Miscellaneous Information:

Research Projects on Islam

Title: Turkish-Muslim perspectives on Christianity

Contact: Tobias Specker

Description: 

This project aims to work out and analyze contemporary Turkish-Muslim positions towards Christianity based on a literature review of mostly Turkish texts. The center of the project is shaped by a clear illustration of the prevailing (Turkish-Muslim) attitudes and the current state of the research field. Main task will be the evaluation of Turkish-Muslim perspectives on Christian-theological elements (such as Trinity, Jesus, etc.) and Christian-historical events. In the end, the project will give a foretaste of what to expect from interreligious dialogue in Turkey or even Turkish-Muslim communities in Europe. Working basis are scientific publications and journals (dergiler) of Islamic-theological faculties (İlahiyat fakülteleri) in Turkey as well as texts of leaders respectively scholars of Turkish-Muslim religious communities (cemaat) and Sufi-orders (tarikat), of which there are more than 20 in Turkey. The emergence period of the examined literature is limited to the 20th and 21st centuries.

 To date, no surveys on this contemporary Turkish-Muslim perspectives on Christian beliefs and contents exist. Neither are the various topics and argumentations collected, nor are the different representatives/groups listed in a general overview – what also includes Diyanet. A fundamental insight into the ambivalent evaluations of Christianity in current Turkey can therefore not be ensured.


Title: The inimitability of the Quran (iʿǧāz) vs. human language

Contact: Tobias Specker

Description: 

Discussions on the Word of God in Christianity and Islam have until today overlooked the theological aspect of language as an interface between transcendence and immanence. Although the specific (theological) content of the Quran is of utmost importance, the linguisticality (Sprachlichkeit) of the Islamic revelation should not be left out – just as the humanness of Jesus should not be seen as just a covering. Even the Quran itself adverts to the significance of its language, e.g. in sura 14:4 (“And We did not send any messenger except [speaking] in the language of his people to state clearly for them […]”) and in sura 12:2f (“We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an that you might understand […]”). Within Islamic-theological tradition this discipline is known as iʿǧāz (inimitability) – opening lively (linguistic) debates on speech and language in Quran including the differentiation of kalām nafsī and kalām lafẓī or of maqrūʾ und qirāʾa. In sum the discussions point to the question whether or not the Quranic language also contains a literary side and/or aspects of human language (see: al-Ǧurǧānī, Ṭaha Hussein, Bint aš-Šaṭiʿī or the German project Corpus Coranicum).

Concerning Christianity the research on iʿǧāz scrutinizes the Bible as a book written by human beings rather than god. Furthermore the Quran (from a Muslim perspective) is perceived as a renewing commentary on the Bible. Both aspects can be productive for Christian theology and the Christian conception of the Word of God.


Title: Ecology and theology of creation in Christianity and Islam

Contact: Tobias Specker

Description: 

Looking at the world and the universe Christian and Muslim theology correspond in the teaching of god´s creation (or that all is created by god). Thus this theology of creation (Schöpfungstheologie) stands in a particular way for unity and diversity: Firstly as a created reality, which must be appreciated in its colorful and divergent diversity. Secondly as a theological concept of the unity or oneness of world and mankind – also integrating different perspectives from natural and human sciences. Thirdly as an interreligious approach highlighting the specific proximity and overlapping traditions of Islam and Christianity but also their distinct interpretations. Or as Heine put it: “Nowhere are Christianity and Islam as close as on the issue of creation” (Heine, 108) what at the same time provides a deeper view on differences since “the perception of difference is the ideal way (Königsweg) to encounter others” (Heine, 17).

The project (and connected lecture) outlines the distinct Quranic and systematic-theological understanding of the theory of creation – trying to illuminate specific elements of the Christian counterpart. As regards subject matter the main focus will be put on the making of mankind in the image of god (god´s similitude) in analysis of the Quranic ḫalīfa-theology. Subsequently question concerning evolutionary theory and ecology will be added.


Title: Criticism of revelation and religion

Contact: Tobias Specker

Description: 

In recent years criticism of religion increased and became a vexed issue not only regarding its theoretical basis but also its practical implementation – coming to Islam the main criticism focusses on violence and terror. In General monotheism (Assmann/Sloterdijk) as well as the implication of a personal god (Dawkins) and the rationality of revelation-claims (Beckermann) are questioned. In public discourse these critics are often re-connected to the era of Enlightenment and subsequently challenge religion in its identity-establishing function.

Along with the basis of criticism of revelation and religion the project (and connected lecture) also analyzes religion-inherent criticism. In the light of Islam it will be discussed how reason and revelation are conciliated within Islamic faith and if parallels between Islamic and progressive (in the sense of Enlightenment) concepts of religion can be found. Also the question of interreligious criticism of religion will be followed – leading to dialogue in sets of three between Christian theology, Islamic thinking and contemporary criticism of religion.

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