nl en

Islamic Jurisprudence for Muslims in Europe: The Role of Fatwas


Admission requirements

BA students and students from other faculties are admitted


Phrases, such as “American Fiqh” or “European Islam” have been suggested to designate the position of Muslims within the European polity. Other new concepts, such as “Fiqh al-Aqalliyyâ”’ (Jurisprudence of Minorities) or “Fiqh al-Mughtaribîn” (Jurisprudence of Emigrants) in Shiite sources have become the most recent common terms dealing with the legal discourses related to the life of Muslim minorities in the West. One of the most prolific institutions is the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), which was specifically established to respond to the urgent needs of minorities for religious guidelines in their non-Islamic environment (founded 1997).

Course objectives

The Seminar gives special attention to the Fatwâ-Literature and the legal Muslim thinking addressing the increasing vicissitudes of Muslims as minorities in the West. The main objective of the course is to strengthen the knowledge of participants on the institutionalization of the concept of fatwa in the modern time and its relevance to the status of Muslims in the West.


12 × 2 hours

Mode of instruction

Students are expected to take active participation by carefully reading the given assignments (see below) and giving a brief presentation on the materials during the class. The student should make a critical analysis of the selected chapter or article in the light of at least one scientific work (book, chapter, article, etc.) cited by the author. The teacher’s task will be to give scientific supplements and detailed comments on the students’ presentations. Students are required to discuss an outline which will be a guideline for a research paper concerning a particular legal issue related to Fiqh al-Aqalliyyât or the situation of Muslims in the West. This particular issue should be discussed in light of religious, cultural, and social (or political) context of Muslim societies by utilizing pertinent scientific literature in that field.

The outline of the paper should include the following points (minimum):1) Identification of the selected legal problem, 2) explaining the methodology used in the research, 3) sketch of its social and cultural background, 4) identifying various religious views in Islam on the same issue, 5) list of sources to be used in the study.

Assessment method

Presentation, written exam, participation in class + paper
Exam: 21 December 2010, 11.00-13.00, Lipsius 235C



Reading list

Literature (Examples):

  • Khaled Abou El Fadl, ‘Islamic Law and Muslim Minorities: The Juristic Discourse on Muslim Minorities from the Second/Eighth to the Eleventh/Seventeenth centuries’, Islamic Law and Society, vol.1/2 (1994), pp. 141-187.

  • Khaled Abou El Fadl, “Striking a Balance: Islamic Legal Discourse on Muslim Minorities,” in Yvonne Haddad & John Esposito (eds.), Muslims on the Americanization Path, Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1998). Reprinted Oxford: Oxford University Press (1999), pp. 47-63.

  • P. S. Van Koningsveld, “Between communalism and secularism: modern Sunnite discussions on male head-gear and coiffure” in Platvoet, J. & Van der Toorn, K. (eds.), Pluralism and Identity; studies in ritual behaviour. Series: Kippenberg, H.G. & Lawson, E.T. Studies in the History of Religions (Numen Book Series 67), 1994, Leiden: Brill, pp. 327-348.

  • Andrew F. March, “Sources of Moral Obligation to non-Muslims in the “Jurisprudence of Muslim Minroties (Fiqh al-Aqalliyat) Discourse”, Islamic Law and Society, vol. 16 (2009)


Via uSis.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Dr. Umar Ryad + 31 (0) 71 5272568