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Islam: law and religion of minorities


Admission requirements

This course is open for students who have successfully participated in the course Introduction to Islam, or who have a corresponding degree of knowledge of Islam.


This course will discuss the position of religious minorities in Islamic law and practice. The course will take two perspectives: non-Muslims under Muslim rule, and Muslims under non-Muslim rule. In analyzing these perspectives, the student will study the relevant Islamic legal doctrines (dhimmi, dar al-harb, fiqh al-aqaliyat) as well as modern legal concepts (freedom of religion, minority rights), several important historical developments (Andalusia, Ottoman Empire, Moghuls), and the contemporary situations of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim-majority states (Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia) and of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim states (Israel, India, Western Europe, United States of America).

The students must make weekly assignments based on the literature provided. In the last week they will engage in internal debates on topical issues. The course will end with a written exam.

Course objectives

Knowledge: the student acquires knowledge on concepts and debates related to the issue of “religious minority” in its historical, legal and social contexts, with a specific reference to the Islamic dimension thereof.
Insight: the student acquires insight in the ways that the notion of “religious minority” has evolved, and in the different ways this notion is nowadays being viewed.
Skills: the student learns to express him/herself in a critical manner, both verbally and in writing, based on the use of literature and arguments.

Mode of instruction

Seminar and weekly assignments.

Study load

Total study load: 140 hrs, divided into

  • 24 hrs: class

  • 70 hrs: studying literature

  • 24 hrs: assignments

  • 22 hrs: preparing + taking exam

Assessment method

Weekly assignments based on the literature provided to the students: 1/3 final grade
Written exam: 2/3 final grade.


Blackboard is used.

Reading list

Academic articles, to be made available on blackboard


Through Usis.
In addition, the student must register on Blackboard