On January 16th, German Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan officially opened Germany’s first Centre of Islamic Theology at the University of Tübingen. The centre in Tübingen is the first of four planned Islamic study centres throughout the country, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with a total sum of around 20 million Euros (as reported earlier). During the opening ceremony, Annette Schavan said the centre was a “milestone for integration” of Germany’s approximately 4.3 million Muslims. And indeed, the plans to establish Islamic study centres and introduce study programmes in Islamic theology are part of a modern integration policy. The centre will mainly function to train imams and teachers for Islamic studies; so far, most imams currently in Germany are from Turkey and many of them do not speak German.
The federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony are planning to introduce Islamic religious education in state schools, starting at the beginning of the school year of 2012/ 2013 (as reported). The new subject is not only meant to impart knowledge and introduce children to Islamic practices, but also offers opportunities to promote tolerance and acceptance for people of different faiths. However, currently, the states are concerned about the lack of teachers to successfully implement these plans in practice.
To enable potential teachers for Islamic education to complete basic (and obligatory) university studies in theology, Federal Minister of Education and Research, Annette Schavan, is planning on introducing (and funding) Islamic Theology at four universities throughout Germany. The universities of Münster/ Osnabrück and Tübingen, for instance, offer some courses in the next academic year. Similar to the lack of teachers, the demand for lecturers and professors cannot be met domestically. Therefore, personnel will initially be recruited from abroad.
14 October 2010
Education Minister Annette Schavan announced on Thursday that the universities of Tübingen, Münster and Osnabrück would offer Germany’s first Islamic studies courses — part of the government’s effort to curb extremist views.
The university courses will allow Muslims to do their religious studies at a mainstream university, where a new generation of imams and school teachers can be instructed in a way compatible with western values. The programme establishes departments for Islamic studies, including several new professorships. Students will be able to start studying in the winter semester of 2011.
“When a religion his given the chance to develop a theology, it does the religion good,” said Schavan, who herself studied Catholic theology. “We want Islamic religious classes in as many educational facilities as possible,” she said. Imams could for their part build bridges between the mosque-based communities and the broader communities, she said.
The new courses would also play an important role in improving the integration of Muslim communities in Germany, Schavan added. In the wake of a heated immigration debate and Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer’s recent call to stop immigration of Turks and Arabs, integration remains a divisive issue.