Teaching Profile

Due to the absence of a central authority, the religion of Islam has to be seen as structurally heterogeneous, by its very nature pluralistic, and by no means a monolithic block. Such a constitution offers possibilities for the academic discipline of Islamic Theology to address a broad range of audiences through a pluralist approach. Islamic theology was not developed in a vacuum; rather, it was the context of debates with other religions and worldviews as well as intra-Islamic disputes that have conditioned its development and, thus, its dialectic nature. Throughout history, Islamic theology has shown a remarkable capability for adaption. It has likewise found different forms of expression, while always referring to a stable, unchanging nucleus. Regardless of all differences and varieties, all Muslim theological traditions relate to the same system of references, the core of which is built around the Qur’an and the Sunna. At the same time, these traditions have been influenced by various historical, geographical, cultural and political circumstances, which have led to the rise of different competing claims of knowledge. Even in today's globalized world, new theological trends are emerging. Their Islamic position has to be determined in a new context while at the same time entering a fruitful exchange with traditional contents. Germany, in this respect, is no exception.

The study of Islamic Theology in Frankfurt is guided by the principle of theology as science (Wissenschaft), and it is composed of the classical canon of Islamic scholarly disciplines: Qur’ranic Exegesis (tafsīr), the Science of Hadith (ḥadīṯ), Islamic Law (fiqh) and its Methodology (uṣūl al-fiqh), Systematic Theology (kalām), the Biography of the Prophet (sīra), History (tārīḫ), Philosophy (falsafa), Mysticism (taṣawwuf) and Ethics (aḫlāq) as well as the Intellectual History of Islam, the research profile of which is oriented towards theory of history and which regards itself as an interface for the systematic classification and development of transdisciplinary questions.
There is an urgent need for academic contextualization and representation of the spiritual heritage of Islam in the context of Europe’s value pluralism through rational theological reflection. At our Institute, we regard this reflection as constituting two dimensions:

  1. Religious source material has to be studied within the framework of an academic culture and assessed through methods and mechanisms of text criticism, philological scrutiny, hermeneutical reflection and aesthetic sensitivity.
  2. At the same time, religious practice and its mediation should be subject to theological scrutiny.

The main teaching objectives are the communication, analysis and critical assessment of classical knowledge that can be found in the primary Islamic sources on the one hand, and introduction to the methods and structures of argumentation of modern academic disciplines on the other. This implies a reflection of the classical methods of the basic disciplines and an examination of their relations to recent hermeneutic, historical-critical and systematic approaches. Moreover, Islamic Studies in Frankfurt offer classes on the aesthetic dimensions of Muslim cultural production. Disciplines such as Practical Theology, Religious Education, and Social and Community Work will be introduced in the near future. Another significant part of the curriculum is the topic of Islam and Muslims in Europe, with special emphasis on Germany. This part of the curriculum includes classes on interdisciplinary research on Islam as well as the analysis of Islamic theological discourses in the light of Christian and Jewish academic theological traditions, both in the German and the broader European context.

A scientific character of Islamic Theology is the necessary pre-requisite for the realization of these teaching objectives. It is only on a solid academic basis that Islamic Theology can go beyond mere education of teachers and theologians and pursue its goal of contributing to general social debates, such as the debates on human rights, environmental issues, biotechnology or bioethics.

The research focus of the Institute corresponds with this teaching profile. Research fields, which are developed in a variety of doctoral, post-doctoral and other research projects at the Institute as well as in cooperation with other institutions, are taken into account in our curriculum.