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New study planned: Islamic clerics in Germany

Bringing the debate about imams to an objective level

Increasingly, imams are at the centre of the debate within Germany about Islam, be it their possible bridge-building function in integration matters or in establishing centres for Islamic studies in German universities that will also train imams in the future. Critics often note that imams are largely educated abroad because of a lack of training programmes in Germany and many imams often only have a basic knowledge of the language and the country.

However, to date neither politicians involved in integration nor universities have been able to discuss these issues based on empirical data as these are not available in Germany. A new study conducted by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees will now close this gap in research in order to facilitate an informed and objective discussion about Islamic clerics.

Focusing on daily work

As part of the study, further information about imams and Alevi dedes and their work in their congregations will be acquired by collecting valid data.In addition, the results gained should also lead to gaining more information about the educational requirements of those surveyed. As a result, the education and further training needs can be better ascertained and education programmes designed with greater focus on the target group. The education and training of Islamic clerics represents a key area for supporting the integration of Muslims as is demonstrated in the requests made by the academic supervisory board after establishing Islamic Studies at German universities and the work done in this area by the German Islam Conference in its working groups.

This study should primarily clarify the following basic questions:

How many imams and dedes are currently working in a religious capacity in Germany? Which countries do they come from, how long have they been living in Germany and what are their living conditions like in Germany? In addition, information will be gathered about the tasks Islamic clerics undertake within their mosque congregations and cems – starting with leading prayers to teaching children and young people about their religion to inter-cultural and inter-faith activities.

Professional qualifications and further training needs

Against the backdrop of setting up professorships of Islamic Studies at German universities, the training routes and professional qualifications of imams and dedes are also of great interest. The assessment of Islamic clerics will also be considered in terms of their need for education and further training measures.

Telephone survey in nine languages

The survey of imams and dedes will be carried out by telephone based on a standardised questionnaire. The content of the survey has been discussed and agreed in advance with renowned academics in social studies and Islamic studies, as well as with various Islamic organisations. The questionnaire has been translated into eight languages in order to reach imams and dedes with little knowledge of German.

Survey by the Centre for Turkish Studies and Integration Research on mosque congregations

In parallel with the survey of Islamic clerics, the Essen-based Centre for Turkish Studies and Integration (ZfTI) is also carrying out a study on Islamic congregations.  As part of this study, more in-depth information about mosque congregations and cems will be acquired, including information about the size, users, programmes and memberships of associations.

Jana Schmidt, 02/03/2011

Jana Schmidt is an academic member of staff in the area of Empirical Social Research at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and together with Dr Anja Stichs, is responsible for the "Islamic Clerics" (Islamische Religionsbedienstete) project.

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