Centres for Islamic theology: Well established after ten years
There are currently more than five million Muslims living in Germany - for many years, they have been the third largest religious group after the Catholic and Protestant Christians. As early as in 2010, the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) recommended that the development of academically based Islamic studies in Germany be promoted and that, by establishing centres for Islamic theology, "institutional conditions be created to ensure that the plurality of the Islamic faith in the Federal Republic of Germany can be taken into account adequately".
The BMBF has funded the development of centres for Islamic theology with a total funding of around 44 million euros since 2011. The funding aims at anchoring Islamic-theological and Islam-related interdisciplinary research in the German academic system in a sustainable manner, enabling academically sound, German-language studies for religious scholars at state universities and training young academics in Islamic theology for universities and schools. At the end of 2021, around 1900 students were enrolled in Islamic theology courses at BMBF-funded locations.
The BMBF's support for the development of these centres is linked to high requirements in order to ensure long-term success, which includes a permanent financial commitment by the respective university and the respective state, a broad spectrum of university subjects, the participation of Muslims and cross-location cooperation. The responsibility for the development and permanent operation of these centres lies with the states and the universities. After ten years of funding by the BMBF, the funding for the centres in Frankfurt, Münster, Osnabrück and Tübingen, which have already been funded since 2011, has now come to an end. As opposed to that, the institutes for Islamic theology at the Humboldt University in Berlin and at the University of Paderborn have been funded only since 2019.
Permanent organisational structures have been established at all seven locations. The centres have meanwhile been able to establish themselves as recognised places for Islamic theological research both nationally and internationally, making substantial contributions to the promotion of young academics in the field of Islamic theology. An active academic exchange takes place through numerous conferences and publications, media presence and international contacts. This ensures professional quality as well as visibility of the centres and BMBF funding. In addition to the centres, the BMBF has also been funding the Academy for Islam in Research and Society (AIWG) since 2016. This academy is based at the Goethe University Frankfurt and facilitates networking between the centres and promotes communication between the academia and the society on topics of Islamic theology and Muslim life in Germany.