The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Germany experiments with training, certifying imams

The goal: Integration of foreign-born Muslims into European life

As Islamic life and society claims a place across western Europe, imams increasingly are being asked to provide guidance to their immigrant and native-born Muslim congregations. But that leads to the question: Who provides guidance for the imams?

New educational and certification programs in Germany and neighboring Austria hope to be the answer.

The University of Osnabrueck in western It was becoming increasingly clear that imams who tell their Muslim congregations how to respond and adapt to their new homes were themselves trained and educated far from Europe. Often basic concepts — democracy or church-state separation — don't resonate with either spiritual leaders or their flocks.

An educational program in the western German town of Osnabrueck is a few months into an experiment to help imams learn about European society so that they, in turn, can give better advice to their followers.

A similar program is about to see its first graduates in Vienna, and two other German universities are also working on similar ideas.

Supporters of the German programs eventually want to go beyond filling knowledge gaps on Western society to providing university degrees for would-be imams or Islamic teachers in grade schools.

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