On 7 December 2020 the Academy of Islam in Research and Society at the Goethe-University Frankfurt organised a hybrid international workshop titled: „Building bridges between the State and Muslim communities: Domestic training of Muslim religious professionals in Europe and North America as a common issue“. A total of 26 international experts of politics, academia and civil society participated in the event, partly in presence and partly online, to discuss the cooperation between the State and religious communities in the field of developing national training programmes for imams and Muslim chaplains.
After an opening with welcoming addresses held by AIWG Director Prof Dr Bekim Agai and Ambassador Dr Volker Berresheim of the German Foreign Office, Dr Raida Chbib, head of the AIWG International Programme, emphasised in her thematic introduction the need of sharing experiences and expertise on a European level. “The discussion of questions of a domestic training of Islamic religious personnel has to take place primarily here instead of waiting for solutions from non-European countries”, she says. The AIWG is organising such an exchange of experts by holding conferences as well as by producing a new international AIWG report in a joint cross-national cooperation: „Education and Training of Muslim Religious Professionals in Europe and North America“.
At the workshop, different types of institutionalisation of domestic training of religious personnel were presented, summarised by Dr. Niels Vinding based on a country comparison. Dr. Welmoet Boender outlined a model of cooperation between the state, public educational institutions and Muslim communities and described how important but also how difficult and fragile such cooperation processes are. Ongoing processes of dialogue and cooperation between the State and Islamic communities were highlighted by Norbert Müller and Muhammed Toualbia with examples of the State Treaty of Hamburg and the transformation processes in imam and chaplain training at the Grand Mosque in Paris. With a commentary from the Indonesian Prof Dr Azyumardi Azra from the University of Jakarta, the topic was commented on from a foreign perspective while placing it in a more global context.
The workshop took place within the framework of the AIWG international programme. It builds on the discussion of two former international conferences on the topic, which took place in Frankfurt and Berlin and on the subsequent networking of the AIWG.