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Islam and Minorities


Admission requirements

“Introduction to the Study of Islam” or similar level of knowledge.


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.


Timetable BA Midden-Oostenstudies Timetable BA Religiewetenschappen

Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course 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.

  • Written exam.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average:

  • Weekly assignments based on the literature provided to the students (1/3 final grade)

  • Written exam (2/3 final grade)


Exam Review

Reading list

Academic articles, to be made available on blackboard.


Leiden students: Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact M.S. Berger


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