Islamic Education in Europe

Dear colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Following these interesting presentations and contributions about the situation of Imam- and teacher-training in Europe we celebrate the fact that Muslim educators show awareness about their presence in Europe. Since our first conference in Vienna in 2009, we are pleased to see Muslim educators have started to develop resources and infrastructure accordingly. We have also noted that Islam has been an integral part of Europe for some considerable time and still it is. Even though, at present, Islam maybe most associated with immigration issues, it has a rich, deep history in Europe.

Many European nations are confronted by the fact that Islam and Muslims are not only a passing phenomenon and are trying to establish institutions and facilities for higher education to train Imams and teachers. Not only do we observe such developments in Germany, Belgium, Holland and Austria but also in eastern European countries. Furthermore, we witness an impressive professionalization of educational establishments in Southeast Europe, which was unimaginable 5-10 years ago. Just looking at the presentations of the young researchers from Kosovo we acknowledge serious exploration towards Western Europe. The number of growing graduates from Eastern European Islamic higher education institutions in Western Europe is a further sign that these professionals can compete internationally.

The contribution from Great Britain stressed the importance of critical research in theory and practice of Islamic education in Europe. This is an encouraging development which has important implications for improving the much needed pedagogic resources for contemporary Islamic Education practice in Europe.  The representations from various Mufti offices  shows that Muslims are in fact leading an internal discourse with regard to the contextualization of Islamic teachings and do not hesitate to  look at topics that would have been off-limits a few years ago.

The contributions all indicate that we need to continue with the discussion on Islamic education which can make an important contribution to a mature European Muslim identity and sense of belonging to emerge. An Islamic identity that is critically open to the cultural and religious diversity in modern Europe. Islamic education in Europe stresses the values of intercultural and interreligious learning without compromising its own position.

The growing numbers of female Muslim theologians stress the fact that a future Islam in Europe needs to thoroughly rethink the position of women, welcoming the rich and challenging dialogue that emerges from their examination of the texts and traditions of Islam.

The participation of non-Muslim colleagues from other countries such as the USA revives the Islamic discourse and creates transparency on inner Islamic developments and further shows different interreligious possibilities on cooperation between religions.

Europe is confronted with huge economic and political challenges, which we do not wish to ignore. Our past experiences have made it obvious that we cannot solve these problems without referring to common ethical foundations such as human rights. Europe is not only a community that shareseconomic interests but Europe is also a community of shared values; these values are the hallmarks of Europe.

If Europe is a community of shared values then Muslims need to engage with it in a manner that makes it clear that they have important contributions to make to this community of shared values.

We require an inner Islamic discourse if wewant to deal with these values non-judgmentally. We cannot have this dialogue taking place on the fringes of society;it needs to occur in the middle of society. The dialog will help us discover commonalities in our shared value community and to partake in it. This process will also help us to understand that Islam made great contributions towards the rational, critically conscious way of thinking in Europe.

In our discussions it has been clear that Islamic education in Europe cannot and should not waive its own traditions. An Islamic education is unimaginable without looking at the Islamic tradition itself. It is, however, not just a matter of accepting the tradition as it is. We need to reflect on and critically assess the rich tradition of this religion. Therefore, Islamic education always involves critical thinking. Iman (faith) and life are closely correlated. From an educational theory point of view, Islamic religious education draws on an Islamic tradition but also on a theological reflection on this tradition.

Conference delegates look at this conference as an opportunity to cooperate in educational sciences in Europe. Many of the ideas that were raised with regard to Islamic education are not new and were outlined in different ways by different Muslim colleagues. What is missing in Europe is a forum that allows and encourages an effective mutual exchange and cooperation. Saying this I am not thinking of institutions but of concrete cooperation in certain projects. A forum on education could make the knowledge transfer easier and we could inform each other on research results and research plans. My travels have showed me that we can learn a lot from each other.

Hence, after some deliberation with colleagues and the Mufti of the Ukraine we have decided to hold the next conference in Kiev.

Following this conference we would like to encourage a continuous exchange on what we do!

We are confident that you join me in deep gratitude for the hospitality and hard work of our hosts, Islamic Community in Kosovo, especially the Faculty of Islamic Studies, Dean Qazim Qazimi and Muzaqete Kosumi. In addition we want to acknowledge the work of Ilire Halimi Poniku from the Faculty of Philosophy and Education, Islamic Religious Education at the University of Vienna and especially the outstanding organizational skills and hard work of Zsofia Windisch. 


We continue to work together on the future of Islam in Europe and to support each other in teaching, research and the education of Muslim children in Europe.


We hope and we pray to Allah that these efforts will contribute to the emergence of a mature European Muslim Umma.


Islamic Education in Europe | Universität Wien  | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1  | 1010 Wien