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Modern Thinkers and Trends in Islam


Admission requirements

“Introduction to the study of Islam”, or any other equivalent introductory level or knowledge about Islam (in agreement with the lecturer)


Since the 1970s the world witnesses Islamist militancy and politics in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Since the 1990s, there is the emergence of so-called Salafism, and Islam has become the source of concern and debate in Europe. Are these developments novel and unique to Islam, or can we discern trends that go back to the revivalism and reformism of the nineteenth and early twentieth century? In this course we will study the socio-political conditions, historic narratives, and theological ideas that gave rise to these events. What are the contemporary trends notable within the community, and how do its adherents and thinkers engage with the challenges this era offers or with the opportunities it produces?
Case studies will be drawn globally with topics like green Islam, (bio)ethics, Sufism, feminism, and Muslim futurism. Special attention herein will be given to traditionalism, reformism, Salafism, and secularism, with reference to (liberation) theology, law, and philosophical discourses, and we will discuss representative thinkers of those trends. This course will demonstrate that most of these trends can be explained in the context of Islam as a living tradition – a vibrant faith that is dynamically practiced, lived, developed, and challenged, peacefully as well as violently, socio-politically as well as theologically.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge: The course offers students knowledge of a) the history of the most prominent and authoritative Muslim figures and movements and their idea developments in modern Islamic thinking, b) a typology of modern trends, and c) the main topics and concepts of Islamic thought.

  • Insight: students will gain insight in the diversity of thinkers and trends, and their views regarding the confrontation of Muslims with modernity on the basis of different subjects, such as reformation of Islam, the relationship with the West, the status of women in Islam, Islam and politics, etc.

  • Skills: upon the completion of the course students are expected to define and recognize the characteristics of such different typologies in Islam.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture
    Attendance is not obligatory for lectures. The conveners do not need to be informed in case of missed classes. Information and knowledge provided in the lectures greatly contribute to the subsequent courses of the programme. In order to pass the course, students are strongly advised to attend all sessions.

Assessment method

Partial Assessment Weighing
Midterm - written examination with short open ('essay') and multiple choice questions 40%
Final exam - written examination with short open ('essay') and multiple choice questions 60%


There is only one resit opportunity which will make up 100% of the mark.

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

Reading list

A literature list will be made available on Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.

In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in Blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: De Vrieshof