Dr Tajul Islam

Lecturer in Islamic Studies;
Co-Director of the Iqbal Centre for the Study of Contemporary Islam

0113 34 33424

Summary: Islamic theology; Quranic studies; Hadith studies; contemporary sectarian polemics

Location: Michael Sadler Building

Background

I received my doctorate from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, which was completed under the supervision of Professor Ian Netton (examined by Professor Hugh Goddard and Professor Robert Gleave). My thesis is an analytical exploration of the influence of medieval theology on contemporary scholastic traditionalism within Sunni Islam. Intra-Sunni sectarian polemics as an emerging area of study is relatively untrammelled terrain as opposed to sectarian violence. A detailed mapping of the theological topography from the genesis of Sunni ‘orthodoxy’ to the contemporary scholastic traditionalist trends of the Barelwī, Deobandī, Ahl-i-Ḥadīth and Wahhābī schools, against the backdrop of Sufi-Salafi contestation, is timely. Concern regarding growing extremism prompted Muslim ʿUlamā’, academics and political leaders to create unity initiatives such as the Amman Message and the Sunni Pledge aimed at dealing with sectarian in-fighting and for the purposes of delineating ‘orthodoxy’. The theological basis for these neo-credos can be explained as doctrinal ‘minimalism’. Minimalism is a growing social construction of scholastic traditionalists through which the warring factions are attempting to salvage the historical continuity with ‘orthodoxy’. My thesis examines the theological veracity of this project and explores its doctrinal, methodological and ethical facets.

My major research interests are in kalām-theology with particular attention to the sectarian dynamics within Sunni scholastic traditionalism. I am particularly interested in parochial theological trends within the Indian-Sub continent and the influence of Shah Waliullah (d. 1762) on the Barelwī, Deobandī and Ahl-i-Ḥadīth movements and how they fit in the broader Sufi–Salafi divide. In addition, I am researching the extent of Iqbal’s impact on Sub-continent modernism. I am also exploring the influence of Murji'ite anti-orthopraxy on Māturīdite theology and its relevance to contemporary Muslim secularity, religiosity and identity politics. Aside from all things theological, I have an avid interest in Arabic prosody (ʿilm al-arūḍ) and am developing a text book on this incredibly rich subject.

I have a background in both academia and traditional Islamic studies. To this end, I have spent time studying Arabic language, Islamic law, theology, mysticism, legal theory and Quranic and Hadith studies in Mauritania and Egypt. My BA, received from the University of Leeds, was in Arabic & Islamic Studies (1st class).

To learn more about my latest research activities, visit the Iqbal Centre for the Study of Contemporary Islam, of which I am Co-Director. 

Teaching

I teach the following modules:

Undergraduate: 

ARAB 1100: Introduction to Islamic Theology 

ARAB 1055: Introduction to the Middle East (module convenor)

ARAB 2080: Qur’ānic Studies

ARAB 3170: Ḥadīth Studies: History, Criticism and Canonisation

ARAB 3200: Arabic Dissertation

Postgraduate:

ARAB 5400M: Ḥadīth Studies: History, Criticism and Canonisation

PhD Supervision 

I would welcome PhD proposals in areas related to Islamic theology, Qur'ānic Studies and Ḥadīth. I am currently supervising the following PhD candidates:

Mohammed Abed, 'The Traditions of al-Mahdī and his Imamate between al-Kāfī and the Six Books of Sunni Islam: The Contribution of al-Kāfī to the Formulation of Twelver Shi'ism'. 

Sitara Akram, 'Riba Revisited: A Genealogical Study'.

Administrative Responsibilities

UG and PG Exams Officer

Conferences and Talks

14 October 2015: 'Teaching Medieval Texts: Methodological Concerns, Practical Solutions', AIMES Public Lecture, University of Leeds.

6 July 2015: Invited speaker: 'In Search of Synthetic Scholasticism: Sayyid Mufti ʿAmīm al-Iḥsān and Imam ʿAbd al-Laṭīf Chaudhry (Phūl Talī)', Baitul Aman Mosque, Bradford. 

25 April 2015: Invited Speaker: 'Islamic Legal Methods: Study of Sadd al-dharā'iʿ, Ijtihād and Fatwā', 'Journey through Uṣūl' seminar series, Madinatul Uloom, Bradford. 

Workshops

The ‘ʿAmīmiyya Critical Madrasa Texts Series’ is a workshop open to students interested in the study of medieval Islamic seminary texts. The syllabus consists of texts on various disciplines taught in the Indian Dars-i-Nizāmī madrasa and the West African maḥẓara.