Conversations on Islam and the Human Sciences


This project is funded by the Templeton Religion Trust and is a collaboration between the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford and the Initiative on Islam and Medicine at the University of Chicago. The overall aim of this project is to fill a major lacuna within academic discourse on the scholastic traditions of Islam and the human sciences. Truly, the core challenges for the Islamic tradition as it engages the human sciences emerge from competing ontological visions, epistemic frameworks, and theologies of life and living. Within this broad area of scholarship, we will be focusing on the relationships between Islamic theology and metaphysics on the one hand, and biomedicine on the other; and how theological and metaphysical constructs within Islam interface with the science and practice of medicine. Additionally, our outputs will address the question of integration: how might scientific knowledge inform, and work with, the various Muslim theologies on the nature of being and life. By bringing together theologians, medical practitioners and intellectual historians, the project seeks to initiate conversations about these challenges and provide resources for dedicated research at these intersections. 

Activities and Outputs



Seminar Series on Islam and Biomedicine at Oxford Center for Islamic Studies



Retreat and Multidisciplinary Symposium at University of Chicago


Video Links

Production of a scholarly volume Edited Book

Scholarly Cohort

Dr. Aasim I. Padela is a clinician, health researcher and Islamic studies expert whose scholarship lies at the intersection of community health and religion. He utilizes diverse methodologies from health services research, religious studies, and comparative ethics to examine the encounter of Islam with contemporary biomedicine through the lives of Muslim patients and clinicians, and in the scholarly writings of Islamic authorities. His work seeks to develop intellectual frameworks through which the Islamic theology (both moral and scholastic) can engage with contemporary natural and social scientific data. 

Dr. Afifi al-Akiti is trained as a theologian and philologist in both the Islamic and Western traditions. His doctoral work involved a systematic study of the works of the great scholastic theologian of Islam, al-Ghazali (d. 1111), on metaphysics and natural philosophy. His research focuses on relationships between Islamic theology, philosophy and science and he has expertise in medieval Islamic astronomy.

Mufti Kamaluddin Ahmed is a final year DPhil candidate in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford. His thesis focuses on the relationship between textual traditions and legal reasoning in the intellectual history of Islamic law in the third Islamic century. He was a lecturer for five years at Aga Khan University, Karachi, where he designed and taught a module on Islamic Bioethics as part of a Masters in Bioethics degree program co-sponsored by Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Health (NIH). He holds a Bachelors from the University of Chicago and a Masters from the University of Oxford and is also a classically trained Islamic scholar having earned the ʿālimiyyah and iftāʾ degrees after many years of full-time study.

Professor Peter E. Pormann is a Professor of Classics and Graeco-Arabic Studies at the University of Manchester. Recent publications include two special double issues The Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic ‘Aphorisms’(Oriens, co-edited with Kamran I. Karimullah; 2017), and Medical Traditions (Intellectual History of the Islamicate World, co-edited with Leigh Chipman, Miri Schefer-Mossensohn; 2017–18) and three edited books: La construction de la médecine arabe médiévale (with Pauline Koetschet, 2016); Medicine and Philosophy in the Islamic World (with Peter Adamson; in press); and 1001 Cures: Contributions in Medicine and Healthcare from Muslim Civilisation (in press).

Professor Ahmed Ragab is the Richard T. Watson Associate Professor of Science and Religion at Harvard Divinity School, affiliate associate professor at the department of the history of science, and director of the Science, Religion and Culture program at Harvard University. Ragab is a historian of science and medicine, and a scholar of science and religion. He received his M.D from Cairo University School of Medicine in 2005, and PhD from the Ecole Pratiques des Hautes Etudes in Paris in 2010. He is the author of “The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion and Charity” (Cambridge University Press, 2015). He is also an elected member of the Commission on History of Science and Technology in Islamic Societies and of the International Society for Science and Religion.

Professor Ayman Shabana is an Associate Research Professor and Director of the Islamic Bioethics Project at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q). His teaching and research interests include Islamic legal history, Islamic law and ethics, human rights, and bioethics. He is the author of Custom in Islamic Law and Legal Theory (Palgrave 2010) in addition to several academic journal articles, which appeared in Islamic Law and Society, Journal of Islamic Studies, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Hawwa, and Medicine Health Care and Philosophy.

Dr Mehrunisha Suleman is a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge. Her research involves an analysis of the experiences of end of life care (EOLC) services in the UK, from the Muslim perspective. Before joining CIS, Mehrunisha completed a DPhil thesis in Population Health at the University of Oxford titled “Does Islam influence research ethics?” She also has a BA in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Cambridge, and graduated with a medical degree and an MSc in Global Health Sciences, from Oxford University. She has worked with Sir Muir Gray on the Department of Health’s QIPP Right Care Programme. She has been involved in the design and construction of Population Based Accountable Integrated Care Systems, as well as developing an online tool for commissioners, clinicians and patient groups on health care systems design. She was co-editor of the NHS Atlas of Variation for Diabetes and Liver Disease. Alongside her university training and work in the NHS, she has been studying the Islamic Sciences with Sheikh Akram Nadwi and more recently with Professor Tariq Ramadan. She completed her Alimiyyah degree with Al Salaam Institute in 2013. She has also been appointed as an expert for UNESCO’s Ethics Teacher Training Programme.

Dr. Asim Yusuf is a Consultant Psychiatrist with a special interest in Islamic Spirituality and Mental Health.He has received twenty years of rigorous theological training at the hands of masters of Islamic law and spirituality, and has been granted an ijaza (formal authorization) to instruct students in the art and science of Islamic thought by scholars from four continents. He is the founder and Director of the Path to Salvation Diploma in Classical Islamic Studies, one of the largest Muslim grass-roots teaching organisations in the UK, and of the Islamic Ethics and Global Citizenship Initiative. He serves on the advisory panel of the Islamic Medical Ethics Council, as well as in an advisory capacity to a number of community initiatives and charities. He has authored four books on diverse aspects of Islam, with a focus on classical spirituality.