Call for papers

Sharia and the Scandinavian Welfare States

Following a new project on “Producing Sharia in Context” (PI Vinding, 2021-2024) at University of Copenhagen we invite colleagues across religion studies, social studies, law, anthropology, sociology, history and more in the Nordic and Baltic countries to submit abstracts and papers for this special issue.

The Stumbling Block of Sharia

For more than a generation, Muslims and Islamic institutions in Europe have undergone highly critical deliberative questioning (March 2011, Petersen & Vinding 2020, forthcoming). Muslim ideas, values, ethics, law and practice have been subjected to social, political, judicial and public media scrutiny, to assess if Muslims live up to the standards of democratic society and qualify to be admitted into a societal contract that is foundational to the European way of life (March 2007, 2011, Cinalli & O’Flynn 2014, van Es 2018). The 1646-48 Treaties of Westphalia (Cavanaugh 1995; Beyer 2013, regarding Muslims, Nielsen 2009) are most commonly, yet only partly correctly, understood in the public as expressing a negotiation of loyalty to state and peace amongst religions, which guarantees the public status-quo on secularism in the modern welfare state (Modood 2006, Roy 2013). An unbridgeable contrast between Islamic politico-religious thought and the Westphalian order is argued even in much recent literature (Case-in-point, Delahunty 2018, Idea of a Caliphate and the Westphalian Order. Cf. Aydin 2017, Esmaeili 2018). The stumbling block that keeps invalidating Muslims and Islamic values, seems to be sharia – that ambiguous, almost semantically void complex of Islamic laws, ethics and practice, changing across time and space.

Sharia and the history of state and religion.

Based on the assumption that the state in governing, domesticating, and producing religion in the post-Westphalian ‘messy’ condition, this call seeks to explore the many complex problems of ‘understanding sharia’ in Scandinavia today by investigating the production of sharia through the prism of the modern state. The state has always been a producer of religion, and the argument is that the pluralisation of the post-Westphalian state-and-religion relations opens for breaking the monopoly of goods of salvation by establishing sharia as a competitor in the services of salvation.

The argument here is that the reinvention and transformation of sharia are still happening and the state institutions are still requiring Muslims to transform sharia into a domesticated relationship across all sectors of society. The task here is to see sharia in the context of the modern Western state and society as entirely rational and completely understandable, but not as a sole product of Muslim pious intellectuals but as a co-product of social generative structures.

The problem of sharia.

The problem of sharia seems to rest on the scholarly, legally and politically contested questions of what sharia is and the public moral questions of what sharia in society should be. Two self-reinforcing circumstances makes the issue of what sharia in society is or should be very difficult and acutely important to answer. Firstly, there is very little scholarly agreement as to what sharia by definition is and even considerable disagreement as to why there is such significant disagreement. Secondly, because of this ambiguity, the political fictions and legal conceptualisations on what sharia is that are being produced in an increasingly mainstream political environment, are taking over. In this light, the issue pursues a subjective-reflective turn in the scholarly conceptualisation of sharia, namely arguing for sharia as inherently flexible, modulable and primarily grounded in living Muslim practice in the relational contexts of state and society, rather than a stale discursive tradition defined by Islamic legal scholars as well as contemporary scholars. In the modern welfare states, this renders sharia a social, political and moral co-product of state and society rather than of something alien or outside society. This is not only due to the historically, empirically and normatively demonstrable modulability of sharia, but also of the hegemonic governmentality and socially generative nature characteristic of the modern welfare state.

Scandinavia as a laboratory.

In positively defining the Scandinavian welfare states as highly relevant context for studying sharia in the public moral negotiations. Scandinavia makes for a perfect “laboratory” for the study of sharia, because the Scandinavian welfare states are known for their spirit of social engineering, where inclusion in the labour force has been their main target combined with an ethos of social class and gender equality. In addition, Danish and Scandinavian scholarship seems to be at the forefront in approaching the interpretive and co-productive understanding of sharia in state and societal contexts.

Possible themes and topics for articles.

  • Policy and political expression of Islam and Muslim issues
  • Social welfare or public social and religious issues pertaining to Islam and Muslims
  • Legislation pertaining to Islam and Muslim
  • Legislative language and interpretations of Islam and Muslim social and religious issues
  • White papers, commissions, report and government statements on Islam and Muslim
  • Policies on security, anti-radicalisation, negative social control, coercive control and so on pertaining to or directed at Islam or Muslims
  • Cross-sections between Muslim socio-religious practice and state policies, legislation and governance
  • Cross-sections between Muslim socio-religious ethics (including Islamic Ethics) and state policies, legislation and governance
  • Court rulings and quasi-judicial institutional rulings related to Islam and Muslims

Requirements and guidelines.

Proposals should be sent to the editor of the special issue, Niels Valdemar Vinding ( in the form of a short abstract (10-15 lines) with details of the author’s name, title, and institutional affiliation.

The editors accept proposals in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and English. The editors reserve the right to reject proposals. If proposals are accepted, authors should follow the style guide given below. In the event of significant deviations, the editors will return the article for corrections. A referee will be assigned to assess the article’s scholarly content. Contact between the journal and authors passes through the editors.

Deadline abstracts: 1 December 2021

Deadline for submission of final manuscripts: 1 March 2022

Expected publication: Fall 2022

Author guidelines:

Abstracts may be submitted by email to:


Gender and Islam: Contemporary trends and developments in Scandinavia (special Issue, Spring 2023)

Eds.: Marianne Hafnor Bøe (University of Stavanger, Norway), Nina Jakku (Lund university, Sweden) & Pernille Friis Jensen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Gender is a primary key for understanding Islam and Muslims in present day Scandinavia.  Through norms and regulations, gender is inherent to how Islam is governed, perceived and debated in public, but also pivotal for how Scandinavian Muslims understand, practice and negotiate their own religion.

The ways in which gender and Islam intersect in the Scandinavia setting have not previosly been explored in a joint publication of this kind. This Special Issue therefore entails a first and a timely opportunity to address these issues within the Scandinavian context and with contributions from all Scandinavian countries.

The editors of this Special Issue invite contributions from scholars, researchers and postgraduate students that explore contemporary trends and developments relevant to gender and Islam in Scandinavia. The contributions may be theoretical or empirical, or a combination of the two, and come from a variety of disciplines including Islamic studies, the study of religions, gender studies, anthropology, sociology, etc. Although this Special Issue focuses on gender and Islam in Scandinavia in contemporary perspectives, contributions that explore the historical lines and dimensions of present-day issues and concerns are also welcome.

Deadline for abstracts: September 15 2021

Deadline for submission of final manuscripts: April 15 2022

Expected publication date: Spring 2023

Author guidelines:

Abstracts may be submitted by email to: