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BDMS: The Islamic Book. From Manuscript to Modern Media


Admission requirements



The course offers a first introduction to the importance of texts in Islamic civilization. Subjects treated: The importance of the book in Islam; How to handle God’s word? Images in prayer books; Infallibility and inimitability of the Koran; Taking Greek science from Islamic sources; An excursion to the obscure side (blasphemy and the murder of Theo van Gogh); Islam and enlightenment; Genealogies of learning; The proliferation of Islamic texts; The illuminated title-page.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students

  • understand the importance of the phenomenon book in Islam;

  • understand how Islamic booklore develops from the way God’s own word is handled in the material book;

  • have learnt how to use the internet for research on the islamic book;
    understand the major historical developments of the islamic book by having become acquainted with a large number of specimens of Islamic books from the rich collections of the University Library.


The Timetable will be available on the website from 1 July. Timetable

Mode of instruction

Two-hour seminar per week.

Assessment method

Attendance (eight Tuesday mornings), occasional homework, final essay on a self-chosen subject.

Reading list

The course is given with a textbook (under construction) by Prof. Witkam. During the course profuse use is made of the original manuscripts and printed books in the Leiden Islamic collections.


Students can register through uSis.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Book and Digital Media Studies Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or by mail: