Completed projects

Rather than a linear transition to democracy, the Arab uprisings have triggered a multitude of struggles over the identity of society and the ‘good’ order of state. We assume that these struggles occur on a national and local level simultaneously. By investigating selected quarters of four Arab cities (Beirut, Amman, Sana’a, and Tunis) plus Istanbul (with independent funding), our research will deliberately start on the local level. In doing so, it is our goal to shed light on two intertwined processes: (1) the spatial politics of constructing and bridging identities and (2) the struggle over the definition and enforcement of moral norms in public spaces – be it by demonstrative religious appearance, milieu pressure (Turk.: mahalle baskısı), the threat of violence by radical groups, or by coercive governmental policies. Thereby we aim at analysing the driving forces behind the current changes. Who are the crucial actors? What role plays the interaction of state institutions and private/civil society actors? What are the declared goals and what are the tacit normative assumptions? What kind of political means and arguments are being used to achieve them? Can we describe these developments as “Islamization of the City”?

Information about the project (Volkswagen-Stiftung)

This study aims to explore the mission of the two Ahmadiyya organizations in the first half of the 20th century and to put in the context of early globalization. In the process, (a) the tensions between the two organizations, both of whom raised their sole claim to a global message of religious renewal, should be examined; (b) the mission should be put in context of anti-colonial aspirations of the Muslim community in Europe, and (c) the European mission of the Ahmadiyya as contribution to the reform of Islam should be questioned.

Abstract (German)

Publications from the project

Monographs (peer-reviewed)

    • The Ahmadiyya Quest for Religious Progress. Missionizing Europe 1900 – 1965. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2015.
    • ‘Etwas hoffen muß das Herz’. Eine Familiengeschichte von Juden, Christen und Muslimen. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2018
    • On the Margins. Jews and Muslims in Interwar Berlin. Leiden: E.J. Brill (Series MUMI 34), 2020.

Journal and book contributions (peer-reviewed)

    • “A Laboratory of Modernity. The Ahmadiyya Mission in Interwar Europe”, The Journal of Muslims in Europe (2014): 1 – 25.
    • “The Dynamics of Adaptive Globalisation. Muslim Missionaries in Weimar Berlin”, Entangled Religions 1 (2014): 115 – 158.
    • “In Search of Religious Modernity: Conversion to Islam in interwar Berlin”, in Muslims in Interwar Europe. A Transcultural Historical Perspective, ed. von Bekim Agai, Umar Ryad und Mehdi Sajid. Muslim Minority Series. Leiden: EJ Brill (2015): 27 – 66.
    • “Lisa’s Things: Secular Jewish Traditions in Muslim Exile 1937 – 1957”, The American Historical Review. Things and People on the Move: Migration and Material Culture, special issue ed. by Leora Auslander and Zahra Tara (2016).

Book contributions

    • “Das vergessene Experiment. Deutsch – muslimische Wahlverwandtschaften in der Zwischenkriegszeit”, in Ouverture Spirituelle. Disputationes der Salzburger Festspiele 2014, hg. von Claudia Schmitt-Hahn. Salzburg: Herbert Batliner Institut (2015): p. 35 – 41.
    • “Das vergessene Experiment. Jüdisch – muslimische Wahlverwandtschaften in der Zwischenkriegszeit”, in Interreligiöse Beziehungen im Wandel der Zeit, hg. von Michael Gabel, Jamal Malik und Justyna Okolowicz (=Forum Religion, Bd. 11). Münster 2015.
    • “The Jews of Marienwerder: A Very Short History”. Schody Kawowe, Kwartalnik Kwidzyńskiego Towarzystwa Kulturalnego (Kwidzyn, PL, 2015).
    • “Setting the table in Jewish and Muslim homes: A cookery book in exile.” In Displaced Objects, edited by Alexandra Galitzine-Loumpet et al. Paris: Collège d’études mondiales (2016).

Website of the project: DFG

The research on current life worlds of Muslims in Bavaria is a desideratum due to different reasons: For once, Bavaria is part of the worldwide globalization process. It has become the place of residence as well as a homeland for people from all over the world, including many Muslims, whom are often citizens of Germany already. Additionally, Bavaria is still a rural place, with a strong historic, cultural and religious self-perception. Muslims have been present as individuals in Bavaria since the Turkish wars. After the second world war, Bavaria looked after the Muslim war volunteers, e.g. by financing a religious administration, on which it is hard to find any informations nowadays. However, Munich had one of the first German Mosques. Due to the migration of foreign workers and refugees, the number of Muslims in Bavaria has increased steadily. Also, Bavaria was a pioneer in establishing Islamic Religious education in schools (the so-called “Erlanger Modell”) and established the first professorship for Islamic Religious teaching at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

The research project on Muslim life worlds in Bavaria, which has been established in November 2015, puts its focus on religion. However, it also takes aspects like multiple identities and migration-caused problems like language skills, education, ethnical features and conflicts, communicating cultures and general societal debates with repercussions on the Islamic groups in Germany into account. Being the first research project in this area for a whole federal state, it has a far-reaching scientific as well as political importance.

The research team has been conducting interviews with experts in many parts of Bavaria. Members of Muslim and secular organisations, representatives of ministries, district governments and communes as well as from jurisprudence have been interviewed. Additionally, material of all project-relevant themes is being collected. Further and in cooperation with scientific researchers from other Bavarian Universities, sub-projects are prepared, e.g. on youth culture, gender topics and on religious infrastructure. All relevant publications and materials are being collected, evaluated and digitalized. The working process of the project is interactive: On the one hand, information is mainly collected through interviews, on the other hand, we are considered experts ourselves due to long working experiences in the field of Islam in Germany and Europe. Some of our previous knowledge is hence also being used in the current research work.

The policy paper “Islam in Bavaria” is available for download here (German).

About the project

  • Mathias Rohe, “Muslime in Bayern“, in “Akademie Aktuell”, 3/2016, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, p. 23-27.
  • Radio report, Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting), “Wie leben Muslime im Freistaat?”, June 13, 2016.

  • Head of the module: Dr. Riem Spielhaus
  • Promotion: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung [Federal Ministry of Education and Research]
  • Duration: June 2015 – May 2016

The research project, led by Riem Spielhaus, focuses on methodical as well as scientific ethical and political challenges of empirical research on Salafism and Jihadism. These result from the fact that Salafism is a highly politicized and criminilized dynamic field, and Salafists and Jihadists themselves are often dismissive about scientific surveys. The present data are based mainly on estimates from security agencies and experiences of civil society actors in the prevention and de-radicalization work. The use of the data will lead to a series of questions that will be discussed by the project team. The aim is also to show the possibilities and limitations for future research in this field. The module Data Situation is part of the project Salafism in Germany led by the Leibniz Institute Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research.

Website of the whole project

Publications from the project

Blog articles

  • Brauchen wir eigentlich wirklich mehr Forschung zum Salafismus? Und wenn ja: welche? [Do we need more research about salafism? And, if so, what kind of research?] blog article by Riem Spielhaus, sicherheitspolitik-blog (21/01/2016).
  • Ein Blick über den Zaun: Salafismus in den Niederlanden, blog article by Klaus Hummel, sicherheitspolitik-blog (08/12/2016).



Synopsis (with a film and the most important results, including recommendations)

Book contributions

Riem Spielhaus in: Salafismus und Jihadismus in Deutschland. Ursachen, Dynamiken und Handlungsempfehlungen, edited by Biene, Janusz/Daase, Christopher/Junk, Julian/Müller, Harald. Publication date: September 2016

Overview of the publications

Further literature: Riem Spielhaus (2015): “Salafismus, Jihadismus und Islamismus in Deutschland.” Uwe Backes, Alexander Gallus, and Eckhard Jesse (ed.)/Jahrbuch Extremismus & Demokratie/(E & D) 27, Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag, 247–269.

The Muslim Communities of Berlin with their different ethnical backgrounds build the focus of the research project. It is duly narrowed on questions of family and criminal law. Phenomenon’s of parallel justice can indeed be found in other law sectors, e.g. in contract or tort law. However, they mostly display connections to aspects that are relevant to family or criminal law. The general framework of the project acquired a focus on exemplary observations of specific cultural-ethnic-religious milieus. However, the phenomenon of parallel justice does not end there. It can typically be found in structures of organized crime with domestic and foreign background as well as in milieus with few social contacts to the State and Civil Society, milieus that generally do not identify with those institutions or the ones that – due to their cultural background – generally want to solve conflicts internally.

It is important to note that parallel justice is by no means typical for any ethnic, cultural or religiously defined demographic group. The empirical results of the research project are based on 93 interviews with members of cultural (mostly Arabic-Kurdish families and clans) as well as Islamic-religious milieus and organisations with different ethnic and cultural-religious backgrounds as well as on expert interviews with representatives from police, prosecution, jurisprudence, other forms of administration, secular NGOs and science.


  • Head: Dr. Riem Spielhaus
  • CoordinationDr. Jörn Thielmann
  • Promotion: Beauftragter des Berliner Senats für Kirchen, Religions- und Weltanschauungsgemeinschaften [Representative of the Berlin Senate for Churches, Religious and World View Communities]
  • Duration: 2013 – 2015
  • Associate: Nina Mühe
  • Photographic concept: Julius Matuschik

With a survey designed to cover the majority of mosques and Islamic prayer rooms in Berlin, the results of previous surveys on Muslim prayer rooms in Berlin from 1996/97 and 2005/6 will be updated and analyzed in consideration of the social and political changes in Berlin. These surveys are supplemented by interviews and analysis of individual projects and initiatives of Muslims in the city. On this basis, the development of a comprehensive publication on Muslim life in Berlin will take place. In addition to the survey results presented in an introduction and content articles by the two editors Nina Mühe and Riem Spielhaus, 5-6 other authors will be invited to write on specific topics. The results of the surveys will be complemented by visual materials (graphics, tables, charts, etc.) and a photographic concept.


The study is available in full length online.

  • Head: Dr. Baudouin Dupret (CNRS/Centre Jacques Berque, Rabat, Morocco), Dr. Jörn Thielmann (EZIRE)
  • Promotion: Agence nationale de la recherche ANR & Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG
    The application was promoted by the Bayerisch-Französische Hochschulzentrum BFHZ.
  • Duration: 2011 – 2013 [extended until January 2016]
  • Staff member: Ass. iur. Martin Herzog, Stephanie Müssig M.A., Dr. Ursula Günther (October 2011 – September 2014)

The PROMETEE program conducts – together with our partner, the Centre Jacques Berque, CJB, in Rabat, Morocco – an anthropological study of the law in societies that are wholly or partly Muslim. It seeks first to question the relationship between law and Islam while re-specifying the answer that is given to it. It starts from the lack of attention given to the question of legal practices. To make up this deficit, it proposes to substitute for the anthropology of Islamic law an anthropology of legal practices of Muslims in German speaking Europe and in Muslim countries formerly colonized by France. It targets an essential part of the law, i.e. property, the contract which relates to it, and its transmission. Methodologically, it combines an ethnography of legal, linguistic, and interactional practices in Muslim contexts.

The Program pursues a double objective. On one hand, it aims at developing a descriptive, non-ideological theory of the plural nature of law, hereby making substantial progress in the social sciences of law. It treats the question of law starting from the practices, the language and the texts; and also wants to show the inextricably dependent character of economic and legal decisions towards which the people involved orient themselves, i.e., to refute the idea of an anthropology of law separated from economic considerations (and conversely).

On the other hand, it “de-essentializes” and “de-culturalizes” the references which are made to Islam. It is thus building and carrying out a praxiological anthropology of property. The reference to the authority of Islam is probably occasional and, when it appears, is part of the banality and routine of carrying out legal practice. Does this mean that there is no specifically Islamic authority in legal rules?  We would rather re-specify the question: instead of wondering what is the Islamic authority of legal rules, we will try to describe, in context and action, the modes of use and reference to legal rules and their production. And eventually (only at the end of the enquiry), we might be able to assess what is specifically Islamic.



Untersuchung zur Rolle islamischer Normen im Alltag von Muslimen

Do Islamic commandments play a role when Muslims make decisions on dealing with their property in everyday life? Scientific studies suggest that some Islamic commandments are given more attention than others. EZIRE staff member Stephanie Müssig has found in her systematic review that Muslims follow, in particular, Islamic norms for consumption. Islamic norms dealing with capital goods tend to play a subordinate role in the daily lives of Muslims. In analyzing 20 research papers on the role of Islamic consumption and production commandments in everyday life of Muslims, Stephanie Müssig comes to the following conclusion: Islamic norms that regulate the use of property in relation to consumption influence attitudes and decisions of Muslims in their daily life. This concerns for example the consumption of halal slaughtered meat or the consumption of alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam, but also consumer decisions in general. By contrast, Islamic norms that regulate the use of capital goods are given less significance. Thus, Islamic norms hardly play a role when Muslims make investment decisions or when it comes to their corporate governance. For the systematic review, Stephanie Müssig has searched six major electronic journal databases on Social Sciences and Islamic Studies by research until August 2013 which deal empirically with the importance of Islamic norms regarding consumption and production issues of Muslims in Western Europe. The author was able to identify 20 relevant research papers of which she evaluated the results. The systematic review is published in the “Journal of Muslims in Europe” under the title “Muslims’ Day-to-Day Handling of Property and the Adherence to Islamic Norms. A Systematic Review of Studies for Western Europe” appeared.

Treatise on bridal dowry (mahr) from the perspective of different disciplines

EZIRE-employees Ursula Günther, Martin Herzog and Stephanie Müssig focused on the Islamic bridal dowry (mahr) from an Islamic Studies, legal and sociological perspective. The treatise is published under the title “Researching Mahr in Germany: A Multidisciplinary Approach” published in the magazine “Review of Middle East Studies”.

Understanding Property in Moslem Transitional Environments: The French-German PROMETEE research project

Dupret, Badouin/Thielmann, Jörn, in: GAIR-Mitteilungen 2013, Vol. 5., p. 62-69.

Project-homepage of our French partner Centre Jacques Berque: PROMETEE

  • Head: Dr. Ursula Klimiont, Bildungszentrum Nürnberg [Education Centre, Nuremberg]
  • Duration: 2012 – 2014

The project focused on religious management staff, volunteers and board members of interreligious communities that play an important role in spiritual and relevant day to day life issues and situations. They provide significant consulting work and practical assistance on a daily basis. In this training program, the religious management staff and active volunteers should be trained as multipliers and supported in their unique bridging function so they can positively influence the integration process of their community members.


Publications: A handout can be ordered from the project management.

Visit the Website.

“The Family” (head: Prof. Dr. Mathias Rohe) as part of the European FP-7-Project „Religious Diversity and Secular Models in Europe – Innovative Approaches to Law and Policy“ (Speaker: Prof. Marie-Claire Foblets, K.U. Leuven).

  • Promotion: European Commission Directorate General Research – Unit L Science, Economy and Society (Seventh Framework Programme)
  • Duration: 2010 – 2012 [extended until May 2013]

The RELIGARE project is a three-year European research project funded by the European Commission Directorate General Research – Unit L Science, Economy and Society. It comprises 13 universities and research centres from across the European Union and Turkey. RELIGARE is about religions, belonging, beliefs and secularism. It examines the current realities in Europe, including the legal rules protecting or limiting (constraining) the experiences of religious or other belief-based communities. Where the practices of communities or individuals do not conform to State law requirements, or where communities turn to their own legal regimes or tribunals, the reasons behind these developments need to be understood.