Islamic Studies

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The Islamic Studies (obsolete: Islamic Studies , isolated and Islamic Studies ) is the scientific study of the religion of Islam , traditionally a Islamic cultures and societies in the past and present.

The designation of Islamic scholars as "Islamists" has been out of date since it can lead to confusion with the politically understood neologism " Islamist ".

Differentiation from Islamic theology

A distinction must be made between Islamic studies and Islamic theology, which in Germany also operates under the term Islamic Studies . While Islamic scholars take an analytical view of Islam regardless of their own religious beliefs, in Islamic theology devout Muslims actively shape current Islam by practicing theology. Ideally, Islamic theology relies entirely on the scientific nature of Islamic studies, but in practice this is not the case: On the one hand, there are religious reservations for traditional reasons about accepting scientific research results. On the other hand, Islamic studies can also develop theories that question belief itself; By their nature, Islamic theology can only deal with these apologetically . In addition, it should be borne in mind that scientific discourses can also color the religious debates and viewpoints that were originally developed in an academic context can be used for theology and fed into religious teachings.

A further distinction is to be made between the term "Islamkunde", which is primarily used in Germany for the Islamic religious instruction in schools that is becoming established and is currently the subject of controversy.

History of Islamic Studies

The emergence of Islamic Studies as a scientific subject should be seen in connection with the emancipation of Oriental Studies from theology . The résumé of the history of the Freiburg Oriental Seminar by the retired ancient orientalist Horst Steible may illustrate this development:

"Today's Oriental Seminary was formally founded in 1949, but the beginnings of Oriental Studies at the University of Freiburg go back much further. Already at the end of the 19th century, various Orientalist disciplines emerged from the shadow of theology, such as the work of S. Hermann Reckendorf (1864–1924) and Joseph Schacht (1902–1969) in Arabic studies, Ernst Leumann (1859–1931) in Indology and Hermann Kees (1886–1964) in Egyptology shows the 1932 parental leave due to National Socialism The Freiburg Oriental Studies ended in 1949 when, in the person of Oluf Krückmann, a scientist was appointed who still united the whole world of the Middle East: the cuneiform languages ​​as well as Egyptology and Islamic Studies. "

For a long time, the field of competence of studied orientalists comprised many different fields of research, which today have developed into independent subjects, which is also reflected structurally at many universities: Are the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg i. Breisgau, for example, the departments of Islamic Studies and Jewish Studies - in the past also Sinology, Indology and the like. A. - summarized under the umbrella of Oriental Studies, the Seminar for Languages ​​and Cultures of the Near East in Heidelberg spans the subjects of Islamic Studies, Assyriology and Semitic Studies, whereas Jewish matters are completely independent with the College for Jewish Studies. The other regional studies, especially Sinology, Japanese Studies and Indology, are no longer associated with Islamic Studies at either university.

However, such and similar situations sometimes lead to under-filling or non-filling of research areas in research: At the end of 2019, there were only thirteen professorships for Turkish Studies at ten locations, compared to 40 professorships for Islamic Studies at 20 locations. According to this, Islamic Studies still manages a very large area of ​​responsibility; The processing of research fields such as the exploration of the Turkish or Persian cultural area, which could also take place within the framework of independent institutes, is largely the responsibility of the internal breakdown of the subject of Islamic Studies and any specializations of the researchers. At the same time - for example - the separation between Islamic studies and Indological institutes implies that the latter are not or do not have to deal with Islam, while in reality an enormous number of Muslims live in India .

Subject of research

The Islamic Studies is based, among other issues on the evaluation of Islamic Arab writing ( Qur'an , hadith , comments, law , literature ). But non-religious literature from the Islamic world is also examined. The religious tradition is seen as an essential shaping factor for culture and society and is as such an object of science.

The subject of Islamic Studies encompasses religion , literature , culture , history and the present of the Islamic Middle East and Southeast Asia; to a lesser extent, the Islamic worlds of Africa and - especially more recently - the Western world are dealt with. The training of the main subject students includes the acquisition of comprehensive knowledge of Standard Arabic and another language from an Islamic country such as Persian or Turkish , possibly also Urdu or Indonesian . Basic knowledge of Islamic theologies, Islamic law , history and the present as well as classical and modern forms of expression in Arabic literature are further central learning objectives of the course.

The employment prospects of the graduates are good: since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 , national newspapers as well as think tanks and secret services have been looking for specialists in Islamic studies.

Abbas Poya and Marcus Reinkowski, however, diagnose a number of fateful questions for Islamic studies in connection with the "unease in the humanities" in this context. This is how they notice:

"The representatives of the subject are happy to claim (especially to the media) that 'Islam' does not exist. In defending their subject against other disciplines, however, they usually operate with the view of Islam. In a narrower area, ( ...), the attempt is made to grasp exactly this core. Could it be the task of Islamic studies to recognize the "germ-laden core" of Islamic cultures beyond false essentialisms? "

Islamic studies are therefore faced with the dilemma of not producing knowledge about Islam without proceeding to a high degree in a normative manner. Furthermore, they predict, in the future "neighboring subjects (...) will increasingly penetrate the domains of Islamic studies." In particular, the "profound knowledge of one or more Islamic languages", which Islamic scholars see as an essential aspect of their expertise, is affected by this. "In the face of an increasingly globalized student body (...) the lead of Islamic Studies, if it is only based on its linguistic competence, will shrink more and more." Benjamin Jokisch even goes so far as to diagnose that "the most recent developments in Islamic studies under the aspect of globalization (suggested that) (...) the discipline is more in a process of dissolution or amalgamation with other, adjacent disciplines . "

Some universities have recently launched courses that promote the integration of Islamic studies with Jewish studies and, in some cases, the social sciences - for example, in a cooperation between the University of Heidelberg and the University of Jewish Studies in Heidelberg since the 2019/20 winter semester. The background of such courses is on the one hand the endeavor to overcome the separation of preoccupation with Judaism and Israel on the one hand and preoccupation with the rest of the Middle East on the other hand. On the other hand, the language-based disciplines, Islamic Studies and Jewish Studies , are to be brought together with the method-based social sciences .

See also


Technical definitions and introductions

  • Lutz Richter-Bernburg: Why Islamic Studies? In: Florian Keisinger u. a. (Ed.): Why humanities? Controversial arguments for an overdue debate . Campus, Frankfurt am Main / New York, NY 2003, ISBN 3-593-37336-X .
  • Stephan Conermann, Syrinx von Hees (Ed.): Islamic Studies as Cultural Studies - Historical Anthropology / Mental History. Approaches and possibilities (=  Bonn Islam Studies . Volume 4 ). EB Verlag, Schenefeld / Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-936912-12-8 .
  • Peter Heine : Introduction to Islamic Studies (=  Academy Study Books - Cultural Studies ). Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-05-004445-3 .
  • Abbas Poya, Maurus Reinkowski (ed.): The unease in Islamic studies. A classic subject in the spotlight of politics and the media . transcript, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-715-8 .


  • Erika Bär: Bibliography on German-language Islamic studies and Semitic studies from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day . 3 volumes, 1985–1994. Reichert, Wiesbaden.
  • JD Pearson & Julia F. Ashton: Index Islamicus 1906–1955 . A catalog of articles on Islamic subjects in periodicals and other collective publications. Cambridge 1958


  • Hartmut Bobzin : History of Arabic Philology in Europe up to the end of the eighteenth century . In: Wolfdietrich Fischer (Hrsg.): Outline of Arabic Philology . tape III . Wiesbaden 1992, p. 155-187 .
  • Johann Fück: The Arab Studies in Europe until the beginning of the 20th century . Leipzig 1955.
  • Ludmilla Hanisch: The successors of the exegetes. German-language exploration of the Middle East in the first half of the 20th century . Wiesbaden 2003.
  • Rudi Paret : Arabic and Islamic studies at German universities. German orientalists since Theodor Nöldeke . Wiesbaden 1966.
  • Holger Preissler: The beginnings of the German Oriental Society . Goettingen 1995.

Web links

Wiktionary: Islamic Studies  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Abbas Poya - Maurus Reinkowski (ed.): The unease in Islamic studies. A classic subject in the spotlight of politics and the media . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-715-8 , p. 12 .
  2. Horst Steible: History of the Oriental Seminary. Retrieved January 3, 2020 .
  3. General. In: Oriental Seminar / Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg. Retrieved January 3, 2020 .
  4. Seminar for Languages ​​and Cultures of the Middle East. In: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. Retrieved January 3, 2020 .
  5. Turkology / Locations. Small subjects portal, accessed on January 3, 2020 .
  6. Islamic Studies / Locations. In: Portal Small Subjects. Retrieved January 3, 2020 .
  7. Virginia Kirst: These exotics are supposed to protect us from terror., November 24, 2015, accessed on November 24, 2015
  8. Abbas Poya - Maurus Reinkowski (ed.): The unease in Islamic studies (introduction) . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-715-8 , p. 9 .
  9. Abbas Poya - Maurus Reinkowski (ed.): The unease in Islamic studies (introduction) . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-715-8 , p. 12 .
  10. Abbas Poya - Maurus Reinkowski (ed.): The unease in Islamic studies (introduction) . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-715-8 .
  11. Abbas Poya - Maurus Reinkowski (ed.): The unease in Islamic studies . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-715-8 , p. 12 .
  12. Abbas Poya - Maurus Reinkowski (ed.): The unease in Islamic studies . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-715-8 , p. 12 .
  13. ^ Benjamin Jokisch: Islamic Studies: Globalization of a Philological Discipline, in: The unease in Islamic Studies . Ed .: Abbas Poya - Maurus Reinkowski. transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-715-8 , p. 49 .
  14. Middle East Master. Retrieved June 4, 2020 .
  15. Michael Nuding: Islamic Studies and Israel Studies at German Universities - Do Jewish Studies and Islamic Studies belong together? In: Zenith magazine. May 28, 2020, accessed June 4, 2020 .