Excerpt:

Imam Sidigullah Fadai gives other imams lessons in civic duties. He believes it would be un-Islamic not to obey the laws of the country you live in.

But he also has an insight into what goes on in many mosques, and who is saying what. And German laws are not always the measure of things, he says: "Insiders say that there's a parallel justice system pertaining to all areas of life." Particularly when marital or family problems are at stake, what imams or self-appointed "judges" have to say often provides the moral compass, he says.

Fadai himself knows of young Muslim women who are divorced and would like to remarry but cannot because they are obeying the law imposed by a local religious figure. He also says that money conflicts -- for example, when a worker without papers has a salary issue with the person who's hired him -- are sometimes solved in backroom situations within the Muslim community to protect all concerned, none of whom wish to put the matter before a Bavarian court. In such instances, a judge is called in.


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