Islam is Mercy: Essential Features of a Modern Religion

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© Herder Verlag

A modern reading of Islam, which systematically unfolds divine love and mercy as a theological concept beyond legalistic religion, lies at the heart of the recent publication by Mouhanad Khorchide, member of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”. In an easily understandable way, the author presents a theology of mercy as a viable alternative to a theology of obedience and fear, as is widely spread in the Islamic world. He considers Islam first and foremost as a message of mercy. The divine attribute used most frequently in the Qur'an to describe God is mercy. Mouhanad Khorchide, who addresses the problems of modern Qur'anic hermeneutics and contemporary readings of Islam, explains: “It is astonishing that this God, the all-merciful, is barely paid attention to by Islamic theology and popular belief. [...] Thus, in favour of a contemporary reading of the Qur'an, it is imperative not only to bear in mind the historical contexts of revelation, but also to develop theological criteria which could serve as guidelines and standards in dealing with the Qur'an.”

Therefore, the main theme of his recent publication is the unfolding of a theology of mercy, which aims at identifying the relationship between God and mankind as a relationship of dialogic freedom, in which God attempts to attract mankind only by means of love: [...], people He loves and who love Him, [...] (Q 5:54). The acceptance of this divine love, however, is an autonomous ‘yes’ towards His love, hence a ‘yes’ in freedom. Respecting the self-determination of the human being as an essential element of his free will, would also necessarily mean that Islamic Theology can only be rationally organised if it likewise reflects the free will of man. The book addresses the fundamental question of how to consequently explicate Islam in light of the Qur'an’s own claim, namely to be a revelation of God's mercy. The category of mercy therefore serves as a sort of hermeneutical key by which systemic questions of creation, revelation, God's actions, eschatology etc. are discussed.

Literature: Khorchide, Mouhanad: Islam ist Barmherzigkeit. Grundzüge einer modernen Religion, Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2nd edition 2016.

English e-book edition: Islam is Mercy. Essential Features of a Modern Religion, Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder 2014.