Main menu


This does not mean that…



This intellectual posit…


The Sense of a Presenc…

The general presentatio…


Launch meeting Leiden …

The launch meeting of t…


The Social Message of …

Before thinking further…


Social Commitment and …

With the questions of s…


Call For Chapters: Isl…



The Birth of an Islami…

No chapter on the refor…


In Case You Missed It,…

Canadians can't be blam…


What Are the Alternati…

The aims and contents o…


Islamic Schools: The P…

In order to win the str…


Meaning and Content

Before beginning a pres…

Second Menu

Launch meeting Leiden Islam Academy: gathering knowledge and meeting people

The launch meeting of the Leiden Islam Academy on 7 December in the Academy Building drew just the right audience: a diverse group of people who were all in some way engaged with Islam. This was just what the directors of the Academy, Maurits Berger and Fatiha Azzarhouni, were hoping for.

Need for knowledge
Around 150 guests attended the meeting, including not only the ambassadors to the Netherlands from the United Kingdom, Morocco, Pakistan and Indonesia, but also students, consultants, GPs, business people, security experts, teachers, journalists, politicians, civil servants, imams and many other professional groups. These guests were representing the groups in society that need to share in the abundant knowledge on Islam available within Leiden University. And this is precisely why Leiden Islam Academy (LIA) was established.

The activist professor
The symposium was about the various ways in which Islam is manifested in Dutch society, and how a university should approach this topic. It began with a few short addresses and a round table discussion between a politician, a representative of a history teachers’ organisation, a journalist, an imam and an academic. Next there were four parallel sample lectures: an introduction to a specific topic as a taster for the participants, followed by discussion. After this, the guests had ample opportunity to chat or network over drinks and snacks. The meeting was especially honoured by the presence of philosopher Tariq Ramadan, professor in Oxford and Qatar, who gave a very interesting closing address: ‘Professor and activist: for me, not a contradiction but a pleonasm.’

‘All the importantquestions touch on Islam’
This was the view of the politician in the round table discussion. He has noticed that Islam is blamed for just about everything, whether the issue is migrants, criminality or whatever else. Tariq Ramadan, however, took a different view when he spoke later: ‘It lies deeper. Nearly all problems can be traced back to the ever-growing gap between rich and poor. Even radicalisation has nothing to do with Islam.’

‘…. occasionally the company car’
Fatiha Azzarhouni (on the right in the photograph at the top, next to Tariq Ramadan), Vice-Director of LIA, started her working life as an IT specialist. In her address, she said the Islam debate used to annoy her, but then she realised how little she actually knew about her own religion. She gave up her job (and the company lease car) in order to study Islamic Theology at Leiden University, a degree programme that is no longer offered. ‘It’s a decision I’ve never regretted, except perhaps occasionally for the company car.’

‘Moslims are shoppers’
Maurits Berger, Professor of Islam and the West, gave a sample lecture on Sharia. Should we permit Sharia councils? He very briefly presented the facts about the Dutch legal system, which allows a great deal of freedom, and about Sharia, which for Muslims in Europe is mainly a code of living in areas such as clothing, food and religion. But what happens if you want an Islamic divorce? Some people go to England, where Sharia councils exist. But should these councils also be permitted in the Netherlands? Opinions in the room were divided. One person said, ‘It would be good if there were several different ones. Muslims are “shoppers”, and they go to the council that works out best for them.’ As Tariq Ramadan would say later: ‘One Islam, many cultures.’

‘I am very pleased with this excellent initiative’
Minister van OCW, Jet The Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker, had hoped to attend the launch meeting in person, but was prevented by more pressing political commitments: always the risk with politicians. However she addressed the audience in the room via a video clip, saying how greatly she welcomed the founding of Leiden Islam Academy: ‘I am very pleased with this excellent initiative.’

‘The framework is there, ready to be elaborated’
The symposium was opened by Frank Pieke, Director of the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR). He gave a brief overview of Leiden University’s approach to Islam (since the 16th century), and how Leiden Islam Academy is taking a new step within this. ‘A nuanced approach to teaching and conducting research on the meaning of Islam in the Netherlands requires not only expertise, but especially a great deal of wisdom and courage.’

‘Europe has been Muslim for many centuries’
Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, used his own term clash of perceptions as the line of his argument, touching on a wide range of current themes. For instance, he pointed out that Islam in Europe is nothing new: there have been Muslim communities in Eastern Europe for just as long as Christian ones. And what about the colonial past…? Even back in those days, the Dutch East Indies had a large Muslim population. ‘And you never hear anything about that,’ muttered someone in the audience.

‘Looking down on people is actually a political standpoint’’
Ramadan also said that scholars must always try to find a good balance between research and social engagement. And that they must be very careful not to lose their academic credibility by looking down on groups that are led by fear and emotions: ‘Looking down on people is actually a political standpoint.’


1 commentaire “Launch meeting Leiden Islam Academy: gathering knowledge and meeting people”

  1. According to the Holy Quran, all children are born Muslims, it is their parents who make them Jew, Christian or others. This is one of the many reasons why now western peoples are reverting to Islam on their own free will. Through out the history, Muslims never forced non-Muslims to accept Islam. This is the main reason why Muslims lost Spain and India.

    The beauty of Islam is that it is a religion which appeals to common sense. There is no blind belief or dogmatism in Islam. The fundamentals of Islam are simple, straightforward and easy to understand.

    If Islam is so bad, then why is it the WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING RELIGION! It is also one of the youngest religions. However no matter how hard everyone tries to give Islam a bad name, it will be twice as more populated. So let’s get straight to the point yeah?, Basically Islam is the most hated religion I don’t know why hmm maybe because it is also the most fastest growing religion and 2nd largest but no one will be able to stop this religion from growing.

    Islam is the fastest growing faith in Britain. Hundreds and thousands of Brits are reverting to Islam. By the middle of this century, over half of Brits would be Muslims.

    “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to
    possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the
    dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.” [G.B. Shaw, THE GENUINE ISLAM, Vol. No. 81936.]

    In Islam there is no commandment to kill people by making such allegations against them. The cartoonists had exercised their freedom of expression, and freedom of expression is totally allowed in Islam. Even during the Prophet’s time there were several instances of ridicule, however the Prophet and his Companions neither punished such persons nor asked anyone to do so. On every occasion of this kind, the Prophet’s Companions always tried to positively disseminate the message of Islam. They never tried to punish these people. The killing of those people who had published the cartoons is a gravely un-Islamic act in the name of Islam. What did killing Saddam Husain do. What did killing Osama Bin laden do? NOTHING!!!. There is a long line of replacements. I don’t know the answers. He was asked by MI5 to join them…so you know he is working for them.

    Terrorism and sexual grooming is nothing to do with Masajid, Imams and Muslim schools. Those Muslim youths who have been involved in terrorism and sexual grooming are the product of western education system which makes a man stupid, selfish and corrupt. They find themselves cut off from their cultural heritage, literature and poetry. They suffer from identity crises and I blame British schooling.

    Islam will grow despite of strong opposition to Muslims in the west. Islam is not any new religion, Islam means to submit your will to one and true Lord, who is the Lord of the Thrones. Who sent Adam,Abraham,Ishmael,Isaac,Joanna,Lot,Joseph,Moses,Jesus and Muhammad( Peace and blessings of God be on them all),The Quran Honours Mary as the women chosen above women of all the nations and their is a chapter dedicated to her in Quran called chapter 19, Mary and Jesus(Peace be on him) was the mightiest messengers of God, he was born miraculously without any male intervention, he healed all the blind and sick by God’s Permission. And no Muslim is a Muslim if he does not believe in Jesus Christ as the messenger of God, and Jesus is coming back to this world, and this is our emaan our faith. Jesus says in the Bible that” on that day many will come to me and say, “Lord have we not done mighty works in thy name, in thy name cast out devils. Jesus says” You evil people depart from me, I never knew you”.

    Islam is a religion of peace love and JUSTICE. Muslims don’t and should not prove their innocence who believe that Islam is a violent religion. ISLAM today and after 9/11 has been the fastest growing religion in the WORLD. To be honest, nobody like unpeaceful religion… it seems that its impossible to gain billions of followers if a prophet was evil.. and it has decline the number of Christianity in the world.. Judaism as well.. the only war today was due to people that are greedy for power.. but in majority of Muslims view, politics is only for man who wants to challenge his life. Most of us don’t like politics because later you would be put in trial in front of God. Ordinary Muslims prefer to be away from it..

    Allah our God said in Quran: “When You Are Greeted, Answer With A More Courteous Greeting, Or At Least Of Equal Degree.” (Surah 4: Ayah 86) Islam teach us ”to treat people the way we love to be treated” That what Mohammed peace be upon him said. and He also said ”Shall I tell you something which, if you did, you would love each other? Spread the greeting of peace between yourselves” all I am kindly saying that Islam is really a peaceful religion, please do not judge it before you understand it. If you want to learn about Islam, just read the Quran for yourself and look at Muhammad’s life and what he’s done. Islam is peace it never encourages violent in any way. Islam encourages self defence.

    The Crusades were started by Christians in their desire to have sole control over the Holy Land and by the desire of the Pope, Urban II, to unite the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church after the schism of 1054, against a common enemy, which was Islam, the Christian Crusaders had no desire to share the Holy land with anyone, in contrast under Muslim rule Jerusalem was a multicultural city with Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, Jewish communities who had been invited back to Jerusalem by Muslims after the eviction of the Byzantine Empire and its anti-Semitic ban on Jews entering the city which had been imposed by the Romans after the Collapse of the Temple. Jews helped to defend the city alongside Muslims against the crusader army before they were massacred alongside the Muslims by the Crusaders. The Crusades aim was to capture the Holy land from the Muslim Arabs solely for Christianity, it was an act of imperialism, racism and Barbarism that the modern Western world is rightly ashamed of and now rejects, for you to seek to justify it is beyond belief, oh and btw the Mosque you are referring to in Jerusalem is the Al-Aqsa Mosque which was built on the temple mount, a site sacred to Jews that was destroyed by the Romans which has nothing to do with Christianity, and yes Christians subjected Jews to centuries of violent anti-Semitism, particularly during the inquisition when Jews and Muslims had to convert or otherwise leave, or stay and be burned at the stake as heretics.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


University of Oxford

St Antony's College Middle East Centre University of Oxford - Faculty of Theology and Religion…

CISMOR Doshisha Univer……

Présence Musulmane (Am……

European Muslim Networ……