Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray

Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray

Professor of Religious & Theological Studies at Cardiff University and the Founding Director of the Islam-UK Centre. I have written numerous articles and books about Islam and Muslims in Britain.

Location Cardiff


  • Thank you Abeer. Let's hope you are right that with awareness stigma will reduce. That's a research project for someone!

  • Thank you Naheed. It's a confusing area. In previous research, we found that people sometimes suggested something was religious (but was in fact cultural) as a way of disarming professionals!

  • Thank your Roderic. I think you are absolutely right about the attractions of chaplaincy roles compared to the imamate. We are just beginning to analyse a large dataset about the imamate in Britain which will highlight some of these issues...and our survey data clearly shows that more imams want and need support in helping their congregations with mental...

  • Dear Nazia. Thank you for sharing some of your struggles. I hope that as we move towards the end of the course you might identify with some of the support organisations we signpost. Take care.

  • Hello Sirpa. Thanks for your comment. You are right to point out that arranged marriages where coercion is involved are likely to be problematic - both for the man and woman. I'm hearing that more young Muslims are now active agents in their own marriage decisions, which is hopefully a good thing!

  • Thanks for your interesting question Ibrahim. I think there is definitely a need for more in-depth research that examines the link between mental health and socio-economic status. I wonder if any learners on the course have read any useful literature on this topic?

  • @RachelBeadle Hi Rachel - welcome to the course. I hope you find it helpful in your work. As the course has been running for a few weeks now, you should find plenty of material and comments that could be useful.

  • Thank you Mirazam - it's great that you bring your perspectives as an Imam to the course. Quite agree that long waiting times are very unhelpful.

  • This is a very interesting and useful insight...and you could well be right! I wonder how other practitioners might answer this question? It's interesting that it is more socially acceptable to believe in benign or positive spiritual beings/forces, but less so negative ones.

  • Thanks Roderic. This is only indirectly relevant but might be of interest to you - we did some research at Cardiff about the religious upbringing of Muslim children in the city, with a focus on those of primary school age. 'Muslim Childhood' was published by Oxford University Press - authors: Scourfield, Gilliat-Ray, Khan and Otri.

  • Thanks for reminding me about the MYH - they have done some excellent work. I wonder if other learners have come across them?

  • You have made a really good point here, Maryati. I'd never thought of it in quite this way before, but now I will! I think there is now much more awareness about how to build better mental wellbeing into our lives, such as regular use of apps like 'Headspace' or 'Calm'. Arguably, these provide a basis for having better mental health and coping capacity when...

  • Thanks for your comments here, Roderic. We are keen to benefit from learners offering this kind of precise feedback so that we can improve and develop the course going forward. Thank you.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts as a prison chaplain - and for your reflections on how we might use (or not) the contributions of Islamic scholars of the past in relation to the contemporary world. I wonder if other learners have considered the best ways to integrate past and current scholarship that has theoretical, theological, and...

  • Thanks for your comments Therese - I think the importance of people being treated as individuals - regardless of their background - comes through as very important in many places in the course.

  • Hi Diana. Welcome and I hope you find the course helpful, especially Week 3 where Dr Ali and Suhayl from the Beacon Counselling Trust look at issues of addiction! Do share your experiences and reflections.

  • Thanks Roderic - that's a nice way of posing the question.

  • Thanks Arzu - we are very much hoping that this course can help to build some bridges - enabling practitioners (Muslim or non-Muslim) to bring the spiritual (Islamic) perspective into their work with Muslims with mental health problems - if that seems appropriate.

  • Thanks Roderic. You clearly have a lot of valuable experience and knowledge which is helpful to read.

  • Thanks Roderic. There is a book to be published in the autumn this year about Islam in prisons, and especially the experience of converts. It's by Matthew Wilkinson. You might find it a useful read. Let me know if you want more details.

  • @ThereseGrace Thanks for sharing Therese. The research around Islam and Muslims in Britain with respect to gender is obviously extensive, but it does show some of the ways in which women can exercise a great deal of agency with respect to education, employment, and the operation of their homes. Of course, there are exceptions, but there is a saying in Islam...

  • Thank you Roderic. Your observation is an important reminder about trying to see each person as an individual and not making assumptions based on appearances or stereotypes.

  • @AdeelahMir Thanks for your reflections Adeelah. It might be worth noting that what you have described may not be typical for all...? And of course any sense of 'conflict' may be more or less intense, depending on circumstances and life-stage.

  • Dear Arzu. I'm so pleased to hear that you have found the video clip helpful. Your message is most encouraging to those of us who have been involved in the creation of the course. With regard to your question, I'm sure that it would be good if more Muslims were aware of/educated about the support organisations that have been established. We hope that this...

  • Thanks for this reflection Shamim. It seems to be particularly important (for Muslims, at least) to enable same-gender support. In some of my previous research, I've heard of Muslim women who would rather seeks pastoral support from a Christian female chaplain than a male Muslim chaplain.

  • Great you have been able to join in with comments, Husnara!

  • This is an interesting reflection, Therese. Gendered interpretations of religious texts arguably have quite a lot to answer for!

  • Good point, Naheed. I wonder if others on the course recognise this point?

  • Thanks Rachael - yes - I agree that Dr Yusuf is an excellent communicator and makes complex material easier to understand. I wonder if other learners share your hypothetical question to him...and whether anyone has some answers based on their experience?

  • Thanks Naheed - you are absolutely right to point to the complexity of the issues and the challenges of translating terms between different languages. I hope you find the later parts of the course helpful.

  • Thanks Husnara - I was interested to hear how lockdown provided an avenue for education and support for you.

  • Thank you Therese - that's a really interesting thought about the vocabulary that we use and the connotations of particular words. I wonder if others share your view?

  • Thanks Roderic - your perspectives as someone working in a prison context are interesting. I wonder if other learners have some thoughts about the relationship between personality disorder and mental health problems?

  • @HusnaraBegum-shohid Thanks Husnara and Roderic - we very much hope that this course will be an accessible way for Imams to acquire some understanding about mental health issues. If you have access to these networks, perhaps you could share information about this course?

  • Glad to hear you are familiar with the Lantern Initiative. We will be signposting to their work during the course!

  • Your experience of working with Muslim students is fascinating Janine. You are reminding us of the importance of the social context of people with mental health problems, and the need to take an individualised approach to their support.

  • Thanks Ibrahim - its interesting to hear how you find your faith supportive.

  • Thank you Shamim - these are all really useful and interesting comments. I wonder if other learners with relevant professional experience recognise these barriers too?

  • Hi Husnara - sorry to hear you have had problems. What device are you using? This may be something to raise with FutureLearn.

  • Thanks for your comment Shamim - do share information about this course with other students on your MA programme!

  • Thanks for this Roderic - this is really helpful to share.

  • Thanks Amina - we are very keen that our research is supportive of Muslim communities.

  • Hello Julia. The question of music is interesting and there are in fact a range of views. This is evident in the fact that the well-known British Muslim, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) has returned to recording 'Islamic' music again, and there are many other well-known Muslim artists and singers. Any music in a mosque would tend to be 'religious' or...