In the early 2000s, the German Council of Science and Humanities proffered a recommendation to introduce Islamic Theology (“Islamic Studies”) at universities, launching Germany into a new era of religious and theological education. Supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Centers/Institutes for Islamic Theology or Islamic-Religious Studies were established at universities in Tuebingen, Muenster, Osnabrueck, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Giessen, and Frankfurt am Main. These theological centers offer new horizons for confessionally oriented, robust, academic studies of Islam. They support young researchers, network internationally and engage in training teachers of Religious Education.
The founding of the Center for Islamic Theology (ZITh) in 2011, marks a long standing tradition of path breaking research and scholarly excellence in theological studies at the University of Tuebingen. Alongside the faculties for Law, Medicine and Philosophy, the Faculty of Theology was one of the founding faculties of the University in 1477. In the Reformation period, the Faculty of Theology became Protestant, and in 1817, the Faculty for Catholic Theology was established. With the addition of the Center for Islamic Theology, the University of Tuebingen continues to stake its place as the seat of an internationally renowned academic theological tradition.
The teaching of Islamic theology and related religious studies at the Center began in the winter semester of 2011/12 with an undergraduate program entitled "Islamic Theology", followed by a teacher’s education course, "Islamic Religious Education" in winter semester of 2013/14. Currently, 210 students study a diversity of courses within our various degrees programs, which include “Islamic Theology” (BA), “Islamic Religious Education” (B. / M. Ed.), “Islamic Theology in the European Context” (MA) and "Practical Islamic Theology for Pastoral Care and Social Work" (MA).
In the development of its programs, the ZITh is supported by a confessional committee formed by three organizations: DİTİB (Diyanet İşleri Türk-Islam Birliği), IGBD (Islamic Community of Bosniaks in Germany), and VIKZ (National Association of Islamic Cultural Centers), as well as two independent Muslim experts. The Advisory Council helps provide support on matters concerning theology and doctrinal issues within the Center’s academic programs.
The research conducted at the ZITh reflects the broad interests of its academic staff, ranging from classical disciplines in Islamic Theology and Oriental Studies to contemporary interests in religion and science, art, the social sciences as well as interfaith related themes. This includes, though is not limited to, research in philology, historical anthropology, history of ideas, legal and religious history, exegesis, prophetic traditions as well as systematic theology, philosophy of religion and legal theory. Moreover, the emphasis on practical theology extends to the important emerging fields of pedagogy, social and youth work as well as faith-based counselling.
In addition to producing outstanding research, our staff serve as experts in national and international institutions, such as the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Integration, the European Council, the Arab League, and the UNO, amongst others. Our unique institutional collaborations work with partners in almost every continent, allowing staff and students extensive opportunities for exchange and cooperation. We also work closely with other faculties here at the University of Tübingen in order to foster a multi-disciplinary research and study environment. Alumni from our Centre have gone on to work in the academy, primary and secondary education, private and public sectors, health fields, chaplaincy and social work, and continue to branch out into ever more dynamic fields of study and practice.