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Intensive Programme:

The contribution of Islamic education to the integration of Muslims into the European Community

  • According to the report of the Human Rights Organization International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) about the situation of Muslims in the European Union, which was published in March 2005, the number of Muslims living in Europe (the report estimates about 20 millions) will double itself up to the year 2015. The majority of these „new "Muslims was born here in Europe. They grow up here and attend different European institutions for education (schools and universities) and are confronted with many new questions; they „live in two worlds "(Weiss 2007). Therefore many Muslim parents are afraid of a loss of the Islamic identity of their children and send them to the mosques, in order to learn about Islam in Koran classes. This religious education in the mosques is held from Muslim scholars, who are usually suffering of a lack of educational and didactical specialized knowledge. Therefore some European countries introduced Islamic religious classes to their educational system, not only in order to ensure a specialized educational and didactical teaching of religious contents, but also to make the religious education visible and to protect it against abuse or instrumentalization. Austria was the first European country, which introduced Islamic religious classes at its schools: since the beginning of the school year 1982/83 Islamic religious classes were offered to Muslim pupils, in which today over 40.000 pupils participate, who are teached by approximately 350 teachers at approx. 2.700 locations. Since 1998 the Religion teachers for Islamic religious classes at compulsory schools are trained at the Islamic Religious Pedagogy Academy (IRPA). Since the winter semester 2006/07 the Religion teachers for the secondary level are trained at the University of Vienna. Meanwhile different European countries also introduced Islamic religious classes at their schools (for example Germany in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bremen, in the Netherlands and Great Britain particularly at Private schools), and a growing number of voices within the European Union become louder, which plead for an introduction of the Islamic religious education at European schools.
  • The Islamic religious education should not, however, only have the task to teach religious contents but also to reflect and analyze critically about these contents in the light of Muslims living together with various other confessions in a plural European society. Which problems and questions is a living together in Europe of humans of different confessions challenging today and how could Islamic Education contribute to their accomplishment? How could an Islamic education be conceived, which should contribute to the development and establishment of the European identity beside the Islamic? How do Islamic religious contents and modern values like human rights, pluralism, democracy, liberty of opinion etc. agree with? How far can an open view of Islam contribute to an overcoming of traditions, which can not be agreed with human dignity (for example obligation marrying, honour murdering, discrimination of women etc.)? Which didactical means are necessary for the development of a new Islamic consciousness, which understands Islam as ethical and spiritual source, and not as a reservoir of practices and symbols, on which one falls back occasionally, in order to build up borders between him/her and the other?
  • In the context of the planned IP (Intensive Programme) should be looked for answers to these questions in cooperation with students of sociology, education, religious education and theology. Then these answers are published in a multilingual website and should primarily be an orientation for Islamic religion teachers and educators in Europe
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