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Politics and Islam


Admission requirements



This course aims to introduce movements of Islamic religious persuasion in the Middle East. By avoiding the reduction of Islamic activism as a straightforward product of a distinctive “Islamic mentality” or social setting, we will challenge customary explanations that seek to locate a doctrine or biography as the sole drive of such movements. Instead, we will engage with a range of social movements, activists, and their governments, exploring the connections between them, along with their many bifurcations. Throughout the course methodological and theoretical issues will be stressed and a couple of weeks will be devoted exclusively to these issues.

Course objectives

This course informs students about the main concepts of politics and Islam. It enables them to distinguish between classical conceptions and contemporary interpretations. Students will learn how to distinguish between different manifestations of Islamic activism.

Time table

Time table

Mode of instruction


Course load


Assessment method

Each student will be graded on the basis of four formal assignments: (1) Attendance and Class Participation (20%), (2) In-class presentations (20%), (3) Participation in Blackboard discussion thread (15 ), and (4) Final Paper due via Blackboard. (45).

Reading list

  • Bayat, Asef. Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010.

  • Bayat, Asef. Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.

  • Wiktorowicz, Quintan (ed.). Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2003. ISBN: 978-0253216212

  • Zubaida, Sami. Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East. New York: IB Tauris, 2011. ISBN: 978-1848850699

There will also be other selected readings available via J-Stor.


Through uSis

Contact information

Dr.Tsolin Nalbantian


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).