Italian expert on Islam explores solutions to imam training issues

Renzo Guolo, Italian expert on Islam, deals with the problematic issue of “self-proclaimed” imams, and the lack of opportunities for training. He tries to analyze the causes of this phenomenon, linking it to the fact that Islam doesn’t have a central authority with which to interact with the State. For the majority of the European countries, the imam issue is difficult to solve for them, as they are used to dealing with centralized and hierarchical religious institutions. Guolo suggests, as a viable wayout, that the different Muslim organizations in Italy unite in a common body.

However, this goal is currently out of reach, because of the disagreements within Islam and the absence of a national law concerning religious freedom able to facilitate the process. Moreover, he adds, there isn’t a political will to set up effective politics and policies. According to Guolo, the only solution is to nationalize Islam and recognize it as a legitimate dimension of national pluralism. These steps, indeed, would to go beyond the smaller requests previously proposed, such as preaching in Italian or for imams to possess official certifications.

Minister proposes a registry for imams and mosques

Italian European Affairs Minister Andrea Ronchi has proposed a registry for imams in Italy, in order to control the building of mosques, and a referendum to urge for more integration of places of worship according to the social and urban contexts where they are based. Ronchi made the proposals suggesting that the initiatives would improve religious dialogue. He also stated that he would like to restart dialogue between Muslims and institutions including the Islamic Council or Consulta per l’Islam. However, Ronchi said that he did not want the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy to take part in the initiative, even though it is the country’s largest Muslim group – calling them “the real exponents of non-dialogue” concerning the group’s denial of the existence of Israel.

See full-text articles: