I will use the term "Islamic theology" here since I think the sense it makes to anglophone theologians outweighs the limitations of its distinctly Christian provenance, although the preferred term for the German universities is apparently "Islamische Studien". The interview with Peter Strohschneider gets into these nomenclature difficulties more extensively:
Islamic Studies as a theological subject are connected with a belief in Islam, while "Islamwissenschaften" are not. We suggested the term "Islamic Studies" even though it has some risks, for example the fact that in English it is equivalent to what we call in German "Islamwissenschaften", the subject we are trying to distinguish it from. We deliberately avoided using the word "theology" because it comes from the Christian tradition, but the problem is that the only terminology available in the German language has been shaped by Christianity or concepts with a traditional Christian background.Strohschneider also discusses the make-up of governing bodies charged with making decisions about the institutional future of Islamic theology, and the balance of religious institutional structures against state and academic interests. Here I think there are a good deal of parallels with problems that arise in Christian theological inquiry, where the relationship between theological work and ecclesiastical authorities on orthodoxy and pastoral matters are often ambiguous. Despite these ambiguities, Christian theology at least enjoys a long history of conventional practices within the secular academic setting, and so benefits from a basic familiarity with the problem if not its viable solutions.
"Islamwissenschaften" are studies that are not bound up with a certain confession, similar to Literature Studies or History Studies. Islamic Studies in our sense by contrast is a confessional course of studies in the structural sense, just as Protestant Theology and Catholic Theology are.
The second article, "Lateral Thinkers Wanted" by Klaus von Stosch, touches on considerations that will be more relevant for those of us actively involved in theological inquiry already. Indeed, much of what he says sounds vaguely familiar, and while the distinctions he draws within Islam wouldn't exactly map on to distinctions within Christianity, one can easily imagine a similar sort of thing being done for Christian theological inquiry. Stosch speaks of "modernists" and "conservatives" within Islam, following the predictable characteristics of either category. The inevitable (though we still act as if it is a fresher option than previous dualisms) Third Way is then introduced,
So what we have left is the third group of Muslims, who on the one hand affirm our liberal democratic order and the secular organisation of our communities without reservations, but who at the same time bring with them a sensitivity for the dialectics of information and the social processes associated with those. Only this group can, through theological reflection, expose the emancipatory potential of Islamic thinking and establish a dialectical relationship between Islam and our society. Only this group succeeds, in fundamental solidarity with the values of the constitution, in revealing the liberating potential of the Koran for the victims of modernisation.While I find the seemingly imperative hunt for such mediating panaceas a bit tiresome, I'm not intending to dismiss Stosch's point. These are all relevant concerns and useful responses to them. I'm not in a position to say how accurate a description of the Islamic situation this is, but certainly from my own religious vantage point the whole thing resonates and sounds plausible as an outline for the possibility of future Islamic theological inquiry in the German universities.
One contribution I would make to all of this reflection is to consider the relationship between theology on the one hand as a relatively speculative and philosophical discipline and on the other hand as tied much more to the canonical tradition of texts and laws for a given faith. Often I think that "theology" as we normally identify the inquiry is a creature of the secular situation... and I mean "the secular situation" as something going more than a dozen centuries back rather than simply during the last few modern centuries. The nature of theology as a detached rational inquiry not entirely concerned with the tradition of ecclesiastical texts (i.e., theology as non-exegetical inquiry) only seems to arise when discourse follows norms determined by certain philosophical possibilities, and when the purpose of inquiry is to pursue truth by these various open-ended discursive processes rather than by an examination and development of a statutory tradition of some sort.
The philosophical sort of theology is already quite at home within the secular academy- perhaps not always as a welcome presence, but at least as something that is recognizable and has played a role in the development of the arts and sciences with which it is included. Exegetical inquiry, on the other hand (and here I'm thinking things like midrash, fiqh, canon law, biblical exegesis, etc.) does not seem to have the same sort of relationship with academic inquiry. With the exception of Christian biblical exegesis (which through philology and textual criticism has made unique inroads into recent secular academic institutions), most of these exegetical disciplines are heavily institutionalized within their associated faiths and work independent of the secular academy.
Much of the difficulty presented in the articles over how to understand "Islamic theology" and how it should be represented seems to turn on this sort of internal division present in the Abrahamic theological sciences. There is of course a long tradition of Islamic theology engaging with Aristotle, Plato, and on these bases with Jewish and Christian thought. For this reason, I don't think that identifying an Islamic "theology" recognizable to the secular Western academic tradition needs to betray any sort of Islamic particularity. But this applies (as in Christianity and Judaism, probably) primarily to the philosophical sort of theology, and not to the text- and tradition-based inquiry that will have more trouble within secular institutional settings where Islam isn't quite so native (I make this distinction rather than simply speaking of secular institutional settings simpliciter because the same concern for native/foreign status is present in other faiths. For instance, Anglican ecclesiastical law is a more recognizable presence within British secular institutional contexts than in the U.S. simply because the Anglican presence is native to the development of secular learning there. One might argue the same for biblical studies as a sort of Protestant native to German, and through their influence to Anglophone, secular institutional contexts. Islamic "exegetical" theology isn't foreign to German secular inquiry because Islam is inherently non-secular, then, but rather because the German secular academic tradition has not been informed by the Islamic tradition to the extent that it has been by the Protestant tradition).
The point, then, is that the varying classes of assimilability that are so vexing for Stosch may be more a matter of differing tasks within theological inquiry and differing native secular soils within which those tasks are being planted. While the modern/conservative liberal/anti-liberal binaries are certainly identifiable and worth talking about, I'm not sure that they're quite so central to an explanation of the complexities facing Islamic theology in the universities... or for that matter, Christian theology in the universities.