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The Training of Imams and Teachers for Islamic Education in Europe

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Ednan Aslan and Zsofia Windisch

Following 9/11 and the growth of religiously legitimated violence in Islamic countries, the focus of public discussion moved to imams and teachers of religion as actors supporting Muslim isolation and the lack of willingness to integrate – imams became central figures in the debate on Islam. With great enthusiasm, politicians discovered them to be the scapegoats of a failed integration of Muslims in Europe. Integrated imams trained in Europe were to promote Muslim integration, prevent violence, resolve contradictions between society and Muslims and further Islamic enlightenment. With this objective an attempt was made, on the one hand, to rediscover the existing institutions for imam training in Balkan states and, on the other hand, to establish new educational institutions at European universities to train Europe-compliant imams. Due to their central role in the lives of Muslims, the training of imams and teachers of religion is given an important role in the process of Muslim integration.

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Mircea Botescu: The European Dobrudjan Islam: A Curricular Perspective on the Education of Imams in Romania

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241 Mircea Botescu T h e E u ro p e a n D o b r u d j a n I s l a m : A C u r r i c u l a r Pe r s p e c t i ve o n t h e E d u ca t i o n o f I m a m s i n Ro m a n i a In my article I would like to present to you the educational approach- es aimed at training Imams in the framework of the Muslim commu- nity in Romania. The Muslim community has been living in Romania since the twelfth century and is privileged with the religious freedom provid- ed by the Romanian state. Muslims, who number about 67,000, live primarily in the southeast part of Romania. They live harmoniously with the Christian majority, as well as other ethnicities and religions. This model of mutuality is based on tolerance and respect and is tra- ditionally called the Dobrudjan Islamic model. These values were in- herited from the Ottoman Empire and can also be found in Islamic religious principles. In the 19th century, when the Turkish and Tatar Muslims were the majority in Dobrudja, the Muslim mayor of Med- gidia contributed substantially to the building of a church. A similar 242 Mircea Botescu sense of religious harmony can be found today when Christian may- ors of Dobrudjan towns contribute to the building of mosques and minarets....

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