History of the institute
Islamic Studies in Bayreuth was founded by Prof. Dr. Jamil M. Abun-Nasr (1932-2021). He held the chair of Islamic Studies from 1985 to 1997 and was instrumental in establishing the African focus of the University of Bayreuth. Prof. Abun-Nasr led the Islamic Studies group in the Bayreuth Africa special research area and focused in a first phase on Muslims in Nigeria since the 1950s. The results of this work were published in 1993 in the anthology "Muslime in Nigeria: Religion und Gesellschaft im politischen Wandel seit den 1950er Jahren” (Muslims in Nigeria: Religion and Society in Political Change since the 1950s) (LIT Verlag, Münster 1993). In the second phase of the special research area, he led the research group "Islam and the State in Selected African States." Studies were undertaken on the countries of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal and Mali.
Abun-Nasr was from Lebanon and had studied Middle Eastern history at the American University of Beirut and Oriental studies at Oxford University with Professor Albert Hourani. After receiving his doctorate in 1961, he taught and conducted research at Harvard (1962/63) and at the American University of Beirut (1963-966, 1967-1968), the University of Sierra Leone (1966-1967), the University of Ibadan in Nigeria (1968-1974), and the Free University of Berlin (1975-1984). Beginning in 1984, he led the research project "New Tendencies in African Islam," funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) (1984-1996).
In addition to numerous articles in many journals, his publications include the following monographs: The Tijaniyya, a Sufi Order in the Modern World (OUP, London 1965), A History of the Maghrib (CUP, Cambridge 1971 and 1975), A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period (CUP, Cambridge 1987). Prof. Abun-Nasr passed away on April 10, 2021. An obituary by his former colleague and assistant Prof. Dr. Roman Loimeier (University of Göttingen) was published by the Cluster of Excellence Africa Multiple.
In 1997, the chair of Islamic Studies with special reference to Africa was taken over by Prof. Dr. Rainer Oßwald. He studied Islamic Studies at the University of Tübingen and at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS in London). In 1983 he received his doctorate from the University of Tübingen and habilitated in 1989 at the University of Kiel. He worked in particular with Mauritanian manuscripts. In addition to legal opinions (fatwa), he was also concerned with the marginalia (kunnāš) of Mauritanian private collections, i.e., contracts and invoices. He made his well-grounded philological approach fruitful for the main research areas of Islamic law (fiqh), slavery, and the history of the Sokoto Caliphate. His major monographs include Die Handelsstädte der West-Sahara. Die Entwicklung der arabisch-maurischen Kultur von Šinqīt, Wādān, Tīšīt, and Walāta (The Trading Cities of the Western Sahara. The Development of the Arab-Moorish Culture of Šinqīt, Tīšīt, and Walāta) (Dietrich Reimer, Berlin 1986), Das Sokoto-Kalifat und seine ethnischen Grundlagen. Eine Untersuchuchung zum Aufstand des Abd as-Salām (The Sokoto Caliphate and its Ethnic Foundations. A study of the rebellion of Abd as-Salām) (Steiner, Wiesbaden 1986), Schichtgesellschaft und islamisches Recht. Die Zawāyā und Krieger der Westsahara im Spiegel von Rechtsgutachten des 16.-19. Jahrhunderts (Stratified society and Islamic Law. The Zawāyā and warriors of the Western Sahara in the mirror of legal opinions of the 16th-19th centuries) (Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1993), Pactane sunt servanda? Freiwilligkeit, Zwang und Unverbindlichkeitserklärungen im islamischen Vertragsrecht malikitischer Schule (Pactane sunt servanda? Voluntariness, Coercion and Declarations of Non-Bindingness in Islamic Contract Law of the Malikite School) (Frankfurt am Main 1998), Sklavenhandel und Sklavenleben zwischen Senegal und Atlas (Slave trade and slave life between Senegal and Atlas) (Ergon, Würzburg 2016) and Das islamische Sklavenrecht (Islamic Slave Law) (Ergon, Würzburg 2017).