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Islam and Minorities


Admission requirements

“Introduction to Islam” or similar level of knowledge.


How can we understand the current legal, political and social position of non-Muslim minorities in countries like Pakistan or Indonesia? How do Muslim scholars develop Islamic law for Muslims living in the West, for instance in the Netherlands? How do different Western European countries ‘make legal place’ to Muslim minorities, and how does this relate to processes of ‘making moral space’?

This course will study theories and practices of religious minorities within Islamic frameworks, in history as well as in modern times. On the one hand, we will discuss legal, political and social positions of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim majority countries. On the other hand, we will discuss legal, political and social positions of Muslim minorities in Western countries.

We will look at Islamic concepts used to refer to the legal, political and social positions of religious minorities. We will analyse how these concepts have developed historically and conceptually in Islamic and Western traditions. In analysing these perspectives, the student will study the relevant Islamic legal doctrines (such as dhimmi, dar al-harb, fiqh al-aqalliyat) as well as modern legal concepts (such as freedom of religion, minority rights). We will put much emphasis to the legal-philosophical, historical as well as contemporary contexts.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge: the student will have knowledge of Islamic as well as Western theoretical, legal and practical principles related to religious minorities;

  • Insight: the student can a) identify different legal, theological, political and social approaches that exist with regard to Islam and minorities, both in history and in the present, and b) understand and explain legal, social and political backgrounds and justifications of these approaches;

  • Skills: the student can use the insights and knowledge acquired in this course to write in a comprehensive yet analytical manner about different ways in which stakeholders have dealt with these topics in a specific time and context.


Timetable BA Midden-Oostenstudies Timetable BA Religiewetenschappen

Mode of instruction

  • lecture-cum-seminars

  • interactive class assignments

  • students will provide peer feedback on the first version of student’s papers, and process received comments in their own papers.

Class attendance
Assignments need to be made on a weekly basis, in accordance with the time schedule provided in the program which will be posted on Blackboard.

Course attendance is required. One meeting can be missed. If a student misses a second or third meeting (out of 12), extra assignments need to be done. To pass the course, each student must fulfil all required assignments with sufficient result, including making a peer feedback review report.

Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours = 140 hours

  • Lecture-cum-seminars: 26 hours

  • Studying the assigned literature: 68 hours

  • Preparing assignments: 12 hours

  • Paper: 34 hours

Assessment method

  • Weekly written assignments (25%)

  • Ability to discuss knowledge and insight in class (10%)

  • Paper of 3500 words (65%)


The paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version.


Program and assignments will be made available on blackboard.
Students will upload assignments and papers on blackboard.

Reading list

A list with the required literature will be provided on Blackboard.


Leiden students: Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. W. Boender


Please look at blackboard prior to the first class to find instructions to prepare for the first meeting.