M.S. Berger - Islam and the West

  • Full Professor Islam and the West (Sultan of Oman Chair for Oriental Studies)

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 1684
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, LUCSoR
Office Address: Witte Singel-complex
Matthias de Vrieshof 1
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 1.01b

Prof.dr. Maurits S. Berger, LLM (1964) has graduated in Arabic Studies and Law. He holds the chair of Islam and the West at the Institute for Religious Studies at Leiden University, and is a senior research associate with the Clingendael Institute for International Relations in The Hague. He has worked as a lawyer in Amsterdam and as judge in The Hague, and as a researcher and journalist in Cairo and Damascus.

Advisory activities

Professor Berger is member of the Advisory Council for International Affairs at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is frequently invited for consultations and presentations at international forums like the European Parliament and the OSCE, and in the Netherlands by Parliament, various Dutch Ministries and municipality councils, the lawyers union and the public prosecutor’s office. He acts as an expert for media and writes regularly for newspapers.


Berger often engages in the Dutch public debate on Islam. In addition to his speeches and lectures, he has initiated a quarterly Journal for Religion, Law and Society (Tijdschrift voor Religie, Recht en Beleid) for policymakers, politicians and professionals, and two university blogs, Leiden Islam Blog and Religion Blog, for the general public. He is also director of the Leiden Islam Outreach Programme (LIOP) that develops a teaching programme of Islam studies outside the university.


Professor Berger currently teaches a Master course Sharia in the West, and Bachelor courses Politics of the Middle East, and Modern Trends and Thinkers in Islam.


His fields of research include Islamic law, political Islam and freedom of religion. The relation between law and religion is a special interest. He is presently working on two projects:

  1. the role and influence of Sharia in Western countries. 
  2. the influence of Islamic thought in societal domains related to other than law and politics, like economics, gender, education, sustainable development

Recent publications

  • A Brief History of Islam in Europe. Thirteen Centuries of Creed, Conflict and Coexistence (Leiden University Press, 2014)
  • Applying Shari'a in the West (Leiden University Press, 2013)
  • "Islam and Islamic Law in Contemporary International Relations” (in: Islam and International Law. Engaging Self-Centrism from a Plurality of Perspectives, Brill Publishers, 2013, pp 393-413);
  • “The Third Wave: Islamization of Europe, or Europanization of Islam?” (Journal of Muslims in Europe Vol.2, 2013, pp.115-136). 

Last Modified: 11-12-2015