“Our wish is that this day brings about a turning point in the training of religious supervisors in Germany and that we can start training here in Germany permanently,” said the academic director of the Islam College Germany (IKD), Bülent Uçar, at the ceremony on the occasion of the official opening of the nationwide unique training facility on Tuesday. For the first time, imams and religious supervisors are trained independently and across associations at the college. The federal and state governments give money, and various Muslim communities and associations are responsible for the content.
“Confident German and Islamic, rooted in society”
Like Ucar, all the other speakers emphasized the importance of the Islam College for the overall social recognition of Islam in Germany. The training program is “self-confidently German and Islamic in the sense of an Islam that is rooted in our society, shares the values of our Basic Law and respects the way of life in our country,” said Markus Kerber, the State Secretary responsible for the Islam Conference in the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
“Necessary building block for equal rights for Muslims in Germany”
Since the immigration of refugees in 2015 at the latest, the Islamic community in Germany has been more diverse than in any other country in Europe, said Kerber. He hoped that in a few years the radiance of the college will also reach Muslim countries around the world, said the State Secretary. Former Federal President Christian Wulff, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the IKD, called the training college a great thing: “It is an important step, a necessary component in the overall concept of full equality for Muslims in our country.” Lower Saxony’s Minister of Science Björn Thümler (CDU) also agreed. He believes that it is a fundamentally important day for cooperation, for the coexistence of Muslims in Germany, “said Thümler. The state recognizes that the practice of religion by Muslims represents real added value.
Congregations decide whether to act as imams
The Islamkolleg Deutschland was founded at the end of 2019 by Muslim community associations, theologians, academics and Muslim public figures. Like Catholic priests, Protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis, the college students are to be prepared for their community service there after they have completed their theology studies. The first course consists of more than 50 participants, around 20 percent of whom are women, according to the director Uçar. The college did not want to take part in the discussion of whether there should also be female imams, said the theologian. “The mosque communities have to decide that for themselves.”
Associations, congregations and theologians draw up curricula
According to Uçar, the curricula are determined by a commission. The five associations that support the college in addition to mosque communities and theologians – including the Central Council of Muslims and the Muslims in Lower Saxony – are also represented. However, not all Muslim associations support the training facility. For example, the Turkish Ditib founded its own training center in the Eifel last year. The selection of the students is independent of the association membership, so Uçar. The federal government and the state of Lower Saxony are financing the facility for five years with a total of around 5.5 million euros, but have no say in terms of content.