Germany’s first Centre of Islamic Theology was recently opened at the University of Tübingen. The head of the centre is the Koranic expert Omar Hamdan, who so far is the only professor teaching at the centre. Arnfrid Schenk spoke to the professor about his work and the degree course he is teaching
The smell of paint lingers in the air, the walls are pristine white and there are no nameplates on the doors. With one exception: on the door of an office on the first floor hangs the nameplate “Prof. Omar Hamdan, Head of the Centre of Islamic Theology”. Inside, a man is sitting at his desk, holding a number of folders in his hands. His sleeves have been rolled up; he looks pretty exhausted.
“So many appointments,” says Omar Hamdan as he welcomes me, “so many mails: one hundred every day from students, academics, journalists and politicians.” Yesterday he attended a meeting in Stuttgart entitled “Round Table Islam” that was organized by the Social Democrat Minister for Integration in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, Bilkay Öney. He tells me that he still has to get used to the interest in his person and in his new post; after all, he adds, all he really wants to be is a theologian.
Since October, Hamdan has been head of the new Centre of Islamic Theology at the University of Tübingen. The centre is the first of its kind in Germany. Two years ago, the German Council of Science and Humanities recommended that faith-led Islamic Theology be introduced as an academic subject at German universities, a centre that would be comparable with Protestant and Catholic faculties.