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CM12: Dangerous Freethinkers

October-December, 2014

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.


Ziauddin Sardar argues that freethinkers can be dangerous in numerous ways, James E. Montgomery examines the radical freethought of the ninth-century thinker Jahiz, Oliver Leaman wrestles with Ibn Rushd’s dangerous idea, Robert Irwin explores the myths surrounding the great Sufi mystic al-Hallaj, Bruce Lawrence thinks that Al-Biruni is the greatest freethinker of all time, Aziz al-Azmeh explores Abbasid culture and the universal history of freethinking humanism, … Read More

Read the Reviews of ‘Mecca: The Sacred City’

‘A beautifully rendered account… Sardar surveys modern Mecca with a love that is mixed with a profound sense of disappointment and loss. Yet the book that results is a major achievement and a hugely enjoyable and important study of one of the world’s great cities’.

–        The Observer


‘For the young man who grew up with the Ka’bah on the living room wall, and who spent part of the 1970s trying to promote a more sustainable hajj under the auspices of a Saudi university, the comedown has been terrible. Now Sardar, one of Britain’s most prominent liberal Muslims, … Read More

Read Ziauddin Sardar’s interview in the Daily Telegraph

‘Mecca has been turned into Disneyland’ More

Mecca, The Sacred City

 Bloomsbury, London, 2014

MekaMecca is the heart of Islam. It is the birthplace of Muhammad, the direction towards which Muslims turn when they pray and the site of pilgrimage which annually draws some three million Muslims from all corners of the world. Yet Mecca’s importance goes beyond religion. What happens in Mecca and how Muslims think about the political and cultural history of Mecca has had and continues to have a profound influence on world events to this day.

In this captivating book, Ziauddin Sardar unravels the significance of Mecca. Tracing its history, from its origins as a ‘barren valley’ … Read More

East-West in Postnormal Times (Editorial)

Ziauddin Sardar

East West Affairs 1 (1) 1-12 January-March

OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat

When Rudyard Kipling wrote these lines in ‘The Ballad of East and West’, they were applauded and became a raging success because they expressed precisely how the world was viewed in the heyday of Empire. Unfortunately, mental structures long outlast the work of human hands. Ideas conquer more territory and maintain more authority than all the armies of the Queen Empress eulogized by Kipling, who was … Read More

Freeze Framing Muslims

Hollywood and the Slideshow of Western Imagination

Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies

Interventions Vol. 12(2) 239-250 2010


Western images of Islam and Muslims have been frozen in history and are recycled with mundane regularity. These ‘freeze frames’ emerged at the beginning of Islam and have, over centuries, acquired certain key elements and descriptors. Association of Islam with promiscuity and licentiousness was common during eight and tenth centuries. The Crusades added war-like violence to the picture, and embedded Islam within the concept of evil. Two further elements, barbarism and despotism, were supplied by the humanist movement of the fourteenth … Read More

Ibn-e-Safi, BA

Ziauddin Sardar

Critical Muslim 4: Pakistan? 133-142 October 2012

When I visited Bahwalnagar in May 1975, I found little had changed. A new generation of goll guppa­­-wallas, ­chaat-walla­s and paan-wallas had taken over the stalls in Railway Bazaar. It was still the direct route from the Railway Station to our house in the centre of the town, where we lived and I grew up. I had left the city at the age of nine, when my parents migrated to London. And I expected no one would know me. Indeed, they did not know me. But they recognised me: I was … Read More

The Future of Arab Spring in Postnormal Times

Ziauddin Sardar

American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 30 (4) 125-136 Fall

To understand how the Arab Spring may evolve over the coming years, we have to understand its specific context. The ‘revolutions’ across the Middle East are not just a product of discontent and fury against dictatorships; after all, the Arabs have been raging against their rulers for well over half a century. The Arab Spring is also a creation of a particular period of time, a time where globalisation, interconnection and instant communication are the norm, and authority and political legitimacy are in flux. It is a period … Read More

CM11: Syria

July-September, 2014

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.

cm1111Peter Clark explores the roots of the Syrian crisis, Robin Yassin-Kassab explores revolutionary culture, Sam Hamad dissects the Islamist opposition, Rasha Omran rejects the notion that sect can be a homeland, Ella Wind pursues an inside perspective on the Syrian uprising, Malu Halasa samples the local lingerie of Aleppo, Afra Jalabi agonises over a photograph of a lost child, Amal Hanano recalls the massacre of Hama, Frederic Gijsel … Read More

CM10: Sects

April-June, 2014

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.

cm10sectsZiauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies put sectarianism under the scalpel; Ebrahim Moosa suggests the Sunnis, the majority Muslim sect, need to rethink their history; Imranali Panjwani explains what it means to be Shia; Faisal Devji explores ‘the idea of Ismailism’; Francesco Cavatorta thinks that not all Salafis represent a threat to Islam; Mohamed Nawab bin Mohamed Osman joins the Caliphate movement of Hizb-e-Tahrir; Zacharias Pieri goes on … Read More

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