Professor Jorgen Nielsen

Professor Jorgen Nielsen

Department of Theology and Religion
Emeritus Professor of Contemporary European Islam

Contact details

My main research interest is Islam in Europe but I also maintain interests in Shari’a and Christian-Muslim relations in Europe and the Middle East.


  • BA Arabic (London)
  • MA Middle East Area Studies (London)
  • PhD Arab History (American University of Beirut)


After completing my PhD in Beirut I became Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Selly Oak Colleges and the University of Birmingham in 1978, and Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Birmingham in 1996. In 2005 I moved to Damascus as director of the Danish Institute and Cultural Counsellor at the Danish Embassy before then, in 2007, becoming Danish National Research Foundation Professor of Islamic Studies in Copenhagen, a post which I held until retirement in the summer of 2013. I am now back part-time at the University of Birmingham from January 2016.


Currently I am only lightly active in teaching, but I have previously taught Islamic history and politics, Islamic law, and Islam in Europe.


Currently I am mostly active in managing reference works and a journal on Muslims in Europe. I keep up with work in this area but have withdrawn from active research.

Other activities

I have maintained my connection to the University of Copenhagen as Hon. Professor in the Faculties of Theology and Humanities. I regularly teach courses on Islam, religion, and politics at the European Commission’s External Action Service, and I chair the Advisory Board of the Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe at the University of Erlangen, Germany. In Bulgaria I am a Founding Trustee and board member of the International Center for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations (IMIR).


  • Muslims in Western Europe (Edinburgh University Press, 1992; 2nd ed. 1995, German translation Hamburg: EBV, 1995; 3rd ed. 2004, Arabic translation Beirut: Dar Saqi, 2007; 4th ed. with Jonas Otterbeck, 2015).
  • Belief, Law and Politics: What Future for a Secular Europe?, ed. with Marie-Claire Foblets, Katayoun Alidadi and Zeynep Yanasmayan, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, 290 pp.
  • Everyday Lived Islam in Europe, ed. with Nathal M. Dessing, Nadia Jeldtoft and Linda Woodhead, Farnham: Ashgate, 2013.
  • Muslim Political Participation in Europe, ed., Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013.
  • "An early discussion on Islamic family law in the English jurisdiction", in Maurits S. Berger (ed.), Applying Shari’a in the West: Facts, Fears and the Future of Islamic Rules on Family Relations in the West, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2013, pp. 79-96.
  • Interpreting Divorce Laws in Islam, ed. with Rubya Mehdi and Werner Menski, Copenhagen: DJØF Publishing, 2013.
  • Religion, Ethnicity and Contested Nationhood in the Former Ottoman Space, ed., Leiden: Brill, 2012.
  • Islam in Denmark: The Challenge of Diversity, ed., Lanham MD: Lexington, 2012.
  • Methods and Contexts in the Study of Muslim Minorities: Visible and Invisible Muslims, ed. with Nadia Jeldtoft, London: Routledge, 2012.
  • Embedding Mahr in the European Legal System, ed. with Rubya Mehdi, Copenhagen: DJØF Publishing, 2011.
  • Shari’a as Discourse: Legal Traditions and the Encounter with Europe, ed. with Lisbet Christoffersen (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010).
  • "The participation of Christians and Jews in the Ayyubid and Mamluk state: A historiographical reflection", in Mahmoud Haddad, Arnim Heinemann, John L. Meloy and Souad Slim (eds.), Towards a Cultural History of the Mamluk Era, Beirut and Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2010, pp.3-12.
  • “The development of the cartoons crisis – a Danish perspective”, in Arnim Heinemann, Olfa Lamloum and Anne F. Weber (eds), The Middle East in the Media: Conflict, censorship and public opinion, London: Saqi, 2010, pp.17-34.
  • (with M.Draper and G.Yemelianova) "Transnational Sufism: The Haqqaniya", in J. Hinnells (ed.), Sufism in the West, London: Routledge, 2006, pp.103-114.
  • "Los musulmanes, el Estado y el ámbito público en Gran Bretagna", in Maria-Angèls Roque (ed.), El Islam Plural, Barcelona: Icaria, 2004, pp.263-278.
  • "Athar al-islam fi Urubba al-gharbiyya al-mu'asira" (The impact of Islam in contemorary western Europe), in Nadia Mustafa (ed.), Masarat wa-khabarat fi hiwar al-hadarat, Cairo: Cairo University, 2004, pp.205-220.
  • Muslims in the enlarged Europe, ed. with B. Maréchal, S. Allievi and F. Dassetto (Leiden: Brill, 2003).
  • Muslim networks and transnational communities in and across Europe, ed. with S. Allievi (Leiden: Brill, 2003).
  • "New centres and peripheries in European Islam?", in Mediterranean Politics, vol.7, no.3 (autumn 2002), pp.64-81, repr. in B. Roberson (ed.), Shaping the current Islamic reformation, London: Frank Cass, 2003, pp.64-81.
  • Summary report on Islamophobia in the EU after 11 September 2001, with C. Allen (Vienna: EUMC, 2002).
  • Convergences musulmanes: aspects contemporains de l'Islam dans l'Europe élargies, joint ed. with Felice Dassetto and Brigitte Maréchal, Louvains-la-Neuve: Academia Bruylant, 2001
  • Ethnology of Sufi orders: theory and practice, ed.  with A. Zheliazkova (Sofia: IMIR, 2001).


  • Islam in Europe
  • Sharia
  • Christian-Muslim relations in Europe and the Middle East