How does Islam take shape in Dutch Society?

Full professor Cultural Anthropology Thijl Sunier and Prof. Dr. Léon Buskens (Leiden University) have been awarded a NWO grant for their research proposal “Making Islam Work in the Netherlands”

07/03/2013 | 9:22 AM

The proposed project is a research into recent developments in the ways Islam takes shape in Dutch society. It focuses on the doctrinal dimensions of Islam and addresses two separate but closely interlinked central domains: (1) religious authority and leadership, and (2) the creation and application of Islamic law in the context of counseling and mediation. The project seeks to analyze these developments explicitly from the perspective of ‘ordinary Muslims’. The point of departure is the shift of Muslims from a (temporal) migrant community into an integral part of Dutch society.

There are many indications that the authoritative and institutional frames of Islam in European countries, which have been developed under migratory conditions, are under pressure. Initiatives to set up institutes of religious learning in the Netherlands or to develop organizational structures beyond ethnic dividing lines point in this direction. Also the rapidly increasing numbers of ‘new’ independent preachers who are particularly popular among young Muslims are an indication of change. And there are all kinds of local initiatives to see how certain elements of Islamic law could be applied in the Dutch society. Little is known, however, how these changes evolve and how the agency of ordinary Muslims is applied in the development of the doctrinal dimensions of Islam. This project aims to fill this information gap.

The project will be conducted and disseminated in cooperation with a large number of societal partners who also financially contributed to the project. They range from Dutch ministries and municipalities, to political parties and non-governmental religious and non-religious organizations. The research team is very grateful for their support, which has played an important role in the positive evaluation of the research proposal.

The proposed research will be conducted at VU University Amsterdam and Leiden University, which are both participating universities in the Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies (NISIS). The project will start in the fall of 2013.empty

The­ research project falls within the scope of the “Religie in de moderne samenleving” (Religion in Modern Society) program of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

More information
Personal web page Thijl Sunier
Personal web page Léon Buskens