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Dr. phil. Julia Heilen

Junior Research Fellow


Areas of Interest

  • Islamic Law and Islamic Studies
  • Law, Religion, and Politics in the Maghreb

Law and Religion in Morocco: The Example of Moroccan Criminal Law

This project aims to analyse the extent and nature of Islamic influence that can be identified in current Moroccan criminal law.

For Muslims, Islamic law (aš-šarīca) is the law as revealed to humanity by God. It is developed from different sources, which regulate man’s relationship with God, his fellow man, the state authority and all God's creatures through a series of commandments and prohibitions. When Islamic law is applied, it undergoes a process of human interpretation within the framework of Islamic jurisprudence (al-fiqh).

By the 10th century, a highly complex and heterogeneous system of law and jurisprudence had developed. Concrete mechanisms for drawing boundaries between the religious and the non-religious within this system can be identified in their specific regional and temporal contexts, e.g. parallel jurisdictions. In the 19th century, many Muslim countries underwent drastic changes which had a substantial impact on Islamic law, especially Islamic criminal law, which was often either abolished or reformed.

This project focuses on current Moroccan criminal law as per the Code Pénal and the Code de Procédure Pénale. The analysis will concentrate on two aspects: enduring infractions religieuses, e.g. blasphemy or fornication, and more indirect influences. For this purpose, the legislation will be analysed in its current form. Additionally, the results will be contextualised through comparisons with classical Maliki law and the French Penal Code.

This research is part of my PhD thesis “Women in Moroccan Criminal Law – An Analysis of Penal Decisions by the Cour de Cassation” (working title).



PhD (Dr. phil), Islamic Law, Leipzig University (Germany)

2017 - present

Research Associate, Institute of Oriental Studies, Leipzig University (Germany)


PhD Candidate, Institute of Oriental Studies, Leipzig University (Germany)


MA, Study of Religions, Leipzig University

2014 - 2017

Lecturer, Institute for the Study of Religions, Leipzig University

2013 - 2016

Student Assistant, Institute of Oriental Studies, Leipzig University


Magistra Artium, Political Science, Arabic Studies, and Journalism, Leipzig University

2003, 2006, 2007

Student Assistant, Institute of Political Science, Leipzig University

2001 - 2007

Relevant Publications

  • Heilen, Julia. Entwicklung strafrechtlicher Normen im Sultanat und Königreich Marokko am Beispiel von Sexual- und Sittlichkeitsdelikten. Leipzig Middle East Studies 4. Berlin: Frank & Timme, 2021.
  • Ebert, Hans-Georg, and Julia Heilen. Islamisches Recht: Ein Lehrbuch. Leipzig: Hamouda, 2016.