On Thursday 14th December 2017, Al-Mahdi Institute held a Research seminar on the topic of; “Assessing perceptions of Islamic Authority amongst British Shia Muslim Youth” by Shaykh Mohammed Reza Tajri from Al-Mahdi Institute. The seminar was attended by AMI students, faculty and many interested members of the public.
An abstract of his research reads; “Using qualitative research methods, this Cardiff-based project investigates the perspectives that young Shia Muslims in Britain have today towards the concept of religious authority, and how these perspectives and attitudes affect their lives. The study reveals some of the more salient perceptions of Britain’s Shia Muslims on issues of religious authority and its relevance vis-à-vis their own lives in the UK. The project’s findings expose stark contradictions in the attitudes of some British Shia; their dissatisfactions with clerical religious authority on one hand, battling with a sense of compulsion to abide by their rulings on the other. The research opens up this relatively uncultivated area for further social science research within the UK’s Shia population, particularly with regards to attitudes towards religious authority and its impact. I also reflect on how my position as a relative ‘insider’ may have impacted upon the participants’ responses, as well as how their narratives of daily struggle left an impact upon me.”
Shaykh Tajri initially studied Computer Science at City University. He subsequently went on to complete a BA in Islamic Studies at Middlesex University (2007) whilst simultaneously studying the traditional Islamic Sciences at the Islamic Seminary in London. Despite being quadrilingual, his linguistic specialty lies in Arabic. He graduated from the advanced levels of Arabic Language, Grammar and Poetry at the University of Damascus in 2007, before studying at the Imam Khomeini Islamic Seminary in Syria (2007-2008). Thereafter he compiled and translated a collection of Prophetic narrations on the subject of ‘Zakat’ in a work entitled ‘The Sublime Purification’, published in 2009. He has since co-translated two further classical works from Arabic into English, including Mulla Mohsin Faydh Al-Kashāni’s celebrated work, Al-Ḥaqāiq fī Maḥāsin al-Akhlāq. He completed an MA in Islamic studies at Middlesex University (2010) and a second MA at Cardiff University (2013) in “Islam in Contemporary Britain”. Concurrent with his position as a lecturer at the Al-Mahdi Institute, Shaykh Tajri is also currently carrying out a PhD research at Lancaster University’s Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion. He has been involved with lecturing to Muslim communities, in major cities around the UK as well as in North America, since 2008.