The Institute of Islamology is based in France. News headlines and events from Last Minute France
The French government established the French Islamic Institute (IFI) under the Ministry of Higher Education to encourage the development of scientific research on Islam and support academic research. The French Institute of Islamology (Institut Français d’Islamologie-IFI), which was created without a central institution, with the addition of 5 universities from all over France, is the third phase of the reforms initiated by President Emmanuel Macron, stating: “We will create the Islam of France, the Islam of enlightenment.”
For the “French Institute of Islamology”, the University of Strasbourg, the University of Aix-Marseilles, the Higher School of Applied Research (EPHE), the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) and the Higher School of Social Sciences (EHESS), “Public Interest Group” (GIP) ). The founding decree entered into force after being published in the Official Gazette on February 2, 2022. The Institute of Islamology was opened in Paris on November 22 with an official ceremony at the famous Sorbonne University.
President Emmanuel Macron, in a speech in the city of Le Mureau in October 2020, announced a grandiose plan to fight “Islamic separatism.” He announced that with this plan, which includes an academic aspect as well as a security aspect, they will promote the “Islam of the French Enlightenment”, and for this, the financial structure of Islamic institutions in France and the training of the clergy will be restructured.
3rd step towards “Islam of France”
Thus was prepared the “Charter of Secularism” (Charte des principes pour l’Islam de France). When the French Islamic Council (CFCM), which had fallen into disrepair due to infighting between Moroccan, Turkish and Algerian mosques and their administrators, did not sign the condition of three associations, including the association of Turkish mosques, the government liquidated this institution and became its member. from the French Islamic Forum (FORIF) and the French Islamic Foundation, founded (FIF).
It was decided to stop the practice of foreign imams in France and train these francophone imams through FORIF. After that, DITIB, the highest organization of the associations of mosques belonging to the Turkish associations Milli Gorus and Diyanet, had to sign the condition in December 2021. However, the CFCM lost its status as an influential institution for French Muslims.
The second important step was the Law on Combating Islamic Separatism. With this law, the law, which includes many new rules such as governors closing mosques without a court order, the deportation of non-French imams who preach violence and hate speech, and the financial structures of associations, was implemented by the French ministry. salon for 2 years.
The French Institute of Islamology, the third part of the reform and the most important pillar of the goal of “high-level, academic, enlightenment Islam” expressed by Macron, was officially inaugurated yesterday in a ceremony.
Galeb Bencheich, President of the Islamic Fund of France (FIF), emphasizes the importance of the project, saying: “Because we suffer from a lack of Islamology in our country, people talk about nonsense all day long. This step is extremely important. “
Professor, historian and political scientist, head of the department of Turkic studies at the University of Strasbourg. Dr. Sincere Akgonul
Historian and political scientist prof. Dr. Akgonyul himself emphasizes that these discussions are very old. Akgönül describes the decision-making process in the following words:
“In fact, this issue has been discussed since 1997. The problem is that in France, due to the Secularism Law of 1905, it is forbidden to open departments of theology in public universities. The only exception is Strasbourg, thanks to the Concordat. The faculty wanted to get rid of this program. Later, an undergraduate and graduate program called “History of the Islamic Worlds” was opened at the Faculty of History. In addition to these developments, Macron wanted the institution of Islamology to spread throughout France. The main goal is to scientifically study the sources of Islam. There are already associate professorships and professorships at 5 universities.”
10 million euro budget allocated
The Institute’s budget comes from the Islamic Fund of France (French Islamic Fund-FIF). The FIF has allocated the first 7 percent of Macron’s €10 million budget. Seven of the 16 staff members foreseen for the core disciplines of Islam, such as Sufism, law or tafsir, have begun work.
Explaining the details of the project to VOA Turkey, Dr. Samim Akgonyul explains the mission of the Institute, saying: “With IFI, first of all, it aims to consider Islam as a science, develop Islamic studies and approach social issues related to Islam with academic rather than political discussions.”
First, a female president was appointed head of the IFI. Chairman of the Supreme Programming Council, Inspector General Philosopher Souad Ayada became President of IFI. However, when Ayada resigned due to controversy shortly thereafter, he was replaced by academic Pierre Cay in September. prof. Dr. Akgonyul emphasizes that he regrets the resignation of Ayada, who knows Islamic philosophy very well, but the project managed to continue on its way.
Akgonyul shared the following information:
“There is no separate university building, no separate organization. These five universities, with allocated budgets and vacancies, will pave the way for doctoral students who want to study Islamology and pave the way for them “These new institutions will be able to create a scientific program and participate in educational and research projects. “It is envisaged that those who want study Islamology will also receive research support, doctoral contracts, and even incentives for postdoctoral professors.”
“Imams are not trained in universities”
prof. Akgonyul explains the institute’s function by saying, “IFI is an institution that can scientifically train students in the field of Islamology and offer non-sectarian academic education. In other words, it aims to create highly scientific French Islamic science.” Akgonyul, a native of the Muslim community: “Will the academy prepare an imam?” To the question “The goal is to stop discussing the issue of Islam only from the point of view of politicians or political scientists, and to ensure that it is discussed in an academic and constructive language. a question to show the diversity of currents, cultures and languages of the Islamic world and their evolution in history. Our goal here is not to work on Islam in terms of faith. This is the subject of theology. We will not train imams, as has been stated in some quarters. Our goal is to give a detached and critical view of the texts in this area. Here, on this earth, to train specialists in Islamology.”
VOA Turkish: “Can the training of imams become a mission in the long run?” Akgonyul replied, “At the moment, this is an institute where scientific research will be carried out. However, it also includes a short program which we call DU (Diplome d’Universite). As a committee, we are responsible for recruiting and recruiting colleagues. I am a historian and only academic research on the history of Islam will be conducted here. The education of Imams is a matter of faith and such institutions are subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. The Institute, like all academic institutions, is the Ministry of Higher Education. “I don’t want to train historians.
Was there an exchange of views with leaders of the Muslim community or leaders of mosque associations in France when creating this study? Akgonyl’s answer to this question is “No”. Proposals were received from all communities, including the Turks, but since the institute is a purely academic project, the administration of the academy did not allow its discussion with these institutions. Akgonyul said, “However, if one day, for example, imams start training at IFI or a mission related to worship appears, only then will these institutions be consulted.”
Criticism of “A new Islam is being created”
The Muslim community in France is cautious about the new steps initiated by Macron. The Institute’s project has often been criticized as “the French state is trying to create a new Islam”. Akgönül himself responds to this criticism as follows:
“The goal is not to change Islam, but to understand, compare, criticize Islam, explore the Koran within the framework of linguistics. In other words, to develop Islamic science. To do science. “Islam in France”. I don’t know if he will play that role over time. Open to criticism. When it comes to being, the only thing that doesn’t change in real life is change. The sacred changes, the symbol changes. For example, the discussion about the headscarf as a class, a woman, a religious issue is changing. The woman wearing the headscarf is changing. Even the headscarf itself has changed, its colors and patterns. Disputes also change. Those who reject this are also part of the changes. The Institute of Islamology is aimed at scientific discussion.”
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