German university starts seminars for imams

7 October 2010
They intervene in cultural conflicts, marital disputes and dealings with the German authorities: Muslim spiritual leaders deal with the everyday and the soul. Osnabrück University has become the first in Germany to offer seminars for imams. Many hope it will prove a boon for integration.
For the first time ever, imams are going to be trained at a German university. It is a development long fought for by many German politicians.
The signal sent out by Osnabrück could hardly be more important. The German state is creating partners in its dialogue with Islam: imams trained in state institutions. Almost 100 imams and other religious counsellors (for example voluntary helpers in the Muslim communities) have expressed an interest in the program. The university only has 30 places on its one-year course. Among those taking part are men and women from Bosnia, Arabic countries, and Turkey.
As of Oct. 11 they will take classes in religious education and how to link religious ideas to the everyday life of Muslim children, young people and others in the community. How should they mediate when parents do not want their children to take part in school trips? How should they advise Muslims whose partner belongs to another religion. “It is also about respecting other religions, it is about people making it clear that Christians and Jews are also devout,” said Rauf Ceylan, professor for Islamic religious education at Osnabrück University.