"We have been receiving many applications to join the program, especially from girls who seek an academic degree in teaching Islam," Prof. Dr. Ednan Aslan, the program's supervisor, told IslamOnline.net.
Some 25 students are currently enrolled in the masters program, offered by the Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Philosophy and Educational Sciences.
"The number is expected to reach 70 by the next semester," said Aslan, who teaches spirituality and mysticism in Islamic religious education.
The program first started with the winter semester 2006/2007.
Applicants must have full knowledge of Arabic, the Noble Qur'an and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).
Graduates will obtain an MA in Islamic educational sciences.
The two-year program aims to train Islam teachers for secondary schools in Austria.
"We want to qualify applicants to teach Islam and give room for academic and scientific research," said Aslan.
Mouhanad Khorchide, professor of ways of thought and conduct of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), agreed.
"The program will qualify applicants to obtain an academic degree to teach at secondary schools," he told IOL.
Applicants will study a number of topics and issues relating to the religious and ethical education in research and teaching.
They will study the Noble Qur'an, ways of thought and conduct of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
Courses will also cover ethics, Sufism, humanities, philosophy, religious sociology, religious psychology and European history.
"Muslims have crafted the core of the program," said Khorchide.
"All parties are now required to join hands to render this ambitious effort a success," he added.
Aslan said the exclusive course will pay off on the understanding of Islam in the West.
"It will seek on the long run to improve the understanding of Islam in European societies. It will also help Muslims to better understand European societies," he added.
"It also aims to look into ways of rendering success inter-faith dialogue by promoting students' dialogue and cooperation skills."
"It is an unprecedented step in Europe," Shaqfa told IOL
The launch of the Islamic religious pedagogy masters program has drawn showering applause in the European country.
"It is an example in Europe," said Professor Aslan.
Anis Shaqfa, the chairman of the representative Islamic Religious Authority, agreed.
"It is an unprecedented step in Europe," said Shaqfa, whose authority has engaged in feverish negotiations with the government to initiative the program.
"Muslims in many European countries are dreaming of having a similar program."
He said that Austrian Muslims have engaged in marathon talks for three years to have their dream come true.
Shaqfa said further steps would be taken in the future to upgrade the level of the Islamic education in the European country.
Muslims are estimated at 400,000, making up 4 percent of Austria's 8 million population.
Islam, which was officially acknowledged in Austria in 1912, is considered the second religion in the country after Catholic Christianity.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16