Islamic Studies is not a religious subject and in fact has little to do with classical Islamic Studies as understood by Muslims for centuries as the basis for studying their religion. Islamic studies means the study of Islamic religion and culture. It investigates the way in which the religion and culture of Islam influence specific societies, it investigates the way Islam is reflected in philosophy, law, literature, art and architecture; and it investigates the way Islam affects social, economic and political relations. Islamic studies does not have any methodology of its own. Instead, it uses the methodology of the appropriate discipline, according to the specialisation. This means philology, history, law, religion, literature studies, and political and social sciences. In other words, interdisciplinarity is one of Islamic studies main characteristics. Beside these academic disciplines Islamic studies also deals with an extremely wide geographical range.
Bayreuth University is the only German University where Islamic studies deals exclusively with Islam and / or Muslim societies in Africa. Since its very existence the Chair of Islamic Studies at Bayreuth University has headed research projects dealing with Islamic law, contemporary Islamic movements, gender questions, education, Sufism, Islamic endowment system (waqf) and philology. All these different fields and traditions of research have been connected to Islam / Muslims in Africa.
Currently Islamic studies at Bayreuth University is involved in the following research projects:
- Islamic law in Africa, i.e. analysis of historical Islamic manuscripts from Mauritania; change and continuity of Islamic Law in Zanzibar; contemporary debates on the re-implementation of Islamic law in Northern Nigeria. Chair of "Islamic Studies"
- Sharia debates and their perception by Christians and Muslims in selected African countries (in close cooperation with the Chairs of Religious Study I and Anthropology at Bayreuth University) see: www.sharia-in-africa.net