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Sharia and National Law in the Muslim World


Admission requirements



The relationship between sharia and national law has been a major issue in each of the more than 40 Muslim majority countries which gained independence during the 20th century. 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 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran, there has been much concern about global tendencies to Islamize national law, and the repercussions for women, minorities, freedom of religion. and human treatment of criminals.

This course addresses and compares legal developments in five or six selected countries, i.e. Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Indonesia. It records actual processes of change and reform, whether diverging or converging with rule of law and human rights. It explains major issues of constitutional law, family law, and criminal law, and how legal institutions have decided about such issues, as well as how religious and political forces have influenced the formation and functioning of the law. At the same time this course sheds light on how Islamic law is actually studied and developed by religious scholars, as opposed to how professional, secular jurists study and shape national, secular laws.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course:

  • The course has the following objectives:
    Acquiring of basic knowledge of the development and functioning of law and legal institutions in the Muslim world, in particular in view of the relationship between sharia (Islamic law) 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).

Achievement levels:
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
After completing the course students will have:

  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the development and functioning of law and legal institutions in the Muslim world, in particular of the relation between sharia and national law ;

  • The ability to independently use English language material to critically evaluate the abovementioned subject; and to present their findings in short oral and written presentations.


See: .

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 5

  • Names of lecturers: Buskens, Otto, and guest lecturers

  • Required preparation by students: Oral presentation and reading literature


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 5

  • Names of instructors: Buskens, Otto and guest lecturers

  • Required preparation by students: Students will have to prepare a weekly assignment to be presented in groups

Other methods of instruction

  • Description:

  • Number of (2 hour) instructions:

  • Names of instructors:

  • Required preparation by students:

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written exam.

Submission procedures

Areas to be tested within the exam
Selected chapters from the book manuscript (see above), 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”:

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

Course information guide:

  • none


  • Reader, available at Onderwijsmaterialen (KOG, room A.045)

Recommended course materials:

  • to be announced


Students have to register for courses and exams through “U-twist”:

Contact details

  • Coordinator: Prof. dr. L.P.H.M. Buskens

  • Work address: Matthias de Vrieshof 4, Room 111B

  • Contact information: Via secretariat mw K. van Weeren (see below)

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 5272013

  • E-mail:


  • Departement: Metajuridica / Jurisprudence

  • Division: Van Vollenhoven Instituut

  • Room number secretariat: KOG, room B305, Mw. K. van Weeren

  • Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 9:00-12:30 to 13:30-16:00

  • Telephone number secretariat: +31 (0)71 5277769

  • E-mail:


Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van Contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), vinden hier meer informatie over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden etc.