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Religion and Society

Wanted: a German Islam

There is a debate in various European countries about the need to train religious experts locally in order to avoid foreign interference and the influence of do-it-yourself preachers. The spread of ideas opposing the integration of Muslim communities and the growing force of radical ideologies are both giving cause for concern. To prevent all this, Germany has come up with the idea of creating centres of Islamic Theology. We visited them

The debate is re-opened at regular intervals. Germany needs a “law on Islam” that can regulate the Muslim communities and guarantee that preaching in the mosques is in German, thereby promoting “transparency”. So said Jens Spahn, a conservative politician and member of the executive committee of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, at the beginning of April. Spahn also re-raised an issue that, for years now, people have been grappling with not only in Germany but everywhere in Europe where the Muslim presence is growing: the training of imams. It was precisely this expression that was used by both the German and the international press when an Islamic Theology programme was launched in 2010 at the University of Osnabrück in Lower Saxony (to the North-West of the country). And, judging by the words of Rauf Ceylan, still today a professor of Sociology of Religion at Osnabrück, that was also the idea that the project’s founders had. As he said at the time, through the site IslamToday, “We need imams who are socialized and at home in Germany. They influence the religious orientation of Muslims in Germany, they have a big impact on whether young Muslims will practice a tolerant, conservative or extremist version of Islam.”

[This article is published in Oasis no. 25. To read all the contents buy a copy or subscribe]

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