Course Syllabus


Muslims in the West

DIS Logo

2021-09-01 14.42.15.jpg


Semester & Location:

Fall 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Sociology, Ethnic Studies, and Religious Studies



Faculty Members:

Michael Perlt

(current students please use the Canvas Inbox to contact)

Time & Place:

Mondays 14:50-17:45, Classroom Fi6-Metro 06


Description of course

Islam plays a central role in European politics. The media is full of discussions on veiling, radicalization, sharia law, parallel communities, terrorism - just to name a few - but how do these phenomena work in real life? Religions are dynamic phenomena, and within only a few generations of Muslim presence in Europe, we have seen the development of various European discourses within Islam. These are evident in both Islamic extremisms and in the women's struggle within Islam. In this course, you will learn to analyze a broad spectrum of Islamic discourses from Salafism to Islamic feminism with methods from political science and sociology of religion.

The course material consists of a combination of ethnographic studies, reports with quantitative data, and sociological theory. The ethnographic studies give students an understanding of the field and answers questions such as why women don the face-veil and go into Salafism and why some Muslims adhere to parallel juridical institutions rather than the state’s legal system. We will contextualize this knowledge with quantitative studies and utilize sociological theory to analyze both qualitative and quantitative data.

This course is designed around the concept of learning by doing. We change perspective several times during the semester and apply different theories to our material. This means that you will develop a familiarity and confidence with the material while practicing the application of theory at every stage. Towards the end of the semester, you are highly encouraged to go beyond the application of theory and start making independent evaluations and be creative.

Learning objectives

You will gain a good overview of Islamic discourses in the West and develop methodological skills that enable you to analyze Islam as a minority religion in a western context. The course is based upon political science and sociological theory, which we will train through papers. This means that you have a wide-ranging freedom to choose your own topics (as long as you apply the theory). At the end of the course, you will be well equipped to analyze the current situation and developments in European Islam and utilize the theory from class in other spheres than Islamic studies.

Field studies

  • The Imam Ali Mosque
  • The David Collection (Islamic art museum)


  • Ackfeldt, Anders (2020): The semiotics of Malcolm X from Harlem to Tahrir. In: Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift (1)
  • Ahmed, Afia (2019): The clothes of my faith. In: Mariam Khan (ed.): It's not about the Burqa. Picador.
  • Ali, Ayaan Hirsi (2004): The caged virgin: A Muslim woman's cry for reason. Pocket Books. Pp. ix-xviii and 139-150.
  • Cesari, Jocelyne (2010): Securitization of Islam in Europe. In: Jocelyne Cesari (ed.): Muslims in the West after 9/11: Religion, politics, and law. Routledge.
  • Eltahawy, Mona (2012): Why do they hate us? In: Foreign Policy.
  • Henkel, Heiko (2006): The journalists of Jyllands-Posten are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs. In: Radical Philosophy (137). Pp. 2-7.
  • Huntington, Samuel P (1993): The clash of civilizations? In: Foreign Affairs (3). Pp. 22-49
  • Inge, Anabel (2017): The making of a Salafi Muslim women: Paths to conversion. Oxford University Press. Pp. 62-99.
  • Jeldtoft, Nadia (2013): The hypervisibility of Islam. In: Nathal M. Dessing, Nadia Jeldtoft, Jørgen S. Nielsen, and Linda Woodhead: Everyday lived Islam in Europe. Ashgate.
  • Klausen, Jytte (2007): The Islamic challenge: Politics and religion in Western Europe. Oxford University Press.
  • Lughod, Lila (2013): Do Muslim women need saving? Harvard University Press. pp. 81-112.
  • Nielsen, Jørgen S. and Jonas Otterbeck (2016): Muslim in western Europe. Edinburgh University Press. Pp. 1-66
  • Otterbeck, Jonas (2020: Finding the object of study: Islamic studies in practice. International Journal of Religion 2(1).
  • Petersen, Jesper (2022): The making of a mosque with female imams: Serendipities in the production of Danish Islams. Brill. Pp. 1-21 and 66-176.
  • Rifaat, Alifa (1983): Distant view of a minaret. Heinemann Ibadan Nairobi, pp. 1-4.
  • Rose, Flemming (2006): Why I published those cartoons. In: Washington Post (19 February 2006).
  • Soper, J. Christopher and Joel S. Fetzer (2009): The practice of their faith: Muslims and the state in Britain, France, and Germany. In: Abdulkader H. Sinno (ed.): Muslim in Western Politics. Indiana University Press.




Paper 1


Paper 2


Paper 3




Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 

Course Summary:

Date Details Due