Thu 31 Jan 2014 | NISIS Islamic Studies Network Day | Leiden University

On Thursday 31 January 2014 the second Islamic Studies Network Day took place. This event is part of the NISIS Training Programme. Time: 10.00-17.30. Location: Leiden University.

Format: keynote lecture, parallel workshops and networking

It is one of NISIS’ primary targets to provide a platform for the new generation of scholars in Islamic studies, where they can present their research to colleagues and specialists in the field. The Islamic Studies Network Day provides an excellent opportunity to PhD candidates and research master students to acquaint themselves with the newest developments in their field of study and to exchange information and experiences with colleagues and specialists.

This year there were two keynote speakers. Dr. Carmen Becker, who obtained her PhD recently, opened the day, Prof. Dr. Kees Versteegh, emeritus professor of Arabic linguistics at Radboud University in Nijmegen, closed the day. In between, PhD candidates and research master students presented their research in parallel sessions and received feedback from colleagues and specialists under supervision of a specialist in the field. There was plenty of opportunity for networking during the lunch and drinks afterwards; all attendants were invited to join.


In the programme 20 minutes is reserved for a presentation of your research, with 10 minutes Q&A.


As a discussant during the Islamic Studies Network Day, you are required to prepare questions for discussion in advance and to actively participate in and contribute to the discussion. You will receive an abstract of the presentation in which you will act as discussant beforehand. NISIS aims at assigning the participants to the different (thematic/geographical) sessions in accordance with their respective field of study within Islamic Studies.

Keynote lectures

Carmen Becker
Carmen Becker graduated from the Free University of Berlin in Political Science in 2003 with a specialization in the MENA region. She worked at the German Federal Foreign Office before moving to the Netherlands to work as an AIO at the Radboud University of Nijmegen where she obtained her PhD degree in 2013. She is currently doing research on public da’wa networks in Germany.

The Salafi quest for ‘authenticity’ online and the troubles of ambiguity
In recent years increasing numbers of Muslims following the Salafiyya in Germany and the Netherlands have taken their religious engagement to online environments such as chat rooms, forums, YouTube channels or Facebook pages. Their quest for ‘authenticity’ shapes the way Salafi Muslims create devotional spaces, strive for religious knowledge and construct authority in online environments. These environments like forums and chat rooms are not merely spaces where religious information and knowledge circulates and is consumed. Rather, they are social spaces in which religion is lived, religious subjectivities cultivated and the boundaries of the community negotiated. The expansion of Salafi religious life into environments based on digital technologies has affected the ways they practice their religion. This lecture will address some of the transformations which are taking place in predominantly subtle ways due to the involvement of new technologies.
In other respects, the research on which this presentation is based had to cope with several issues concerning the relationship between online and offline worlds, ‘doing justice’ to a group which is presented—and often presents itself—as the radical Other and the author’s ambition to include complexities and inconsistencies in the narration of the religious experience of Salafi Muslims online. It is therefore not only the subjects of this research who are troubled by the ambiguities of their often futile quest for authenticity. Likewise is the researcher who strives to tell the story within the framework of scientific objectivity revolving around the seemingly irreconcilable aims to get to the point without oversimplifying matters.

Kees Versteegh
Kees Versteegh was professor of Arabic and Islam at the University of Nijmegen untill he retired in 2010. He specializes in historical linguistics and the history of linguistics. His books include Pidginization and creolization: The case of Arabic (1984), Arabic grammar and Qur'anic exegesis in early Islam (1993), The Arabic linguistic tradition (1997), and The Arabic language (1997). He was the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Arabic language and linguistics (2006-2009).

Arabic-Afrikaans and Islamic learning
Through the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century the Muslim community of Cape Town and a few other places in the Cape Colony produced a large number of manuscripts and printed books in various fields of Islamic learning. These texts were written in Arabic script, but the language was Afrikaans, a creolized variety of the language the Dutch traders had brought to South Africa.
The Cape Muslim community had its origin in South Asia and Southeast Asia; most of its founding members had been expelled or transported by force by the Dutch authorities from their Asian possessions. Most of the immigrants were Muslims and for many of them Malay was the language in which they had been educated. Once they resided in the Cape Colony, they shifted to the local vernacular, Afrikaans. At that time, Afrikaans was not the standard language in the Cape Colony, where only Dutch was recognised as official written language, albeit in fierce competition with English.
For the Muslim community in the Cape, the matter of Islamic education was all-important. Yet, they did not opt for the use of Arabic (or Malay), nor did they choose the standard language of the Cape Colony for the production of their texts, but they preferred instead to both speak and write in Afrikaans. An interesting aspect of this choice is their attitude towards Arabic, which is generally regarded as the language of Islam. Perhaps, the fact that the Hanafite law school had a tradition of allowing religious instruction, sometimes even Qur'anic recitation in the vernacular language (Zadeh 2012), played a role in this choice.

Assessment method

PhD candidates and research master students were judged on the basis of:
- attendance of the keynote lecture;
- presentation in a workshop and/or;
- role as discussant in one of the presentations of the other PhD candidates or ResMA students.

For more information, please visit the NISIS website.

Last Modified: 16-04-2015