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Dr. Tajri Leads a Research Seminar on ‘Shi’i Religious Authority and Agency: Developing Attitutudes on British University Campuses’

On Thursday 15th February, 2024, Dr. Muhammed Reza Tajri was invited to Cardiff University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK (CSI-UK), to lead a research seminar discussing his research on UK’s Shia Muslim students in Higher Education. The well-attended event focused on Dr. Tajri’s research concerning the students’ attitudes and performances of religious authority, vis-à-vis its established normative model in lived Shi’ism. The seminar presentation first set a backdrop of institutionalised and hierarchical authority in the lived tradition of Shi’ism, as one that restricts divergent performances and limits religious interpretive agency for the untrained ‘laity’. Thereafter, Dr. Tajri illustrated the nuances between the authoritative mechanism of taqlīd in theory, as a rational epistemic instrument, and its established orthopraxical state as a restrictive instrument to individual religious interpretive agency. In conclusion, the presentation illustrated instances of research data, showing how its participants were finding varying ways of reconstructing established models in ways that afforded them agency in their own respective contexts. The seminar closed with a vibrant question and answer session, which allowed further probing notions of religious authority, agency and the related themes of gendered religious politics and sectarianism on campus.