Dr Suha Taji-Farouki

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