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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Stephen Jones
Lecturer (University of Birmingham)
Deputy Director of the Institute for the STEMM in Culture and Society (ISTEMMiCS).
Dr Stephen Jones is a sociologist specialising in the study of Islam and Muslims in the UK and religious and non-religious publics’ perceptions of science. His research has focused on themes including Islam and liberalism; Islamophobia in contemporary Britain; Muslims’ perceptions of science; and religious diversity and inclusion in STEMM institutions and disciplines.
Dr Riyaz Timol
Co-investigator (Cardiff University)
Dr Riyaz Timol is a Research Associate at Cardiff University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK. His research interests include ethnographic methodology, intergenerational transmission of Islam in Britain and the relationship of Islam with modernity. Alongside this project, Dr Timol is the Principal Investigator of a major three-year project examining the lived experiences of British Imams.
Dr Saleema Burney
Research Fellow (University of Birmingham)
Dr Saleema Burney is a scholar of religion with experience of working with British Muslim communities. Her research interests include ‘lived religion’ in the West, how individuals negotiate religious identities in post-secular societies and research approaches that tackle the increasing populism and division observed in multicultural societies.