Arabic Studies in the Netherlands

A Short History in Portraits, 1580–1950

Arabic is the only living language to have been taught in Dutch higher education for more than four centuries. Practical usefulness, however, has been a prerequisite from the start. Knowledge of Arabic was to promote Dutch interests in the Muslim world, or to help refute Islam. As a cognate of Classical Hebrew, the study of Arabic served as an ancillary science to Biblical studies. Nevertheless, many Arabists such as Thomas Erpenius and Jacobus Golius rose to international distinction. With more than 110 colour illustrations from the Leiden Oriental collections, Arabic Studies in the Netherlands. A Short History in Portraits, 1580-1950 by Arnoud Vrolijk and Richard van Leeuwen will help the reader to gain insight into a fascinating aspect of Dutch intellectual history.
Restricted Access


EUR €52.00USD $69.00

Biographical Note

Arnoud Vrolijk, Ph.D. (1998), Leiden University, is curator of Oriental manuscripts and rare books at that University. He also publishes regularly on the Leiden collections and the history of Oriental scholarship in the Netherlands.

Richard van Leeuwen, Ph.D. (1992), University of Amsterdam, is lecturer in Islamic Studies at that university. He has published extensively on the history of the Middle East, Arabic literature, and Islam in the modern world. He also works as a translator of Arabic literature.

Review Quotes

Robert Irwin in Times Literary Supplement: ‘fascinating’ - ‘provides definite pleasures’.

“…a rich collection of materials that testify to a sustained and varied engagement with the literary, intellectual and religious heritage of Arabic-speaking lands.”
Alexander Bevilacqua in Quaerendo 44 (2014), 315-320.
DOI 10.1163/15700690-12341301


All interested in the history of Arabic and Oriental studies in the Netherlands and beyond from the early modern period onwards, or the intellectual history of Europe.