being developed there.

In the time until the start of the course this winter semester, she takes in parallel to the school twice a month the training program for imams and hopes that with her education, professional experience and the programme, she will be accepted as admission. The course in Gelsenkirchen only finishes in 2014. She won't wait that long. She is impatient. She wants to get through the study of Islam as soon as possible in order to answer the open questions her faith brings with it.
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