2 March 2012
The Fourth Beast, a book by British historian Tom Holland making controversial claims about the origins and development of Islam, has been released in a Dutch translation, though in advance of the English publication. According to an article in Radio Netherlands Worldwide the book’s potentially controversial claims include: that Islam emerged as a product of interaction in a multicultural and multifaith environment; that the religion is geographically rooted in Jordan rather than Mecca; and that little historical material can provide authoritative evidence about the life and character of Mohammad.
The article does not provide a Muslim perspective on Holland’s claims, rather stating their “shocking” nature. The review does an expert perspective from Petra Sijpesteijn, professor of Arabic language and culture at Leiden University. Sijpesteijn affirms Holland’s claim that Islam’s historical emergence was deeply influenced by Christianity and Islam, as “it says in the Qur’an itself that it’s a continuation of Judaism and Christianity. [Further], Western researchers generally assume that the Qur’an wasn’t written all at once, and Muslim scholars also recognise that Islam developed over the course of the centuries.”. Sijpesteijn disputes Holland’s assertion that there are no reliable records of Mohammad produced during his lifetime and immediately afterwards, as well as his suggestion that Islam did not arise in Mecca.
7 August 2011
Muslims participating at an orientation week at Leiden University are able to receive a refund on their meal tickets, as this year’s activities fall during the month of Ramadan. Muslim students who hand back their meal tickets will receive 30 euros back from their 65 euro registration fees. De Telegraaf reports that most universities are not changing their orientation programs to accommodate for Ramadan, though Utrecht University will ensure that obligatory sessions will not run during the evenings, allowing Muslim students to break fast with their families, while in Maastricht halal meat will be available, as in previous years, during the annual barbecue.
November 25 2010
Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a profile of the work of Petra Slipsteijn, professor of Arabic language and culture at Leiden University. Slijpstein works with papyrus manuscripts which are the only remaining historical source contemporary with the life of Muhammad. Her research suggests that the texts “largely confirm the official Islamic version of events”. The RNW’s profile frames Slijpstein’s work as disproving the assertions of “skeptical scholars” who claim that “Muhammad did not exist and that Islam is a fabrication made up in later centuries”.
Wilders’ anticipated and controversial film ‘Fitna’ did not make as grand as an entry as expected, and hype assumed. While the film is dotted with Quranic verses and violent imagery of terrorist attacks in recent years, some cited the film’s content as highly predictable and nothing new. Maurits Berger, a professor of Islam at Leiden University told the Associated Press it’s a serious of photos, headlines from recent years which we already know. It appears Wilders is also running into some legal problems with the film; a photograph of the rapper Salah Edin was mistakenly used as the photo of Mohammed Bouyeri, the murder of Theo van Gogh. The rapper is consulting his lawyers on legal action. In addition, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard is suing Mr. Wilders, alleging he infringed copyright by using a cartoon of his without permission.