Annemarie Schimmel

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Annemarie Schimmel - Glass Plate in Bonngasse (Bonn)

Annemarie Brigitte Schimmel (born April 7, 1922 in Erfurt ; † January 26, 2003 in Bonn ) was a German scholar of Islam .


Annemarie Schimmel's father was a postal worker and dealt with philosophy and mysticism , the mother came from a seafaring family. As a 15-year-old student, Annemarie Schimmel began to learn Arabic with Hans Ellenberg , who was also a lecturer at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena . Annemarie Schimmel was allowed to skip two school years and was able to take her Abitur at the age of 16. In Erfurt she attended what is now the Königin-Luise-Gymnasium .

First job and studies

After six months of labor service , she first studied chemistry and physics at the Friedrich Wilhelms University (today Humboldt University ) in Berlin from 1939 , but also heard Islamic art history and Arabic studies . On 20 November 1941 she has been with the doctorate The position of the caliphs and the Qadis in late medieval Egypt , which also appeared in the "World of Islam" in 1943 with magna cum laude at the University of Berlin PhD . Until the end of the war, she worked as a translator in the Foreign Office under Joachim von Ribbentrop . From May to September 1945 she was interned as a member of the office by the US authorities in Marburg . In 1946 she completed her habilitation in Islamic studies in Marburg . In 1951 she received her doctorate in religious history under Friedrich Heiler with the thesis Studies on the Concept of Mystical Love in Early Islamic Mysticism at the University of Marburg (a second time).

Positions as a university professor

In 1953 she was appointed adjunct professor at the University of Marburg and worked there until 1954. In 1954 she became a professor for the history of religion at the Theological Faculty of Ankara University , where she held lectures in Turkish and worked until 1959. From 1961 she was an adjunct lecturer at the Department of Oriental Languages ​​at the University of Bonn, from 1967 to 1992 faculty member at Harvard University in Cambridge , Massachusetts , USA , where she was commissioned to set up an institute for Indo-Islamic culture; from 1970 she was finally professor for Indo-Muslim culture at Harvard. As a lecturer or professor, she taught at the Ismaili Institute in London (1982–1983) and the University of Edinburgh (1992–1993), among others . However, she referred to Pakistan as her “second home” .


Annemarie Schimmel has published well over 100 books, articles and scientific publications.

Annemarie Schimmel's grave in the Poppelsdorf cemetery in Bonn with a quote from ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib .

Throughout her life, Annemarie Schimmel campaigned for a better understanding of Islam in the West and for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims. In this context she repeatedly emphasized the importance of the orientalist and poet Friedrich Rückert . She herself was close to Sufi mysticism ; her personal favorite poet was Muhammad Iqbal .

She participated in a solidarity committee for Nasr Abu Zaid , which helped the Islamic scholar, persecuted in his Egyptian homeland for his writings, to emigrate to European exile in 1995.

She wrote the introduction and notes for Max Henning's translation of the Koran .

In Lahore, Pakistan, the Annemarie Schimmel House exists as a meeting center. Cultural events and German classes are offered there. Her library, which comprises over 5,000 volumes, has been integrated into the Erfurt University Library as the Annemarie Schimmel Library and is available for academic work.


While teaching in Ankara, she married the Turkish engineer Osman Tarı in 1955, from whom she divorced in 1957.

The funeral service for the deceased took place on February 4, 2003 in the Evangelical Kreuzkirche in Bonn . Schimmel was buried in the Poppelsdorf cemetery .

Peace Prize Controversy 1995

In connection with the award of the Peace Prize of the German book trade to Schimmel, a heated controversy arose in 1995, which was triggered by a statement by Schimmel. In a television interview, she had expressed understanding for the outrage in the Islamic world over the book The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie . He had hurt the feelings of devout Muslims in a “very bad way” .

Several voices spoke out against the award ceremony. There was a protest initiative within the Börsenverein, which was responsible for the award. The prominent critics included Henryk M. Broder , Johannes Mario Simmel , Taslima Nasrin , Ralph Giordano , Alice Schwarzer , Elfriede Jelinek , Günter Wallraff and Bassam Tibi , but also Schimmel's former student Gernot Rotter . Other authors defended Schimmel, including the Islamic scholars Stefan Wild , Udo Steinbach , Werner Ende , Navid Kermani and Michael Lüders as well as Erwin Wickert , long-time chairman of the Free German Association of Authors . In view of the controversy, the Board of Trustees, which acted as jury, met again, but after examining the objections, confirmed the award of the award with a very large majority. Schimmel apologized for her statement by saying that she was an "absolutely apolitical" person. Federal President Roman Herzog gave the laudation for Schimmel in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt, which was celebrated with standing ovations by the audience. After the award ceremony, the criticism of Schimmel subsided. However, Schimmel was attacked by feminist critics of Islam in 2002 for her tolerance of Islam .

Prizes, awards and honors

In the Pakistani city of Lahore , a street, the Boulevard Annemarie Schimmel, and the former Goethe-Institut are named after her.

Works (selection)

  • Caliph and Qadi in late medieval Egypt . Dissertation at the University of Leipzig , Harrassowitz, Leipzig 1943, DNB 576017809 .
  • Lullabies . Hüpke & Sohn, Holzminden 1948.
  • Studies on the concept of mystical love in Islam . Dissertation at the Philipps University of Marburg 1951, published 1954, DNB 480423180 .
  • Pakistan - a castle with 1000 gates . Orell Füssli, Zurich 1965, DNB 454357656 .
  • Mystical Dimensions of Islam. The history of Sufism (original title: Mystical dimensions of Islam ). Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-458-33415-7 (German first edition by Diederichs, Cologne 1985).
  • as translator and editor: Al-Hallaj: “O people, save me from God” (from Abū l-Mughīth al-Husain ibn Mansūr al-Hallādsch ). Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau / Basel / Vienna 1985, ISBN 3-451-08240-3 (new edition as: Halladsch - “Oh people, save me from God” by Chalice, Xanten 2017, ISBN 978-3-942914-18-5 ).
  • Rumi: I am wind and you are fire. Life and work of the great mystic . Cologne 1978. New edition: Chalice, Xanten 2017, ISBN 978-3-942914-19-2 .
  • Jalal ad-Din Rumi: Look! This is love: poems , selected and translated by Annemarie Schimmel. Basel: Sphinx 1993. New edition: Chalice, Xanten 2019, ISBN 978-3-942914-41-3 .
  • Islam in the Indian Subcontinent. Brill, Leiden 1980.
  • And Muhammad is his prophet. Worship of the Prophet in Islamic Piety . Diederichs, Düsseldorf 1981, ISBN 3-424-00692-0 .
  • Gardens of Knowledge - Texts from Islamic mysticism, translated by Annemarie Schimmel . Diederichs, Düsseldorf 1982, ISBN 3-424-00697-1 .
  • as editor: The oriental cat. Diederichs, Cologne 1983, ISBN 3-424-00801-1 . (3rd edition. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau / Basel / Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-451-04033-6 (= Herder spectrum. Volume 4033))
  • As editor: Introduction and comments on: The Koran. (= Reclams Universal Library. No. 4206). (Original title: Qurʾān. Translated from the Arabic by Max Henning). Reclam, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-15-004206-2 .
  • The Religion of Islam: An Introduction. (= Reclams Universal Library , No. 18659 Reclam non-fiction book ). 11th edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-15-018659-6 (first edition as Der Islam , 1990) ,.
  • Mountains, deserts, sanctuaries. My travels in Pakistan and India . dtv, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-423-30639-4 .
  • Mystical Dimensions of Islam. The history of Sufism . Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-458-33415-7 .
  • The caliph's dreams. Dreams and their interpretation in Islamic culture . Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-44056-8 .
  • Jesus and Mary in Islamic Mysticism . Kösel, Munich 1996. New edition: Chalice, Xanten 2018, ISBN 978-3-942914-30-7 .
  • Singing and ecstasy. Sufi texts of Indian Islam . Kösel, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-466-20448-8 .
  • In the realm of the Mughals. History, art, culture . Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-46486-6 .
  • Little paradises. Flowers and Gardens in Islam . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 2001, ISBN 3-451-05192-3 .
  • Orient and Occident. My west-east life . Autobiography . Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-49564-8 .
  • The Islamic year. Times and festivals. (= Beck's series ). 3. Edition. Beck, Munich 2011 (first edition 2001), ISBN 978-3-406-61130-8 .
  • Allah, Koran and Ramadan: Everyday life and tradition in Islam . Patmos, Ostfildern 2012, ISBN 978-3-8436-0167-2 .


  • Stefan Wild:  Schimmel, Annemarie. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , pp. 777 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Wolfdietrich Fischer: Obituary for Annemarie Schimmel. In: Yearbook of the Rückert Society. Volume 15 (published 2003, 2004), pp. 215 ff.
  • Biographical manual of the German Foreign Service 1871–1945. Volume 4: p . Published by the Foreign Office, Historical Service, edited by: Bernd Isphording, Gerhard Keiper, Martin Kröger. Schöningh, Paderborn et al. 2012, ISBN 978-3-506-71843-3 .

Web links

Commons : Annemarie Schimmel  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Website of the University of Erfurt on the Annemarie Schimmel Collection
  2. a b Stefan Wild : Dialogue and Reconciliation through Knowledge. Article on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of her death. In: from January 24, 2013, accessed on November 19, 2015
  3. ^ Hans-Joachim Neubauer: Pressed, persecuted and divorced: The Koran scholar Nasr Abu Zaid in Bonn. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of November 8, 1995
  4. ^ Max Henning: Koran translation - new edition, with introduction and comments by Annemarie Schimmel, Reclam, Stuttgart 1960, ISBN 3-15-054206-5
  5. ^ Website of the Annemarie Schimmel House in Lahore, Pakistan
  6. ^ Website of the University of Erfurt on the Annemarie Schimmel Collection
  7. ^ Stefan Wild:  Schimmel, Annemarie. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , pp. 777 f. ( Digitized version ).
  8. ^ Anne Hofmann: Islam in the media. The journalistic conflict over Annemarie Schimmel. LIT, Münster 2004
  9. Ariane Müller: Unhappy about this book - Peace Prize Winner Schimmel clarified in the Rushdie case. In: Frankfurter Rundschau . May 11, 1995.
  10. Hubert Spiegel : The Adversaries: Who is behind the protest against Annemarie Schimmel. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine from September 19, 1995
  11. Arno Widmann : A Peace Prize for Censorship? In: The time . September 15, 1995.
  12. Ludger Lütkerhaus: For wines. An answer to Annemarie Schimmel's Rushdie scolding. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . May 11, 1995.
  13. Wolfgang Frühwald : It smells like witch hunt. In: Rheinischer Merkur . June 9, 1995.
  14. Peter Scholl-Latour : The third visitation of Islam. In: Rheinischer Merkur . September 23, 1995.
  15. Gernot Rotter : The weeping of the Muslims. In: Die Zeit vom 11 May 1995, accessed on 19 November 2015
  16. The Peace Prize. A covert attack. Annemarie Schimmel and Gernot Rotter on the Peace Prize, Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin In: Der Spiegel . May 22, 1995. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  17. Frank Schirrmacher: Europe cannot afford a war of cultures. An interview with Roman Herzog. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . July 15, 1995.
  18. Hubert Spiegel: The Adversaries - Who is behind the protest against Annemarie Schimmel. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . September 19, 1995.
  19. ^ Anne Hoffmann: Islam in the media: the journalistic conflict about Annemarie Schimmel. P. 13
  20. Navid Kermani: Annemarie Schimmel as a scientist: an appreciation. In: Frankfurter Rundschau of October 14, 1995
  21. Michael Lüders : Fundamentalism is not Islam. In: Die Zeit of September 22, 1995
  22. Erwin Wickert : Foolish letter to Herzog. In: Die Welt, September 7, 1995, accessed November 19, 2015
  23. Muliar's protest faked. In: Hamburger Abendblatt from September 28, 1995, accessed on November 20, 2015
  24. Annemarie Schimmel: The misunderstood Islam - answer to my critics. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . May 24, 1995.
  25. Obituary. Annemarie Schimmel. In: Der Spiegel . February 3, 2003. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  26. Stefan Wild: The Peace Prize and Annemarie Schimmel: A Review. In: The world of Islam. New Series, Vol. 36, Issue March 1, 1996, pp. 107-122.
  27. ^ Arno Widmann: Highly praised. Amen. Schimmel's peace prize speech and Duke's laudation . In: Die Zeit from October 20, 1995, accessed on November 19, 2015.
  28. Cornelia Filter: A pious journey through Germany . In: Alice Schwarzer (ed.): The Divine Warriors and False Tolerance , Cologne 2002, p. 85 f.
  30. ^ Ronny Baier:  Schimmel, Annemarie. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 23, Bautz, Nordhausen 2004, ISBN 3-88309-155-3 , Sp. 1272-1283.
  31. God and the Butterfly, Joachim Fritz-Vannahme, Die Zeit, 1994