Islam and Interfaith Relations


Course Objective

After studying materials about historic and modern-day examples,
students will be able to understand the complexity of inter-religious
relations, especially where it concerns everyday, non-religious
interactions between peoples of different faiths.
Students become acquainted with some of the basic, often unknown
literature about these topics and by studying and discussing several of
these issues learn to consult the relevant works independently as well
as use them for future research projects (papers, presentations etc.).

Course Content

In this course students study selected encounters between Muslims and
Christians in the Middle East from the perspectives of various
Christians groups. Until quite recently, studies about such encounters
mostly viewed religious minorities in the context of their relationship
to the dominant Muslim forces. As a result, the history of these
Christians has often been understood within a framework of looking at
them through the lens of persecution or toleration. However, from the
time of the Arab Muslim invasions, writings from Christians across the
Middle East reveal a complicated and evolving range of religious and
cultural exchanges that resulted in a history of hybridity, innovation
and continuity.

Teaching Methods

This course will be taught on line as well as in class.
The first weeks the students are expected to attend class virtually by
logging in via the link sent to each of the registered students
beforehand. The class starts and ends at the times designated in the VU
schedule. Students are expected to have access to a solid internet
connection and a device that allows them to hear the lectures and
contribute to discussions. The last week of the course will be taught in
class with the professor present.

Method of Assessment

Students will hand in weekly homework assignments (40%).
The final assignment is a 20 page paper about a topic to be discussed


Students will read selections from the following books and articles:

Armanios, Febe. Coptic Christianity in Ottoman Egypt. New York: Oxford
University Press, 2011.
Ginkel, J. J. Van, and T. M. Van Lint. Redefining Christian Identity:
Cultural Interaction in the Middle East since the Rise of Islam. Leuven:
Peeters Publishing, 2006.
Penn, Philip Michael. Envisioning Islam : Syriac Christians and the
Early Muslim World. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.
Sharkey, Heather, J. A History of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the
Middle East. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Van Doorn-Harder, N. “Betwixt and Between, the Copts of Egypt." Studies
in Interreligious Dialogue 23/1 (2013) 8-26.
__________“Copts: Fully Egyptian, but for a Tattoo?” in Nationalism and
Minority Identities in Islamic Societies, edited by Maya Shatzmiller,
22-57. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2005.
__________(ed.). Copts in Context. Negotiating Identity, Tradition and
Modernity. Columbia, SC: The University of South Carolina Press, 2017.

Target Audience

This module is part of the Research Master and an elective for all
master students.

Additional Information

This course uses various books. However, some of the key materials read
in this class will be available via the Canvas site.

Explanation Canvas

Relevant materials and messages will be posted via the Canvas site.
Furthermore, students will submit their homework via Canvas.

Recommended background knowledge

A basic knowledge of the history of Islam would be welcome but not

General Information

Course Code G_RMISISL
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Religion and Theology
Course Coordinator prof. dr. P.A. van Doorn-Harder
Examiner prof. dr. P.A. van Doorn-Harder
Teaching Staff prof. dr. P.A. van Doorn-Harder

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar
Target audiences

This course is also available as: