The Muslim Institute, a registered charity, is a Fellowship society of intellectuals, thinkers, academics, artists, and professionals. It aims to promote and support the growth of thought, knowledge, research, creativity and open debate within the Muslim community and the society at large. The Institute emphasizes the diversity and plurality of Islam and Muslims to promote dialogue, cooperation and collaboration between Muslims and other cultures.
Through its Winter Gatherings, Ibn Rushd Annual Lectures, meetings, quarterly Critical Muslim, and energetic website it seeks to provide a forum for critical thought, sharing of ideas, expertise and interests among its Fellows and the wider community.
Aims & Objectives
- to explore, debate and discuss the pressing intellectual problems and issues facing British Muslim communities and wider society; encourage and support the pursuit of excellence in knowledge and thought as an agent of positive change;
- to provide an intellectual space where problems and issues can be discussed from multiple perspectives, with the freedom to raise even the most sensitive questions, frankly and openly in the spirit of mutual respect and tolerance;
- to raise awareness of the great intellectual and cultural heritage of Islam, and bring the considerable storehouse of knowledge developed by Muslim civilizations to the attention of current generations and the wider public in a spirit of critical inquiry;
- to mobilize the academic, cultural, and intellectual resources, the scientific and technological expertise of British Muslims to facilitate the creation of a thriving, dynamic and forward-looking Muslim community;
- to promote the civilizational and humanistic dimensions of Islam to create a contemporary culture of intellectual and critical thought within the Muslim community;
- to search for a contemporary Muslim ethos that enables critical engagement with policy issues bearing directly on the British Muslim community and make a distinctive contribution to the debates of British society;
- to support academic workers, public intellectuals, policy practitioners, professionals, creative thinkers and researchers of today and of tomorrow.
The Muslim Institute has a history going back to 1974. Its original title was the Muslim Institute for Research and Planning and its aim was to promote thought and long-range planning on the problems of the Muslim societies.
A Preparatory Committee issued a Draft Prospectus in 1974 arguing that ‘there is an urgent need to revive a tradition of Muslim scholarship to produce a philosophical framework which is at least as articulate and rationally satisfying as all the other traditions of knowledge that are current today’. The Prospectus also argued that ‘a prior commitment to the epistemology of Islam (or framework of knowledge) is a necessary starting point in the search for alternative social, economic and political systems for Muslim societies’.
During this early phase the Muslim Institute published ground breaking work on science policy, economic development, social change, Islamic movements, and the future of Muslim civilization.
During this period, the Institute established a number of important organizations that have played a significant part in shaping the British Muslim community – such as the Muslim Parliament, The Halal Food Authority, and Bait al-Mal al-Islami, which raised funds and supported young Muslim scholars and students. The Institute also worked to highlight problems within the Muslim community such as forced marriages, domestic violence, and honor killings, and produced a Model Muslim Marriage Contract that gave equal rights to both partners. It even organized guided tours to ‘Islamic Britain’ with visits to London’s Guildhall, Leighton’s Arab Hall, Burton’s Mausoleum, Shah Jehan Mosque, Abdullah Quilliam Mosque and other sites…
The new Muslim Institute came into existence in January 2010, with the registration of the Muslim Institute Trust at the Charities Commission (Charity Reg. No. 1137088) and a new Board of Trustees. The assets accumulated since the initial establishment of the Muslim Institute for Research and Planning in 1974, consisting of a building in Fulham Palace Road, London, were transferred to the new Institute. The original Institute has ceased to exit. The Muslim Institute is funded by the small income from the building and the fees paid by its Fellows.
- Merryl Wyn Davies
Appointed in May 2010 she is a writer and broadcaster with some 30 years of involvement with Muslim intellectual life. At the BBC she worked for Everyman, Heart of the Matter and Global Report and was a regular contributor to the Muslim magazine Afkar/Inquiry. Her books include Knowing One Another: Shaping an Islamic Anthropology and Darwin and Fundamentalism. In collaboration with Ziauddin Sardar: Distorted Imagination: Lessons from the Rushdie Affair and a trilogy on America from Why do People Hate America? to Will America Change?
- Hassan Mahamdallie
Appointed in September 2013 Hassan Mahamdallie was born into a large Indo-Trinidadian/English family. After completing an MA in Theatre Studies at Leeds University he worked as an actor, radical journalist, arts-in-education worker and Arts Council England senior diversity officer.
Hassan contributed to the book Tell It Like It Is: How Our Schools Fail Black Children (2005) and published a biography of radical artist William Morris, Crossing the River of Fire (2008). He edited the book Defending Multiculturalism- a Guide For The Movement (2011). His latest work is Black British Rebels – Figures from Working Class History.
Hassan is the artistic lead on a performance project, Loyal Enemy, based on the life of Marmaduke Pickthall. He is presently researching a one-woman play looking at the life of Somali nationalist leader and poet Sayyid Maxumud Cabdille Xassan. Hassan is a founder member of the campaigning organisation Unite against Fascism.
Critical Muslim is a quarterly magazine of ideas and issues showcasing ground breaking thinking on Islam and what it means to be a Muslim in a rapidly changing, interconnected world.
Critical Muslim is a project of Muslim Institute, London, which is a learned society of Fellows. It is published by Hurst and Co., a highly respectable publisher of books on Islam and the Muslim World, as a paperback book; and co-published by Oxford University Press (Pakistan), Westland Books (India), and distributed in the United States by Oxford University Press (USA). Each issue is devoted to a single theme, which also serves as the title of the individual book.
Critical Muslim is devoted to examining issues within Islam and Muslim societies, providing a Muslim perspective on the great debates of contemporary times, and promoting dialogue, cooperation and collaboration between 'Islam' and other cultures, including 'the West.' We aim to be innovative, thought provoking and forward looking, a space for debate between Muslims, between Muslims and others, on religious, social, cultural and political issues concerning the Muslim world and Muslims in the world.