Tuebingen (Germany): One of
Germany’s oldest universities has opened the country’s first
department of Islamic theology to educate a new generation of
enlightened Muslim preachers, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)
“Religion needs to be thought through,” Education Minister Annette
Schavan, who is herself a graduate in Catholic theology, said.
Opening the theology department at Tuebingen University, Schavan
said the department was a “milestone for integration” of Muslims
who make up 5 percent of the population.
The course, to start at the University of Tubingen, will offer
bachelor programs in Islamic studies.
Students will be offered advanced Western academic qualifications.
Though the teaching will be conducted in German, Arabic, the
language of the Qur’an, will be a compulsory subject.
The three professors at the department had to satisfy an Islamic
advisory council that they were devout Muslims.
Tubingen department is one of four new centers in Germany
dedicated to the study of Islamic theology.
Tuebingen, a public university where tuition is free, is one of
Europe’s leading centers of academic Christian theology.
The University started in 1477 with around 80 students. Now the
student strength of the university is 24,000 which includes German
and international students.
Being one of Germany’s oldest universities, internationally noted
in medicine, natural sciences and the humanities, the university
is associated with some Nobel laureates, especially in the fields
of medicine and chemistry.
Facing resistance from conservatives, the Education Minister
rejected claims that a hardline brand of Islam would dominate at
Germany would now contribute to “advances in Islamic theology,”
Yet, she argued that graduates would be the best antidote to “hate
The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has been facing
criticism over the funding of the department, the first of four
around the country.
Tuebingen University is not the first public funded institute to
teach Islam in Germany.
In 2009, public schools allowed Muslims to study their faith for
the first time in Germany.
Germany has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some 5
percent of the total 82 million population, according to
The government move comes as the Western European country is
gripped by a fierce debate on immigration and integration.
The controversy was spurred in 2009 by central banker Thilo
Sarrazin, who accused Muslim immigrants of undermining the society
which is becoming less intelligent because of them.
Chancellor Merkel weighed in, saying that multiculturalism has
failed in Germany.
But the remarks have drawn angry reactions, with German president
Christian Wulff stressing that Islam is part and parcel of German
German politicians have also called for recognizing Islam as an
official religion in the Christian-majority country.