Clerical Authority and Official Islam: Navigating State and Society

Clerical Authority and Official Islam: Navigating State and Society

Tuesday, 21 November 2023 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm
ZOOM Webinars or in-person at University of Bristol
Professor Raihan Ismail
Dr Toby Matthiesen
University of Bristol
Contemporary Islamic Studies Programme

You are cordially invited to Professor Raihan's public talk in the Department of Religion and Theology Seminar Series at the University of Bristol.

Venue at University of Bristol: Room G.H01 of the Arts Complex (entry via 7 Woodland Road)

Please join by Zoom link to participate remotely: 

Password: 543792


Abstract: This talk examines the nature of clerical authority and its relations with the state and society after the Arab uprisings. It analyses how states in the MENA region continue to rely upon and utilise clerical authority for their own legitimacy and as a vehicle through which to assert their agendas. Some of these states weaponise 'moderate Islam' as well as 'calling for reform' to weaken detractors, including religious and non-religious actors. The talk will also analyse how clerical authorities navigate state assertions of power while maintaining religious credibility. The talk argues that partnerships between states and religious institutions have largely remained intact despite seismic political changes in the region over the last 15 years. This has been despite various instances of state intrusion into religious matters and instances of pushback from religious institutions.

Bio: Raihan Ismail is the His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford. She has held appointments at Brandeis University and the Australian National University. She is the author of Saudi Clerics and Shia Islam, and Rethinking Salafism: The Transnational Networks of Salafi Ulama in Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, both published by Oxford University Press. 


The talk will be followed by a Q&A and a reception of drinks and nibbles. 

All are welcome!