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European policies and jurisprudence concerning muslims and Islam


Admission requirements

The course is intended for students of the Master Theology and Religious Studies. It is also open for Master Islamic Studies and master students of other faculties. In addition to the general rules set for admission to the master’s programme students are expected to possess a basic knowledge of the history of Islam, Islam in the West.


In this seminar a wide variety of recent European jurisprudence and policy documents concerning Muslims and Islam will be studied and discussed, in addition to academic articles analyzing the particular issues.
Examples of the topics that will be discussed are: family law as applied by national courts and informally applied by Muslim communities; Islamic minorities and their representation; Islamic finance; the conflicts between the freedoms of religion, opinion and non-discrimination; separation of religion and politics; radicalism and terrorism. Topical issues like the headscarf and niqab, as well as the controversies regarding the Danish cartoons and the Fitna movie will be discussed.
The topics will be discussed mostly on the basis of comparing policies and jurisprudence of several European countries, and in some cases the comparison will be made between Europe and Canada and the United States.

Course objectives

The students will acquire knowledge on the variety of policies and jurisprudence developed by European governments and courts concerning Muslims and Islam, as well as on the diversity of Islamic topics that they cover.
The students will gain insight in how European policy makers as well as the Muslim communities have been struggling to accommodate an ‘Islamic’ presence in a mostly secular European environment.
The students will acquire the skills to read and discuss the documents and articles in a critical fashion, and to develop their personal views on the various topics in a well-founded and coherent manner.


Time Table Religious Studies

Mode of instruction

Lecture and discussions

Assessment method

The students will hand in weekly assignments (1/2 of final grade) and write a paper of app. 2,500 words (1/2 of final grade).
For those students who wish to extend their grade to 10 ECTS, the paper should be app. 7,500 words (the calculation of the final grade is then as follows: ¼ weekly assignments and ¾ paper).


Literature and assignments are available on blackboard

Reading list

Available on blackboard


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


Class attendance is required. Absence more than two times will disqualify the student from obtaining a final grade.