CIMS Academic Workshop 2023 – Muslims and Education

On the 6th and 7th of March 2023, The Centre for Intra-Muslim Studies (CIMS) held its inaugural academic workshop, looking at the theme of Muslims in differing educational contexts. Since 2015, the CIMS platform has successfully brought together Muslims, of different persuasions – primarily the mainstream Sunnī and Shīʿī mainstream schools – to appreciate each other’s perspectives on various historical and theological issues. This workshop sought to advance discussions into the academic arena, on issues that affect Muslims collectively, and tackle the challenges in an impactful manner.

The Workshop, held at Al-Mahdi Institute, successfully managed to assemble an impressive breadth of scholars, who had carried out noteworthy research in the different areas of education that have an impact on Muslims.

The theme of this opening workshop was kept deliberately broad, in order to encompass a range of matters concerning Muslim communities, particularly in diasporic or minority contexts, within the various educational environments. Papers presented at the workshop included contexts of imparting and acquiring of what is traditionally considered ‘Islamic knowledge’, as well as the experiences of Muslims in settings of secular education. Responding to the changing needs of the Muslim societies they serve, institutions functioning as spaces for traditional Islamic learning have seen curricular developments over the last two decades, in both Muslim majority as well as minority countries.

This workshop explored and analysed some of these developments. Beyond the regular format of paper presentations, the second day of the work included three concurrently running breakout rooms, discussing The Democratisation of Islamic Knowledge and Learning; Gender-Related Challenges to Acquiring/Disseminating Islamic Education; The Secular Challenges to Religious Learning, and to Religion in Educational Environments.

The discussions were facilitated by leading scholars in those specific areas (respectively): Prof. Sophie Gilliat-Ray (Cardiff University), Dr. Shuruq Naguib (Lancaster University) and Prof. Mathew Guest (Durham University). Over the two days, presenters and participants enjoyed lively discussions and fruitful debates on the theoretical, philosophical and sociological aspects of Muslims and education.

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The participants who presented their findings at the workshop were:

Prof. Ebrahim Moosa (University of Notre Dame)


A Ghazalian Perspective on Discursive Traditions: Provenance of Knowledge and Authority Past and Present Dilemmas
Dr. Haroon Sidat (Cardiff University)


The Dars-i Niẓāmī as Method 


Prof. Masooda Bano (University of Oxford)


Women in Mosques and Madrasas: A Growing Trend  


Dr. Alyaa Ebbiary (Durham University) and Dr. Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman (Bishop Grosseteste University)


Islamic Education in West Africa: Context, Themes and Future Prospects 


Prof. Alison Frances Scott-Baumann (SOAS, University of London)


Islamic Education in Universities: Communities of Inquiry 


Dr. Riyaz Timol (Cardiff University)


From Religious Functionaries to ‘Super-Imams’: A Typology of Roles in the British Imamate 


Dr. Myriam Cherti (COMPAS, University of Oxford)


Keeping the Faith: The Role of Madrassas in Building the British Muslim Identity  


Dr. Ali Kassem (National University of Singapore)


A Hawza of Liberation: Decolonisation beyond both ‘Tradition’ and ‘Modernity’ 


Prof. Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor (Coventry University)


Beyond Confessional-Academic Dichotomies in Islam Studies: Understanding Criticality and Rigour in Traditional Islamic Studies 


Dr. Matthijs van den Bos (Birkbeck College, University of London)


Further Observations on Shiite Higher Education in Europe 


Dr. Alisandro Cancian (The Institute of Ismaili Studies)


Between the Madrasa and the Khaneqāh: Religious Education, Authority and Sufi Orders in Early Modern Twelver Shi‘ism