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Dr Haroon Sidat

Dr Haroon Sidat

Research Associate

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

I am currently a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK at Cardiff University. I completed a PhD looking at the formation and training of British Muslim Scholarship (ulama) with an ethnographic study of a Dar al-Uloom, or traditional Islamic seminary in modern Britain. This was part of the Jameel Scholarship Programme. I also have a background in traditional Islamic Studies, and this is where I seek to combine textual learning of the Islamic tradition with the sociology of religious professionals. I have an interest in the formation of religious authority, theories and application of tradition with modernity, and religious embodiment. I continue to teach courses in the Islamic traditional sciences in the areas of Islamic law (fiqh) and theology (aqidah). I also teach modules around contemporary Muslims concerns such as Sufism and Islamic law in Britain. Currently, I am working on an innovative and ground-breaking project looking at the lived experiences of imams in Britain.

PhD Thesis: 

Formation and Training of British Muslim Religious Leadership Muslim Scholars (Ulama): An Ethnography of a Dar al-Uloom in Britain (2019).

Other public engagements and articles:

The Imam and the Priest in Leadership: two sides of the same coin? (The Centre for Muslim- Christian Studies, Oxford, 11th June 2019).

What is ‘Authority’ in Islam? (Public Seminar Series at Cardiff University, 20th February 2019).

Young British Muslims turn to a new generation of imams: young Muslims challenge the old guard at Britain’s mosques (The Economist, 8th December 2018).

Panel discussion ‘Islamic leadership in tomorrow’s world’ at the Imams Online Digital Summit at Youtube Space in London (31st January 2018).

Memes and Madhabs (On Religions, 15th September 2018).

The Darul Ulum and Mainstream Higher Education: A Way Forward? (Public Lecture Series, Cardiff University,10th March 2015).

Conference organised:  

Islam, Muslims, and education in Britain (Cardiff University, 15th January 2018).

Conference papers:

Young Ulama as Custodians of Change: An Ethnography of a Traditional Dar al-Uloom in Modern Britain (Cambridge University annual postgraduate symposium on “Muslims in the UK and Europe”, 7th June 2019).  

Young Ulama as Custodians of Change (Conference on Leadership, Authority and Representation in British Muslim Communities, Cardiff University, 21st January 2019).  

How Many ‘Ulama Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? (British Association for Islamic Studies Annual Conference, University of Exeter, 11th April 2018). 

Setting a Subject Benchmark for Dar al-'ulums in Britain? A Day Consultation at Markfield Institute of Higher Education (at Markfield Institute of Higher Education 18th October 2017).

Book Reviews:

Revival from Below: The Deoband Movement and Global Islam by Brannon Ingram in Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies (2019).

The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from Islamic State by Samer in the Muslim World Book Review (2018).

 Al-Britannia, My Country: A Journey Through Muslim Britain by James Fergusson (2017).

At undergraduate level:

  • Scriptural Study: Introduction to Qur’anic and Hadith studies
  • Islamic Civilisation and History
  • Scriptural Study: Qur’anic Exegesis and Hadith Collections
  • Education in the Islamic World
  • Shari’ah Interpretation and its application to Family Life
  • Islamic Spirituality and Morality

Islam in the Contemporary World

  • Religious Leadership
  • Sufism
  • Islamic Law

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 click here.

Areas of expertise

External profiles