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Riyaz Timol

Dr Riyaz Timol

Research Associate in British Muslim Studies

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 29208 74884
John Percival Building, Room 5.49B, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


I work as a Research Fellow at Cardiff University's Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK. My research interests include ethnographic methodology, intergenerational transmission of Islam in Britain and the relationship of Islam with modernity. My disciplinary approach is within the sociology of religion with particular reference to the theoretical contributions of Peter L. Berger.  I teach the MA module 'History and Development of Muslim Communities in Britain', supervise several postgraduate students and help deliver the innovative online course Muslims in Britain: Changes and Challenges.  I am the Principal Investigator of a major four-year project examining the lived experiences of British Imams and the co-editor of a special issue of the international journal Religions exploring  'Leadership, Authority and Representation in British Muslim Communities'.

Ph.D. thesis:

Public writing:

Media appearances:

Conference organiser:

Public speaking:














Book sections





Understanding British Imams (Principal Investigator)

Imams are the largest group of Muslim religious professionals in Britain who work principally within mosques leading prayers, delivering sermons and providing guidance to their congregations. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that this role is being expanded to encompass pastoral care, chaplaincy, charity work or wider community projects such as inter-faith activity or civic events. Further, the pressures of a post-9/11 and 7/7 socio-political climate, in which counter-terrorism measures become increasingly conflated with integration issues, have foregrounded the imam as a figure that may guide his flock in either constructive or destructive ways.  Yet, somewhat paradoxically, the British imam has only rarely been the subject of in-depth ethnographic research. Generously funded by the Jameel Research Programme, this project aims to fill this lacuna by conducting the most detailed and rigorous study ever undertaken of British imams; and communicating the results, and interest in Muslim religious leadership in the West more generally, to many beneficiaries. The project will transform our understanding of British imams and create a lasting reference point for future research on Muslim religious professionals.

For more details, please visit the project website.

Science and British Muslim Religious Leadership (Co-investigator)

What does science mean to British Muslim religious scholars? How is it understood, debated and taught in British Islamic institutions? What do attitudes towards science tell us about the relationship between Islam and modernity?  While it is common to hear claims in the media about Islam and Muslims being 'anti-science', virtually no research has been conducted on what Muslim religious leaders actually think about scientific topics. This collaborative project based at the University of Birmingham will fill this gap by exploring the views of Muslim leaders (the 'ulama) about science, and how they engage with scientific issues in their day-to-day roles.

For more details, please visit the project website.

Building Positive Relationships among University Students across Religion and Worldview Diversity (Steering Group Member)

For more details, please visit the project website.


Undergraduate teaching

  • Introduction to the Study of Religion
  • Islam in the Contemporary World
  • Living Islam: Between Text and People
  • Islamic Studies Dissertation Tutor
    • I have supervised undergraduate dissertations on a broad range of topics including Islamic philosophy and mysticism, Middle Eastern religio-political movements, South Asian culture and diaspora, Islamophobia, religion and media, Islamic art and culture, Sunni and Shia theology, Sufism, Islamic feminism and gendered sartorial practices.

Postgraduate teaching



Honours and awards

  • 2018 - Ph.D. thesis shortlisted for the BRAIS – De Gruyter Prize in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World
  • 2012 - awarded Jameel scholarship for Ph.D. study
  • 2004 - awarded prize for best undergraduate dissertation in English Literary Studies

Professional memberships

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of
    • British Sociological Association (Sociology of Religion sub-group)
    • British Association of Islamic Studies
    • Muslims in Britain Research Network
    • British Association for the Study of Religions

Academic positions

  • 2017 - Present, Research Associate in British Muslim Studies, Cardiff University
  • 2015 - 2018, Islamic Studies Dissertation Tutor, Manchester University

Committees and reviewing

Co-editor of Special Issue " Leadership, Authority and Representation in British Muslim Communities" in the international journal Religions.

Peer reviewer for

  • Journal of Classical Sociology
  • Journal of Contemporary Religion
  • Journal of Church and State
  • Numen – International Review of the History of Religions (Brill)
  • Religions


I am currently co-supervising two Ph.D.s:

  • Fatou Sambe - Converts and the Next Generation of British Muslims
  • Moamer Khalayleh - Engaging Contemporary Atheism Through the Conceptual Tools of Ashʿarī Theology

I am interested in supervising Ph.D. students in the areas of:

  • Experiences and training of British imams
  • Career Trajectories of British Dar al-Uloom (Islamic Seminary) Graduates
  • Conversion and apostasy in contemporary Islam
  • Movements of Islamic revival in Britain
  • British Muslim identity

Current supervision

Fatou Sambe

Fatou Sambe

Research student

Moamer Khalayleh

Moamer Khalayleh

Research student


  • British Muslim Studies
  • Religious Authority
  • Islamic Revival