Religion: a French Institute of Islamology for a better understanding of Islam – Regards protestants

It was in October 2020. The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, launched his grand plan to fight against “Islamic separatisms“, remember The cross. A plan which, in addition to its security component, included an academic one. He thus announced the creation of a French Institute of Islamology (IFI). Created on February 2, it has just been inaugurated on November 22 at the Sorbonne. Its objective, writes the site from the IFI: “develop a high-level French Islamology” and “promote on a national scale the scientific study of the systems of beliefs, knowledge and practices specific to the different branches that make up the Muslim religion.

And, in addition to the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, it brings together eight partner universities (Aix-Marseille University, the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes, the École des advanced studies in social sciences, the National Institute of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations, Lumière-Lyon 2 University, Jean Moulin-Lyon 3 University, and the University of Strasbourg). Directed since September by the academic Pierre Caye, the IFI intends to finance teacher-researcher positions, doctoral and postdoctoral scholarships. It also aims to support the editing and translation of sources of Islamic culture, lists the newspaper The cross.


For the Islamologist Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, president of its scientific council, quoted by the daily, “it is the greatest gift that French Islamology has received for a long time”. Because the discipline is threatened with extinction, alerted, in 2014, the white book of French studies on the Middle East and the Muslim worlds. “The in-depth and truly scientific study of the texts remains a necessity at a time when so many Islamist currents invoke precisely these sources of the origins”, specified this white paper according to The cross. “Nonsense is spouted all day long because we suffer from a flagrant lack of Islamology in our country”, regrets Ghaleb Bencheikh, president of the Foundation of Islam of France, also interviewed by the Catholic daily.

Especially since, “in France, studies on Islam are very often ‘Maghrebo-centred’, which can give the impression that Islam is limited to the Maghreb”notes the Islamologist Youssouf T. Sangaré at the microphone of French Culture. However, continues this doctor in Arab Studies, when we “look at the population of Muslims in France, we see that (the country) is a land of diversity of Muslim populations. Muslims of various origins are found in France, and the mixture of these populations should also have an impact in the field of research: ultimately, there is not one, but many Islams. To be interested in this is also to be interested in the cultural areas from which these populations come.”. This is what this new institute must tackle.

Religion: a French Institute of Islamology for a better understanding of Islam – Regards protestants