We attempt to record as many of our events as possible so they can be enjoyed by anyone, anytime.
November 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of William Montgomery Watt's Inaugural Lecture as the first Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Scotland. Based at the University of Edinburgh's Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies until his retirement in 1979, Watt was a towering figure in Islamic Studies scholarship. Yet much has changed since Watt's day, and this special event therefore sought to both reflect back on Watt's contribution but also assess developments in Islamic Studies scholarship since Watt's seminal contributions.
Professor Carole Hillenbrand, Professor Fred Donner and Dr Richard Holloway were invited by the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary Word to deliver public lectures on Watt as a man and a scholar, as well as the development of Islamic Studies over the last half century.
Below you will find video recordings of Professor Hillenbrand's, Professor Donner's and Dr Holloway's public lectures along with written transcripts of each. Simply click on the relevant links to access the resources.
Welcome and Introduction
Uiversity of Edinburgh Senior Vice Principal Charlie Jeffery and Head of the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Tony Gorman, welcome everyone to this special event marking the 50th anniversary of Professor Montgomery Watt's Inaugural Lecture as the first Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Scotland.
'Montgomery Watt: The Man and the Scholar'
Professor Carole Hillenbrand, Professor Emerita of Islamic History, University of Edinburgh.
Prof Hillenbrand reflects on Prof Watt’s role in the development of Islamic Studies in Edinburgh during his time in the Department until his retirement in 1979, and his later writings, both published and unpublished, before developing an overall assessment of his scholarly achievements, not just about early Islam but including his more popular writings on a range of topics about Islam, both medieval and modern, and those interfaith issues which preoccupied him both personally and academically.
Carole Hillenbrand is an Honorary Fellow in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies in the University of Edinburgh, where she taught for many years. Educated in the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh, she was awarded the King Faisal Prize for Islamic Studies, for her book The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives in 2005, and has served as Islamic Advisory Editor for Edinburgh University Press since 1999. She was awarded an OBE for her services to Higher Education in 2009.
'The Study of Islam’s Origins since W. Montgomery Watt's Publications'
Professor Fred M. Donner, Professor of Near Eastern History, University of Chicago.
Prof Donner, author of Muhammad and the Believers (Harvard University Press, 2010), discusses Prof Watt's work and the assumptions underlying it before discussing what might be called the ‘revisionist wave’ that arrived in the 1970s and the challenges this revisionism raised. He then moves on to discuss the discovery of new evidence and how that has changed the picture, concluding with a review of the current situation with regard to the study of Islam's origins, including some words on recent research on the Qur'an text.
Fred M Donner is Professor of Near Eastern History in the University of Chicago. Educated at Princeton, with periods of study in the Lebanon and Germany, he is the author of The Early Islamic Conquest (1981), and Narratives of Islamic Origins: the beginnings of Islamic historical writing (1998).
'Committed Openness: a Glance at William Montgomery Watt’s Religious Life'
Dr Richard Holloway FRSE
In concluding the evening, Dr Richard Holloway reflects on Prof Watt’s contribution to the discussion of wider religious questions in Scotland, through both his publications and his role as a priest of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Dr Richard Holloway, FRSE is a Scottish writer and broadcaster and was formerly Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church
Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, CASAW and the Alwaleed Centre were delighted to welcome Egyptian writer, feminist and activist, Dr Nawal al-Saadawi to Edinburgh in March 2015 to speak to an audience of around 300 people on 'Patriarchy and the Rights of Women in the Arab World'.
Claire Chambers is a lecturer at the University of York and an expert in contemporary South Asian literature written in English and in literary representations of British Muslims. Her book British Muslim Fictions: Interviews with Contemporary Writers was published in 2011. This year Claire published, with Caroline Herbert, Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora: Secularism, Religion, Representations. She is currently completing her second book, Representations of Muslims in Britain, which traces the development of artistic depictions of UK-based Muslims from the eighteenth century to the present day.
A special seminar delivered by renowned Moroccan scholar Professor Mohamed Tozy exploring the more emotional elements of the jihadist movement. Chaired and translated by Dr Thomas Pierret, Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at the University of Edinburgh. Prof Tozy is the director of the School of Governance and Economy (EGE) at Université Mohammed VI in Rabat. Morocco's most renowned political scientist, Tozy was a member of the Consultative Committee on Constitutional Reform in 2011. His numerous publications on Islamism include the seminal Monarchy and Political Islam in Morocco (1999, in French).
The formalised representation of Britain’s Muslims to the government and other official channels reached a landmark in the late 1990s, with the establishment and public recognition of the Muslim Council of Britain. Since then, the questions of whether there is a need for such representation of Muslims, who should do it, how, and to what end, have been constant topics of debate. This seminar looks at how British Muslim representation has fared over the past two decades, and provides some perspectives on these debates, taking into account important factors such as the impact of securitisation in the wake of international and domestic events, multiculturalism policy, and developments within British Muslim communities themselves. Dr Khadijah Elshayyal joined the Alwaleed Centre in October 2014 as the centre's Postdoctoral Fellow on Muslims in Britain.
Venetia Porter is Curator of Islamic and Modern Middle East Art at the British Museum. She curated the British Museum exhibitions ‘Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East’ (2006) and ‘Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam’ (2012). In this lecture, Venetia explores the process by which contemporary art from the Middle East is both acquired and displayed at the British Museum.
Professor Charles Burnett of the Warburg Institute, University of London, one of the world's leading scholars working on the history of science in the Islamic World. In this special lecture, delivered in the stunning surroundings of the Royal College of Surgeons' King Khalid Building, Prof Burnett explores what happens when a scientific or philosophical work is translated from one religious culture to another, specifically from pagan Greece to Islamic Arabic and from Islamic Arabic to Christian Latin culture.
From August to October 2014, the University of Edinburgh's Main Library hosted a unique exhibition showcasing one of its most treasured manuscripts: the 'Jami‘ al-Tawarikh' or 'World History' of Rashid al-Din. Produced in 1314 and therefore celebrating its 700th anniversary, the Jami‘ al-Tawarikh represents a history of the world as it was known by the Monguls under whose auspices the manuscript was created. To celebrate the manuscript's 700th anniversary, the Alwaleed Centre hosted a unique event at the National Gallery of Scotland featuring lectures by the world's two leading experts on the manuscript: Professor Sheila Blair (Boston College) and Professor Robert Hillenbrand (University of Edinburgh). Both lectures were video recorded and can be viewed by clicking on the links below.
In the first of the two lectures, Professor Sheila Blair guides us expertly through the history of the manuscript and explores the artistic tropes and techniques employed by the artists who borrowed extensively from the artistic traditions of China.
In the second of our two lectures celebrating the 700th anniversary of Rashid al-Din's masterpiece, the Jami‘ al-Tawarikh or 'World History', Professor Robert Hillenbrand delivers a masterful account the manuscript's accounts of some important Abrahamic prophets, including Moses, Jonah and Sampson. Click the link below to watch the video which is complete with integrated powerpoint slides.
A discussion between Prof. Miroslav Volf (Yale Divinity School) and Prof. Mona Siddiqui (University of Edinburgh) on their books 'Allah: a Christian response', and 'Christians, Muslims, and Jesus’. There can hardly be a more fundamental question for Christians and Muslims than whether or not they believe in the same God. And what about Jesus: both Christians and Muslims have a profound respect for Jesus, but they appear to have radically different views of his status. Over the centuries there has been much antagonism and polemic about these questions, but in recent decades a much more positive dialogue has begun about them, and in this recording two of the major contributors to this dialogue discuss their recent publications devoted to these topics. Chaired by Prof Hugh Goddard, the Alwaleed Centre, University of Edinburgh. With apologies for variable sound quality.
A special lecture delivered by visiting scholar Professor Oddbjorn Leirvik, University of Oslo. This public lecture was organised in partnership with the Northern Scholars Scheme and and was part of a larger programme of engagements undertaken by Prof Leirvik during his visit to Edinburgh. We do not have a recordning of this lecture but Prof Leirvik has kindly allowed us to provide a transcription of his lecture which can be downloaded via the link below.
An interview with Fazlun Khalid, Founding Director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, ahead of his appearance at a conversation event at the Edinburgh International Science Festival reflecting on 'Cosmologies, Faith and the Environmental Crisis'. Professor Hugh Goddard asks the questions.
Delivered by Professor Bruce Lawrence of Duke University, this far reaching lecture was the opening plenary of the Inaugural Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies. The conference took place in Edinburgh on the 10th and 11th April 2014 and attracted over 150 people. Introduced by Professor Hugh Goddard, Director of the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World at the University of Edinburgh. You can download the accompanying Powerpoint slides for this lecture as well as a text version of the lecture by clicking on the links below.
A special lecture delivered by Aaqil Ahmed, Head of Religion and Ethics at the BBC. In an age where some say religion is the root of all evil and others the answer to everything, how does religion in the broadcast media play into this debate? Everyone seems to have an opinion on Muslims and Islam but a lack of religious literacy means the public have very little knowledge of the faith. Has TV a duty to ease social cohesion or expose the issues at the core of what is often referred to as a clash of civilisations? Professor Aaqil Ahmed has had over a decade at Channel 4 and the BBC deciding what people watch when it comes to Religion on the box including the acclaimed series 'The Life of Muhammad' (2011), and 'The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors' (2013). In this lecture, he sets out why he feels religion on TV is more important today than it ever has been. Part of the Inaugural Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies which took place on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th April 2014 at the University of Edinburgh.
Over the past few years a series of high-profile dialogues have been held between Roman Catholic Christians and Shi i Muslims, on topics such as 'Theology and Spirituality', 'Faith and Reason', and 'Ethics' (including Environmental Ethics, Bioethics, and Business Ethics). These conversations were arranged by significant institutions in Iran and the UK, and were held at different academic and monastic institutions. In this special event we hear from two of the architects of this dialogue, Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali and Dr Anthony O'Mahony, who are also the editors of the publications which emerged from them, about how the conversations progressed, and also about their assessment of the future of Catholic- dialogue. Organised in partnership with the University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy and part of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week.
A special talk delivered by Professor Jonathan Spencer, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh concerning Sri Lanka's significant Muslim population. Organised in partnership with the Centre for South Asian Studies.
A special lecture by Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Imam, Scholar and Assistant General of the Muslim Council of Britain. After the tragic murder of Lee Rigby there has been an unfortunate rise in attacks on innocent Muslims. Ibrahim Mogra addresses the question of how to bring communities together after events such as Woolwich, and how to deal with its many consequences. In partnership with the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association and part of Scottish Inter-Faith Week 2013.
A talk by renowned Aberdeen-based Sudanese author Leila Aboulela in partnership with the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World and the Encyclopaedia of Women in Islamic Cultures. Introduced by Professor Marilyn Booth, University of Edinburgh.
Delivered by Dr Olivier Esteves, Université-Lille-3 and part of the Muslims in Britain Seminar Series.
The launch in Scotland of a new report produced by the Alwaleed Centre at the University of Cambridge exploring female conversion to Islam in the UK. Featuring Project Leader Professor Yasir Suleiman, Laura Winterton (University of Edinburgh) and members of the project’s focus groups.
In the preface to his English version of the Qur’an published in 1734 George Sale wrote that the translations aimed to represent “the sense of the original”. The means of doing this, as well as the decision as to what the “sense” really was, however, differed greatly through the ages. The translators depended on the sources available - the Muslim interpretations or tafsir, and personal informants, Muslim or otherwise - but they were also conditioned by current attitudes to Islam, current tastes, and what they thought their readers would want to read. The lecture will survey European translations of the Qur’an from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century with particular emphasis on developments and changes in Germany (as well as in the rest of Europe) between 1600 and 1850. These developments would affect all modern versions of the Qur’an. A special lecture delivered by Professor Alastair Hamilton (the Warburg Institute, London) in the spectacular surroundings of the University of Edinburgh's Playfair Library. Part of the Islamic Civilisation Lecture Series 2013.
Delivered by Professor Attilio Petruccioli (University of Qatar) this lecture examines some landscapes of gardens in Iran, such as Isfahan and Kashan, Herat in Afghanistan and Agra, Mandu and the basin of Srinagar in India emphasizing the role of the Safavid dynasty, Timurid and Mogul in garden design and landscaping, the mutual influences and permanence or variation of compositional schemes. Hosted in the wonderful surroundings of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. Part of the Islamic Civilisation Lecture Series 2013.
A unique and unforgettable evening of music from Turkey, Iran, the Arab World and Andalucia. With special performances from Edinburgh-based acts Dunya Ensemble and Duo Hyperdorea and featuring short introduction to music in the Islamic world by Professor Hugh Goddard, Director of the Edinburgh Alwaleed Centre. Part of the Islamic Civilisation Lecture Series 2013.
In an environment in which writing by women was considered less valuable than that of men, it is unsurprising that poetry penned by women in early Qajar Iran (circa 1797-1848) has, for the most part, survived only in fragmented form. In this special lecture, Dr Dominic Brookshaw (University of Oxford) examines in detail three short lyric poems penned by three women poets. To date these poems have been treated as instances of sloppy misattribution. Dr Brookshaw will argue that these poems (and many others like them) should instead be read as evidence of an active culture of creative imitation within the world of women poets in the Qajar period; one that did not always include men. Part of the Islamic Civilisation Lecture Series 2013.
... Contestation & Interpretation Around the Census. A seminar led by Professor Paul Weller (Education, Health and Sciences faculty, University of Derby). Prof Weller is adviser to the census planning group in London and was joined for this special seminar by Amy Wilson, Head of Census Statistics in Scotland. Professor Weller's Powerpoint can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
In June 2013, the Alwaleed Centre was honoured to welcome Professor Akbar Ahmed to Edinburgh to discuss his new book "The Thistle and the Drone". Professor Ahmed is a world-renowned thinker and commentator on contemporary Islam. He served as Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK from 1999-2000 and now holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University, Washington DC. This podcast features Professor Ahmed's lecture outlining his book's key themes and arguments. This is followed by responses from Professor Crispin Bates (Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh) and Professor Hugh Goddard (Director of the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, University of Edinburgh). Both Professor Goddard's and Professor Bates' responses can be downloaded as PDFs via the links below. Sadly the recording equipment did not capture the introduction to the event delivered by Prof Goddard, but this can also be downloaded as a PDF by clicking on the relevant link.
In the first of two special lectures delivered at the University of Edinburgh in April 2013, Professor Gilles Kepel (Science Po, Paris) provides a compelling and enlightening overview of Islam in France, beginning with the first arrivals and ending with an indigenous, third generation French Islam.
A wide-ranging and incisive lecture by Professor Gilles Kepel (Science Po, Paris), one of the most important political scientists working today. Professor Kepel assesses the many factors which led to the uprisings across the Arab World and discusses future possibilities in the region.
A special seminar delivered by Dr Stephen Goodwin (Istanbul) and organised by the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh.
A special seminar my Mark Hill QC, expert on the law of religious liberty and the country's leading practitioner in ecclesiastical law. Mr Hill reflects on four recent employment cases involving religious belief and expression in the workplace which were taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Organised by the Edinburgh Alwaleed Centre and the the Centre for Law and Society, University of Edinburgh.
A special seminar led by Iqbal Khan, CEO of of leading international Islamic investment firm Fajr Capital. This joint seminar was organised by the Alwaleed Centre and the Sustainable Business Initiative and the Corporate Responsibility and Governance Network (University of Edinburgh Business School). Mr Khan's illuminating Powerpoint presentation can also be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
A seminar delivered by Professor Houchang Chehabi (International Relations, Boston University) exploring the often precarious status of religious minorities in Iran's legal system.
In the battle of the baptised versus the circumcised, Paul is the first and greatest knight. Imagine a Petrine or Jamesian Christianity triumphing instead of the Pauline version. Would it have survived the onslaught and intellectual appeal of a confident imperial Islam? The Pauline elements in Christianity truly distinguished it from its parent faith and it is these distinctive features that safeguarded it against Islam. This is a commentary on what is probably Paul's earliest and certainly most seminal letter, the epistle to the Galatian churches, an epistle that initiated the complete and irreversible rupture of the nascent Jesus movement from its established parent Jewish faith. Dr Akhtar's commentary contributes to inter-faith theological commentary while maintaining a rigorous scholarly interest in the purely exegetical dimension.
In advance of his seminar entitled "A Muslim philosopher reads Paul's Letter to the Galatians", Dr Shabbir Akhtar sat down with Professor Hugh Goddard (Director of the Edinburgh Alwaleed Centre) to discuss his life and work.
A special lecture by Dr Ed Kessler MBE as part of UN Inter-Faith Harmony Week. Dr Kessler is Executive Director of the Woolfe Institute, the UK's leading centre for the study of relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
It is often said that Jews, Christians and Muslims pray to the same God. The religious texts of the three religions appear to refer in many cases to the same prophets and other leading characters, and there is a tendency to think that these are all references to the same people. On the other hand, there is reason to think that the references to biblical and Qur'anic characters are so distinct from each other that they are not in fact references to the same people at all. An absorbing public lecture delivered by Professor Oliver Leaman, University of Kentucky.
A fascinating and timely talk delivered by Rabbi Mark Solomon as part of Scottish Inter-Faith Week 2012.
Rabbi Solomon is Rabbi of the Edinburgh and Manchester Liberal Jewish Communities, Associate Chair of the Rabbinic Board of Liberal Judaism and Interfaith Consultant for Liberal Judaism.
With responses from Shaykh Ruzwan Mohammed (Solas Foundation) and Professor David Fergusson (Principal of New College).
Chaired Professor Hugh Goddard.
A lecture by Dr Yuka Kadoi, Alwaleed CEntre Post Doctoral Fellow. For the last 1300 years, Muslim craftsmen have worked in a variety of media, skilfully transforming ordinary objects into elaborate works of art. In particular, carpets have played a central role in the socio-economic and material life of the Islamic world. This lecture explores some key protagonists who helped cultivate the appreciation of Islamic carpets as works of art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries including collectors, scholars and dealers. Part of the Islamic Civilisation Lecture Series 2012.
Delivered by Dr Bruno Abdul Al-Haq Guiderdoni, Director of the Lyon Observatory.
Copernicus, Galileo, Newton - names we all recognise as historic giants of astronomy But how many people have heard of Ibn al-Haytham, al-Khwarizmi or Ulugh Beg? We don't learn about them at school, but their influence is no less significant than their western counterparts.
What dropve Muslims to make such extraordinary progress in the field of astronomy and what is it about Islam that encouraged these visionaries to look up to the starts?
Chaired by Professor Andy Lawrence, Regius Professor of Astronomy, University of Edinburgh.
A lecture delivered by Professor Hugh Goddard, Director of the Alwaleed Centre, to a large audience in St Aloysius Church, Glasgow.
In April 2012, the Alwaleed Centre hosted a major conference exploring Muslim political participation on both a grassroots and governmental level. Eighteen of the twenty papers presented at the conference are available to listen to as podcasts. Just follow the link below.
Listen to conference podcasts
In April 2012, the Alwaleed Centre hosted a unique panel discussion at the Scottish Parliamnet involving Muslim representatives of the four largest political parties in Scotland. The discussion was chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui and attended by more than 130 people.
Jesus is a central figure in both the Christian and Muslim traditions. In this fascinating lecture, celebrated Muslim scholar Professor Mona Siddiqui OBE explores the figure of Jesus in the Bible and the Qur'an. This lecture took place in St Cuthbert's Episcopal Church, Edinburgh and we thank them for allowing us make this recording available.
In March 2012, Dr Rana Alsoufi (Ph.D University of Edinburgh 2011) and Mrs Azizat Amoloye-Adebayo (Ph.D candidate, University of Nottingham), presented their doctoral research on two different aspects of Shari'ah law.
Dr Alsoufi explored the theme ‘Power of Law: Problems in the contemporary application of Islamic Criminal Law of Hudud in relation to women’.
Mrs Amoloye-Adebayo asked the question ‘Islamic Law for Men? Or for Everyone? The dilemmatic question of a Muslim woman’.
Unfortunately our recording equipment let us down and a podcast is not available. However, Professor Hugh Goddard has prepared a two page summary of the presentations which can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking on the link below.
In February 2012, the Alwaleed Centre was delighted to welcome Dr Parveen Akhtar (University of Bristol) to Edinburgh. Dr Akhtar delivered a fascinating seminar exploring her research into patterns of migration between Pakistan and the UK, focussing particularly on class distinctions and the impact of migration on both countries. Here, Dr Akhtar discusses her research with Dr Timothy Peace, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Alwaleed Centre.
The first in our series of seminars exploring the experiences of Muslims in contemporary Britain. Dr Peter Hopkins reflects on his doctoral research into the lived experiences of young Scottish Muslims.
A seminar delivered by Cornelis Hulsman, Editor-in-Chief of the Arab-West Report, exploring the contemporary relationships between Muslim and Christian communities in a rapidly changing Egypt.
Following his seminar presentation, Mr Hulsman joined Professor Hugh Goddard (Director of the Alwaleed Centre) along with Dr Michael Marten and Dr Fiona Mccullum (Co-conveners of the "Christians in the Middle East Network") for a twenty-minute discussion exploring the key themes of Mr Hulsman's seminar.
Both the lecture and the conversation are available below.
A lecture delivered by Professor Hassan Rachik (University of Hassan II, Casablanca) exploring the distinctive qualities of Islam in Morocco.
A short ten-minute interview with Professor Rachik is also available to hear online. In this interview, Professor Rachik explores the key themes of his lecture with Professor Hugh Goddard, Director of the alwaleed Centre.
On 21st October 2011, the Alwaleed Centre hosted the second "Teaching Islamic Studies in Scotland" workshop bringing together lectures and PhD students working in the field of Islamic Studies (broadly defined).
The workshop feature contributions from a number of experts including:
Dr John Canning (Academic Coordinator of the Islamic Studies Network: "An Introduction to the Islamic Studies Network"
Dr Anicee Van-Engeland (University of Exeter): "Teaching Islamic law in a law school"
Dr Carool Kersten (King's College London): "Resources for Islamic Studies: teaching in Contemporary Islamic thinking"
The ideal introduction to the Qur'an from Professor Hugh Goddard, Director of the Alwaleed Centre. This fifty-minute presentation is perfect for anyone wanting to learn the basics about the Qur'an. No previous knowledge required!
Part of a study day delivered at Stewarton Academy, East Ayrshire, this podcast features Glasgow-based scholar Shaykh Ruzwan Mohammed and Edinburgh solicitor Safeena Rashid discussing Justice and Peace in Islam with Professor Hugh Goddard.
Click on the link below for more podcasts and videos from the Alwaleed Centre.