Institutionalization and Integration
of Islam in The Netherlands
W.A. Shadid & P.S. van Koningsveld

Published in: Shadid, W. & P.S. Van Koningsveld (Eds.):
The Integration of Islam and Hinduism in Western Europe,
Kok Pharos Publishing House, Kampen, 1991,pp. 89-121.

© No part of this article may be reproduced or copied without
acknowledgement of the authors  and source

Prayer-halls and mosques: the development of their functions
In The Netherlands Muslims have organized themselves primarily in communities centered around prayer-halls or mosques. In some cases it is difficult to make a clear distinction between these two institutions. A mosque can be defined as a building in which each of the five daily prayers prescribed by Islam are performed collectively and on a regular basis under the guidance of an imam who has been entrusted with that task by the community. He need not necessarily be the only person of the community to perform this task, but may share this function with other members, according to a scheme of roulation. All other places, even though destined for the performance of Islamic prayers as well, which do not fulfill the aforementioned requirements, can be called prayer-halls.
The history of Islam in The Netherlands shows many examples of local communities moving from the initial stage of a prayer-hall (often being nothing more than a room set apart for the collective performance of the salat) towards the more advanced stage of a mosque, e.g. by appointing an imam and by having found a more suitable accommodation. In the early days of the presence of Islam in Holland communities often rented accommodations to be used for religious worship, on a temporary basis. Later on, more permanent solutions were found, e.g. in acquiring empty buildings (sometimes churches, school buildings or old factories) and, finally, also in founding completely new ones.
Based on the information provided by the existing Muslim umbrella organizations, the total number of mosques and prayer-halls in Holland may presently be estimated at circa 300. A list of the addresses of these mosques, compiled in the spring of 1990, shows that they are distributed over a total number of 128 towns. In the three big cities of the country one finds rather high concentrations of mosques, which is in accordance with the demographical distribution of the Muslims in Holland: 29 in Amsterdam, 26 in Rotterdam and 21 in The Hague. Most mosques and prayer-halls are organized on an ethnical basis. Thus, 134 of them are Turkish, 104 Moroccan, 21 Surinamese, 6 Pakistani, 4 Surinamese-Javanese, 2 Moluccan, 1 is Indonesian, 1 Egyptian and 1 Dutch. The number of mosques and prayer-halls organized on a multi-ethnic or “international” basis may be estimated at 18, only. With rare exceptions, these multi-ethnic places of worship are to be found in smaller towns or villages with no more than one mosque or prayer-hall. Apparently, in these cases the limited number of Muslim inhabitants did not allow for the establishment of organizations based on one single nationality only. In towns with two mosques or prayer-halls one usually finds a splitting up of the Muslims along ethnic lines. In larger communities a further step in the splitting up-process according to doctrinal “denominations” within a single ethnic group becomes a possibility feasible. This can generally be observed in towns with three or more mosques. Thus, in the town of Helmond there exist two Moroccan and two Turkish mosques, both of these pairs representing distinctive religious denominations. Obviously, then, there does exist a causal connection between the numerical basis of the Muslim community in a given town on the one hand, and the degree to which it splits up in the founding of mosques and prayer-halls based on ethnic and denominational patterns, on the other. The greater the number of Muslims, the more diversified the basis of its religious organization may become.
Parallel to the development from prayer-hall to mosque, and from multi-ethnic and multi-denominational towards mono-ethnic and mono-denominational organizations, runs an increase in the functional aspects of these basic religious institutions of the local communities. At the very beginning the first and foremost function of this form of institutionalization of Islam was to take care of the need for religious services, first of all during Ramadan and other important moments in the Islamic calendar, later on on Fridays and on the other days of the week as well. Quite logically, the foundation of these places of worship, where scattered Muslims would join in prayer, at the same time implied the creation of social spaces where new contacts could be made on the basis of a common religious identity. It seems that the value of performing religious services collectively, on the one hand, and the need to create social networks based on a common identity, and especially within the new, non-Muslim environment, on the other, were in fact the two most important factors stimulating the initial phases of the institutionalization process.
To the aforementioned basically religious and social functions of these places of worship the task to cater for elementary religious education of the communities' children was soon to be added, especially -as in the case of the Turkish and Moroccan migrants- when women and children were being reunited with their fathers within the framework of the official family reunion schedule, which from the end of the seventies onwards formed part of the official policy of the Dutch Government. However, Muslims settling in The Netherlands from former colonies, such as Surinam, usually arrived together with their families and, in contrast with the migrant workers from Morocco and Turkey, settled in Holland on a permanent basis right from the start. The case of these Hindustani and Javanese Muslims from Surinam is therefore a different one from that of the Moroccans and Turks. First of all, they are more familiar with the language, institutions and values of Dutch society. Secondly, many of them, especially from among the Hindustani Muslims, have a trader-background. Their long-standing experience in organising and administering their own affairs has made them well-equipped for the task. In their case, therefore, processes of religious institutionalization were far less gradual, the need for elementary religious education of their children also existing right from the start of their immigration.
Obviously, one had to find persons qualified to perform these educational tasks. In many cases the initial religious instruction provided by the communities was given by volunteers, e.g. by qualified persons from various Muslim countries, already having lived in The Netherlands for some time, for a variety of reasons. Soon, however, solutions had to be looked for on a more structural and permanent basis. The best way to provide for these needs was, of course, to appoint an imam who, apart from his tasks during the daily religious services, could function as a teacher to the children as well.
The increase in community life stimulated by the mosques, not only in the course of religious services but also as the result of the religious instruction offered during weekends and days off, were but to enhance the central role played by the mosque as a place of gathering in the daily life of the community. In the countries of origin many culturally defined institutions used to exist in complete or nearly complete separation from the mosques. These institutions were, however, lacking completely in Holland. Endowing the mosques in Holland with some of the functions of this absent infrastructure, was not only a logical but also a constructive solution, because in doing so one was in fact granting further material support to the maintenance of the mosques, and therefore of Muslim community life. As a result, mosque buildings in Holland were to be used for various kinds of religiously coloured feasts and ceremonies not usually celebrated in or around mosque buildings in the Muslim world itself, such as wedding parties, circumcisions and mourning ceremonies. In addition to this, attached to many mosques (especially the Turkish ones) there are shops owned by the Muslim organization which are selling religious objects (including books) and products from the countries of origin. Obviously, these shops add to the social and financial basis of the community life centered around the mosque.

The Dutch Government and Islam
A factor stimulating the development towards an even greater plurality of functions of mosque buildings was and still is the general policy of the Dutch Government to abstain from subsidizing purely religious activities, while at the same time granting financial support to various social and cultural activities of a more or less “general” nature, such as courses in all kinds of subjects, even when taking place in the buildings of churches or mosques. By initiating many of these activities Muslims could, just as in the case of Dutch church communities, indirectly strengthen the financial and social basis of their community life. In addition to this, Dutch mosque communities, in analogy to churches and synagogues, are exempted from paying taxes on their real estate.
In its Note of Minorities of 1983 the Dutch Government says to strive for a society in which the members of the minority groups living in Holland, individually and as groups, will have equal opportunities and full chances of developing. Its policy is to aim at creating the conditions required for emancipation and participation in society. At the same time this policy aims at reducing the social and economic arrearage as well as at preventing and fighting the discrimination of minority groups. The Government acknowledges that in the process of constructing a “multicultural society” it is necessary to take into account the cultural, including the religious, background of minority groups. Its policy implies an equal respect for the religious convictions of the various groups in Dutch society, including the Muslims. In conclusion, as a general starting-point of its policy, the Government stresses that “Religion fulfills a function in developing and enforcing the self-respect and hence the emancipation of many members of ethnic groups” (Minderhedennota 1983: 10,107,110)
At the same time, however, it is clear that the Government must put this policy into practice within a constitutional and legal framework which, as far as the official place of religion in Dutch society is concerned, is the result of a long and complex historical development in the relations between Church and State. First of all, the fundamental principle of the separation between Church and State tends to play an increasingly central role in The Netherlands. Secondly, there are the major constitutional principles of the freedom of religion and the prohibition of discrimination on the basis, among others, of religion. These principles in fact qualify, to a large extent, the real space available to the Government in translating its political principles into actual measures. This will become clear in various sections of the present chapter, just as in the case of the issue regarding the subsidizing of mosques.
The national Government actually did subsidize the foundation of a certain number of mosques and prayer-halls, be it to a limited extent. In 1976, the Global regulation with regard to the subsidizing of prayer-halls was issued, by which Muslim communities consisting of a membership of at least a 1000 could claim a subsidy of 30% of the costs of foundation, the maximum amount of the subsidy per mosque having been set at fl. 30.000. This regulation followed the abolition, in 1975, of the Bill of Subsidies for the Building of Churches of 1962, which, in its turn, had been a sequel to previously existing laws providing for subsidies regarding the founding of churches (including synagogues). The abolition of the subsidizing of the foundation of churches by the state, in 1975, in itself was the result of the increasing value attached by Dutch politicians to a full application of the principle of separation between religion and the state. At the same time, however, Government circles realised that a growing need for houses of worship existed among Muslims, who, in view of their recent coming to Holland, with one exception only, had been unable to profit by subsidy regulations that had been available to the Church for an extended period of time. Here lies the origin of the already-mentioned “Regulation” of 1976 which right from the start was to be a temporary one, its date of expiration having been set at the beginning of 1981. A new “Temporary regulation” which was to expire on January 1,1984, was issued at the beginning of 1981. It differed from that of 1976 in that the latter no longer stipulated that the Muslim community filing a request should consist of at least a 1000 members. The two regulations have provided subsidies for 31 and 69 places of worship respectively. In addition to the already mentioned conditions, both regulations, however, were exclusively meant for “Muslims from among the foreign workers”, thus excluding, among others, the numerous Muslim communities from Surinam (Religieuze voorzieningen: 1983,98, and Hirsch Ballin: 1988,79-80). However, the Moluccan Christian and Muslim communities, consisting of expatriate soldiers and their families from the former Dutch East-Indies who had been brought to Holland by the Dutch Government after the decolonization on a temporary basis and with the promise to be taken back after the establishment of a free Moluccan Republic, received full subsidies for the construction of houses of worship granted them by a special regulation which, apart from a number of churches, has yielded two new mosques, in 1984 and 1990.
The subsidizing of mosques by the national Government was brought to an end by two motions in the Lower House, in 1984 and 1986, filed by representatives of the Labour Party (P.v.d.A.) and of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (V.V.D.). First of all, in 1984 a motion by an MP of the Christian Democratic Party (C.D.A.), inviting the Government to study the possibility of continuing the subsidizing of places of worship for minority groups, while at the same time respecting the principle of the separation of Church and State, was rejected. This was followed by a counter-motion in which the two previously mentioned parties argued, things, that “the task of the Government with regard to religion should be limited, whereby all emphasis should be lying on guaranteeing the freedom of a philosophy of life”; and also “that a selective policy to stimulate particular religious groups [viz. the Moroccan and Turkish Muslims] is unacceptable”. When in 1986 the Minister of Culture proposed to create the possibility to subsidize the foundation of buildings which could be used both for sociocultural as well as for strictly religious purposes this was explicitly judged to be contradictory to the principle of separation of Church and State.
However, this was not to be the end of the debate. The advisory committee, called after its president the Hirsch Ballin State Committee, in its report published in 1988 again advocated a new, temporary regulation for the subsidizing of houses of worship for minority groups. It was argued that these religious groups, in contrast to the established churches, had hardly been able to profit by any support of the State so far. The elimination of this form of arrearage of these groups was simply to be looked upon as a matter of equal treatment and justice. According to the committee the principle of the separation of religion and state would not necessarily be infringed upon by such a regulation, as long as the independence and confessional freedom of the religious societies were respected and all religious or philosophical convictions were treated on a strictly equal basis (Hirsch Ballin: 1988,81-85). So far, however, the Government has not put into practice the advise of the said State Committee. In an address of 14 September 1990 the Minister of the Interior, explaining the Government's policy towards minorities, their religions included, quietly passed over the recommendations of the Hirsch Ballin Committee but stressed the fact that “in matters of religion and religious observance the Dutch Government pursues a policy of non-involvement”. Nevertheless, she suggested at the same time that “account could be taken in [municipal,Sh-vK] development plans of sites for places of worship and other buildings intended for use by Muslim or Hindu organizations, but that is not to say that a municipality should renounce its policy on leasing out land in such cases”.
The policy the Minister was advocating in this address was that of the equal treatment of all religious groups, as the municipalities are already used to taking into account the needs of churches when drawing up their development plans. They are also used to leasing the land for the foundation of churches and other religious buildings, a policy which in the case of the construction of mosques has incidentally created some difficulties, viz. when Muslim organizations insisted upon buying the land on grounds derived from Islamic law. Sometimes, as in the case of the establishment of a Turkish mosque in The Hague, a compromise was found with the city indeed selling the land, but while stipulating the right to be the first buyer in case of any future transaction. In addition to this it should be mentioned that many local authorities have been helpful, in one way or another, in establishing places of worship. In 1983 the Waardenburg Committee advised, among others, that the local administrations should place some of the premises owned by them at the disposal of Muslim organizations and enable them to establish a place of worship there.
Notwithstanding these numerous efforts of the municipalities, the attitude of the Minister of the Interior towards the renewed subsidizing of the foundation of mosques, proposed by the Hirsch Ballin Committee, has however remained in the dark so far. But even if the Government should decide to carry out the committee's recommendations, then such a measure would still be primarily symbolical. The amounts of funds at stake are rather limited, and the bulk of the finances needed for the foundation of mosques will continue to remain the burden of the communities themselves.
The institutionalization of the mosques within the Dutch legal system was also crystallized in jurisprudence resulting from conflicts concerning the transformation of existing buildings into mosques. In some cases local authorities and individual citizens have tried to prevent this. Various objections have been raised. Thus, it was brought forward that a mosque did not belong in old, densely populated areas at all. It was also said that the mere presence of a mosque would imply a disturbance of the peace in residential areas. Local authorities have sometimes based themselves on the existing municipal development plans, in which no room for a mosque had been envisaged. So far, however, all the verdicts of the Dutch courts known to the present authors have been in favour of the Muslims, on the basis of various considerations. In one case the verdict stated that a municipal development plan could not prohibit acts of religious worship within a building. In another case the verdict stipulated that the establishment of a mosque could not be said to cause any disturbance of the peace nor to entail any deterioration of the residential environment. In these cases the interests of the Muslim communities wanting to establish new mosques in existing buildings were obviously protected by the constitutional principle of religious freedom.7 The same holds true for the official acknowledgement of the right to publicly perform the Muslim call for prayer, in the Bill of Public Manifestations issued in 1988.
All this does not imply, however, that the foundation of mosques and the public performance of prayer-calls are easily accepted by the surrounding neighborhoods or by Dutch society as a whole, including, in some cases, local governments. By far the majority of the conflicts in fact never do reach the courts, as could be illustrated by many examples. To mention just one case, in 1986 a conflict arose between the municipal authorities of the city of Zwolle and the local Surinamese Muslim community. The authorities did not want to take the objections of the community into consideration against their decision to house a local branch of the Dutch Gay Society in a room, to be used as a club, adjacent to the rooms of the Muslims which were in use both as a prayer-hall and a class-room for the religious education of the children. Only after an emotional debate which was even discussed in the national media (including TV), a compromise was finally reached (Shadid and Van Koningsveld: Zwolle 1986).

The functions of the imam and his legal position
Most Dutch mosques have been organized in accordance with the legal form of a foundation or a society, presided over by a board of governors. The members of the board usually take care of the financial interests of the mosque, and of its maintenance. Unless special arrangements have been made with the Government of the country of origin, the imam of the mosque is appointed by the board. The tasks of the board lie both outside and inside the mosque. Those of the imam, however, are mainly internal and they are -in contrast to those of the members of the board- specifically concerned with the knowledge and application of the values of Islamic religion. Members of the board should be able to manage the mosque and to communicate and negotiate with the surrounding non-Muslim society. To this purpose fluency in the Dutch language and knowledge and an understanding of Dutch law and society are, among others, required. It is not surprising, then, that many of the board members have already lived in The Netherlands for a long period of time. The imams, on the other hand, can hardly be expected to have the just-mentioned communicative bi-cultural abilities, first of all because many of them -in the absence of a sufficient number of men in Holland who are qualified for the post- have been recruited comparatively recently in the countries of origin. (Surinamese Muslim organizations recruit imams mainly from India and Pakistan). Secondly, in view of the almost exclusively internal and traditional colouring of their tasks. Entrusted with the daily prayer services in the mosque, the religious counseling of the individual members of their community, the elementary religious education of the community's children, as well as with the performance of ceremonial tasks on various important occasions in the lives of individuals and families, the imams may be said to be the main custodians of the cultural, and especially of the religious values of the countries of origin. In the absence of the social infrastructure of the countries of origin (family, acquaintances etcetera), the function of the imam of a mosque community has increased considerably in Western Europe, The Netherlands included. The “pastoral tasks” of spiritual counseling and social care, including that of visiting community members in hospitals and prisons, etcetera, are cases in point. In conclusion, one may observe many essential similarities between the tasks of an imam and his Christian colleagues, the minister or priest.
In fact, the Supreme Court of The Netherlands, in its decree of 30 May 1986, gave the imams exactly the same legal position the law had given ministers, priests and rabbis, in the sense that they are all “persons with clerical offices” (geestelijke ambtsdragers) as meant in art.2, paragraph 1 under section c of the “Special Resolution Labour Relations” (Buitengewoon Besluit Arbeidsverhoudingen) (Nederlandse Jurisprudentie: 1986,no.702, pp.2638-43). This decree quite rightly implied a rejection of earlier pleas by lawyers and specialists in Islamic studies, that the imams (in contrast to their Christian and Jewish counterparts) did not hold clerical offices, as being “religious discrimination”. This is an important decree in that it offers, among others, equal opportunities to imams in all branches of Dutch society where clerical officers are employed outside their traditional positions within local religious communities, e.g. in the army, in hospitals, prisons, etcetera.
Now that this decree has made the imam a clerical officer, the authorities can no longer interfere with labour disputes between an imam and his community, as these disputes are considered to be of a “spiritual” nature and the authorities have to take a neutral position in these matters, in accordance with the doctrine of the separation between religion and the state. Consequently, the imam (like any clerical officer in The Netherlands) lacks the legal protection guaranteed by the involvement of the Director of the Labour Exchange, which is required in other labour disputes. Therefore, the imam can no longer appeal to the law in case he is dismissed. In this respect, he has exactly the same rights a minister has. The difference between the two, however, is that a minister who is threatened with dismissal can appeal to those bodies of his church organization authorized to deal with this, whereas an imam completely lacks such a possibility of internal appeal. Consequently, the dismissal of an imam, whose appointment as an imam only gave him the right to stay in The Netherlands (temporarily), can lead to his immediate deportation. To this category of imams this means a modern kind of serfdom, which is socially unacceptable. The Dutch Government would, however, not in the least violate its neutrality in religious matters by at least providing these clerical officers with a guarantee(d) permission to stay a minimal period of time in Holland.
Some attention also deserves to be paid to the special policy of the Government with respect to the immigration of imams in The Netherlands. It is far from easy for a mosque community to have an imam of their (own) choice come over from their country of origin. In such cases the regulations in the “Letter concerning aliens” (Vreemdelingencirculaire) B-11, no.6.6. (“Godsdienstleraren” =Teachers of religion) should be heeded. This publication contains, among others, the requirement that the imam-to-be must have, already on arrival in The Netherlands, a so-called “authorization for a temporary stay”, which should be applied for in the country of origin at the diplomatic or consular representation. Following this request a special investigation then takes place “trying to answer, among others, the question whether the stay of the religious teacher in The Netherlands is objectionable from the point of view of public law and order”. Concrete data concerning this investigation and the method used (for example: Dutch embassies calling Turkish and Moroccan authorities to gain information) are unavailable. It may however safely be assumed that this investigation will in any case concern the religious position of the imam-to-be, and in certain cases also the way in which he can be expected to disseminate his religious ideas, as well as the social and political consequences this will have (Rutten: 1986, 60-61). The question remains, however, to what extent such an (at present officially required) investigation implicitly affects the constitutional religious freedom of the mosque communities in The Netherlands. For they are after all, except for their responsibility towards the law, free and therefore sovereign within the circle of their own religious organization. It is moreover difficult to see how the authorities can maintain the principle of “neutrality” in religious affairs, said to be believed in by them, if they pass judgment with respect to the religious beliefs of clergymen-to-be in order to take individual decisions on their immigration to The Netherlands. In a public address of January 9, 1991, the Minister of Justice explained that the special investigation which has to take place upon the request of the future imam to obtain a temporary authorization of residence, filed with the Dutch diplomatic service in his country of origin, is carried out by the “local aliens registration office”, viz. in the municipality of the community which wants to recruit the imam. In this investigation special attention should be paid to the aspect of public order: “Will the arrival of the imam not result in the creation of tensions, because a spiritual leader whose coming is as a matter of fact not appreciated, is forced upon the Muslim group concerned?” According to this explanation the sole purpose of the whole procedure is to guarantee the religious freedom of the Muslim communities in Holland wanting to recruit an imam in their countries of origin. It remains to be seen, however, to what extent this explanation actually implies a change of policy in the admission of foreign imams.
The professional imams working in The Netherlands have usually been trained in their countries of origin only. So far only the Hindustani Muslim community from Surinam has succeeded in establishing a training course for future imams in Holland itself. The first four students graduated from this course in 1988. Various non-Muslim and Muslim groups have, for various reasons, advocated the establishment of some kind of educational institute for the training of imams in Holland itself. According to the Waardenburg Committee (1983) and to several Dutch researchers the “traditional” imam who has obtained his training in the Muslim world is far from able to fulfil his tasks adequately, because of his lack of proficiency in the Dutch language and his deficient understanding of the history and culture of Dutch society. His understanding of the day-to-day problems of the members of his community, and especially of those of the younger generation, is thought to be quite insufficient. These objections are held to be true above all of the imams sent by the Turkish Government on a temporary basis, and who hardly have any opportunity to become acquainted with the language and life of Dutch society (Wagtendonk: 1990). The same point of view has been defended by the Christian Democratic Party in the Lower House, witness a note on its minority policies of September 17, 1990, which states “not to favour that minorities have to recruit their [spiritual] leaders from the country of origin. Repeatedly we have advocated the possibility that people living in The Netherlands can be trained for the spiritual functions concerned. To that purpose it will be necessary to found a chair in one of the Dutch universities”. In his previously mentioned address of January 9, 1991, the Minister of Justice defended this view, as well: “In order to support the process of the integration of minorities the recruitment of religious leaders from among the groups residing here deserves to be preferred. In view of the important social function fulfilled by the imams within the Muslim community it is important that they should possess knowledge of as many aspects of Dutch society as possible”. To this he added that the Dutch Government does not lend direct financial support to the founding of an Islamic theological training. “That would be contrary to the principle of the separation of Church and State. The religious organizations themselves are responsible for the organization and contents of their activities and, consequently, [they] can choose their functionaries independently”. This, however, does not imply that the Dutch Government would not lend financial support to an Islamic theological school in an indirect manner, on a par with the existing Christian theological schools which are fully subsidized by the Dutch State, be it in an indirect manner only, viz. without direct interference of the state and on a basis of certain formal and administrative criteria.
Even though some of the arguments in favour of the recruitment of imams in Holland itself are doubtlessly correct, it seems that these opinions tend to underestimate the intrinsic value of the traditional, essentially internal, role of the imam, especially within non-Muslim environment. One should not overlook the fact that, in the perception of the Muslims themselves, the imams, at their very best, are the exponents of the authoritative centres of religious learning which, of course, are and will continue to be situated within the Muslim world. It is to those centres that individual Muslims may and in fact do address themselves quite frequently with all kinds of questions regarding various conflicts arising between their life in Holland and the prescriptions of their Islamic faith (Den Exter: 1990.). The specifically religious authority of the imam will therefore not necessarily be increased by his studying the Dutch language and culture. Much of the criticism of the traditional imams may thus be reduced to a lack of understanding of the actual role of the imam, caused by one-sided, etic approaches from without.
A more realistic problem is posed, however, by the completely new posts for imams to be created by the Dutch Government in the army, in hospitals and prisons -on a par with the state-appointed ministers, priests and rabbis already working in these institutions-, as advocated by the Hirsch Ballin State Committee. Obviously, this new category of imams will indeed need special training enabling them to cope with this new challenge. The suggestion put forward by the already-mentioned State Committee is that a state-subsidized service centre for the spiritual welfare of Muslim and Hindu minorities in Holland should be created which could also cater for the training of imams to be appointed in the institutions concerned. This could, among other things, be realised by organizing refresher courses aiming at making the available imams and imams-to-be familiar with the Dutch polity and society, as well as with the psycho-social aspects of spiritual care. However, no agreement has been reached as yet between the Dutch Government and the Muslims. In order to bring about such an agreement a kind of national Muslim Council would be needed which could represent the Muslims in these (and several other) important matters to be negotiated with the Dutch Government. For several reasons such a national council, however, has been lacking so far. In her already-quoted address of September 24, 1990, the Minister of the Interior has stated in this respect: “Here too, progress depends largely on the ability of [Muslim,Sh-vK] organizations to set up a broad, solid cooperative framework. I have been given to understand that current developments in this regard are encouraging. I hope shortly to be able to sit down and discuss the further elaboration and implementation of Government proposals with a cooperative body that is as large and as representative as possible”. This is an interesting statement which seems to indicate some changes in the official attitude towards the conditions to be fulfilled by a national Islamic Council in order to be accepted by the Government as a mouth-piece of the Muslims in Holland, as will be set out below.
Organizations on a national level
Apart from the local organizations affiliated with one single mosque, various initiatives have resulted in the foundation of national organizations aiming at bringing together the local mosque-organizations of the same ethnic group. Several obstacles of a political and ideological nature have hampered these endeavours, resulting in a plurality of national umbrella organizations for each ethnic group. The nature of these organizations differs considerably. Some of them are mere platforms for discussion and mutual consultation of local mosque-organizations, others are more or less centralised bodies governing the local mosques as branch-units. The existence of a national organization, or the absence thereof, will now be discussed for each ethnic group.

1. Communities from Indonesia
The Moluccan Muslim community in Holland, with two mosques, has no umbrella organization of its own. The same holds true for three other prayer-halls of Muslims from Indonesia, where the Indonesian Young Muslims Association in Europe (PPME) plays a coordinating role. The groups worshipping in these three mosques mainly consist of Indonesian students residing temporarily in The Netherlands. The Indonesian Muslims who, with the exception of the just-mentioned Moluccans, settled in Holland during the decolonization period have not founded religiously based organizations at all.

2. Communities from Surinam and Pakistan
The ethnic and religious diversity of the Muslim groups from Surinam is reflected in their existing umbrella organizations. Muslims from Surinam consist of Hindustani (Sunnites as well as members of the Ahmadiyyah) and Javanese (Sunnites). The circa 15 small and dispersed communities of Javanese Sunnites possess mostly unofficial prayer-halls and have not been brought together in one umbrella organization. The Hindustani Sunnite Muslims, on the other hand, whose religious background is that of the Qadiriyyah mystical tradition, and in particular of the Berelvi movement, have three competitive organizations at a national level. First of all, there is the World Islamic Mission (WIM) in Amsterdam with 32 mosques, acknowledging shaykh Nurani in Pakistan as its spiritual leader. The WIM is an offshoot of the Islamitische Wereldmissie (in English called World Islamic Mission as well), an organization in The Hague with two mosques only, acknowledging the spiritual leadership of Pir Marouf in Bradford. In addition to this there is the Internationale Moslim Organisatie (IMO) coordinating 28 mosque communities, recognising Abd al-Wahhab Siddiqui, living in England, as its spiritual leader. In view of the convictions of Siddiqui, the religious-mystical position of the IMO can be said to be less exclusively Qadiriyyah, having its roots also in other mystical movements, such as that of the Naqshbandiyyah. (The number of mosques of these three umbrella organizations, even though provided by the boards of these organizations themselves, cannot be completely correct in view of the total number of existing Surinamese Hindustani mosques mentioned earlier).
Hindustani Muslims attached to the Ahmadiyya movement are divided into two umbrella organizations of which the Lahori offshoot, the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam in Nederland (AAIIN), is the most important one. It has branches in most big cities in The Netherlands. The Rabwah branch, on the other hand, organised in the Ahmadiyyah-beweging in de Islam (=The Ahmadiyyah movement in Islam), has two mosques only. Finally, the four existing Pakistani mosques representing the non-mystical orthodox salafi tradition, have not been brought together under one umbrella organization.

3. Communities from Turkey
The oldest national Turkish umbrella organization is the Stichting Islamitisch Centrum Nederland (The Islamic Centre Foundation in The Netherlands) (SICN) in Utrecht, founded circa 1972. The official objectives of this organization are to promote contacts between Muslims in The Netherlands in general and to provide for Islamic education on behalf of them in particular. Coordinating 26 mosque-organizations and 12 youth centres, it is a department of the movement of the Süleymancis, which has its headquarters in Cologne. This movement opposes the official Islamic policy of the laicist Turkish state. It therefore does not use the possibility of recruiting imams through the services of the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Ankara. In accordance with its tradition in Turkey special emphasis is put on religious education, and especially on Quranic courses, also in Holland. Some 50 to 60 imams, many of them on a voluntary basis, are active within the communities of this umbrella organization.
The largest Turkish umbrella organization in Holland is the Stichting Turks-Islamitische Culturele federatie (= Foundation of the Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation) (STICF) in Rotterdam, which coordinates some 94 mosques and 7 youth centres. The official objectives of the STICF are to serve the interests and to promote the emancipation of the Turkish Muslim community, with special emphasis on its Muslim cultural identity, as well as to stimulate the integration and participation of this community within Dutch society at large. It has played a pioneer role in forming the state-financed the Islamitische Omroep Stichting (=Islamic Broadcasting Foundation) (IOS), which for some time was exclusively based on this single umbrella organization only, but widened its scope in 1989 when also representatives of Hindustani and Moroccan national organizations took seats on its board. The STICF acts in close cooperation with the Islamitische Stichting Nederland (=Netherlands Islamic Foundation) (ISN), an organization founded in 1982 and directly linked to the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Ankara. The aim of this foundation is to take over the management of the mosque buildings and to put professional imams, trained at state institutions in Turkey, at the disposal of local communities. Through its offices some 75 “official” imams have been employed in mosques affiliated to the STICF. These imams, who have the status of civil servants of the Turkish Government, are working in Holland on the temporary basis of a roulation scheme, which implies that they are replaced every four years. The STICF has also founded a legally recognized Burial Fund, to which some 6,500 Turkish families pay contributions on a regular basis, thus insuring the expenses of an eventual burial in their country of origin.
Another Turkish umbrella organization is the Nederlandse Islamitische Federatie (=Netherlands Islamic Federation) (NIF), some 20 mosque communities are connected with. It is an offshoot of the Turkish oppositional Milli Görüs movement centered around the National Salvation Party of Erbakan. Just like the Süleymancis and the outspokenly fundamentalist Kaplan-group (to which some 12 mosques are linked, its headquarters to be found in Cologne also) it does not employ the imams paid by the Turkish Government either.

4. Moroccan communities
The Unie van Marokkaanse Moslim Organisaties in Nederland (Union of Moroccan Muslim Organizations in The Netherlands) (UMMON), founded in 1978, is the umbrella organization some 80 Moroccan mosques are affiliated with, presently employing some 65 paid imams. The education of these imams often consists of a traditional form of informal training in Arabic and Islam, for instance given by the imams of local mosques in Morocco. The board of the UMMON stresses the fact that in political matters it takes a neutral position. At the same time it recognizes, however, that members on the boards of some of its local mosques sympathise with or belong to the outspokenly royalist political organization of the Amicales, whose members are in close contact with the Moroccan embassy. In many, though not all, of its affiliated mosque-communities the official prayer for the King of Morocco as “Commander of the Faithful” is pronounced during Friday services.
Internal religious discussions about the political situation in Morocco have focussed on the position of the king and caused the origin of the phenomenon of the Free Moroccan Mosques (numbering circa 30 at present) wanting their life in Holland to be free from supervision by the Moroccan Government. Recently, a rival umbrella organization of the UMMON has been created, called the Nederlandse Federatie van Marokkaanse Moslim Organisaties (=Dutch Federation of Moroccan Muslim Organizations), to which some 17 local mosques are linked. The precise relation between this association and the individually autonomous Free Mosques remains, however, to be elucidated.
As an example of the internal religious discussions the debate may be mentioned which arose towards the end of 1983 during a visit of the Moroccan Minister of Education to Holland wishing to discuss a cultural exchange between the two countries. In the course of a religious service at the Moroccan Great Mosque of Amsterdam the imam of the mosque refused to pray for the Moroccan king, replacing this specific prayer by a more general one in which God's support was asked for all Muslims heads of state living uprightly. Consequently, the Minister demanded the mosque board to fire the imam. This led to open conflicts within the community and the case was even brought before the Court of Justice in Amsterdam (De Wit: 1988,30.).
The question whether and, if so, how this supervision of the mosques is actually exercised by the Moroccan Government has been a much-debated issue in The Netherlands. Questions have even been raised about it in the Lower House. In 1985 a Labour MP asked the Government whether it was true that during a meeting in the Great Mosque of Amsterdam, towards the end of 1984, officials from Morocco had asked all [Moroccan] imams working in The Netherlands to sign a declaration obliging themselves to work according to the norms and instructions of the Moroccan Ministry of Religious Affairs. Another question was whether all Moroccan imams were receiving the official texts of sermons dealing also with non-religious matters, which they had to pronounce under the said declaration. The Government said not to possess any specific information concerning the meeting under discussion, although assistants of the Moroccan embassy were known to be in contact regularly with the Moroccan mosques in Holland. According to the same answer the Moroccan authorities moreover did provide the texts of mosque sermons, but no evidence pointing to the obligation of the imams to pronounce these texts was available (Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal. Vergaderjaar 1984-1985. Aanhangsel, No 667.).

5. Interethnic organizations
Repeatedly, attempts have been made to form Muslim umbrella organizations on an interethnic basis. The first of these attempts, dating back to 1974, resulted in the foundation of the Federatie van Moslimorganisaties in Nederland (=Federation of Muslim Organizations in The Netherlands) (FOMON). Conflicts, mainly caused by the contradictory political influences exercised by the countries of origin, caused its dissolution in 1980. The influence of the conflicting interests of some of the international mother-organizations, of which some of the national Muslim organizations are merely auxiliary branches, also played an important part. Some members of the staff of FOMON continued their work at the Moslim Informatie Centrum (=Muslim Information Centre) in The Hague, which has no representative pretensions. In 1981 another attempt was made resulting in the establishment of the Moslim Organisaties in Nederland (=Muslim Organizations in The Netherlands) (MON), dissolved after some time as well. As a reaction to the establishment of the MON some “dissident” organizations created the Nederlands-Islamitisch Parlement (=Dutch Islamic Parliament) (NIP) around 1980, of which hardly anything has been heard again over the past few years.
More recently a perhaps more promising initiative was taken by the founding of the Islamitisch Landelijk Comité (Islamic National Committee) (ILC), in which all the existing Sunnite umbrella organizations were represented by one of their leading personalities. This committee manifested itself publicly for the first time during the so-called “Rushdie-affair” in 1989 when arguing, among other things, against the death-penalty pronounced by Khomeiny. The committee presented itself to the Minister of the Interior as the only representative mouthpiece of the Muslims in The Netherlands, expressing its readiness to discuss with the Government the application of the recommendations forwarded by the previously mentioned Hirsch Ballin State Committee.
The Government, however, refused to recognise the claims of the ILC. Lacking a corporate capacity, the ILC was more or less an informal body. Moreover, the ILC represented the Sunnite Muslims only. The Ahmadiyyah organizations and some other (sectarian as well as non-sectarian) groups had no representatives in the ILC at all. Particularly the absence of a representative of the Ahmadiyyah was seen by officials of the Ministry of the Interior as a serious obstacle. One of the recommendations of the Hirsch Ballin Committee, urgently to be realised, concerned the measures to be taken in the sphere of the spiritual care of Muslim soldiers in the Dutch army. Among them the highest percentage consisted of Muslims with a Surinamese background, including, of course, followers of the Ahmadiyyah. Since then it has been brought to the attention of the Government, however, that a 100% representative body of the Muslims in Holland would not be a realistic option in view of the problematic relations between the Sunnites, on the one hand, and the Ahmadis and other unrecognized sectarian groups, on the other. In fact, also the officially recognized mouthpiece of the Dutch Christian and Jewish organizations (CIO) does not represent all the organizations in existence, the Jehova Witnesses, for example, being excluded. Why should one demand from the Muslims a higher rate of representation? The above-quoted statement of the Minister of Interior, advocating a cooperative Muslim body, which is to be “as representative as possible”, seems to indicate that the Government indeed has adopted a somewhat more flexible attitude in this respect.
Some time ago the ILC was dissolved, but this time, as we have been made to understand, not as a result of internal conflicts but in order to pave the way for a well-structured organ, the seats of which are to be divided in accordance with quantitative criteria. (The same principle had already been adopted in the division of seats on the board of the Islamic Broadcasting Foundation, at the time of its being enlarged with representatives from the Surinamese and Moroccan communities). The new National Islamic Council is to have corporate capacity with legally fixed statutes governing its activities. No doubt, the coming into being of this Council would be a major success and an important step towards the emancipation of the Muslims in Dutch society. Apart from the necessary negotiations with the Dutch Government on the recommendations of the Hirsch Ballin Committee and many other matters, the Council could also serve as a mouth-piece towards Dutch society at large. In doing so it could help to reduce prejudices, discrimination and various other forms of curtailment of the human rights of the Muslims.
Islamic prescriptions and Dutch society

Muslims in The Netherlands have their boys circumcised in various manners, depending on their countries of origin. Surinamese Muslims prefer to have the circumcision performed by a medical specialist, in a hospital in Holland, during the first week of the boy's life. In Surinam itself this was, with rare exceptions in the villages, already the way it was done in most cases. The majority of the Moroccans, however, (still) seem to prefer to have it done in Morocco, on holidays, either by a modern medical specialist or a traditional professional circumcisers, the obvious advantage being the presence of family and friends to participate in the festivities. In some cases traditional Moroccan circumcises have been active also in Holland itself. Even though there is a growing awareness among the Moroccan Muslims in Holland of the sanitary advantages of medical circumcisions there are other factors, such as the lack of experience and knowledge of the Islamic prescriptions of the Dutch hospitals and medical staff, which tend to stimulate them to continue to have their boys circumcised in Morocco.
Among the Turkish Muslims, however, circumcisions tend to be given more structure. The majority of them have their sons circumcised, either in Turkey or The Netherlands, by a professional circumcises. Turkish circumcisions take place in Holland in an organised manner. In summer a Turkish circumciser who often has already visited Germany comes to Holland for some weeks. During the prayer-services on Friday, or in various other ways, the chairmen of the mosques announce that on a particular date a collective circumcision will take place, most often in a room adjacent to the mosque. The circumciser visits various places in The Netherlands and sometimes treats more than 50 boys at a time. These circumcisers enjoy a good reputation among the Turks because they have a lot of experience. They are certificated and, last but not least, they are Muslims as well.
Circumcision, both Jewish and Muslim, has religious as well as medical aspects. Just like Jews Muslims conceive of circumcision in the first place as a religious intervention. In Islam circumcision is a necessary prerequisite for boys to become a full member of the community. On the basis of the constitutional principle of freedom of religion the Dutch Government accepts that the circumcision of Jewish boys can be performed by professional, paramedically trained, Jewish circumcisers who are examined and supervised by a committee of experts.

Islamic dietary prescriptions
The accustoming of the various relevant sectors of Dutch society to the dietary prescriptions of Islam is a gradual process which has not yet been fully completed. In fact, there have been many misunderstandings, as well as misgivings, about Muslims in hospitals who insisted on eating halal meat or who wanted to continue to fast during Ramadan. Gradually, the essential facts to be taken into account in order to deal correctly with this new category of patients have been included in the training courses of medical students and nurses, and one may expect the acceptance of Islamic dietary prescriptions for these patients to become completely normal, in the near future. Notwithstanding some conflicts in the initial stages of the presence of Muslims, the same may be said to hold for the Dutch army as well as for prisons in Holland.
In order to meet the religious needs of non-Christian soldiers a special Regulation of the facilities for Jewish, Muslim and Hindu service-men was set up in 1981. This regulation was based on the already existing rules enabling Jewish soldiers in the Dutch army to fulfill their religious obligations. The obligations covered by the “Regulation” include the attendance at religious services on festivals and days of rest, as well as compliance with dietary prescriptions. A study of the effects of this regulation has however shown that in many cases leading officers do not know exactly what to do when confronted with details left unmentioned in the “Regulation”. Thus, there exists no clear policy regarding the fast in Ramadan. Some years ago, a Muslim soldier saw himself obliged to run away from the barracks and to go into hiding in order not to break his fast. It also still happens that meals containing pork are given to Muslim soldiers who insist on complying with the dietary prescriptions of Islam, especially during exercises in the field or when staying in bivouacs. A more detailed elaboration of the regulation and a better instruction of the responsible officers is therefore needed.
As for the Dutch prisons, so far there does not exist any special regulation yet with regard to their dietary prescriptions. In practice, things are arranged in accordance with the circular letter of the Ministry of Justice concerning Jewish prisoners, dating from October 16, 1981. However, from a study made in 1983 it appeared that the food in some institutions given to Turkish and Moroccan prisoners as a substitute for the generally distributed non-halal dishes hardly met their specific needs. In a circular letter of 1984 the Ministry of Justice believed to have found the solution to these problems, viz. by obliging the Muslim prisoners to pay for the extra expenses of halal food themselves! This measure was however quickly withdrawn. Article 39 of the Beginselwet Gevangeniswezen (=Bill on the Principles of the Prison-System) stipulates that it is “the task of the governing board of the prison to see to it that the prisoners can attend the religious services [...] organised on their behalf”. The result of a study made in 1985, however, was that 80% of the Turkish and Moroccan prisoners thought that the existing opportunities to exercise their religion were insufficient, in view -among others- of the absence of an imam, a prayer-room and facilities to perform ritual ablutions. The said prisoners also stressed the impossibility during Ramadan to obtain a warm meal after sunset. This had been one of the factors causing the Turkish prisoners to break their fast. Recently, however, a new regulation has been introduced by the Minister of Justice, creating the possibility of calling in imams on behalf of the spiritual care of Muslims in judicial institutions, on an ad hoc-basis and against payment, for an experimental period of two years. This is to be the first step towards establishing specific services for the spiritual care of Muslims, comparable to the Christian and Jewish ones already in existence, which in the absence of a sufficient number of qualified imams and of an organized form of representation of the Dutch Muslims, has not yet been realized.
Apart from the involvement of Dutch non-Muslim personnel in the application of Islamic dietary laws within specific sectors, the Islamic way of slaughtering animals for meat consumption -usually referred to in European languages as “ritual slaughtering”- had to be given a place in the legal system. Since the sixties a discussion had been going on whether legal measures should be taken to permit this. In 1977 the Vleeskeuringsbesluit (=Decree on the Inspection of Butcher's Meat) was finally changed to meet this specific need. It was given its final draft in 1982, on the basis of the European Treaty regarding the Protection of Slaughter Cattle (arts. 11 and 12). Herewith the Islamic way of slaughtering obtained the same recognition the slaughtering according to the Jewish rites had. In 1986 the official list prescribed by law mentioned 106 abattoirs where Islamic slaughtering was permitted. At the same time Muslim butchers were granted exemption from certain business licensing requirements to help them ensure that Muslims would be able to partake of their daily food without contravening the prescriptions of Islam, the assumption being that per 1000 single Muslims and Muslim heads of families one Muslim butchery would be needed. Nevertheless, there has been an ongoing discussion to change the situation stimulated by various pressure groups and political parties. The Dutch Association for the Protection of Animals favours the idea of convincing the Muslims that Islam in fact does not forbid the electrical stunning of animals previously to their being slaughtered. Extremist right-wing political parties, on the other hand, reuse old antisemitic stereotypes to stigmatize the Muslims as backward and cruel in order to seek support for their policy of remigrating the Muslims migrants from Holland to their countries of origin. Discussions are flaring up especially during the annual Feast of Sacrifices when large numbers of animals are being brought to the abattoirs.

Islamic holidays
The status of the Islamic holidays according to Dutch law has been set down in an important decree of the Supreme Court (d.d. 30 May 1984) formulated in the case of a Turkish charwoman lodging a complaint against her (former) Dutch employer (Nederlandse Jurisprudentie: 1985, No 350, pp.1209-1217.). She had requested a day off (unpaid for) to be able to participate in the festivities celebrating the Breaking of the Fast, at the end of Ramadan. Her employer refused. She, however, did not appear at work and was instantly dismissed. The Court in the city of Den Bosch, which after she had appealed to it declared that she was right, decreed, among others things, that “Muslim employees are in principle entitled to days off to celebrate their religious holidays, and can only be refused on the same grounds that would entitle the employer to require an employee to work on a public Christian holiday”. The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the argument and argued that with public Christian holidays we are essentially dealing with: “feast-days which have been accepted by Dutch society as days when no work has to be done regardless of the employee's religion. Although these Christian holidays find their origin in the Christian faith, they have become generally accepted days off, which holds as such for all those who participate in Dutch society, whatever their beliefs and nationalities may be. For this reason festivals of other religions [such as Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, Sh-vK] cannot be put on a par with the generally accepted Christian festivals so as to answer the question whether an employer may legitimately require individual employees practicing other religions to work on those other festivals”.
At the same time the Supreme Court acknowledged, however, that “-apart from specific arrangements in terms of employment- normally speaking an employee cannot in fairness be required to work, provided that, having stated his reasons, he has well in advance asked for permission to have a day off to celebrate a religious festival important for him. This may be different if it is to be expected that the smooth running of affairs in the firm concerned will be seriously hampered by the absence, on that day, of the employee concerned. Should the latter justify deviation from the rule mentioned above, [judgment] will depend on the particular circumstances of the case concerned”. Consequently, the Supreme Court destroyed the verdict of the Court in Den Bosch asking them to investigate the circumstances under which the requested day off was refused and to pass judgement based on the new findings.
Thus, an official distinction has been made in jurisprudence between “generally accepted Christian feast-days” on the one hand, and the “feast-days of other religions” on the other, and the Government now acts accordingly. This was, for example, true of the Cabinet report of 22 November, 1985 on the report “Minorities - minor rights?” in which -among other items- attention was paid to the findings in it that more than 150 legal stipulations make clear that Dutch society is still largely based on Christianity (Tweede Kamer, 1985-1986, 16102 no 128: Algemeen erkende rust-, feest- en gedenkdagen [=Public holidays], part.pp.22-27). The Cabinet emphasized their admitting that they were aware of the discrepancies in the treatment of Christians on the one hand, and Muslims and Hindus, on the other hand: for example when the former do not and both the latter groups do, by contrast, have to take extra (unpaid for) days off to celebrate their religious feast-days and anniversaries. The Cabinet also acknowledged that the Labour Law in art. 13 offers the possibility for the weekly day of rest to take place on Saturday instead of on Sunday. At the same time it acknowledged that The Netherlands are responsible for carrying out art 6 sub h of the Declaration on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief, adopted by the UN on 25 November, 1981, in which the freedom is guaranteed “to observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one's religion and belief”. In spite of this the Cabinet decided not to expand the number of generally accepted Christian feast-days to Jewish, Islamic and Hindu feast-days. It pointed out a possible arrangement of these matters as part of the negotiations between the management and trade unions regarding employment conditions. This decision of the Cabinet left the situation unchanged, even though it promised to focus the attention of the management and the trade-unions, in the Joint Industrial Labour Council, on this point by asking them “whether they thought that there was cause to stimulate, by means of recommendations or otherwise, the notion that provisions for paid holidays on feast-days should be made for the respective employees in the Collective Labour Agreements (See the letter of the Landelijk Bureau Racismebestrijding [= National Anti-Racism Bureau] No AK/ab/103/85 d.d. August 1985 to the national bodies for advice and consultation with respect to Government policy for the minorities, part.p.5; the questionnaire of the Special Committee for the Minorities with reference to the report “Minorities - Minor rights?” d.d. 4/2/1986 [Tweede Kamer, 1985-86, 16102, no 130], part. questions 3 and 20 up to and including 24, and their answers of 14/8/1986 141; also: the account of the talks of the Special Committee for the Policy concerning the Minorities of 19/2/1987 with the Minster for Justice, pp. 3 and 6.
This state of affairs does however insufficiently satisfy one's sense of justice, as the unequal treatment now officially approved continues. For however strong the “official character” of Christian holidays is emphasized, it remains nevertheless true that the existing legislation enables one category of employees to fulfil their religious obligations without loss of income, whereas this is not or only exceptionally possible for the other category. So far, only in a restricted number of Collective Labour Agreements (CAO's) has paid leave on important non-Christian holidays been included. The same holds for the civil servants of the Dutch State. However, all that has been said so far is only true of feast-days. With respect to the weekly Islamic prayer-services on Fridays, in which according to Islam every male adult should take part, no special arrangements in legislature or employment conditions are known to us.

Funerary rituals and cemeteries
In Holland, the Islamic ritual purification of the deceased is usually performed by persons associated with a mosque-organization, in a hospital or, sometimes, in a special washing-place of the mosque. The latter is chosen particularly, when the funeral is going to take place in Holland itself and the deceased will lie in state, in a room of the mosque (not being the prayer-room itself), during a period of at least 36 hours, prescribed by Dutch law. Especially the Surinamese Muslims are used to burying their deceased in Holland, in contrast to almost all of the Moroccans and Turks who still prefer to bury their dead in their countries of origin. Apart from strong family ties, one can point to a religious factor determining this preference, viz. the value attached to a regular visiting of the graves of deceased family members, during which prayers are said for the salvation of the dead and food and alms are divided among the poor in their name. Members of the Turkish and Moroccan groups who are buried in Holland, almost exclusively consist of small children and some adults without strong family ties in Turkey or Morocco. One may expect the percentage of the Turkish and Moroccan dead people to be buried in Holland will increase as their stay continues and the ties with their families in the countries of origin will weaken.
Government and Parliament have been discussing a new Wet op de Lijkbezorging (=Bill on the Disposal of the Dead) for many years. In the course of these discussions some MP's have suggested that the specific wishes of the Muslims in Holland should be taken into account as well. Three particular points are at stake here, viz. the possibility to bury the dead without a coffin (which has remained obligatory so far), the permission to bury the deceased as soon as possible and at any rate within a period of 24 hours after the moment of death, and, finally, the possibility of founding Islamic cemeteries. In its Memorandum in Reply of July 23, 1982, the Government has stressed that it will aim at introducing into the new law as little obstacles as possible which might stand in the way of funerals according to the rites of Islam and of other religions (Van Bakelen: 1984,20-21). “This will be impossible only, if interests of public health, the tracing of criminal offences and public order demand [to act otherwise]”. The new law which touches upon many delicate aspects of Dutch cultural and religious life, has still not been approved yet. Occasionally Muslims have already been exempted from the prevailing legal rules concerning the exact moment of funerals and the use of a coffin. These exemptions have been provided by a local mayor who thereby is acting on the authority of the public prosecutor.
With regard to the founding of Islamic cemeteries the Dutch legal system contains detailed rules concerning the opening and maintenance of private, denominationally based cemeteries which are applicable to any religious group, including Muslims, among others on the basis of quantitative criteria. It is also possible for smaller denominational groups to have a special section of a public cemetery reserved for them, and this is what has actually happened so far in several Dutch municipalities.

Religious marriages
It has been generally known that Islamic law does not distinguish between civil and religious marriages. In many Muslim countries where marriage laws are in accordance with the sharia, as in Morocco, both types of marriage coincide. In other countries, such as in Turkey and Surinam, where marriage laws have been secularized, a custom has been developed to organize a religious marriage ceremony after the celebration of the civil one. The situation among Muslim groups in The Netherlands is in accordance with this pattern. Turkish and Moroccan nationals in Holland have their marriages performed at their respective embassies. These marriages are recognized by the Dutch authorities if both partners are Turkish or Moroccan subjects. In the case of mixed couples, however, Dutch law demands a regular civil marriage at the Dutch registrar's office, which then may be supplemented by a 'consulate-marriage'. Muslims from Surinam, being Dutch subjects, contract a Dutch civil marriage and organize, similarly to that of the Turks, a special religious ceremony in which the imam plays a central role.
Apart form the above-mentioned pattern, there exists among Muslim groups in The Netherlands an exclusive type of religious marriage that is not sanctioned by any civil authority. As this kind of marriage has no legal value, it seems to be more appropriate to consider this ceremony as a form of religious sanctioning of a life-style and not as a marriage in the proper sense of the word. The primary motive for this practice is to avoid pre-marital sexual intercourse which is strongly condemned by Islam. This type of 'marriage' creates the possibility for Muslim youngsters of opposite sexes to live together as is the case with Dutch youngsters. This life style may develop, however, into a legally sanctioned marriage in case of pregnancy or when the social circumstances of both partners have been stabilized. One may consider this exclusively religious marriage as a continuation of a similar practice known in the countries of origin. In these countries such marriages are organized when the necessary legal conditions for a real marriage are lacking, as in the case of polygamy or when one of the partners is younger than the required minimum age for marriage.

Dressing rules and the separation of the sexes
Islamic regulations for the proper clothing of women and the separation of the sexes in general and above all during swimming and gymnastics at school in particular are well known and have been the subject of discussions in many European countries. In The Netherlands, where religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution, some events have taken place which stress the importance of these regulations to Muslim parents. The ensuing discussions were centered around two fundamental questions. First of all, do these practices, and the wearing of head-scarfs by school girls in particular, have a religious basis, and, secondly, to what extent are school boards obliged to take them into account? These questions may be illustrated by a number of events that took place in the past five years.
In 1985 the local authorities of the town of Alphen aan de Rijn forbade Muslim girls to cover their heads at the public primary schools of the municipality, the principals of the local private-Christian primary schools having agreed to adopt the same policy. The parents concerned protested against this regulation making clear that this practice was based on genuinely Islamic prescriptions and therefore should be protected by the constitutional principle of religious freedom. Finally, the matter was discussed in the Lower House with the result that the local authorities had to revoke the prohibition (Shadid and Van Koningsveld: 1985). Other incidents concerned mixed swimming and gymnastics at schools. Some local authorities exempted Muslim female pupils from mixed school-swimming. Usually the exemption did not apply to gymnastics because of the possibility of wearing training suits during these lessons.
In practice, however, Muslims girls cannot cover their heads whenever they want to do so, at any school. Neither have the problems arising from mixed lessons in swimming and gymnastics been completely solved. This may be illustrated by the conflict between a private-Christian secondary school and the parents of two Muslims girls in the city of Helmond. On grounds of hygiene, organizational complications and principles of integration and emancipation to be applied in its lessons, the school had prohibited the Muslim girls to stay away from the mixed swimming lessons and to wear special clothes (training suits) during mixed lessons in gymnastics. According to the ensuing verdict of the Court of Justice of the city of Den Bosch of September 5, 1989, the constitutional right of religious freedom allows for claims made by citizens only of the state and its public institutions, including public schools, but not of private institutions, such as private-Christian schools. This verdict implies that the principals of private-Christian schools do continue to have every right to prohibit the wearing of head-scarves and to force Muslim girls to attend mixed lessons in swimming and gymnastics. In its verdict the court argued that “within a reasonable distance” there existed in all probability some other schools which could be acceptable to the parents of the Muslim girls concerned. It is far from clear, however, whether the principal of a private school would have to accept the application of Islamic dressing rules, in case of the absence, “within a reasonable distance”, of a school which in fact did respect the convictions of Muslim parents.
Various comments on this verdict have been published by Dutch lawyers challenging the legitimacy of this verdict, among others by drawing a comparison with recent English jurisprudence regarding the refusal of a Christian school to allow a pupil from among the religious community of the Sikhs to wear a turban, this being considered to infringe upon the rules concerning the wearing of school uniforms. The English judge concluded that this prohibition was tantamount to racial discrimination in the sense of the Race Relations Act of 1976. The Dutch lawyers quoted also questioned the competence of a school to apply its own views of the integration and emancipation of minorities, especially where this would imply the suppression of religious freedom (See A.Possel, in Migrantenrecht: 1989 No 5, and C.A.Groenendijk, in Rechtsvordering: 1988 No 96.). The verdict just-quoted has therefore remained contested and one can only regret that the case has not been taken to the Dutch Supreme Court.
According to the Minister of the Interior, in her already-quoted address, “There is no reason to make a fuss if Muslim women wish to wear headscarves in public or at school”. In view of the verdict just discussed it is quite clear, however, that all private-Christian institutions do have every right to do so. One cannot but agree with the words of the Minister: “I cannot help observing that public discussion of such things is extremely offensive to the people wearing them during classes”. But again, this does not change the right private, religiously based institutions seem to have had so far to forbid the wearing of these scarves on their premises, and to force Muslim girls to participate in mixed swimming lessons and gymnastics without proper dressing.
As for the Government's policy towards the refusal of some Muslim parents to send their daughters to school, this also has been explained quite clearly by the Minister of the Interior: “Faith may also go hand in hand with religious precepts that do not assist integration into a new society. If a choice has to be made between such precepts and the opportunity to develop one's individual talents in our society, the latter opinion will receive the casting vote as far as the Dutch Government is concerned. This means for example that the possibility of putting a girl into a separate class for Muslim girls will be examined if the parents are opposed to a mixed class. However, should this prove impractible, the obligation to attend school will remain in force and the child will be expected to attend classes”.
Inter-family relations
Rights and duties of parents and children are well defined both by Islamic law schools, as well as by the legislation of some of the countries of origin. These rights and duties, which also include the financial support of family members such as parents, brothers and sisters, are complex and differ from law school to law school. The Hanafites limit the financial responsibility of a person to those family members with whom marriage is excluded by blood relationship. The Hanbalites, on the other hand, limit the responsibility to the group of heirs of an individual person. In Morocco, children are also obliged by law to contribute, in proportion to their financial capacities, to the support of their parents.
In practice we notice that Dutch jurisprudence takes these Islamic regulations concerning inter-family relations into account. For instance, the Crown gave permission to a Turkish widow to join her two sons in The Netherlands, who in accordance with the just-mentioned Islamic prescriptions felt obliged to take care of her. Also, the Raad van State (=Council of State) gave permission to a 20 year-old boy to join his elder brother in Holland, who in accordance with Islamic regulations also had the obligation to financially support his younger brother.
Islamic regulations with regard to the relationship between parents and children do not prevent generation conflicts from occurring in Muslim countries or within Muslim communities elsewhere. However, the direct influence of Western culture on the second generation of Muslim migrants contributes to conflicts arising between parents and children, often with far-reaching consequences. The same is true of the relationship between husband and wife. Conflicts between parents and children and between husband and wife do not seldom lead to a situation in which children or wives run away from home. For this reason special Muslim shelter-homes have been founded in the four big cities of The Netherlands. The objective of these houses is to offer their clients assistance and guidance fitting in with an Islamic framework. Thus, Islamic regulations on nutrition and beverages as well as on the separation of the sexes are taken into account.

Dutch education and Islam
Mosque education and mosque-schools
Mosque education is hereby defined as a form of education organized and effectuated by the Muslim communities themselves. This education often takes place in the mosques and is carried out by the imams. To denote this form of supplementary education we prefer to use the terms 'mosque education' and 'mosque- schools' instead of the frequently used 'Quran education' and 'Quran-schools', for the reason that this type of education has a broader aim than merely the recitation and memorization of the Quran. Naturally, the teaching of the Quran occupies a prominent place in mosque-schools but the scope of the latter is broader. At these schools attention is also paid to other issues of faith, to behavioral rules and ethics in general. For instance, in this context also the existing differences between Dutch and Islamic society norms are explained to the pupils. Thus, the primary objective of mosque-education is to enable these youngsters to function adequately in the religious community, as well as in society at large.
No exact figures can be provided about the participation in Islamic religious education at the mosques. Some authors state that 60% of the Turkish children between 7 and 14 years of age participate in this type of education (Religieuze voorzieningen: 1983,43). Others mention a significantly lower figure, namely 20%. In 1983-84 the exact number of Turkish children that attended such education amounted to approximately 7000, which comes to 33% of all the Turkish pupils enrolled in Dutch primary schools (Karagül: 1987, 82-83). A third category of authors have restrained from providing figures. They merely stress the fact that a considerable number of children attend this type of religious education and that the participation within the Turkish community is higher than that within the Moroccan one due to a more effective organization of the former (Van Esch and Roovers: 1987,35). In 1989 the figures for the city of Rotterdam indicated, however, that 25% of the Turkish and 40% of the Moroccan children attended courses in the mosques.
From the preceding figures we may conclude that a considerable number of parents attaches value to the Islamic religious education in the mosques, in order to develop the religious identity of their children, to maintain the bonds with their countries of origin and to bring their cultural heritage within their children's reach.
This type of education has a predominantly negative image in the relevant publications of outsiders. First of all, it is purported that mosque-education constitutes a heavy burden on Muslim children as they have to attend the lessons on their days off. This is true to a certain degree: the children dedicate 6 to 10 hours a week to these lessons, leaving them little time for other activities. It should however be taken into account that the parents in many cases have no other adequate alternative in offering their children the possibility to develop their social identity on a religious basis.
Also the contents of this type of education itself are criticized by many who argue that the educational methods applied could create the basis for blind fundamentalism (Religieuze voorzieningen: 1983,51). This point of view is disputable as there exists no proof that learning Quranic verses by heart in itself leads to fundamentalism. The parents of these children, for instance, have often received a similar education without notably becoming fundamentalists or fanatics.

Finally, criticism is directed against the manner in which the children are approached by the teacher, who is sometimes accused of beating them by way of punishment (Religieuze voorzieningen: 1983,51; Van Esch and Roovers: 1987,87). Socially-speaking, this type of punishment is not acceptable. We recommend therefore a more and better control by the Islamic organizations themselves in order to ensure the adequate functioning of the mosque-schools, particularly in view of the value attached to this type of education by the parents.

Islamic education in public and private-Christian schools
Muslim pupils are enrolled in public as well as in private Christian schools. In 1982-83 the distribution of Moroccan and Turkish children over both types of primary schools was almost fifty-fifty. Figures for the City of the Hague, however, indicated that 71% of the Muslim children were enrolled in public primary schools. Some authors state that Muslim parents sometimes prefer private-Christian schools for a number of reasons, such as the positive attitude to religion, the stricter discipline and the lower rate of foreign children in these schools. Research has pointed out that Moroccan parents, however, only rarely choose a Christian school for their children (Van Esch and Roovers: 1987,33-34). Other authors mention external factors, such as the housing policy enforced by municipalities, as an explanation for the presence of Muslim children at Christian schools (Lkoundi- Hamakers: 1987,100). The relatively higher representation of Muslim children in Catholic schools in comparison to Protestant schools has, however, a historical reason. The up-taking of migrants in The Netherlands in the period of 1955-1965 was mainly taken care of by churches and some private foundations. The Catholic Pedagogic Centre was the first to show an interest in assisting children of a foreign background (Kloosterman: 1987,12-13.). It should furthermore be stressed that the choice by Muslim parents, lacking knowledge of the Dutch educational system, of a Christian school was mainly determined by the distance between home and school. Last but not least, school administrators frequently sent Muslim children to those schools already attended by a high percentage of foreign children.

Islamic religious education at public schools
Islamic education at these schools is provided for indirectly, through lessons in the language and culture of origin, as well as directly, through special lessons in Islam. The former type of special education, existing in public as well as in private schools, is subsidized by the Government and is carried out by teachers recruited from the countries of origin. In these lessons Islamic religious education is also incorporated, though not formally. With regard to Islamic education at public schools articles 29-31 of the Education Bill make it possible for parents to apply for religious education for their children. However, at present Islamic religious education at public schools is effectuated only in very few municipalities such as Rotterdam, Tiel and Ede. This type of education is subsidized by the municipality and the teaching is mostly done in Dutch by Moroccan and Turkish imams and other free-lance teachers. Even though in several municipalities many requests for this type of religious education have been filed, the realization has been restricted for a number of reasons. The most important of these is the condition stipulated by the authorities that these lessons should be taught in Dutch. However, it is far from easy to find imams who master the Dutch language well enough and who are at the same time acceptable to both the Moroccan as well as the Turkish communities. The situation in the City of Rotterdam makes it clear, however, that it is indeed possible to organize,at primary school level, Islamic religious education that can be attended by different ethnic Muslim groups.

Islamic religious education at Christian schools
Despite the high representation of Muslim pupils at private Christian schools changes in the educational programmes, especially with regard to religious education at these schools were considered undesirable and impossible. As a consequence Muslim children were obliged to attend lessons in Christianity and were also not permitted to have their own religious education. In 1987 a special committee of the Protestant Christian Pedagogic Centre discussed the question whether and, if so, to what extent the possibility should be created within these schools to allow Muslims and Hindus to pay attention to their religious identity. The committee proposed the so-called 'Christian encounter school'. This is a type of school which is fundamentally based on the Bible, but in which other religions are respected and treated on a basis of equality. This notion implies a 'contradictio in terminis' as equality of the various religions cannot be expected to be realized in an educational system which is based on a Christian framework from which these schools derive their reasons for existing. Moreover, the committee itself stresses, in this regard, the fact that the 'encounter school' should be clearly distinguished form other types of schools where all religions have equal rights. The unequal position of the non-Christian religions at this type of Christian school can also easily be deduced from its proposed structure. First of all, the plans for the 'encounter school' have been drawn up without practically any participation on the part of Muslim or Hindu parents. Secondly, parents of non-Christian children are not offered the opportunity to participate in school-boards, because of the Christian foundation of this type of school. Thirdly, although a possibility exists to provide Islamic religious education at these schools, the teacher is considered as a 'guest teacher', and not as a full member of the staff of teachers. Furthermore, it has been proposed that he or she should be paid by the Islamic community itself and not by the school administration as is the case with other teachers.
Because of these shortcomings the 'encounter school' at the town of Ede preferred to opt for a different organizational framework in order to deal with these shortcomings. The schoolboard has proposed the so-called 'cooperation school', which has serious consequences for their identity as a private Christian school. At this school Muslim parents are allowed to participate in the school-board, and imams are offered the opportunity to give Islamic religious education, so the school's Christian foundation has been abandoned. As a result, 'The Union for Christian National School Education', one of the master organizations for Christian education, has expelled the 'cooperation school' as a member.

Private Islamic schools
As mentioned earlier on the Dutch Constitution permits religious communities to found their own private schools which are fully subsidized by the Government. The same permission is also granted to non-Christian religions as is clearly stated in the note of the Dutch Minister for Education concerning the foundation of primary schools based on Islam and Hinduism. In this context and over the past three years 13 Islamic and one Hindu schools have already been founded. Six more Islamic schools are expected to open their doors in August, 1991. Even though Islamic schools are accessible to all Muslim children regardless of their ethnic origin, the foundation of these schools has generally been initiated by specific ethnic groups. The majority has been realized owing to initiatives made by local Turkish mosque-communities. Some local Moroccan mosque-communities and the interethnic Islamic Women's Organization Al-Nisa have taken the initial steps towards the foundation of some schools, as well. The Islamic Foundation for Dutch Education (ISNO) which is associated to the previously mentioned Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation and promotes a “secular-liberal” type of religious education in line with the policy of the Turkish authorities, has initiated the founding of 3 out of these 13 schools. The remaining 10 schools are usually called the “autonomous” Islamic primary schools, as they are governed by an autonomous local board of governors. The colouring of their lessons is more outspokenly “orthodox”. The objective of both types of these schools can be said to be twofold: first of all, to transmit and preserve Islamic religion and culture within the context of the Dutch secular state and, secondly, to improve the educational level of Muslim children by paying special attention to their specific problems.
Despite the above-mentioned constitutional guarantees, in practice the foundation of these schools has met with structural obstacles generated mainly by Dutch local authorities. In contrast to the foundation of Christian schools discussions were held in the municipal councils about the advantages and disadvantages of Islamic schools to the communities concerned. In this context especially two advantages were stressed. First of all, the essential role which may be fulfilled by these schools in the development of a Muslim identity due to the extra attention given to Islam and the culture of origin of these children. Furthermore, it is argued that the development of a solid cultural and religious identity will lead to a positive self-conception of the children which is indispensable to their emancipation in Dutch society. Beside these advantages, a number of disadvantages have been mentioned. First of all, it was argued that these schools will stimulate the isolation of Muslims and constrain their integration in Dutch society. In the long run this could be disadvantageous to their participation in society as a whole and therefore stimulate discrimination against them. Furthermore, these schools could lead to the concentration of Muslim children in separate schools and negatively influence the attitude of other Dutch schools towards Muslim children. This argument is not of much importance as the racial separation in the sector of education observable in the so-called 'black' and 'white' schools is a reality, already. In 1985, 40 percent of the population of 107 out of 146 schools in a deprived position in Amsterdam consisted of children of ethnic minorities. 41 of these 107 schools showed even an ethnic concentration varying from 70 to 100 percent.
Apart from these barriers Islamic schools meet with other obstacles. First of all, the Dutch educational law requires that each private school should be a member of a master organization consisting of at least 50 private schools.(One of the tasks of these master organizations is the settling of labour disputes between the teachers and the boards of governors). Not being able to meet these requirements initially Islamic schools have associated themselves temporarily with the existing “public-private” and private-Christian educational master organizations. Lately, however, the Dutch Minister of Education gave permission to Islamic schools to create their own master organization with a minimal number of 10 attached schools. This has resulted in the founding of the Islamic Organization of School Boards (ISBO) to which all of the presently existing Dutch Islamic schools are associated.
Another barrier which these schools have to face in Holland is the shortage of trained Muslim teachers. In practice the majority of the engaged staff is of a non-Muslim background, a situation which could hinder, to a certain degree, the realization of the objective pursued, namely the transference of Islam and Islamic culture to the Muslim youngsters.
It will take three years before one can judge whether these schools have succeeded in realizing their objectives. Until that time they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

For recent discussions on the multicultural society in the Netherlands, see Shadid (2008).

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