Current projects

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.

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.

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.

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