Friday, 27 May 2011

Muslims, Globalisation & the West


his programme provides an introduction and exploration of the complex issues and relationships between Muslims and what is referred to as ‘The West’. The programme focuses on issues related to the contexts in which globalisation, dialogue and clash of civilisations emerged. Thus, the political and social underpinnings of globalisation are examined by identifying areas of similarity and difference between the two.

In addition, the programme discusses issues about the concept of political Islam, understandings and misunderstandings about it and whether or not Muslim political thought is incompatible with principles of governance in ‘The West’.

Programme Aims

Key issues for students taking the programme include the emergence of globalisation and its overriding impact on politics and international relations issues relating to Islam and Muslims across the world. The programme investigates the debate of dialogue or non-dialogue, and ongoing concepts and discussions on the perceived threats of Islam to ‘Western’ values, reinforcing the claim made by proponents of clash of civilisations. It also highlights the Qur’anic discourse on peace, dialogue, understanding, the concept of humanity (insaniyyah) and universalism.


There are no exams. All assessment is by coursework, with most subjects assessed by:

  • A Critical Review (2,000 words)
  • An Essay (3-4,000 words)
  • A Seminar Presentation

Students who undertake an MLitt are required to complete a research dissertation of 15-18,000 words.

Further Study & Careers

This programme will be useful for those who want to go on to teach in the field. Others may use their expertise and qualifications to go on to further studies, or to work in areas such as: government services at local, national and international levels; diplomacy; consultancy and project work, developing cooperation in non-governmental and international organisations; the media; the voluntary sector; social and not-for-profit organisations. The courses at the Al-Maktoum Institute are designed to equip our students with the skills and knowledge to face the challenges of the contemporary world.

The programme focuses on issues related to the contexts in which globalisation, dialogue and clash of civilisations emerged.

Programme Elements

This programme is made up of six taught courses and a dissertation. Students who successfully complete the two courses of the Autumn Semester may exit with a PgC. Students who successfully complete all six courses may leave the programme with a PgD. Students wishing to attain the MLitt must also undertake the dissertation.

Islam & the West: Multiculturalism, Globalisation & Muslims

This course introduces contemporary academic debates on the complex interactions between what are broadly labelled ‘Islam’ and ‘The West’. Adopting a mainly socio-scientific viewpoint, it emphasises the issues of multiculturalism and globalisation, which frame these transnational relations and networks. Students reflect on the history of encounters between Muslims and ‘The West’ (and Europe in particular), exploring concepts such as the ‘clash’/’dialogue’ of civilisations. This is related to sociological literature on globalisation and multiculturalism, with particular reference to examples of Muslim cultures and societies in contemporary contexts.

The Theoretical Framework of Bayt al-Maqdis

This course examines the theoretical and conceptual framework within which Muslims approach the region of Bayt al-Maqdis, addressing all the key social, religious, historical, geographical, and political aspects. The course focuses on a number of key questions: What are the reasons for Muslims having close links and concern with Bayt al-Maqdis? What is the significance of Bayt al-Maqdis to Islam and Muslims? Does Bayt al-Maqdis have any special status compared with any other region? Attention is paid to the vision of Bayt al-Maqdis, its boundaries, and the Circle Theory of Bayt al-Maqdis.

Multiculturalism in Theory & Practice

This course examines theoretical issues within academic debates on multiculturalism, and focuses on the ‘politics of recognition’; the construction of ethnic identities; the creative interface between national, ethnic and religious boundaries; and the political implications of multicultural diversity. Students engage with the theoretical concepts that shape these debates, such as ethnicity, nationality, identity, integration and assimilation, and explore and examine the practicalities of specific contexts of multicultural practice, mainly using examples from European countries.

Islam & Muslims & International Relations

This course examines politics and international relations – with particular reference to the development of Muslim international relations – in the light of Islamic political and legal frameworks, contemporary issues and the challenges of the 20th and 21st Centuries. It looks at the dialectics of ideal and application, by exploring the concepts of justice, humanity and equality in Islamic sources, and relating them to particular case studies and theories of international relations. The course evaluates relationships between Muslim and non-Muslim states, the political concepts of shura (consultation), caliphate and hakimiyyah/ siyadah (sovereignty), and the Madinah wathiqah (document/agreement/constitution) and its application in contemporary contexts. It also looks into the implications of the 9/11 tragedy for foreign policy and international politics. The course allows students to learn and critically review the different theories in politics and international relations from both Muslim and ‘Western’ perspectives.

Globalisation & Political Islam

This course focuses on the analysis of the broad frame of globalisation: its history and ramifications and its impact on relations between peoples, nations and states. It also looks into the different response models that Muslim states and ideologues have taken to face up to the challenges and opportunities that globalisation has provided. The course reviews issues relating to the dialogue of civilisations and its foundations in Islam. It also examines the competing theses of whether there is an inevitable ‘clash of civilisations’. In this way, students are introduced to the Huntington’s thesis of ‘Clash of Civilisation’ and Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ thesis, as well as to proponents of cyclical patterns of civilisation such as Ibn Khaldun, Toynbee and Spengler. The course also examines the debates about so-called ‘Political Islam’, the background to its emergence, and the different Muslim responses to globalisation and civilisational dialogue.

Postgraduate Research Methods

This course addresses various research methods in the humanities and social sciences (e.g. analytical, comparative, historical and social) and introduces an in-depth critical analysis of contemporary research methods. Students engage with qualitative and quantitative methodologies in historical, textual, anthropological (ethnographic) and social scientific disciplines. They are also expected to reflect on different methodologies and select appropriate methodological approaches for their own research.


The dissertation is an independent piece of work of 15-18,000 words in length. The topic to be studied is selected by the student in consultation with a member of academic staff, under whose supervision they develop and write the dissertation.


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