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Are freedom of expression and freedom of religion compatible?

All staff, students and the general public are welcome to attend this free public lecture, jointly jointly organised by the city parish and Southampton Solent University.

Refreshments will be available.


Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan

Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan is currently Senior Researcher in Islamic Studies at Quilliam, a think-tank specialising in Islamism and counter extremism that has published a number of recent reports about ISIS.

Usama is a trained imam, having memorised the Qur’an aged 11 and led mosque prayers for over 25 years; he is also a scientist with a PhD, MA and MSc from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College, London, as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

He has translated a number of Islamic texts from Arabic and Urdu into English, including the Islamic Foundation’s Way of the Prophet (2009). His latest academic papers address Islamic thought, law and scientific ethics.

He was a committed Islamist for 20 years, before a deeper understanding of the Qur’an and life enabled him to move on in his own thinking.

As a young man, Usama was one of the leaders of the Salafi Islamic movement in the UK that sent hundreds of fighters, including himself, to participate in ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan and Bosnia during the 1990s. In 2014-15, Usama has worked on Islam, politics and conflict resolution in Nigeria, Kosovo and MENA.

Professor Mona Siddiqui

Mona Siddiqui joined the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity in December 2011 as the first person to hold a chair in Islamic and Interreligious Studies. Prior to this she worked at Glasgow University directing the Centre for the Study of Islam.

Her research areas are primarily in the fields of Islamic jurisprudence and ethics, and Christian-Muslim relations. Amongst her most recent publications are a personal theological journey, My Way: A Muslim Woman’s Journey (IB Tauris, 2014);Christians, Muslims and Jesus (Yale University Press, 2013); and The Good Muslim: Reflections on Classical Islamic Law and Theology (Cambridge University Press,2012).

Her current monograph is on the legal and theological limits of hospitality (Yale UP 2015). She has held visiting professorships at several Dutch and American universities,including a Humanities Professorship at Cambridge University in 2014.

She is well known internationally as a public intellectual and a speaker on issues around religion, ethics and public life. She is a regular commentator in the media, known especially for her appearances on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day.

She has recently been elected to join the Nuffield Council of Bioethics. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, holds four honorary doctorates, and in 2011 was awarded an OBE for her contribution to interfaith services.

In 2014 she spoke on religion and politics at the World Economic Forum in Davos, as she is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Faith for the World Economic Forum. In 2015, she was named in the Debrett’s 500, a list of the most influential people in the UK. In 2016 she will give the Gifford lectures at the University of Aberdeen.

About the Wilberforce Dialogue public lecture

The Wilberforce Dialogue was established in 2009 by Rev’d Dr Julian Davies, city centre parish team leader and University Anglican Chaplain, to relate issues of faith to pressing socio-political, geo-economic and intellectual issues of the day.

It is called Wilberforce because of the close links between St Mary's and the area to the Wilberforce family, and Dialogue because of the famous exchange between Samuel and Huxley over the Origin of the Species in Oxford.

The Wilberforce family challenged the religious, social and political stereotypes of their day: the Victorian St Mary's church was rebuilt by the slave liberator's son Samuel Wilberforce, whereas his grandson Basil was the founder of the Saints and much of Southampton's social welfare provision in the Victorian period.