Profile of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Basel
Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies in Basel focus (in particular on the Master level) on the teaching in and research on the late Ottoman and "post-Ottoman" worlds, i.e. the Eastern Mediterranean in the recent past and the present. Example given: Given the perspective of (predominantly) Muslim countries such as Bosnia, Kosova, Albania, and Turkey to join the European Union within the coming years the phenomenon of Islam in Southeastern Europe will call for more attention. Furthermore, in Switzerland a great part of the Muslims living in this country has been migrating from Southeastern European countries.
Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies are connected to many other units within the University of Basel such as the research cluster "Cultural Topographies", but also to the disciplines of East European History, Political Science, Religious Studies, and to other faculties such as the Faculty of Theology.
Bachelor "Islamic Studies" (Islamwissenschaft)
The Bachelor Islamwissenschaft is devoted in principle to all relevant aspects of Muslim cultures, such as religion, history, theology, geography, but includes also the study of economic, social (such as migration) or political (such as today's political conflicts in the Middle East) issues. Since in present debates on Islam, Muslims and non-Muslims refer to the very early period of Islam as the basis of Muslim religious and cultural identity, basic knowledge on the early and classical period of Islamic history, but also of central tenets of Islamic religion such as the Qur’an and religious law are of importance. As the relevant Middle Eastern languages are – as in other European countries – not taught in Swiss schools, students of the Bachelor Islamic Studies have to make a great effort to master the two obligatory languages.
Master "Near & Middle Eastern Studies" (starting with fall term 2013)
Starting with fall term 2013 a new master "Near & Middle Eastern Studies" is offered, specializing on the history in the 19th and 20th centuries and dealing with the world "from Sarajevo to Cairo". This master programme is thus characterized by its inclusion of Southeastern Europe (in its Ottoman and Islamic imprint), present-day Turkey and the Eastern Arab world, thus adding to Middle Eastern Studies also the specific feature of "Near Eastern Studies", i.e. Southeastern Europe and Turkey.
Islamic Studies in Switzerland
Due to their enormous temporal extension (7th century to present), areal breadth (from Morocco to Indonesia) and thematic variety (from philological editions to modern political studies) Islamic studies cannot be taught in "their entirety". Central to Islamic studies is the education in the languages Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, since a very good knowledge of the relevant languages is precondition for later research work, but also for a successful immersion into the vocational fields which are of interest to those who have completed Islamic
The Seminar of Oriental Studies in Zurich focusses on the religion, history, literature and intellectual history of the Islamic world. At the University of Berne the Muslim world is analyzed from a historical perspective with a particular stress on heterogeneous Muslim traditions in a global context. At Geneva particular stressed is laid on the Arabic literatures, Arab civilization, Islamic religion and the general history of the Muslims.