Dr Suha Taji-Farouki

Senior Lecturer in Modern Islam


01392 725250

My research focuses on modern Islamic thought in its diverse expressions, from Islamists to Islamic liberals and traditionalist-Sufis, and issues of authority and its contestation within and between them. I am currently completing a project on the legacy and shrine-complex of Ibn ‘Arabi in Damascus prior to the civil war, exploring local debates surrounding this among Sufis and between Sufis and their opponents. My next projects will examine aspects of the role of the ulama in the contemporary world, and the role of the prayer of blessing upon the Prophet Muhammad in Muslim-Sufi devotion and spirituality past and present.

My professional experience encompasses a wide range of consultancies and expert contributions, including expert witnessing; briefings of governmental agencies in the U.K. and abroad; advising Interfaith associations and NGOs, and serving on specialist journal editorial boards and publisher advisory boards.

For a list of publications please see 'Other'

For office hours and research leave go here.

Research interests

My research field is the interface between Islam and modernity, particularly the impact on Islamic thought of modernity in its colonial and post-colonial contexts, and its associated cultural transformations. This encompasses methodologies, key concerns, inner tensions, relation to historical traditions, and outcomes for Muslim societies and relations with significant others. My research addresses the major expressions of modern Islamic thought (Islamist, Sufi-traditionalist, Salafi, modernist and progressive, for example), tracking influential historical legacies as appropriated by these trends and examining issues of authority and its contestation within and between them. My focus is on Arab and Sunni traditions, but I also work on trans-national and global arenas. My approach is multi-disciplinary, combining framings and debates from the social sciences and a historical register with textual and discourse analysis.

My early publications focused on Islamist thought and activism, especially the trans-national Islamist movement Hizb al-Tahrir, but I have since explored the trends that run counter to Islamism, encompassing contemporary modernist and progressive thinkers, and traditionalist-Sufis. My most recent publications focus on contemporary approaches to the Qur’an—through the genre of Qur’anic commentary or tafsir and Qur’an translation; and Sufism in the contemporary world—especially by examining aspects of the legacy of the 13th century Andalusian Sufi Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi.

My work on the modern period builds on the study of pre-modern Islamic traditions on which modern trends draw, and on Islamic intellectual history in general. In this context I have a particular interest in working with manuscripts. This is reflected in two of my current projects: first, a study of Ibn ‘Arabi’s shrine complex in Damascus and the life and debates surrounding this between the 16th and 19th centuries; and second, a study of authorial handwriting and its application in identifying holographs and autographs among the surviving manuscript copies of Ibn ‘Arabi’s works.

I am currently developing research projects that focus on Muslim-Sufi prayer and devotion past and present, and aspects of the role and authority of the ulama in the contemporary world.

Research supervision

I have supervised doctoral research theses on diverse aspects of Islamic thought and life in the modern and contemporary period across the Muslim world and in various non-Muslim settings: theses I have supervised include, for example, studies of HAMAS, contemporary Wahhabism and its relationship to Salafism, and notions of allegiance and disavowal in contemporary Salafi thought. I am happy to supervise students working on modern Islamic intellectual history and contemporary Islamic thought and activism. I have acted as external examiner for doctoral theses at SOAS, the University of London, and the universities of Canterbury, Exeter and Oxford.

Research students

I am currently supervising the following students:

Justin Pierce, Governance and Accountability Frameworks of Islamic Philanthropy

Davide Pettinato, Contemporary Muslim thought in dialogue with Liberation Theology and Critical Theory: towards an inter-religious, inter-disciplinary Theory of Liberation (SWDTC ESRC Doctoral Scholarship)

Mehdi Laghmari, Analysis of the Islamic State’s Resilience in Iraq from a Framing and Strategic perspective (2011-2015)

Ali Fares, The Shadhiliyya-Yashrutiyya Tariqa between Amman and Calgary

Other information





ed., Modern Muslims reading the Qur’an. Commentaries and translations worldwide (OUP, Oxford) 2016 


Beshara and Ibn ‘Arabi: A Movement of Sufi Spirituality in the Modern World (Anqa, Oxford, 2007)


Ibn 'Arabi, A Prayer for Spiritual Elevation and Protection, al-Dawr al-a'la' (Hizb al-wiqaya): Study, translation, transliteration and Arabic text (Anqa, Oxford, 2006)


ed., Modern Muslim Intellectuals and the Qur’an (OUP, Oxford, 2004)

Persian translation, Rawshanfikran-i mutijaddid-i musulman (Farzan, Tehran, 2011)


with Basheer M. Nafi, ed., Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century (I. B. Tauris,  London, 2004)


with Ronald L. Nettler, ed., Muslim–Jewish Encounters: Intellectual Traditions and Modern Politics (Harwood, Reading, 1998)


with Hugh Poulton, ed., Muslim Identity and the Balkan State (Hurst /New York University Press, London/NY, 1997)


A Fundamental Quest: Hizb al-Tahrir and the Search for the Islamic Caliphate. (Grey Seal, London, 1996)

Turkish translation, Hizbu’t-Tahrir ve Hilafet (Yonelis, Istanbul, 1998)




'Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami', Encylopaedia of the Islamic World (OUP, NY, 2009)


with Youssef Choueiri, ‘Sayyid Qutb’, Encyclopaedia of Religion (Macmillan, NY, 2006)


‘al-Mujtama‘at al-Islamiyya al-Britaniyya: hayatuhum wa usuluhum wa ihtimamatuhum al-haliyya’, al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi, 286 (2002): 41-52


‘Sadiq Nayhum: An Introduction to the Life and Works of a Contemporary Libyan Intellectual’, The Maghreb Review, 25: 3–4 (2000): 242-273


with Quintan Wiktorowicz, ‘Islamic Non-Governmental Organisations and Muslim Politics: A Case from Jordan’, Third World Quarterly, 21: 4 (2000): 685-699


‘Islamists and the Threat of Jihad: Hizb al-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun on Israel and the Jews’, Middle Eastern Studies, 36: 4 (2000): 21-46

Reprinted in Bryan S. Turner, ed., Islam: Critical Concepts in Sociology. London. Routledge, 2003, IV: 236-260


‘Muslim-Christian Co-operation in the 21st Century: Some Global Challenges and Strategic Responses’, Islam and Christian – Muslim Relations, 11: 2 (2000): 167-193


‘Nazariyyat al-dawla al-Islamiyya wa’l-waqi‘ al-mu‘asir: hala dirasiyya’, Qira’at Siyasiyya, 5 (1995): 83-99, reprinted in Hizb al-Tahrir (Markaz al-Misbar li’l-dirasat wa’l-buhuth, Dubai, 2007): 57-76


‘A Case-Study in Contemporary Political Islam and the Palestine Question: The Perspective of Hizb al-Tahrir’, Studies in Muslim-Jewish Relations, 2 (1995): 35-58


‘Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami’, Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World (OUP, NY, 1995): 2, 125-127


ed., 'Muslim Communities in France' & 'Muslim Communities in the Netherlands and Germany', CMEIS Occasional Paper Series, 51-52, October/December 1995 (Durham, UK)


‘From Madrid to Washington: Palestinian Islamist Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Settlement’, World Faiths Encounter, 9 (1994): 49-58


‘Islamic Discourse and Modern Political Methods: An Analysis of al-Nabhani’s Reading of the Canonical Textual Sources of Islam’, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 11: 3 (1994): 365-39


Book chapters


The Ascendant Qur’an by Muhammad al-‘Asi (1951–): An Islamist tafsir in English, in Suha Taji-Farouki, ed., Modern Muslims reading the Qur’an. Commentaries and translations worldwide (OUP, Oxford), forthcoming


with Enes Karić, Qur’an Translation and Commentary in Early Twentieth Century Bosnia–Herzegovina: Mehmed Džemaludin Čaušević (1870–1938), in Suha Taji-Farouki, ed., Modern Muslims reading the Qur’an. Commentaries and translations worldwide (OUP, Oxford), forthcoming


with Anthony H. Johns, A Public Figure Mufassir from the Malay-Indonesian World: Hamka (1908–1981) and Tafsir al-Azhar, in Suha Taji-Farouki, ed., Modern Muslims reading the Qur’an. Commentaries and translations worldwide (OUP, Oxford), forthcoming


Sobre El Ciclo más elevado que aproxima a toda morada del Más Elevado (al-Dawr al-aʿlā al-muqarrib ilā kulli maqām al-aʿlā) de Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabī, in Emilio Alzueta, ed., Las llaves de los Nombres más hermosos. Dos plegarias sufíes andalusíes sobre los Nombres Divinos (Almuzara, Cordoba), forthcoming


Hizb al-Tahrir, in Frank Peter, ed., Islamic Movements in Europe. Perspectives on Public Religion and Islamophobia (I.B. Tauris, London), forthcoming


Hizb ut-Tahrir, in Frank Peter and Rafael Ortega ed., Los movimientos islamicos transnacionales y la emergencia de un “islam europeo” (Edicions Bellaterra, Barcelona, 2012): 77-86


Islam e altre religioni nel confronto globale, in Giovanni Filamoro, ed., Le religioni e il mondo moderno, vol. III, Islam, ed., Roberto Tottoli (Einaudi Editore, Torino, 2009): 398-431


Modern Intellectuals, Islam and the Qur’an: The example of Sadiq Nayhum, in Suha Taji-Farouki, ed., Modern Muslim Intellectuals and the Qur’an. (OUP, Oxford, 2004): 297-332


Thinking on the Jews, in Suha Taji-Farouki and Basheer M. Nafi, ed., Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century (I. B. Tauris, London, 2004): 318-67 


Zur Einrichtung einer professur fur islamische theologie in Hamburg, in Islamische Theologie (Korber-Stiftung, Hamburg, 2002): 37-61


A Contemporary Construction of the Jews in the Qur’an: A Review of Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi’s Banu Isra’il fi’l-Qur’an wa’l-Sunna and ‘Afif ‘Abd al-Fattah Tabbara’s al-Yahud fi’l-Qur’an, in Ronald L. Nettler and Suha Taji-Farouki, ed., Muslim–Jewish Encounters: Intellectual Traditions and Modern Politics (Harwood, Reading, 1998): 15-37


Islamic State-Theories and Contemporary Realities, in Abdel Salam Sid Ahmad and Anoushiravan Ehteshami, ed., Islamic Fundamentalism (Westview, San Francisco, 1996): 35-50




After completing my BA in Classical Arabic and Islamic Studies with Persian at Durham University I pursued my doctoral studies at the University of Exeter, where I was awarded a PhD in Modern Islam and Middle East Politics (1993); my PhD thesis examined the history, ideology and organizational structure of the trans-national Islamist party Hizb al-Tahrir. In 1991 I was appointed Lecturer in Contemporary Islam and Arabic at Durham University, then in 1993 Lecturer in Modern Islam, and continued in this post until 2003. I was Skirball Visiting Fellow in Residence at Oxford University’s Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in 1996; Visiting Fellow at The Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies in Amman, Jordan in 1997, and Visiting Fellow/Faculty Member at The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), London from 1999 to 2003. I was appointed to my post at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter in 2004, but remained seconded from this as Research Associate/Faculty Member at The Institute of Ismaili Studies until 2011, when I joined Exeter fully. I was a resident Fellow at the Wissenschaftkolleg zu Berlin (Berlin Institute for Advanced Study) in 2006—2007; a member of the Sub-Faculty of Near and Middle Eastern Studies of the Oriental Institute at the University of Oxford from 2004 to 2010, and a Senior Associate of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford from 1996 to 2010.