Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Aktuelles


WS Islam Buddhism Poster

Although interreligious dialogue and comparative studies between various religious traditions have been well established over several decades, theological and philosophical conversations between Islam and Buddhism are still in the early stages. The encounter between Muslims and Buddhists has been often overshadowed by misunderstandings, negative images and biases, what also partly explains the lack of interest in theological dialogue between the two religions. From the viewpoint of Islamic theology, Buddhism is predominantly conceived as atheism due to the absence of the concept of a creator God or regarded as idolatry in which the decorated buddha statues are worshipped; whereas the Islamic notion of God as an omniscient and omnipotent creator is commonly seen as an unbridgeable gap on the side of Buddhism. The Buddhist concepts of anātman (non-self) and śūnyatā (emptiness), the theory of rebirth, the Islamic doctrine of prophethood constitute further fundamental differences that are regarded as irreconcilable by members of these religions. In this field of tension, the planned workshop aims to contribute to that underdeveloped branch of comparative studies. It will thus bring three central tenets of Islam and Buddhism into a comparative conversation, giving also room to academic insider perspectives.

The workshop will investigate three themes—i.e. the concept of God/reality, the nature of human existence and the transformation of self through religious practice—from Islamic and Buddhist perspectives respectively. Within the scope of the workshop, the issues in question will be discussed by both Muslim and Buddhist scholars and experts on Islamic and Buddhist philosophies. It is thereby aimed to find similarities in theological and philosophical teachings of these traditions regarding the conceptions of reality and human beings, despite the well-known differences in certain respects. To draw attention to similarities in the doctrines of Islam and Buddhism might provide furthermore a fruitful common ground for reciprocal appreciation and give both traditions an opportunity to reinterpret the practices and beliefs of their own religion in the light of a new perspective.


Workshop Programme


09:00 – 10:30  Opening: Bringing Buddhist and Islamic Traditions into a Conversation

09:00 – 09:20  Welcome Speech, Prof. Dr. Mira Sievers

09:20 – 10:00  Keynote Lecture, Prof. Dr. Perry Schmidt-Leukel
                       “… that you may come to know one another” (Qur’an 49:13).
                       Learning about, from, and with the religious other.

10:00 – 10:30  Discussion


10:30 – 11:00  Coffee Break


11:00 – 12:45  First Session: The Concept of God / Reality

                       Chair: Prof. Dr. Mohammad Gharaibeh

11:00 – 11:30  An Islamic Theological Perspective, Dr. Farid Suleiman

11:30 – 12:00  A Buddhist Theological Perspective, Dr. Alexander Berzin/Dr. Fabian Völker

12:00 – 12:20  Responses by the two speakers

12:20 – 12:45  General Discussion


12:45 – 14:00  Lunch Break


14:00 – 15:45  Second Session: The Nature of Human Existence

                       Chair: Dr. Claudia Seise/Dr. Ayşe Almıla Akca

14:00 – 14:30  An Islamic Philosophical Perspective, Dr. Ufuk Topkara

14:30 – 15:00  A Buddhist Philosophical Perspective, Prof. Dr. Peter Harvey

15:00 – 15:20  Responses by the two speakers

15:20 – 15:45  General Discussion


15:45 – 16:15  Coffee Break


16:15– 18:00  Third Session: Transformation of Self through Religious Practice

                      Chair: Prof. Dr. Tuba Isik

16:15 – 16:45  An Islamic Theological Perspective, Elif Emirahmetoglu, M.A.

16:45 – 17:15  A Buddhist Theological Perspective, Dr. Carola Roloff

17:15 – 17:35  Responses by the two speakers

17:35 – 18:00  General Discussion


18:00 – 18:15  Coffee Break


18:15 – 18:45  Concluding Reflection  

                        Prof. Dr. Andreas Feldtkeller


The List of Speakers

Dr. Alexander Berzin, Independent Scholar (PhD at Harvard University)/Dr. Fabian Völker

Elif Emirahmetoglu, M.A., Humboldt University of Berlin

Prof. Dr. Andreas Feldtkeller, Humboldt University of Berlin

Prof. Dr. Peter Harvey, University of Sunderland (Emeritus)

Dr. Carola Roloff, University of Hamburg (Permanent Visiting Professor)

Prof. Dr. Perry Schmidt-Leukel, University of Münster

Prof. Dr. Mira Sievers, Humboldt University of Berlin

Dr. Farid Suleiman, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Dr. Ufuk Topkara, Humboldt University of Berlin


Organized by

Professorship of Islamic Foundations of Belief, Philosophy and Ethics

Prof. Dr. Mira Sievers

Elif Emirahmetoglu, M.A.



Hybrid event

For online participation see below  



Registration is required.

Please contact

until 15 June 2021



Maryam Laribi

Berlin Institute for Islamic Theology

Humboldt University of Berlin 


Programme for download