Dr Mustapha Sheikh

Dr Mustapha Sheikh


I have a degree in Islamic Law and Theology (Fath al-Islami, Syria and EIHS, Wales), an MSt in the Study of Religions (St Cross College, Oxford), a DPhil in Theology (St Cross College, Oxford), having previously taken a degree in Project Management at UCL. I have been a member of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Leeds since 2009, and have held visiting positions at Bangor University and Aston Business School. 

My work is distinguished in the field for its critical engagement with Muslim tradition that is attentive to the play between power and knowledge building; and for a scholarly approach grounded in both academic and traditional-madrasa training. I am at once an academic and a theologian. Evidenced in the scholarship I have developed is a conscious and self-reflexive centering of a Muslim subject position. This is articulated in my major piece of scholarship on Muslim intellectual history, Ottoman Puritanism and Its Discontents (Oxford University Press, 2016); in my engagements that I describe as the “critique of tradition” (see co-authored international peer-reviewed papers in Islamic finance); in my critique of orientalism/eurocentrism in Islamic Studies (see co-authored article, ‘Islam, Alcohol and Identity: Towards a Critical Muslim Studies Approach’); and in my work on Islamophobia (particularly my public engagement work on the definition of Islamophobia and associated outreach activities). These scholarly outputs contribute to and expand the range of examples of both Muslim Reformist Thought and Critical Muslim Studies (CMS). While the former is a well-established paradigm, the latter is an emerging field of thought and study that is being pioneered here at Leeds. 




A Treasury of Ibn Taymiyyah: Timeless Wisdom of His Words (Treasury in Islamic Thought and Civilisation) (Leicester: Kube Publishing, 2017

“refreshingly accurate…highly engaging, with elegant commentary, and adorned with footnotes referencing materials for further study.” – Shaykh Dr Yasir Qadhi, Dean of Academic Affairs, The Islamic Seminary of America

Ottoman Puritanism and Its Discontents: Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari and the Qadizadelis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

"Mustapha Sheikh's book is surely an important contribution to the field. His highlighting hitherto unknown texts and exploring their genealogy with careful comparative study sets an example for Ottoman intellectual history, and the dimension of the interconnected cultures of the Islamic East he sets forth to illuminate is something lacking in modern scholarship." Professor Marinos Sariyannis, Principal Researcher, Program of Turkish Studies, FORTH/IMS, Greece

"...Ottoman Puritanism and Its Discontents is a provocative intervention in the historiographical debates regarding the origins, motivations, and legacies of the Qadizadelis (Kadizadelis)...Sheikh's quest for the sources and influences animating al-Aqhisari's views results in meticulous side-by-side comparisons not only with Ibn Qayyim but between the Majalis and both Ibn Taymiyya's Iqtidaʾ Sirat al-Mustaqim and Birgili Mehmed's Tariqat al-Muhammadiyya. Students of Islamic studies, and of the Ottoman early modern era generally, will be indebted to Sheikh for his enlightening demonstration of the sources’ intertextuality...the book's insights regarding 17th-century Ottoman revivalism and its relationship to broader historical trends, including developments in the present day, will surely open up discussion on more productive lines and encourage scholars to explore the textual tradition of these phenomena." Professor Madeline C. Zilfi, Department of History, University of Maryland.

Detailed reviews of Ottoman Puritanism are available here and here.


'Qadizadeli Revivalism reconsidered in light of Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari's Majalis al-abrar', University of Oxford, Theology Faculty, St. Cross College (awarded 2012)

This thesis can also be found on the British Library Ethos site here


M.Sheikh, 'The Political Economy and Underdevelopment of the Muslim World: A Juridico-Philosophical Perspective', Arab Law Quarterly, 2018. Co-authored with M. Shahid Ebrahim (Durham University).


M.Sheikh, 'Islam, Alcohol and Identity: Towards a Critical Muslim Studies Approach', Reorient: Journal of Critical Muslim Studies, 2018. Co-authored with Tajul Islam.


M.Sheikh, 'Taymiyyan Tasawwuf meets Ottoman Orthodoxy: Reformed Sufism in the thought of Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari', The Muslim World, January 2018.


M.Sheikh, 'Debt Instruments in Islamic Finance: A Critique', Arab Law Quarterly, 30/2, 2016. Co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim (Durham University).


M.Sheikh, 'The Mudaraba Facility: Evolution, Stasis and Contemporary Revival', Arab Law Quarterly,  29/3, 2015. Co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim (Durham University).


M.Sheikh, 'Taymiyyan Influences in an Ottoman-Hanafi Milieu: The Case of Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, July 2014.


M.Sheikh, 'Hybrid Islamic Finance Instruments: An Usuli-Rationalisation', Arab Law Quarterly, 28/3, 2014. Co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim (Durham University) and M. Osman Salleh (Bank Negara Malaysia).


M.Sheikh, 'The Political Economy and the Underdevelopment of the Muslim World', co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2171175

M.Sheikh,'Debt Instruments in Islamic Finance', co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1960498

M.Sheikh, 'A Critical Study of the Mudarabah Facility in Islamic Finance', co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1977216

Papers in progress:

M.Sheikh, ‘The Zanj and the Decolonial Imagination’, co-authored with T. Islam (estimated publication late 2020).

M.Sheikh, ‘Bilal al-Habashi: A Decolonial Symbol’, co-authored with T.Islam (estimated publication late 2020).

M.Sheikh, ‘Mawlana Maududi’s Forgotten Vision for Islamic Economics’, co-authored with M.S. Ebrahim, M. Ishaq (estimated publication 2021). 


‘The Qadizadelis and Sufism’ in Routledge Handbook of Sufism, edited by Lloyd Ridgeon (London: Routledge, 2020).


‘Fatwa on the Necessity of Opposing Islamophobia’, co-authored with T.Islam, for the Defining Islamophobia campaign. https://www.islamophobia-definition.com/endorsements/scholars-fatwa/


Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought: Texts and Contexts from Al-Banna to Bin Laden. Roxanne L. Euben and Muhammad Qasim Zaman (eds), British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 39 (2), 2012. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13530194.2012.709710


'Iklhas and the Assimilation of Tawhid,' Wisdom, July-Aug 2008 (Erkam Publishing).

'The Story of Dhu l-Qarnayn', Wisdom, Jan-Feb 2010 (Erkam Publishing) pp. 17-18.


'The Story of Musa and Khidr', Wisdom, July-Aug 2009 (Erkam Publishing), pp. 21-23.


'Ibn 'Aijba's commentary on Qur'an 18:28 from al-Tafsir al-majdi', Wisdom, Mar-Apr 2009 (Erkam Publishing), pp. 25-27.


'Ibn 'Aijba's commentary on Qur'an 51:55 from al-Tafsir al-majid', Wisdom, Jan-Feb 2009 (Erkam Publishing), pp. 31-33.


Conferences, Symposia and Public Talks

3 November 2020: ‘A Tale of Four Rivers: Rethinking Qur’an 47:15 in Light of Hanafi Juristic Discourse’. Paper presentation (webinar), School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh.

14 December 2019: ‘The Qadizadelis, the Muhammadan Way and the “Second Canonisation” of Hadith’. Paper presentation for the Ottoman Hadith Symposium: Scholars, Works, Problems. Isar Vakif, ISAM, Istanbul. 

15 November 2019: ‘The Madrasa and the University: Building a Sustainable Future’. Lecture delivered with Dr Tajul Islam for the Faculty of Islamic Studies and the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Punjab, Lahore.

13 November 2019: ‘The obligation of making hijra from Islamic Studies to Critical Muslim Studies’. Paper presentation at the International Conference on Religion and Society, University of Punjab, Lahore. This conference was organised in collaboration with the University of Leeds.

13 November 2019: ‘Tackling Islamophobia: cross border and cross-cultural strategies, opportunities and challenges’. Panel member, University of Punjab, Lahore.

7 July 2019: ‘Decolonising Muslims: From Islamic Studies to Critical Muslim Studies’. Paper presentation on joint panel with Dr Tajul Islam (University of Leeds) and Professor Hatem Bazian (University of Berkley California), Palestine Expo 2019, Olympia London. 

26 June 2019: ‘Un-mooring orientalist assumptions about Muslims and their law’. Paper presentation at BRISMES 2019 conference, ‘Joining the Dots: Interdisciplinarity in Middle Easter Studies’, University of Leeds.

2 May 2019: ‘Migrating from Islamic Studies to Critical Muslim Studies’. Paper presentation at the 2nd Critical Muslim Studies workshop, University of Leeds.

31 January 2019: ‘Critical Muslim Studies: A post-Orientalist ground for the critique of tradition’. Paper presentation at the Percorsi di Resistenza in Medio Oriento e Nord Africa/Paths of Resistance in the Middle East and North Africa conference, XIV Convegno SeSaMO, Torino.

13 December 2018: 'Islam, Alcohol, Identity: A Critical Muslim Studies Approach'. Talk given at the Al-Mahdi Institute, Birmingham. More info here.

26 October 2018: ‘The Erasure of Islam in Decolonial Thought’. Talk given at the ‘Challenging Academic Debates: Situating Decolonial Science, Art and Faith in the Syllabus conference’, celebrating the Black History Month at the University of Leeds. The talk is available here.

23 June 2018: ‘The Critique of Tradition: A Critical Muslim Studies Approach’. Paper presentation at the workshop, ‘Towards a Decolonial History of the South: Beyond Utopianism and Orientalism’, Granada (Spain).

18 October 2017: 'Sacred Knowledge and Safe Spaces'. Talk given at the public event, 'A Theology of Tolerance: Amimul Ehsan's Ecumenism', University of Leeds. Video can be viewed here.

3 July 2017: 'What's in a Genre? The Disputed Status of the Hadith Qudsi', Studies in the Religious and Historical Texts of Early and Medieval Islam panel, Leeds International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds.

6 Dec 2016 - Apr 2017: 'Schooling Islam: Criticality, Identity, Change'. Sadler Seminars series, co-convened with Dr T. Islam. Website is here.

19 November 2016: 'Canon to Critique: The Future of Islamic Education', Being Human Festival 2016 event delivered with Dr T. Islam at the Bait ul Aman Mosque, Bradford. Video can be viewed here.

4 July 2016: 'Digestifs and Dutch Courage in the Age of Muslim Empire', Food, Feasting and Famine in the Islamic World panel, Leeds International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds.

24 May 2016: Invited speaker: 'Just Jihad: The Ethics of Warfare in Islam', International Military Religious Leaders Conference, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.

4 February 2016: Invited speaker: 'Islam and Economic (Under)development: A Political Economy Perspective', Durham University Business School, Durham University.

8 June 2015: 'Exploring the Possibilities of Taymiyyan Infusions in Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari's Conceptualisation of the Mystical Path, with Reference to the Notion of al-Tariqat al-Muhammadiyya', 'Ibn Taymiyya Among the Mamluks and the Ottomans: Reception, Transmission and State of the Art' international workshop, University of Bologna.

25 April 2015: Invited Speaker: 'Islamic Legal Methods: Study of Sadd al-dhara'i, Ijtihad and Fatwa', 'Journey through Usul' seminar series, Madinatul Uloom, Bradford.

28 January 2015: Invited Speaker: 'Ibn Taymiyya: His Life, Works and Legacy', 'Muslim Thinkers' seminar series, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

4 April 2014: 'Taymiyyan Influences in an Ottoman-Hanafi Milieu', British Association of Islamic Studies Inaugural Conference, University of Edinburgh.

27 June 2012: 'Reflections on the Arab Spring of 2011 and its Aftermath', Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds.

1 February 2012: 'Violence in Istanbul: Ottoman Puritanism in the 17th Century with Reference to the Qadizadelis', Research Seminar Series, Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds.  

28 January 2012: Co-organiser of symposium, 'Teaching Islamic Studies: Methodological Concerns, Practical Solutions", University of Leeds and Islamic Studies Network.

10 December 2011: 'Reviving the Spirit of the Mudarabah Facility through the Participating Preferred Ijarah Facility', co-presented with Prof M. Shahid Ebrahim (Durham University), 'Analytical and Empirical Research in Islamic Finance, Management, Economics and Law' conference, Aston Business School.

15 May 2011: Invited Speaker: 'Muslim Cultural Diversities in Britain', Luther King House, Manchester.

22 March 2010: Invited Speaker: 'Challenges facing a People of Scripture: British Muslims, Active Citizenship and Faithfulness to the Qur'an', Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM).

17 February 2011: Invited speaker: 'Shari'a: Mercy in Diversity', Leeds ISOC, University of Leeds. Video can be viewed here.

3 March 2009: Invited Speaker: 'Muslim Minority Fiqh in the West', Marmara University postgraduate seminar, Istanbul.

15 January 2008: Invited Speaker: 'Women in Islam', Abingdon European Society, Oxford.


  • Director of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Co-Director of the Iqbal Centre for Critical Muslim Studies

Research interests

My major research interests are in Islamic law and legal theory, Muslim reformist and decolonial thought and critical Muslim studies. I have written on the thought of the 14th century Damascene jurist-theologian Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. Taymiyya (d. 1328), focusing especially on his influence upon 17th century Islamic revivalism; my recent book for Kube Publications, A Treasury of Ibn Taymiyya, is a fusion of faith-based and academic thinking on this great scholar. I have several papers with Professor M. Shahid Ebrahim (Durham University) on the reform of Islamic Finance, and more recently, I have developed an interest in the Hadith Qudsi, particularly its role in shaping both Muslim doctrine and praxis.

To learn more about my latest research activities, please visit the Iqbal Centre for the Study of Contemporary Islam, of which I am Co-Director.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • Member of British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)
  • Member of British Association of Islamic Studies (BRAIS)

Student education

Postgraduate Supervision

I am happy to supervise PhD research in all areas of Islamic Studies. I am currently supervising the following doctoral projects:

Mohammed Ali Rizvi (UK): 'The Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan and the Barelwi Movement'.

Claudia Radiven (UK): ‘A Critical Study of the UK’s Prevent Strategy'.

Sitara Akram (UK): 'Riba Revisited: A Genealogical Study'.

Sajda Khan (UK): ‘Modelling Prophetic Behaviour: The Problem of Muslim Integration in Britain with Lessons Drawn from the Prophet's Biography’.

Abdurahman Albalawi (KSA): ‘A comparative study of the comprehensibility and readability of four English translations of the holy Qur'an’. 

Abeer Aldawsari (KSA): ‘The challenges of a mixed-Gender working environment facing women in Saudi Arabia’.

Ahoud Aldhafeeri (KSA): ‘A comparative study of twelve English translations of Qur’an-bound terms in Sūratal-Nisā’.

Rushna Ali-Sadler (UK): ‘Birth and belonging in this sceptre'd isle: How free are free choices in (re)formulating identity for young Muslim women in London's East End?’

Mahboob Hussain (UK): ‘Jewish anecdotes in Qur'anic exegesis’.

Ayse Kotan (Turkey): ‘Towards a decolonial education: A research on Muslim education’.

Sanah Mehnaz (UK): ‘The concept of honour within Islam and Muslim communities’.

Sumeyye Sakarya (Turkey): ‘Transformation of political Islam as a paradox of political being: Between "to be" and "not to be"’.

Ahmet Topal (Turkey): ‘The role of Arabic language in istinbāt al-hukm within the context of criminal law’.

Successfully completed PhDs:

Nur Kamaruzaman (Malaysia): ‘The application of the Hudud ordinances in the Malaysian context’ (2020).

Haroon Bashir (UK): ‘To free the slave or enslave the free? Reading and re- reading slavery in the Islamic tradition’ (2020).

Mohammed Abed (KSA): 'Al-Mahdi, the Imamate and Bay’ah: A Critical Hadith Analysis in Twelver Shi’i and Sunni Canonical Literature’ (2020).

Farasat Latif (UK): ‘A comparison of four medieval Muslim historians' narratives of Saqifa’ (2020).

Riyad Naseef (KSA): ‘Kinayah as a figure of speech in the Qur'an: an analysis of four English translations’ (2019).

Hizer Mir (UK): 'Naming the Nameless: Islamicate Understandings and Interpretations of "Religion" and "Secularism"' (2017).

Marzouq al-Suheil (KSA): 'Hadith-Amali Sessions: A Historical Study of A Forgotten Tradition in Classical Islam' (2015).

Taher Hamed Adheidah (UK): 'Forced Marriage in the British Muslim Community from an Islamic Law Perspective: A Critical Study' (2015).

Mansour Alshammari (KSA): 'Takfir and Terrorism: Historical Roots, Contemporary Challenges and Dynamic Solutions' (2013).

Research groups and institutes

  • Arabic
  • History
  • Centre for Religion and Public Life
  • Conflict
  • Cultural studies
  • Digital cultures
  • Digital Cultures

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>