Troll in Selly Oak: teaching by example

This article was written by Chris Hewer for a presentation volume dedicated to Prof. Dr Christian Troll SJ to mark his seventieth birthday (Im Dienst der Versöhnung: Für einen authentischen Dialog zwischen Christen und Muslimen, (ed.) Peter Hünseler, Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 2008). Prof. Troll has worked in the field of the study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations since 1961. He studied in Germany, the Lebanon and Britain and subsequently taught in India, Britain, Italy, Turkey and his native Germany, where he is currently Honorary Professor at the Jesuit Theological Faculty in Frankfurt am Main. The article shows the methodology and structure of a course in the historical development of Islamic religious thought as taught by a Christian with a Muslim colleague to a group of Christian and Muslim students in a British university context. Four colleagues of ours at Selly Oak contribute their own reflections: the late Prof. Khalid Alavi from Pakistan, the Revd Gisela Egler from the Church of Hessen Nassau, Germany, the Revd Dr Herman Roborgh SJ from Sydney, Australia and Dr Ataullah Siddiqui from the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicester

Introduction

Christian Troll was present in the Selly Oak Colleges in May 1975 when the original
consultation with leading Christians and Muslims took place that formulated the vision and launched the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. By this time, he had completed his theological studies in Germany, his Arabic studies in Lebanon, his Persian and Urdu studies in London, and was completing his doctoral work on Sayyid Ahmad Khan. In 1976 he left for Delhi, where he taught at the Vidyajyoti Institute until his return to Selly Oak in 1988. During his five years at the Centre, in addition to supervising research, editing the Centre journal Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations that he began, consultations and occasional lectures, his principal teaching responsibility was the MA core course on the Historical Development of Islamic Religious Thought. When the MA was first developed in conjunction with the University of Birmingham, whose degree it was, the schema was to mirror a Master’s degree in Christian theology, with one paper on scriptural material, one on systematic theology, an optional paper and a dissertation. The Troll course, which was first taught by the Centre’s founder David Kerr, was the Islamic equivalent of a paper on systematic theology…

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