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Book: Exploring the Multitude of Muslims in Europe

In Exploring the Multitude of Muslims in Europe a number of friends and colleagues of Jørgen S. Nielsen have joined together to celebrate his life and work by reflecting his more than forty years of scholarly contributions to the study of Islam and Muslims in Europe.

The fourteen articles move through conceptualisations, productions and explorations of the multitudes of Muslims in Europe, and the authors draw on Jørgen S. Nielsen’s own work on the history and challenges of the Muslim community in Europe, critical thinking, ethnicities and theologies of Muslims in Europe, Muslim minorities, Muslim-Christian relations, and on Islamic legal challenges in Europe.

Though the history of Islam and Muslim influence in Europe is both long and complex with periods of interreligious coexistence as well as periods when Muslims ruled over or were majorities in certain parts of the Old Continent, the presence of Muslims in Europe seems to the vast majority of Europeans today to be a novel phenomenon. To many this presence is marked by uncertainty and met with fear, invariably reducing Muslims in Europe to the single issue of security. However, long before “the Muslim question” became so overstressed and securitized, the complexity of the increasing presence of a multitude of Muslims in Europe was recognised by a few pioneering scholars in the emerging field of the studies of Islam and Muslims in contemporary Europe. Jørgen S. Nielsen was a part of this nascent development. As he wrote in the foreword to the first edition of his Muslims in Western Europe in 1992, “[only] a few academics began to see valid research possibilities in the issues arising out of the Muslim presence in Europe …” In the recently updated fourth edition co-written with Jonas Otterbeck, he elaborates that “… it was not until the mid-1980s that a recognition of the Islamic dimension of community and ethnic relations began to spread beyond small specialist cadres,” but stressing also that this was echoed by emerging research amongst sociologists and anthropologists in France, Germany, Britain and Scandinavia. Jørgen S. Nielsen, of course, did not write this to point to the fact that he was a pioneer in this field, but rather was able to write so because he has been at the heart of the development of research on Muslims and Islam in Europe since the late 1970s.

In September 2016, Jørgen S. Nielsen celebrated his 70th birthday. The articles in the present volume are collected in expectation of that joyous occasion. As often is in academia, it is only now that we have been able to gather and publish all the contributions from friends and colleagues. As will be evident in the following, 2017 also marks a number of jubilees in Jørgen S. Nielsen’s life and career. In this editors’ introduction we give an overview of his biography, a selection of the themes in his work, and return to look at the impact and timeliness of his contribution to the study of Islam and Muslims. Looking through his biography here, readers might want to cross-reference with the highlighted bibliography printed in this volume to see how his production corresponds with the stages and positions of his career. These articles collected in this volume are introduced and we see how they indeed echo the themes and curiosity in Jørgen S. Nielsen’s own exploration of the multitude of Muslims in Europe.


Samim Akgönül, Ahmet Alibašić, Naveed Baig, Safet Bektovic, Mohammed Hashas, Thomas Hoffmann, Hans Raun Iversen, Göran Larsson, Werner Menski, Egdūnas Račius, Lissi Rasmussen, Mathias Rohe, Emil B. H. Saggau, Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, Thijl Sunier, and Niels Valdemar Vinding.

About the Editors

Niels Valdemar Vinding, PhD (2013), University of Copenhagen, is Assistant Professor researching on Islam in Europe and European Muslim institutions. Currently, his focus is on ‘Imams of the West’ and the authority and leadership challenges amongst Muslims.

Egdūnas Račius PhD (2004) is Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas, Lithuania). His research interests encompass Eastern European Muslim communities as well as Muslim revivalist movements. Račius is a co-editor (together with Antonina Zhelyazkova) of Islamic Leadership in the European Lands of the Former Ottoman and Russian Empires Legacy, Challenges and Change (Brill, 2018) and the author of Muslims in Eastern Europe (Edinburgh University Press, 2018).

Jörn Thielmann, Ph.D. (2001) in Islamic Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum, is Executive Director of the Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe EZIRE, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has published with Ala Al-Hamarneh Islam and Muslims in Germany (Brill 2008).

Bibliographic Information

Title: Exploring the Multitude of Muslims in Europe

Editor(s): Niels Valdemar Vinding, Egdūnas Račius and Jörn Thielmann


Language: English

Length: 270 pages

ISBN: 978-90-04-36252-9

Pub. Date: 12 Mar 2018

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