Interview with Muslim Scholar Ziauddin Sardar: ”Muslims yearn for real debate”

Ziauddin Sardar is a leading British-Pakistani Muslim scholar and critic. In this interview with Susannah Tarbush, he talks about the magazine “Critical Muslim” he founded and which he sees as an “intellectual, cultural, philosophical and creative backup” for the revolutions of the Middle East

In January a year ago, a refreshingly different kind of Muslim publication, the quarterly Critical Muslim (CM), was launched in Britain. Published by London-based C Hurst & Co, CM takes the form of an attractively-produced paperback book of over 250 pages. Its stated mission is to be a quarterly of “ideas and issues showcasing ground-breaking thinking on Islam and what it means to be a Muslim in a rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected world”.

CM‘s founder and editor is leading Muslim scholar, critic and public intellectual Ziauddin Sardar. Born in Pakistan in 1951, Sardar grew up in London where he still lives. He is a prolific and much-read writer: since the late 1970s he has written some 45 books as well as numerous articles and essays. Sardar’s CM co-editor is the prominent British-Syrian novelist, critic and blogger Robin Yassin-Kassab.

To mark the first anniversary of CM‘s launch, Qantara interviewed Ziauddin Sardar on the quarterly’s concept, first year of publication, and future plans.

“Everything you know about ISLAM is wrong” – The New Statesman special issue on misconceptions of Islam in Britain

The liberal and traditionally secular weekly The New Statesman dedicates its latest issue to prejudices against Islam in Britain. The issue, entitled “Everything you know about ISLAM is wrong”, features articles by ex-extremist Ed Husain, Tariq Ramadan and Ziauddin Sardar. The lead article calls for supporting British Muslims who are being alienated due to terror alerts and sensational reports. Strong prejudices prevail, as the last British Social Attitudes Survey has shown, and the article demands better integration models and ending the negative news coverage about Muslims.

Tariq Ramadan in his article deconstructs the simplistic portrayal of “bad” Muslims versus “good” Muslims, which people turn into visible and invisible Muslims. He explains how it is possible to be a moderate and openly practicing Muslim, who embraces democracy and is capable of giving reasonable political criticism. Ed Husain describes his Islamist past and the difficult journey away from the radical worldview and argues for a secular version of political Islam. Finally, Ziauddin Sardar reflects on the orientalism in Christopher Caldwell’s book on Islamic immigration, while Mehdi Hasan interviews Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s adviser on inter-faith relations.

Muslim Geographies

Speakers include: Tahir Abbas, Ziauddin Sardar, Claire Dwyer, Sarah Glynn, Peter Hopkins, Arun Kundnani, Reina Lewis, Anoop Nayak, Rachel Pain, Jane Pollard…

This event aims to provide a forum for debate about spaces that shape Muslim lives: 


  •   Everyday spaces: campus, home, street, city, workplace, etc
  • National and transnational spaces
  •  Past and present, real and imagined spaces
  •   Geographies of connection, relationships with non-Muslims
  •   Establish informed dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between academics and activists
  • The format includes:

  •   Presentations by researchers, panel discussions, round-table debate
  •   Lunch and drinks reception
  •   Public lecture and debate by Tahir Abbas and Ziauddin Sardar
  •   Invitation to participate
  • Abstracts for short presentations or other forms of participation such as proposals for panels are invited; Informal participation is also encouraged: simply register and attend.

    Deadline for receipt of participation proposals: Fri 7 December, 2007*

    Pre-registration required for catering and room planning; registration free before January 31; £10 thereafter.

    Convened by Richard Phillips (University of Liverpool), Naima Bouteldja (Transnational Institute) and Jamil Iqbal (Leeds Met University).

    Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, (Liverpool)