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Summary: Islamic legal theory and theology; Muslim reformist thought; Islamic Finance
After completing a first degree in Project Management at UCL in 2000, I decided in the summer of that year to set aside a year to learn the lingua franca of my faith, Arabic. Damascus, the ancient spiritual hub of the Muslim world, was to be my destination of choice. On a full scholarship, I spent a year at the Abu Nour Institute in Rukneddin, Damascus, where I learnt classical Arabic (fusha) together with several entry level subjects of the classical Islamic Studies curriculum. This new world of learning captivated me and led me to want to pursue classical/traditional Islamic studies through to the end. Thus what began as a year went on to become four, while I moved from Abu Nour to the well-known Hanafi madrasa established by the al-Farfour family, al-Fath al-Islami. London became a distant memory as I took up the study of Arabic grammar, Islamic jurisprudence, legal theory, Qur'anic exegesis, hadith science, kalam and tasawwuf. This continued until 2004, when, due to the volatile political situation in Damascus, I was forced to abandon my studies. Thankfully, I was able to pick up things again on my return to the UK by enrolling on a similar curriculum to the one in Damascus which was being offered at the European Institute of Human Sciences in Llanybydder, Wales. I studied there for a further two years, graduating in 2006 with a Higher License (Ijazah 'Aliyah) in Islamic Law and Theology.
Following six years of traditional training, I was eager to pursue Islamic Studies in the setting of a university. Traditional training had given me the skills I needed to read the Muslim textual tradition; it had not provided me, however, with the tools I needed to contextualise this same tradition. Therefore, in 2006 I went to Oxford University, to read for the MSt in the Study of Religion, a course offering an intensive training in research in the study of religions while also providing the opportunity to study the early doctrines and practices of particular religious traditions in their historical contexts. I chose Islam and Christianity as my two specialist subjects, and, importantly, had an opportunity to study under Professor Yahya Michot, the Western world's leading expert on Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya. Inspired by him, I decided to remain at Oxford, within the Faculty of Theology, to pursue doctoral studies. Under Professor Michot's supervision, I set about studying the theological, legal and mystical thought of Imam Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari, a 17th-century Ottoman scholar associated with the infamous Qadizadelis, a puritanical movement who dominated the religious scene of Istanbul for about fifty years in the 1600s. This research is now available in the form of an OUP monograph, and has spawned two further peer-reviewed articles. I received my doctorate from Oxford in 2012.
I initially joined the Department of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Leeds in 2009 as a part-time lecturer in Islamic Studies; after submitting my doctoral thesis in 2011, I was appointed full-time lecturer, where I continue to work until today. I am blessed to work in a vibrant department which I believe to be one of the most collegial and dynamic for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in the UK (and possibly the world). Other experience I have had in academia include a period as visiting lecturer at Bangor University, where I taught an introduction to Islam in 2010, and a period as visiting lecturer at the Elshaarani Centre for Islamic Business and Finance, Aston Business School, where I taught Islamic Commercial Law from 2011-2013. I was honored to be appointed a teaching fellow in Arabic at the European Institute of Human Sciences, Birmingham, from 2007 until 2008, where I worked under Shaykh Wanis al-Mabrouk, Institute Director and my one-time teacher. Aside from my experience in academia, I have also worked as a project manager in the UK construction industry (related to my first degree).
My major research interests are in Islamic law and legal theory. I am currently writing a paper on alcohol in Hanafi jurisprudence and plan to write a follow-up paper later this year on al-Bukhari's attitude to the legal thought of Abu Hanifa. I have written on the thought of the 14th century Damascene jurist-theologian Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. Taymiyya (d. 1328), focusing especially on his influence upon later Islamic revivalist movements. My recent book, A Treasury of Ibn Taymiyya, is a fusion of faith-based and academic thinking on this great scholar. I have several papers with Professor M. Shahid Ebrahim (Durham University) on the reform of Islamic Finance. More recently, I have developed an interest in the Hadith Qudsi, and pending the result of a funding application I submitted recently to the AHRC, might well become occupied with this important and fascinating area of study for the next few years.
To learn more about my latest research activities, please visit the Iqbal Centre for the Study of Contemporary Islam, of which I am Co-Director.
- ARAB2280 - Islamic Law: Theory and Practice
- ARAB3073 - Islam and Modernity
- ARAB2190 - Global Jihad: From the Taliban to ISIS
- ARAB5060M - Debating the Middle East: Islam, Politics and Culture
- ARAB5014M - Islam and Modernity
I am happy to supervise PhD research in all areas of Islamic Studies. I am currently supervising the following doctoral candidates:
Mohammed Ali Rizvi, 'The Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan and the Barelwi Movement'.
Mohammed Abed, 'The Traditions of al-Mahdi and his Imamate between al-Kafi and the Six Books of Sunni Islam: The Contribution of al-Kafi to the Formulation of Twelver Shi'ism'.
Hizer Mir, 'Naming the Nameless: Islamicate Understandings and Interpretations of "Religion" and "Secularism"'.
Claudia Radiven, 'Terrorist Rehabilitation in the UK Context'.
Sitara Akram, 'Riba Revisited: A Genealogical Study'.
Sajda Khan, Modelling Prophetic Behaviour: The Problem of Muslim Integration in Britain with Lessons Drawn from the Prophet's Biography
Marzouq al-Suheil, 'Hadith-Amali Sessions: A Historical Study of A Forgotten Tradition in Classical Islam' (2015).
Taher Hamed Adheidah, 'Forced Marriage in the British Muslim Community from an Islamic Law Perspective: A Critical Study' (2015).
Mansour Alshammari, 'Takfir and Terrorism: Historical Roots, Contemporary Challenges and Dynamic Solutions' (2013).
Senior Admissions Officer for the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies (2014-2017)
Subject Research Leader for Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (2017-)
DOCTORAL THESIS (DPHIL)
This thesis can also be found on the British Library Ethos site here
PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES
'Taymiyyan Tasawwuf meets Ottoman Orthodoxy: Reformed Sufism in the thought of Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari' forthcoming in the Muslim World Journal.
'Debt Instruments in Islamic Finance: A Critique', Arab Law Quarterly, 30/2, 2016. Co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim.
'The Mudaraba Facility: Evolution, Stasis and Contemporary Revival', Arab Law Quarterly, 29/3, 2015. Co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim.
'Taymiyyan Influences in an Ottoman-Hanafi Milieu: The Case of Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, July 2014.
'Hybrid Islamic Finance Instruments: An Usuli-Rationalisation', Arab Law Quarterly, 28/3, 2014. Co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim and M. Salleh.
'The Political Economy and the Underdevelopment of the Muslim World', co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2171175
'Debt Instruments in Islamic Finance', M. Sheikh and M.S. Ebrahim. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1960498
'A Critical Study of the Mudarabah Facility in Islamic Finance', M. Sheikh and M.S. Ebrahim. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1977216
Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought: Texts and Contexts from Al-Banna to Bin Laden. Roxanne L. Euben and Muhammad Qasim Zaman (eds), British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 39 (2), 2012. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13530194.2012.709710
ARTICLES (NON PEER-REVIEWED)
'Iklhās and the Assimilation of Tawhīd,' Wisdom, Jul.-Aug. 2008 (Erkam Publishing).
'Ibn 'Ajība's commentary on Qur'ān 51:55 from al-Tafsīr al-majīd,' introduction and translation, Wisdom, Jan-Feb 2009 (Erkam Publishing).
'Ibn 'Ajība's commentary on Qur'ān 18:28 from al-Tafsīr al-majīd', introduction and translation, Wisdom, Mar-Apr 2009 (Erkam Publishing).
Conferences, Symposia and Public Talks
18 October 2017: 'Sacred Knowledge and Safe Spaces'. Talk given at the public event, 'A Theology of Tolerance: Amimul Ehsan's Ecumenism', University of Leeds.
3 July 2017: 'What's in a Genre? The Disputed Status of the Hadith Qudsi', Studies in the Religious and Historical Texts of Early and Medieval Islam panel, Leeds International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds.
4 July 2016: 'Digestifs and Dutch Courage in the Age of Muslim Empire', Food, Feasting and Famine in the Islamic World panel, Leeds International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds.
24 May 2016: Invited speaker: 'Just Jihad: The Ethics of Warfare in Islam', International Military Religious Leaders Conference, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.
4 February 2016: Invited speaker: 'Islam and Economic (Under)development: A Political Economy Perspective', Durham University Business School, Durham University.
8 June 2015: 'Exploring the Possibilities of Taymiyyan Infusions in Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari's Conceptualisation of the Mystical Path, with Reference to the Notion of al-Tariqat al-Muhammadiyya', 'Ibn Taymiyya Among the Mamluks and the Ottomans: Reception, Transmission and State of the Art' international workshop, University of Bologna.
25 April 2015: Invited Speaker: 'Islamic Legal Methods: Study of Sadd al-dhara'i, Ijtihad and Fatwa', 'Journey through Usul' seminar series, Madinatul Uloom, Bradford.
28 January 2015: Invited Speaker: 'Ibn Taymiyya: His Life, Works and Legacy', 'Muslim Thinkers' seminar series, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.
4 April 2014: 'Taymiyyan Influences in an Ottoman-Hanafi Milieu', British Association of Islamic Studies Inaugural Conference, University of Edinburgh.
27 June 2012: 'Reflections on the Arab Spring of 2011 and its Aftermath', Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds.
1 February 2012: 'Violence in Istanbul: Ottoman Puritanism in the 17th Century with Reference to the Qadizadelis', Research Seminar Series, Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds.
28 January 2012: Co-organiser of symposium, 'Teaching Islamic Studies: Methodological Concerns, Practical Solutions", University of Leeds and Islamic Studies Network.
10 December 2011: 'Reviving the Spirit of the Mudarabah Facility through the Participating Preferred Ijarah Facility', co-presented with Prof M. Shahid Ebrahim (Durham University), 'Analytical and Empirical Research in Islamic Finance, Management, Economics and Law' conference, Aston Business School.
15 May 2011: Invited Speaker: 'Muslim Cultural Diversities in Britain', Luther King House, Manchester.
22 March 2010: Invited Speaker: 'Challenges facing a People of Scripture: British Muslims, Active Citizenship and Faithfulness to the Qur'an', Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM).
3 March 2009: Invited Speaker: 'Muslim Minority Fiqh in the West', Marmara University postgraduate seminar, Istanbul.
15 January 2008: Invited Speaker: 'Women in Islam', Abingdon European Society, Oxford.
Membership of Academic Bodies
Member of British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)
Member of British Association of Islamic Studies (BRAIS)