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Islamic Jurisprudence for Muslims in Europe: The Role of Fatwas


Admission requirements

Good knowledge of Islam, as acquired in a bachelor Islamic Studies or Middle Eastern Studies, is assumed.


Phrases, such as “American Fiqh” or “European Islam” have been suggested to designate the position of Muslims within the European polity. Other new concepts, such as “Fiqh al-Aqalliyyât”’ (Jurisprudence of Minorities) or “Fiqh al-Mughtaribîn” (Jurisprudence of Emigrants) in Shi’ite sources have become the most recent common terms dealing with the legal discourses related to the life of Muslim minorities in the West. One of the most prolific institutions is the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), which was specifically established to respond to the urgent needs of minorities for religious guidelines in their non-Islamic environment (founded 1997). Besides in the digital era we witness an increasing number of online platforms that are mainly inrested in providing Muslims in the West with legal answers to their questions and demands in the minority context.

Course objectives

The Seminar gives special attention to the world of fatwas and the legal Muslim thinking addressing the increasing vicissitudes of Muslims as minorities in the West. The main objective of the course is to strengthen the knowledge of participants on the institutionalization of the concept of fatwa in the modern time and its relevance to the status of Muslims in the West. They shall gain knowledge of the main trends in Islam who are interested in the demanding issues of Muslims in the West and how do they answer the urgent questions related to the residence of Muslims in the non-Muslim territories, relations with non-Muslims, mixed marriage, mortgage, etc.


See Time table

Mode of instruction

Students are expected to take active participation by carefully reading the given assignments (see below) and giving a brief presentation on the materials during the class. The student should make a critical analysis of the selected chapter or article in the light of at least one scientific work (book, chapter, article, etc.) cited by the author. The teacher’s task will be to give scientific supplements and detailed comments on the students’ presentations. Students are required to discuss an outline which will be a guideline for a research paper concerning a particular legal issue related to Fiqh al-Aqalliyyât or the situation of Muslims in the West. This particular issue should be discussed in light of religious, cultural, and social (or political) context of Muslim societies by utilizing pertinent scientific literature in that field.
The outline of the paper should include the following points (minimum):1) Identification of the selected legal problem, 2) explaining the methodology used in the research, 3) sketch of its social and cultural background, 4) identifying various religious views in Islam on the same issue, 5) list of sources to be used in the study.

Course Load

5 EC
– Attendance: 2 × 12 weeks = 24 hours.
– Mandatory literature: 80 hours
– Assignments: 40 hours

10 EC
– Attendance: 2 × 12 weeks = 24 hours.
– Mandatory literature: 80 hours
– Assignments: 40 hours
– Final Research Paper: 140 hours.

Assessment method

Presentation, written exam, participation in class + paper


Yes, see: Blackboard.

Reading list

A reader will be available to students in advance.
Capita selecta of the following:
Said Fares, “Reaching from Within: Establishing a New Islamic Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities in the West (The Discourse of Fiqh al-Aqalliyyāt)”, Unpublished PhD-thesis, University of Californa, Los Angeles, 2011


Via uSis.
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in Blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Dr. Umar Ryad. + 31 (0) 71 5272568


Presence is obligatory; the student can be excluded from the exam with more than 3x absence