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Law, Sharia and Governance in North Africa and the Middle East

Vak 2016-2017

Admission requirements

This course is suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students in Law, Social Sciences (anthropology, sociology of development, public administration), and Humanities (history, area studies, arts). Non-Law students should be willing to familiarise themselves with the outlines of law, whereas law students should be willing to engage in subjects beyond the rules of black letter law. For this course is a sufficient command of English (IELTS 6.5 or higher) required.

Description

The position and role of sharia has for many centuries had a strong impact on law and governance in North Africa and the Middle East. As most countries in this region gained independence during the 20th century, their new political elites enacted constitutions and national laws, and established national systems of law and governance. Some countries such as Turkey opted for a secular approach. Others, like Saudi Arabia, chose to pursue the path of classical sharia as the foundation of their national law. Most countries opted initially for an intermediate solution. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran, in several countries a new trend emerged, i.e. Islamising national law. This has raised both domestic and international concerns about the repercussions for women, minorities, freedom of religion, and human treatment of suspects and criminals. Debates have raged about whether Islam can go together with democracy and human rights. Since the 2011 Arab Spring, these questions have acquired new dimensions.

This course addresses law and governance in several Muslim countries. The introductory lectures address first a conceptual framework to analyse and compare the relationship between sharia and national law in different countries. Next the extreme examples of wahhabi Saudi Arabia and secular Turkey are discussed as well as the largest Muslim country Indonesia known for its moderate Islam. The second part of the course will focus on the MENA countries, notably Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunesia or other countries depending on recent developments and the availability of guest lecturers with country expertise. After the Arab Spring massive assistance programs were launched to “strengthen law and governance in the MENA region”. How successful have these efforts been?

This course records actual processes of change and reform, whether diverging from or converging with rule of law and human rights. It addresses issues of constitutional law, family law, and criminal law, and demonstrates how domestic legal institutions have decided about such issues. In doing so it pays attention to how politicians, legal practitioners, and religious scholars have influenced the complex interrelation between sharia and national law and governance.

Course objectives

Objective(s) of the course
Acquiring of basic knowledge of the development and functioning of law and legal institutions in the MENA region, in particular in view of the relationship between sharia and national law in selected countries. Enhancing critical understanding of academic literature and public debates (English language material) on this subject. Enlarging academic skills of reading academic material in English, analyzing, participating in group discussions, learning to study a new legal system (for law students) or new field of study, i.e. law and religion (for students from humanities or social sciences).

Achievement levels
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
* Having acquired knowledge of the development and functioning of law and legal institutions in the Muslim world especially the MENA region, in particular in view of the relationship between sharia and national law in selected countries.
* The ability to read, understand and analyze academic literature and public debates (English language material) on this subject.
* The ability to participate effectively in group discussions on the subject,
* The ability to effectively study a new legal system (for law students) or new field of study, i.e. law and religion (for students from humanities or social sciences).

Timetable

See Timetable

Mode of instruction

Lectures

  • Number of (2 hour): 7
  • Name(s) of lecturer(s): Dr. Suliman Ibrahim and guest lecturers
  • Required preparation by students: reading texts for the lecture

Seminars

  • Number of (2 hour): 7
  • Names of instructors: Dr. Suliman Ibrahim, and guest lecturers
  • Required preparation by students: reading texts for the seminar, prepare a group presentation advance of the lectures

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written exam (85%)
  • Three reaction papers (15%)

If the overall grade is lower than 5,5 the student can do a retake of the exam. If a student has not passed the course by the end of the academic year, the scores on the presentation/paper and the (re-)exam are no longer valid.

Areas to be tested within the exam
Selected chapters from the book manuscript (see Course Materials), selected articles in the reader, subject matter taught in the lectures, the seminars, and all other instructions which form part of the course.

Blackboard

More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials
Literature:

  • Chapters from Jan Michiel Otto (ed.), Sharia Incorporated. A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2010

Course information guide:
Not applicable

Reader:

  • Reader will be available via Readeronline

Recommended course materials
None

Registration

Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.
Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.

Contact information

Institution/division

  • Institute: Meta Juridica
  • Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute
  • Room number secretary: KOG, room B3.13, ms. Kari van Weeren
  • Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 12.30 and 13.30 – 16.00 h.
  • Telephone number secretary: +31 ())71 527 7260
  • Email: vollenhoven@law.leidenuniv.nl

Remarks

None