This course is suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students in Law, Social Sciences (anthropology, sociology of development, public administration), and Humanities (history, area studies, arts). Non-Law students should be willing to familiarise themselves with the outlines of law, whereas law students should be willing to engage in subjects beyond the rules of black letter law. For this course is a sufficient command of English (IELTS 6.5 or higher) required.
The position and role of sharia has for many centuries had a strong impact on the law and governance in Muslim countries. When most of these countries gained independence during the 20th century, their new political elites enacted constitutions and national laws, and established national systems of law and governance. Some countries such as Turkey opted for a secular approach. Others, like Saudi Arabia, chose to pursue the path of classical sharia as the foundation of their national law. Most countries opted initially for an intermediate solution. Since the 1970s in several countries a new trend emerged, i.e. Islamising national law – Libya in 1972, 1974 and Iran and Pakistan in 1979. This has raised both domestic and international concerns about the repercussions for women, minorities, freedom of religion, and humane treatment of suspects and criminals. Debates have raged about whether Islam can go together with democracy and human rights. Since the 2011 Arab Spring, these questions have acquired new dimensions.
This course addresses law and governance in Muslim countries with a special focus on the MENA region. In the wake of the Arab Spring in this region, the international community pledged funds to “strengthen law and governance”. How successful can these efforts be? Obviously, such programs being based on models perceived as ‘western’, ‘liberal’ or ‘secular’, are strongly rejected by radical movements such as ISIS or Ansar al-Sharia, which are said to operate in the concerned region.
This course records actual processes of change and reform, whether diverging from or converging with rule of law and human rights. It addresses carefully selected issues of constitutional law, family law and or criminal law, and focuses on how domestic legal institutions have decided about them. In doing so it pays attention to how politicians, legal practitioners, and religious scholars have influenced the complex interrelation between sharia, national law and governance.
Objective(s) of the course
Acquiring of basic knowledge of the development and functioning of law and legal institutions in the MENA region, in particular in view of the relationship between sharia and national law in selected countries. Enhancing critical understanding of academic literature and public debates (English language material) on this subject. Enlarging academic skills of reading academic material in English, analyzing, participating in group discussions, learning to study a new legal system (for law students) or new field of study, i.e. law and religion (for students from humanities or social sciences).
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
- Having acquired knowledge of the development and functioning of law and legal institutions in the Muslim world especially the MENA region, in particular in view of the relationship between sharia and national law in selected countries.
- The ability to read, understand and analyze academic literature and public debates (English language material) on this subject.
- The ability to participate effectively in group discussions on the subject.
- The ability to effectively study a new legal system (for law students) or new field of study, i.e. law and religion (for students from humanities or social sciences).
Mode of instruction
- Number of (2 hour): 7
- Name(s) of lecturer(s): Dr. N. Sonneveld and guest lecturers
- Required preparation by students: reading texts for the lecture
- Number of (2 hour): 7
- Names of instructors: Dr. N. Sonneveld, and guest lecturers
- Required preparation by students: reading texts for the seminar, prepare a group presentation advance of the lectures
- Written exam (85%)
- Three reaction papers (15%)
If the overall grade is lower than 5,5 the student can do a retake of the exam. If a student has not passed the course by the end of the academic year, the scores on the presentation/paper and the (re-)exam are no longer valid.
Areas to be tested within the exam
Selected chapters from the book manuscript (see Course Materials), selected articles in the reader, subject matter taught in the lectures, the seminars, and all other instructions which form part of the course.
More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.
Obligatory course materials
- Chapters from Jan Michiel Otto (ed.), Sharia Incorporated. A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2010
Course information guide:
- Reader will be available via Readeronline
Recommended course materials
Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.
Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.
- Co-ordinators: Dr. N. sonneveld
- Email: email@example.com
- Institute: Meta Juridica
- Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute
- Room number secretary: KOG, room B3.13, ms. Kari van Weeren
- Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 12.30 and 13.30 – 16.00 h.
- Telephone number secretary: +31 ())71 527 7260
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org