Back to top

Looking Ahead: cultivating a learned society and imbuing social activism

This year the Muslim Institute turns fifty, and we are looking to build on what we have historically done best: cultivating a learned society and imbuing social activism.  

What is a learned society? It is about pursuing excellence in thinking collectively as a community to understand the problems facing us all.  Social activism is about applying that thinking to making a real-world difference.

In July we will hold our Annual Ibn Rushd Lecture again at the splendid Art Workers Guild in London.  Named after the twelfth century Andalusian intellectual polymath known in Medieval Europe simply as Averroes, Ibn Rushd is credited for pulling Europe out of its dark ages.  

We have listened to feedback from fellows and supporters to hold events outside of London. On Sunday 28th May the Institute will host a book launch at Leeds Civic Hall of Islam & Natural Philosophy: Principles of Daqiq al-Kalam by Professor Basil Altaie, published by our friends Beacon Books. The book presents the works of theologians regarding Natural Philosophy including their views on space, time, motion, matter and the rest of the natural world. We are also advanced in our planning of a new annual lecture series in the North entitled the Ibn Khaldun Lectures, named after the fourteenth century North African scholastic giant considered the founding father of sociology.

To wrap up the year, we will retreat again to the auspicious surroundings of Sarum College situated in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral for three days and two nights for our Annual Winter Gathering joined by distinguished speakers to debate and discuss in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere. This year’s theme will be around the fiftieth anniversary of the Muslim Institute. Details to follow.

The Muslim Institute recently celebrated a decade of its flagship quarterly journal, Critical Muslim.  A publication that ‘seeks new readings of religion and culture with the potential for social, cultural and political transformation of the Muslim world and beyond’. We look forward to the impact of the ideas developed on the pages of Critical Muslim to raise the quality of debate, journalism and writing in our communities and beyond.

And now to social activism. The Muslim Institute will look to channel is intellectual resources to invest and uplift our local communities.  This year we will launch a £10k Community Empowerment Fund to support grassroot organisations and individuals in our most neglected and overlooked communities. The Fund will seek out and promote excellence and achievement in education and in the community. The Fund will be in memory of the late Merryl Wyn Davies, a Welsh Muslim scholar, writer, broadcaster and former director of the Muslim Institute, who died in 2021.  She was a champion for the marginalised and an unapologetically working-class woman down to her bones.  The Fund will be co-sponsored with the Halal Food Authority, a body that has a shared history with the Muslim Institute. Look out for further details.

Over time, the learned society and social activism will complement each other as two sides of the same coin.

So it is going to be a busy year, insha’Allah.  We would like to thank Samia Rahman, our former director, for her passion and commitment for over a decade running the work of the Institute. She will be missed and we wish her all the best in her future endeavours. We will start recruiting for the role shortly, so get in touch if you are interested or know someone who is.

Please join our mailing list to be the first to receive details of our events and activities. If you would like to become a Fellow of the institute and receive complimentary copies of Critical Muslim and priority/complimentary places at our events then please also get in touch.

Asim Siddiqui is deputy chair of the Muslim Institute and can be contacted on [email protected].

May 2023