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Contemporary Islamic Thought


Admission requirements

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Concepts of Selfhood, Language and Thought, and at least one of the courses World Philosophies: China, World Philosophies: India, World Philosophies: Africa, World Philosophies: Middle East.

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including Griekse en Romeinse filosofie, History of Modern Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, Analytische filosofie OR Philosophy of Mind.


Like other contemporary bodies of knowledge, Islamic thought today is a vast ocean of ideas, texts, thinkers, and controversies. It defies easy conceptualisations and resists essentialist definitions. Islamic thinking today is multifaceted and diverse and unlike European thought, for instance, it covers broad geographical swathes, from as far west as Morocco in North Africa to as far east as Indonesia.
Some Muslim thinkers today live in Europe while others are in North America. The intellectual and religious universe of contemporary Islamic thought is punctuated with reformists, traditionalists, secularists, feminists, nationalists, and critics, to name but a few.

The aim of this course is study in depth key themes and topics, debates, thinkers, and controversies in contemporary Islamic thought, across various traditions and intellectual persuasions.

Course objectives

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • demonstrate familiarity with the different themes and topics in contemporary Islamic thought;

  • critically reflect on, distinguish between, and examine key varieties and aspects of contemporary thought;

  • exhibit the analytic skills necessary to comprehend the relevance of the past to their understanding of the present, while becoming more familiar with their own assumptions and values;

  • acquire a set of reading and discussion skills that allow them to engage texts and others in an informed and conscientious manner.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar.

Assessment method


  • Paper I: 3,000 words (35%);

  • Paper II: 4,000 words (55%);

  • Weekly Essays: 1,000 words (10%).


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average. To pass the course, the weighted average of the partial grades must be 5.5 or higher.


The resit consists of one paper. The mark for the resit replaces all previously earned marks for subtests. Class participation and completion of practical assignments are required for taking the resit.

Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • O. Leaman, Controversies in Contemporary Islam (Oxford, 2014);

  • D.W. Brown, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought (Cambridge, 1996);

  • N. Abu Zayd, Reformation of Islamic Thought (Amsterdam, 2006);

  • J.L. Esposito and J.O. Voll, Makers of Contemporary Islam (Oxford, 2001);

  • M. Legenhausen, Contemporary Topics of Islamic Thought (Tehran, 2000);

  • A. Soroush, Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam, translated M. Sadri and A. Sadri (Oxford, 2002);

  • C. Yu, Thinking Between Islam and the West: The Thoughts of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Bassam Tibi, and Tariq Ramadan (Oxford, 2014);

  • S. Taji-Farouki and B.M. Nafi (eds.), Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century (London, 2004);

  • B.B. Koshul and S. Kepnes (eds.), Scripture, Reason, and the Contemporary Islam-West (New York, 2007);

  • M. Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (Stanford, 2013);

  • W. Hallaq, Reforming Modernity: Ethics and the New Human in the Philosophy of Abdurrahman Taha (New York, 2019);

  • W. Hallaq, Restating Orientalism: A Critique of Modern Knowledge (New York, 2018);

  • E. Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, Revolution and its Discontent: Political Thought and Reform in Iran (Cambridge, 2019);

  • N. Keddie, An Islamic Response to Imperialism (California, 1983);

  • E. Hamdeh, Salafism and Traditionalism: Scholarly Authority in Modern Islam (Cambridge, 2021);

  • H. Lauziere, The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century (New York, 2016);

  • N. Guessoum, Islam’s Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science;

  • A. March, The Caliphate of Man: Popular Sovereignty in Modern Islamic Thought (Cambridge, 2019);

  • O. Roy, Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State (Oxford, 2017);

  • T. Ramadan, Radical Reforms: Islamic Ethics and Liberation (Oxford, 2009);

  • M.A. Jabri, Democracy, Human Rights, and Law in Islamic Thought (London, 2009);

  • H. Nasr, Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis in Modern Man (London, 1988);

  • L. Walbridge (ed.), The Most Learned of the Shiʿia (Oxford, 2001);

  • B. Ingram, Revival from Below: The Deoband Movement and Global Islam (California, 2018);

  • L. Ridgeon (ed.), Sufis and Salafis in the Contemporary Age (London, 2015);

  • B. Madaninejad, New Theology in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Ph.D Dissertations, Texas University, 2011);

  • L. Ahmad, Women and Gender in Islam (New Haven, 1992);

  • K. Ali, Sexual Ethics and Islam (London, 2006);

  • S.O. Murrary and W. Roscoe, Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature (New York, 1997).


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


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

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


Not applicable.