Document Type : Research Article

Author

Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Abstract

Freedom of religion in the sense of freedom of belief and of religious manifestations; in teaching, practice, worship and observance is one of the basic human rights laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 18. Freedom of religion in this sense is considered to be an important right and to play an important role in keeping up social peace in society. Germany, being a secular state with a historical connection to Christian religion, has anchored this right of religious freedom in is constitution in Article 4.According to Art. 7/3 religious education in state- run schools is accomplished in accordance with the religious communities. This religious education is normally provided for by the Catholic and Protestant Churches, but also by the Jewish community.  There are 3,2 Mio Muslims in Germany , especially from Turkey, but also from the Arab countries and Iran. Most of these Muslims do not plan to return to their native countries and will remain in Germany.They do enjoy freedom of religion in the above-mentioned sense. In my paper I will deal with the question of how religious manifestations of the Muslims in Germany “in teaching, practice, worship and observance “is accomplished.
I shall focus on their religious education and endeavor to answer the following questions: What does Islamic education mean in Germany, in a secular state? Who provides for it and how? How does it differ from religious education in Islamic countries? How is it seen by the German society? I will deal with these questions on two levels (1) on the national level and (2) on the local level. On the national level a clear effort of the German state can be seen to integrate the Muslim minority as a religious group into the German state.
For this reason the German Minister Wolfgang Schäuble convened in 2006 the so called “Islamkonferenz inviting jurists, scholars of Islamic studies and representatives of the different Muslim communities as well as independent persons to talk about the situation of Muslims in Germany. The unsolved question still is: how the different Islamic groups comprising Muslims from different social, political and religious backgrounds and from different countries as Turkey, Arab states, Iran, Afghanistan with different national Islamic traditions could find a common platform of religious Islamic belief in a secular state. By establishing the Coordinating Council (Koordinierungsrat) of Muslims in Germany in April 2007, some larger Islamic organizations tried to create a common structure for the representation of all Muslims. So far this organization has not been recognized by the German state as the official representative of all Muslims, but the discussions at the “Islamkonferenz” are not yet finished and are still going on.
One of the main aims of the Muslim Organizations is to gain the right to give Islamic religious lessons at German state-run schools. Whereas on the national level the integration of Islam as a religion within the secular system is discussed, on the local level religious teaching is currently taking place within different projects in many selected state schools in Germany as well as in local mosques. Religious teaching at mosques will be discussed by taking the example of mosques in Goettingen, a small university town in Central Germany. There are two main mosques in Goettingen: one belonging to the Turkish community (Ditib) and the other being an Arab mosque.
I shall sketch the concept of religious education given in this Arab mosque with regard to its content and the way it is taught to the children, whether it corresponds to the classical Islamic education and which concepts, beliefs, rituals and cultic acts are being considered important for children growing up in a completely secular context?
Finally, I shall compare this approach at the local level with the efforts made on the national level and discuss how these different efforts are judged by the German society. 

Keywords

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