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International Conference on the Future of Islamic-theological Studies

The Swiss Centre for Islam and Society (University of Fribourg) is organising a conference in Zurich on 30 and 31 May 2022 on the theme “On the Future of a Young Discipline – Islamic-theological Studies between Systematic and Practical Research”.

Scholars and experts from seven countries will exchange with CSIS doctoral students on issues and perspectives concerning Islamic academic reflection. In doing so, they will contribute to raising the profile of Islamic Theological Studies.

The lectures and discussions will be held in German and English with simultaneous translation into these two languages.

It has become generally recognised that Muslims living in Switzerland and Europe have a need for academic reflection on their religion. This developement also requires an Islamic self-interpretation within new contexts of religiously and culturally plural societies. Islamic theological Studies aim to take this need into account and offer a platform for the academic as well as social negotiation of these processes. For Islamic-theological Studies as a field, however, this also entails key questions about content, conceptual and institutional design: What should be the relationship between systematic and practical research? Which subjects should be prioritised, which topics put aside? What methodological approaches can Islamic theological studies draw on and how do they relate to neighbouring disciplines in cultural sciences and humanities on the one hand and theologies on the other? Finally, the question of what ultimately makes Islamic-theological Studies “Islamic” also gives rise to some discussions. Is it the actors within Islamic-theological Studies who define themselves as Muslim? Is it the subject of “Islam” that gives the young discipline legitimacy? Or is it possibly a certain way of speaking that is characterised by a will to further develop Islamic religion? Despite all these unresolved questions, it is clear that Islamic-theological Studies can only be meaningfully when grounded in exchanges with and in relation to society. They must be able to take up and scientifically utilise diverse questions and needs in reference to Islam. How this need is concretely reflected in the academic organisation and what further consequences this has for research is one of the many questions that the conference is intended to address.

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