Thameem Sainulabdeen

Photo of Thameem Sainulabdeen

Department of Theology and Religion
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Innocuous Alterity: The Representation of Sri Lanka in Medieval Islam
Supervisors: Professor Oliver Scharbrodt and Dr Sophia Vasalou
PhD Theology and Religion


  • BA (Hons)
  • MPhil
  • MHRMC (Partial fulfillment)


Since 2014, I  have been a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

After a B.A. in Arabic, I completed the Master of Philosophy in Islamic Civilization at the University of Peradeniya, followed by a partial fulfillment in Master of Human Rights and Multiculturalism, at the University of South-Eastern Norway (USN), Norway.


  • Postgraduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA), Department of Theology and Religion 2021-2022


The present study aims to investigate how Sri Lanka, a distant oriental space, as an object of curiosity portrayed in the eyes of medieval Arabs using twelve case studies from less widely known travel and geographic texts. I use modern philosopher Lajos Brons's three alterity dimensions i.e., sophisticated, crude, and quasi (Brons, 2015) analyse the selected texts. My central argument throughout this dissertation is that Sri Lanka was not in conflict with the medieval Muslim world and did not pose an immediate political, religious and military threat to them like European Christendom did in the medieval period. Indeed, this territory established fruitful commercial, religious and cultural exchanges with the Arab world and hailed as a horizon of wonders, marvels, and mysteries and rated as one of the rich territories in the Indian Ocean during the period in question. Conceivably, the encounters between these two regions formed a “quasi-alterity” or innocuous othering in religious, cultural, and social spheres.

Other activities

Conference papers

  • Thameem, S.M. (2021). The Image and Representations of Ceylon through John Capper’s Eyes (1814-1898), Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference on ‘Showcasing’ Empires: The Legacy of Colonialism on Post-Imperial Societies, (p.10). Birmingham: University of Birmingham.
  • Thameem, S.M. (2014). The Usage of Arabic Language in Sri Lanka: A Study with Special Reference to Puttalam Divisional Secretariat Area. Peradeniya University International Research Session (iPURSE) (p. 715). Peradeniya: University of Peradeniya.
  • Thameem, S.M. (2013). Ethnic Co-existence between Muslims and Tamils in the Post-War Resettlement Context: A Study with Special Reference Musali Division in Mannar. National Conference of the Department of Arabic & Islamic Civilization, University of Peradeniya (p. 14). Peradeniya: Department of Arabic & Islamic Civilization.


  • Membership in Historians of Islamic Arts Association - 2021
  • Member, Sri Lanka National Association of Counsellors, Sri Lanka


  • Award for Ph.D. under Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development (AHEAD) Operations, Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka - 2020
  • Award for the exchange program in Master of Human Rights and Multiculturalism under Norwegian Partnership for Global Academic Cooperation (NORPART) Project - 2017