Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Arts
My expertise is in Islamic Studies, and my areas of special interest include Islamic intellectual history, medieval Islamic theology and philosophy, the thought of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, and Christian-Muslim relations.
Before coming to Nottingham in 2010, I taught Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, and earlier on I studied Arabic in Cairo for several years. My qualifications include a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Birmingham, an MA in Theological Studies from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Indiana, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech.
I next expect to be on research leave in the spring semester of the academic year 2018/19.
My teaching spans the Islamic tradition from its origins to the present day, and I especially enjoy working with students to explore the diverse ways that Muslims have interpreted their texts and lived out their faith through history. The undergraduate modules that I typically teach are described below; exact offerings may vary from year to year due to research leaves, curriculum changes, or unforeseen circumstances. At the bottom of the page are links to Islamic Studies videos produced by the department. For PhD and Masters level research supervision, click on the 'Research Supervision' tab above.
Introduction to Islam (typically every year): This first year module provides an historical introduction to the Islamic tradition. We first examine the Qur'an and other narrative and textual foundations of the Islamic tradition, Then, we look at the development and structure of Islamic society, law, doctrine and spirituality through the classical period into the present. All along the way, and especially toward the end of the module, we ask how Muslims are responding to challenges posed by modernity.
Ibn Taymiyya: Jihadist or Theologian? (typically alternate years): Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) was one of the foremost Muslim scholars of the medieval period, and he is well known today for inspiring movements ranging from violent extremism to Salafism and reformist modernism. This module will examine Ibn Taymiyya's life and thought and trace his legacy to the present, and it will ask how he is best characterised: as a jihadist, a theologian, or perhaps something else.
Islamic Theology and Philosophy (typically alternate years). This module examines how Muslims have addressed fundamental theological and philosophical questions relating to their faith. These questions concern the foundations of religious knowledge and authority, God's unity and attributes, God's relationship to the world, divine determinism and human freedom, prophecy, and eschatology. Key figures will include the rationalist Mu'tazili and Ash'ari theologians, the philosophers Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and the influential medieval intellectuals al-Ghazali, Ibn al-'Arabi, and Ibn Taymiyya. Selections from primary sources will be read in translation, and special attention will be given to the integration of late antique philosophical traditions into Islamic theology.
Undergraduate dissertation supervision in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim relations.
Our department also usually offers a Year 1 undergraduate Islamic Studies module entitled Islam and Gender.
Departmental Islamic Studies Videos
With Jon Hoover: Why Study...Ibn Taymiyya Why Study...Islamic Studies Islam: Final Things What is Fitra in Islam?
With Holger Zellentin: The Qur'an's Legal Tradition in Historical Context Qur'anic Studies Today
With Harith Bin Ramli: Why Study the Sunni and the Shi'a Why Study Sufism The Prophet's Birthday With Shujahat Aslam: Islam: Final Things Ramadan Eid-ul-Fitr Eid-ul-Adha The Hajj With Musharraf Hussain: Basic Beliefs of Islam series: Introduction God Angels Books Prophets Last Day 1 Last Day 2 Predestination Celebrations and practices: The Islamic Year: An Overview Ramadan Muharram Lailat ul bara'ah The Mi'raj Milad (The Prophet's Birthday)
My primary research interest is medieval Islamic theology. Currently, I am focusing on the prominent Damascene scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) and his understanding of God's attributes. This builds on… read more
PhD, MRes, and MA by research supervision
I welcome research proposals for the PhD, the MRes, and the MA by research in the fields of Islamic theology and intellectual history, the thought and later reception of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Salafism, Christian-Muslim relations, and related textual, historical and theological studies.
Currently, I am supervising PhD research projects on Ibn Taymiyya's interpretation of the Bible, Ibn Taymiyya's views on divorce, Ibn Taymiyya's writings on jihad, Taqi al-Din al-Subki's legal thought, the Sufi thought of Ibn 'Ajiba, and the theology of Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti.
To begin conversation about undertaking a research degree, please send me a research proposal, a sample of previous academic work (published or unpublished, in English or Arabic), and grade transcripts for degree courses taken at the university level (e.g. BA and MA). Also, please provide proof of proficiency in English (e.g. 7.0 or more on the IELTS exam) or details of your plans to attain the required English proficiency. Guidance on writing a PhD research proposal is here; Research proposals for MRes and MA by research may be more modest.
Formal application: to submit a formal application for a research degree, go to the page relevant to your desired degree programme (PhD, MRes, or MA by research), read through the page, and click on 'Apply for this course' at the upper right side.
In the 'Personal Statement' section of the application, please note that we are looking for a substantial research proposal, not a long list of your personal interests and accomplishments.
Our department offers both a PhD in 'Theology' and a PhD in 'Religious Studies'. In the PhD application, choose the one that best suits your purposes; it does not have a bearing on your research supervision arrangements.
Tuition fees: The normal PhD programme consists of three years of full-time study at full tuition fees or six years of part-time study at half tuition fees. The MRes and MA by research consist of one year full-time at full fees or two years part-time at half fees. The full-time fees are given here. Follow through to the fees for Postgraduate Research Courses, the School of Humanities, and Theology and Religious Studies. For part-time fees, divide the full-time fees in half.
International students should consult our International Office website and staff for further logistical and practical information on coming to Nottingham.
My primary research interest is medieval Islamic theology. Currently, I am focusing on the prominent Damascene scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) and his understanding of God's attributes. This builds on preliminary work carried out under a 2013-14 Leverhulme Research Fellowship entitled 'God and space in the theology of Ibn Taymiyya', which brought to light, among other things, his argumentation against the incorporealist view of God prevalent in his day; I outline this in a May 2014 lecture available online.
Much of my earlier work focused on Ibn Taymiyya's best-of-all-possible-worlds theodicy and related matters. The monograph Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy of Perpetual Optimism (2007 open access) examines Ibn Taymiyya's approach to God's justice and wise purpose in creating evil and situates this within his wider theological project. Two articles (2004 open access and 2010) and Chapter Two of Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy investigate Ibn Taymiyya's vision of God's dynamic essence and perpetual activity that was unusual if not unique in classical Islamic theology. Another four articles analyze Ibn Taymiyya's arguments for the final salvation of everyone, unbelievers included, and their extensive elaboration by his foremost student Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 1350) (2009 open access, 2013 and 2015), along with their reception by the Yemeni theologian Ibn al-Wazir (d. 1436) (2016 open access). I also have an article on Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya's theodicy that provides a translation of his text explaining why God created Satan (2010).
Other projects on Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya have included studies and surveys of their writings on Christianity (2010 open access, 2012a and 2012b), a survey of scholarship on Ibn Taymiyya (2012), and a history of Hanbali theology that includes an overview of Ibn Taymiyya's theology (2014).
I also occasionally work on issues in Christian-Muslim relations. Among other things, this has included an analysis of the Muslim letter A Common Word (2009 open access), a comparison of the Christian and Muslim doctrines of God (2009 corrected version open access), an exposition of the Lord's Prayer (2010), and helping edit a festschrift for Professor David Thomas (2015).
A full list of my publications and research resources in Taymiyyan studies may be found on my personal website. For PhD and MA research supervision, click on the 'Research Supervision' tab above.