Imam Education at German Universities: A Public Task?

21 April 2001

From the new academic year, three German universities will offer courses to train imams. It is a novelty in Germany, if not Europe, and aims at integrating Islam into society via secular state institutions. The German Science Council had initially proposed this plan, and it was highly welcomed by the media and also the Churches. This article now explores the question of whether it is actually the state’s task to be involved in the training of religious leaders.

Islamic theology in Germany poses great challenges to universities

13 August 2010
Calls for an Islamic theology in Germany are growing ever louder. But the challenge that this represents is underestimated not only by politics, but also by Christian theologians and cultural scholars, writes theologian Klaus von Stosch. Ever since the German Science Council published its recommendations for “Islamic Studies” at German universities, the desire to see a German Islamic theology appears to have become a common cause for all the major political parties in our country. Islamic theology and its attendant infrastructure for the education of Islamic religious teachers and imams is apparently viewed by many as the magic formula for the integration of Muslims living in Germany.
But the institutions are not necessarily prepared for this major project. The author claims that it will not be easy for German universities to overcome the challenges. They will only succeed if a competition of various academic institutions can be organised in the medium-term, thereby allowing for the possibility of trying out a number of different models. In this context attention must be paid in the first instance to the promotion of young blood in the field of Islamic theology, because at present there are virtually no eligible German-speaking Islamic theologians for the study field to be established.

Islamic theology at German universities: A space for doubts and questions

Germany’s Science Council has proposed anchoring Islamic theology at the German universities – rightly and fortunately so, writes Matthias Drobinski for Qantara.de. In the juncture of religion and science Islam has the chance to win back the ability for reflection and self-restriction that the faith once had.

The author argues that Islam has forgotten and abandoned its own tradition of enlightenment. It threatens to become a religion of obedience to the letter of the law, in which Islamist thinkers have an increasing say. They transport an archaic, pre-Enlightenment image of the faith – and at the same time a very modern one. Many a young woman converting to the strictest possible form of Islam in Germany today does so because she likes its clear structures, its close and warming community, because she cannot find her way in a society in which every individual has to assemble her own life; the headscarf or the chador do not tip the scales here. The conflict over an enlightened Islam is thus not simply a conflict between the past and modern society – it is a conflict over the future of religiosity.