Yasir Suleiman lectures at AUS on Contextualizing Islam in Britain

December 18, 2011

Professor Yasir Suleiman, a renowned scholar of linguistics and Arabic and Islamic studies, has recently given a thrilling lecture at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) exploring the challenges Muslims are facing and are posing in British society.

In his lecture, Suleiman said that there is perception that Muslims presents a demographic threat to the British society and some in the British society are afraid that Muslims are changing British values.

Suleiman, who is the His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa’id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies and Fellow of King’s College at Cambridge, argued that Muslims, Islam and the presence of mosques in Britain and many other parts of Europe have become symbols of threat to the national security of Britain and other Western countries.

“The presence of Muslims in Britain has been known to awaken some of the stereotypes held about Islam in the West, but this in no way stops Muslims from being active members of society. In fact Muslims in Britain have made an enormous contribution to British life in many fields, including medicine, business and commerce,” Suleiman said.

He argued that even though Muslims face a challenge of being under constant security watch in Europe and US following the September 11, 2001 and July 7, 2005 attacks, Muslims have been able to flourish and establish themselves well in their adopted countries.

“Muslims have put down permanent roots in their new environment. Islamic thinking will therefore need to accommodate the needs, rights and obligations of these Muslims in a ways which does not compromise their faith or citizenship,” Suleiman said.

In addition to the lecture,  Suleiman also conducted an interactive workshop with students from the Master of Arts in English/Arabic/English Translation and Interpretation (MATI) program at AUS. The workshop, entitled “Embargoed Literature,” focused on Edward Said’s work and considered the issue of the paucity of literary translations from Arabic into English.  Suleiman encouraged the students to consider whether this paucity could be primarily explained by orientalist/cultural prejudice or if other structural factors could help explain the situation.

Read more about Contextualising Islam in Britain.