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Islam and Minorities


Admission requirements

“Introduction to the Study of Islam” or similar level of knowledge. Please contact Dr. E. van de Bovenkamp in case you have any questions about the admission level. Students who would like to take this course as an elective course are most welcome, but students who take this course as their principal course do take priority in the admission procedure. If only Dutchspeaking participants register for this course, it may be given in Dutch.

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


This course will discuss the position of religious minorities in Islamic countries and of Muslim minorities in non-Islamic countries. The course will take three perspectives: non-Muslims under Muslim rule, Muslims under non-Muslim rule and Muslim minorities under Muslim rule. In analyzing these perspectives, the student will briefly 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, and the contemporary situations of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim-majority states and of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim states.

The students must make weekly assignments based on the literature provided. They will engage in internal debates on topical issues. Participants will also each have to prepare an oral presentation of the situation of a Muslim minority – a list of topics and more information will be provided during the first course. 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

5 EC x 28 hrs = 140 hrs
Lectures (12 x 2) 24
Studying literature 70
Assignments 24
Preparing + taking exam 22

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Weekly assignments based on the literature provided to the students 30%
An oral presentation of the situation of a Muslim minority 20%
Written exam 50%

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


There is only a resit opportunity for the written exam which will also count for 50%.

Exam Review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

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.


For questions regarding registration, please contact De Vrieshof Education Administration Office


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

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).