Universiteit Leiden

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Innovative forms of Islamic higher education in Western Europe

Monday 3 April 2017 - Tuesday 4 April 2017
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

On 3 and 4 April 2017, the Leiden Islam Academy, as part of LUCIS and LUCSoR, will organize an international conference “Innovative forms of Islamic higher education in Western Europe: between scholarly and societal demands”.

Organiser: dr. Welmoet Boender (Leiden University)

© Welmoet Boender 2016

In the past decades, there has been a growth of Islamic higher education institutes in Western Europe, providing different spaces to reflect upon Islamic notions in a European cultural, social and political context. Public interest in Islamic modalities and modernizing Muslim communities has urged universities to invest in the study of Islam. An important renewal is the introduction of so-called Islamic Theology next to Islamic Studies. Another recurring theme is the training of imams, spiritual caretakers and Islamic educators at high schools.

Parallel to these developments, private Islamic institutions have been established that are currently in a process of renewal, adapting to the needs of second- and third generation Muslims. While the latter are primarily interested in (daily) questions of a self-serving theological nature, in the former a political interest of the state is often visible.

The conference takes into focus this seemingly ‘next phase’ of Western European higher Islam education in which academic (secular-informed) Islam Studies and (confessional-grounded) Islamic theology increasingly meet with each other and with the private Islamic institutions.

In this process, we observe at least three moments of ‘integration’. First, Islamic private institutions are in need for contextual knowledge (Islamic culture, politics, history, etc.), while universities seek knowledge of the latest development of Islamic theological thinking within these institutions. Secondly, Muslim scholars work at the nexus of Western and Islamic scholarly traditions, trying to bring these traditions together. Thirdly, programs respond to implicit or explicit demands to adapt to the –competing- needs of widely differing academic and non-academic audiences. The Leiden Islam Academy which was created in 2014 to cater the needs of new student cohorts outside university, is a case in point.

The conference aims to provide a platform to stakeholders to take stock of these fast ongoing developments while trying to scan some directions, by exploring the following questions:

  • What are current ‘moments of meeting and merging’ between public and private universities, secular and confessional approaches, and academic and non-academic audiences?
  • What (didactic) challenges do the stakeholders face and how do they reflect upon their roles?
  • Which new directions or (didactic) models are emerging in the study of Islamic higher education within the Western European setting?

The conference will bring together Western-European scholars (researchers and practitioners) to share recent empirical insights and reflect upon the dynamics of this highly complex field.

This conference is partly funded with a LUCIS Guarantee Grant


For registration and information contact us at leidenislamacademie@hum.leidenuniv.nl.


Monday 3 April 2017

8.45  Registration and coffee/tea

Session 1 | Introducing the topic

9.15 Welcome
9.30 Dr. Welmoet Boender (Leiden University), Innovative forms of Islamic higher education in Western Europe: explaining the rationale of the conference

Prof. dr. mr. Maurits Berger (Leiden University, Leiden Islam Academy and LUCIS), Leiden Islam Academy: an innovative approach

11.00 Break

Session 2 | The insider/outsider perspective in the study of Islam
Chair: Prof. dr. Göran Larsson (Göteborg University)

11.30 Prof. dr. Riem Spielhaus (Georg Eckert Institute for Textbook Research), Integration of Islamic Theology into Western European academia
12.10 Dr. Jan Felix Engelhardt (University of Frankfurt), Getting beyond the Islamic Studies/Islamic Theology divide. The self-understanding of professors in Islamic Theology programs in Germany
13.00 Lunch break

Session 3 | Private institutes of higher Islam education and moments of meeting with secular universities
Chair: Dr. Welmoet Boender (Leiden University)

14.00 Alyaa Ebbiary (SOAS, University of London), A Tale of Two Colleges: ‘Rehab’ and Rewriting the Islamic Curriculum
14.40 Anne Dijk (Fahm Institute), Experiences from the Fahm Institute in the Netherlands
15.20 Break

Session 4 | Innovative didactics for teaching Islam
Chair: Prof. dr. Alison Scott-Baumann (SOAS, University of London)

15.40 Dr. Matthew Wilkinson (Research Fellow in Islam in Education & Law at SOAS, University of London and Director of Curriculum for Cohesion), Bridging the 'unserious' gap between critical and confessional Islamic education: Islamic critical realism
16.20 Rasit Bal (Hogeschool InHolland Amsterdam), Teaching hermeneutics and reflexivity while meeting the needs of the students
17.00 Leontine van Melle and Monique Snijder (Centre for Innovation, Leiden University), Workshop: how to teach Islam online
19.00 Dinner for speakers and invited guests


Tuesday 4 April

Session 5 | Communities as receivers
Chair: Prof. dr. Maurits Berger (Leiden University)

9.10 Dr. Ali Özgür Özdil (Islamisches Wissenschaft- und Bildungsinstitut e.V.) Experiences from Islamisches Wissenschafts- und Bildungsinstitut Hamburg
9.50 Mieke Groeninck (KU Leuven), Modes of apprehension of Islamic knowledge among female students in mosque education
10.30 Break

Session 6 | Reaching public audiences
Chair: Dr. Yaser Ellethy (VU Amsterdam)

11.00 Dr. Meryem Kanmaz (former director of Mana vzw, Belgium), Mana as educational platform for public debate on Islam. Societal demands and political constraints
11.40 Naima Lafrarchi, (researcher and Islamic RE teacher, Flemish Community), Islam in higher education in Flanders: innovations made and questions left​
12.20 Lunch break

Session 7 | Teaching Islam at the interchange of religion, state and society
Chair: Dr. Welmoet Boender (Leiden University)

13.20 Prof. dr. Alison Scott-Baumann (Centre of Islamic Studies, SOAS), Islamic Studies in Britain: describing interstitial spaces
14.00 Closing session: Emerging new directions in Islamic higher education in Western Europe

16.00 End of conference

More information on the Leiden Islam Academy

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