Science and British Muslim Religious Leadership

What does science mean to British Muslim religious scholars? How is it understood, debated and taught in British Islamic institutions? What do attitudes towards science tell us about the relationship between Islam and modernity? 

About the project

While it is common to hear claims in the media about Islam and Muslims being ‘anti-science’, virtually no research has been conducted on what Muslim religious leaders actually think about scientific topics. This project will fill this gap by exploring the views of Muslim leaders (the ‘ulama) about science, and how they engage with scientific issues in their day-to-day roles.

The project is led by a team of specialists in the study of British Islam and the public understanding of science based at the University of Birmingham, with support from researchers at Cardiff University. The research will explore ‘big questions’ about the origin of the universe and the human species, as well as everyday questions about what Muslim religious leaders think of COVID restrictions or organ donation. We want to develop a more accurate picture of Islam in Britain, and assist and inform individuals involved in communicating science to diverse publics.

The research runs from 2020 to 2023. It is funded by the Templeton Religion Trust and coordinated by The Issachar Fund and is one of several grants that forms the ‘Science and Religion: Identity and Belief Formation’ subgranting scheme based at Rice University, Texas.

Call for research participants

Do you know a Muslim religious leader, or are you one yourself? If so, we want to hear from you! We want to speak with all Muslim religious leaders or over 18s who are studying for leadership qualifications (i.e., alimiyyah courses or similar). It does not matter what Muslim community or tradition you are from, or what opinions you have (or don’t have) about science. All views count.

If you are interested in taking part in the project, please contact Dr Saleema Burney at

Project team