A historian by training, my research interests relate to religious and social transformation within Islam in the Indian subcontinent since c.1850. My work engages themes such as the changing role of the modern ‘ulama (Islamic scholars), new kinds of popular religious writing, and modern forms of Muslim public organisation and religio-political activism. I have conducted most of my research in north India, where I have worked in and through a number of contemporary Islamic educational and religious organisations.
Much of my research to date has focused upon Shi‘i Islam in South Asia, assessing themes such as Shi‘i revivalism, new forms of Shi‘i piety and ideas of martyrdom, and also relations between Shi‘i and Sunni Muslims. I am also working on a major new project concerning the living realities of Islamic law (shari‘a)in modern India, focusing in particular on how Islamic scholars have sought to perpetuate their legal authority and contemporary influence. I also sustain active research interests in: Islam and the urban public sphere; Islamic domestic comportment and the regulation of the Muslim family; and ideas of Islamic migration (hijrat) and their political applications among South Asian Muslims.
At Oxford, I teach broadly across both contemporary Islam and the contemporary study of world religions. I welcome enquiries from prospective graduate students.
Islamic revivalism and reform in the modern world; Islamic law; religious authority and authenticity within Islam; religion, Orientalism and imperialism; Western readings of religion, especially in the age of European empires; religion, nationalism and politics in modern South Asia (especially with regard to Islam and Hinduism); religion and conflict in South Asia.