Ursula Neumann (Ed.): Islamic Theology: International Contributions to the Hamburg Debate

Prof. Dr. Christine Schirrmacher

Ursula Neumann (Hg.). Islamische Theologie. Internationale Beiträge zur Hamburger Debatte. Edition Körber- Stiftung, Hamburg: 2002, 168 S., 7.00 €.

This book presents a debate from March 2001 that dealt with the issue of establishing a professorship for Islamic Theology at the University of Hamburg. By way of this professorship Muslim teachers would receive academic training in Islam; thus, it was thought, leaders of mosques (Imams), teachers at Koran schools and religion teachers would be trained in Germany. They would then no longer have to come from Turkey (or other Muslim countries) and could develop a greater ability to build cultural bridges to the German majority society – this is at least the ideal. Participants in the debate included representatives of the Körber-Stiftung, well-known Muslim theologians, Islamic umbrella organisations and interest groups (such as the organisation of Muslim groups in Hamburg, the “Schura”), political representatives, representatives of the University of Hamburg and the Hamburg senate’s official looking after foreign immigrants. In addition to many “small” questions, such as the financing of such a professorship and its potentially receiving funds from financial backers abroad, the big question of this project remains the following: how can it succeed in facilitating a teacher training that permits a dialog- orientated, scientific, religion-critical body of thought but that is, at the same time, so conservative that it continues to convey to the future Imams or religion teachers the message of the immutability and absolute truth of the Koran’s teaching, including its regulations for society and prosecution? An interesting insight into the current discussion.