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The Training of Imams and Teachers for Islamic Education in Europe

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Edited By 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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Hasan Ali Yurtsever: The Role and Training of Imams & Muslim Chaplains in the U. S. A.

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311 Hasan Ali Yurtsever T h e Ro l e a n d Tra i n i n g o f I m a m s & M u s l i m C h a p l a i n s i n t h e U. S . A . Before presenting the discourse on Imams and Muslim chaplains in the U.S., let me present important statistics on Islam and Muslims in America. The population of the U.S. is 312.5 million, according to the Cen- sus Bureau of the U.S. There are between five and six million Mus- lims across the country. According to the Gallup research poll from 2008, of those Muslims, 35% are African American, 28% are white, 18% are Asian, 18% are categorized as other, and 1% are Hispanic. Muslim Americans are one of the most ethnically diverse religious groups in the United States, characterizing indigenous African Americans, rep- resenting 68 different countries, and including converts who are of varied ethnic backgrounds (J. L. Esposito, 2010). It is also important to note that Muslim Americans have the largest percentage of youth than any other religious community, with 36% of them being between the ages of 18 and 29. To further illustrate this point, about 18% of the 312 Hasan Ali Yurtsever general American public are in this age bracket (Rheault, 2010 ). It is projected, understandably, that by the year 2030, about 45% of Mus- lim Americans will be born in the U.S.A. In addition, the number of Muslim...

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