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Dr Riyaz Timol

Dr Riyaz Timol

Research Associate in British Muslim Studies

Ysgol Hanes, Archaeoleg a Chrefydd

+44 (0)29 2087 4884
5.49B, Adeilad John Percival , Rhodfa Colum, Caerdydd, CF10 3EU


I work as a Research Associate at Cardiff University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK.  My research interests include ethnographic methodology, intergenerational transmission of Islam in Britain and the relationship of Islam with modernity.  My disciplinary approach is within the sociology of religion with particular reference to the theoretical contributions of Peter L. Berger.  I teach the MA module 'History and Development of Muslim Communities in Britain', supervise several postgraduate students and help deliver the innovative online course Muslims in Britain: Changes and Challenges.  I am the Principal Investigator of a major three-year project examining the lived experiences of British Imams and the co-editor of a special issue of the international journal Religions exploring 'Leadership, Authority and Representation in British Muslim Communities'.

Ph.D. thesis:

Public writing:

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Undergraduate teaching

  • Introduction to the Study of Religion
  • Islam in the Contemporary World
  • Islamic Studies Dissertation Tutor
    • I have supervised undergraduate dissertations on a broad range of topics including Islamic philosophy and mysticism, Middle Eastern religio-political movements, South Asian culture and diaspora, Islamophobia, religion and media, Islamic art and culture, Sunni and Shia theology, Sufism, Islamic feminism and gendered sartorial practices.

Postgraduate teaching


Understanding British Imams

Imams are the largest group of Muslim religious professionals in Britain who work principally within mosques leading prayers, delivering sermons and providing guidance to their congregations. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that this role is being expanded to encompass pastoral care, chaplaincy, charity work or wider community projects such as inter-faith activity or civic events. Further, the pressures of a post-9/11 and 7/7 socio-political climate, in which counter-terrorism measures become increasingly conflated with integration issues, have foregrounded the imam as a figure that may guide his flock in either constructive or destructive ways. Yet, somewhat paradoxically, the British imam has only rarely been the subject of in-depth ethnographic research. Generously funded by the Jameel Research Programme, this project aims to fill this lacuna by conducting the most detailed and rigorous study ever undertaken of British imams; and communicating the results, and interest in Muslim religious leadership in the West more generally, to many beneficiaries. The project will transform our understanding of British imams and create a lasting reference point for future research on Muslim religious professionals.

For more details, please visit the project website.

Conference Papers

  • July 2019. 'Communicating Islam to Muslims: Adhaan, Da’wa and the Machinery of Plausibility Structure Generation', BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group Annual Conference, Cardiff University.
  • April 2019. 'Something Old, Something New: The Changing World of British Imams', British Association for Islamic Studies Annual Conference, University of Nottingham.
  • April 2019. 'Structure and Agency in an Academic Sub-Discipline: British Muslim Studies Between Durkheim and Weber', Muslims in Britain Research Network Conference, Cardiff University.
  • July 2018: 'Peter L. Berger and a Sociology for Contemporary Islam?', BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group Annual Conference, University of Strathclyde.
  • April 2018: 'Social transformation through self-reformation: sacralising the secular ‘in the Path of Allah’', British Association for Islamic Studies Annual Conference, University of Exeter.
  • April 2017: ‘Islamic Revival and Europe’s Secular ‘Sacred Canopy’’ British Association for Islamic Studies Annual Conference, University of Chester.
  • July 2016: ‘A Theory of Intra-Religious Conversion for Contemporary Islam,’ BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group Annual Conference 2016, Lancaster University.
  • April 2016: ‘Black Beards, White Beards and 40 Shades of Grey: Intergenerational Transmission in the British Tablighi Jama'at,’ British Association for Islamic Studies Annual Conference, Senate House, University of London.
  • July 2015: ‘Islamic Revival, Secular Britain: The Case of the Tablighi Jama’at,’ The British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion 40th Anniversary Conference, Kingston University, London.
  • April 2015: ‘To Sufi or not Sufi? Exploring the Spiritual Praxis of the Tablighi Jama’at,’ British Association for Islamic Studies Annual Conference, Senate House, University of London.
  • September 2014: ‘Walking the Ethnographic Tightrope: Fieldwork with the Tablighi Jama'at in Modern Britain,’ 'INSIDE OUT: Reflexivity and Methodology in Research with British Muslims' conference organised by the Islam-UK Centre in conjunction with the Muslims in Britain Research Network, Cardiff University.
  • September 2014: ‘Roundtable Discussion: Interrogating integrity? Insider and outsider social research with faith based groups,’ British Association for the Study of Religion (BASR) Annual Conference, Open University, Milton Keynes.
  • May 2014: ‘Religious Travel and the Tablighī Jamā‘at: Modalities of Expansion in Britain and Beyond,’ Muslims in the UK and Europe Symposium, Cambridge University.
  • April 2014: ‘Religious Travel and British Muslim Identities: Researcher Reflexivity, Preaching and Tablighi Jama’at Activists,’ British Association for Islamic Studies Inaugural Conference, Edinburgh University.
  • September 2013: ‘Exploring the Cultural Boundaries of the Tablighi Jama’at: Real or Imaginary?,’ School of History, Archaeology and Religion Post-Graduate Symposium, Cardiff University.
  • September 2013: ‘Tablighi Jama’at in the Diaspora: Exploring Modalities of Expansion,’ European Association for the Study of Religions Conference, Liverpool Hope University.


I am currently co-supervising two Ph.D.s:

  • Fatou Sambe - Converts and the Next Generation of British Muslims
  • Moamer Khalayleh - Qur'anic-Ash'arite Perspectives on New Atheism

I am interested in supervising Ph.D. students in the areas of:

  • Movements of Islamic revival in Britain
  • British Muslim identity
  • Intergenerational transmission in British Islam
  • Conversion and apostasy in contemporary Islam
  • Experiences and training of British imams

Goruchwyliaeth gyfredol

Fatou Sambe

Fatou Sambe

Research student

Moamer Khalayleh

Moamer Khalayleh

Research student