Mansur Ali

Mansur Ali

I am a Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cardiff University. I am interested in Islam and ethics, and the intersection of theology with sociology.

Location Cardiff


  • @DebraWinstanley There is a Prophetic saying that waswasah is caused by a jinn called Walhan. Now it is not clear if the saying is to be taken literally or metaphorically as walhan literally means 'severe confusion'. In situations like this, we advise people to read a'udhubillah (seek refuge from the devil). If the waswasah is causing OCD-type syndromes,...

  • Dear Iman, thank you for your offer. Please do get in touch with us.

  • Thank you for your comment Hayat. Spiritual healing does have its place. We discuss this later on in the course, but yes, more younger generation Muslims are cautious of spiritual healing.

  • This is a very important observation Sobia. As an imam, I get women contacting my wife to ask me questions.

  • enjoy the course

  • Nice to have you on the course Ira

  • The reference is to Qur'an chapter 20.

  • Hi Moshe here is a passage from the Qur'an on Moses at the burning bush
    '8) Hath there come unto thee the story of Moses? (9) When he saw a fire and said unto his folk: Wait! Lo! I see a fire afar off. Peradventure I may bring you a brand therefrom or may find guidance at the fire. (10) And when he reached it, he was called by name: O Moses! (11) Lo! I, even...

  • I think I understand your point, but I'm going to mull over it a bit more so that I have internalized it. Sometimes tomorrow.
    best wishes.

  • Aah sorry, I misread you. 'While we are at it, I don't recall male names with female grammatical gender (endings?) taking feminine verb forms.' This is exactly my point. grammatical gender does not correspond with ontological gender. Grammar has its own internal logic which has got nothing to do with the natural world.

  • Hi Mark famous Arabic names such as Hamza, Talha and Usama are grammatically feminine as are the names Musa, Yahya and Isa (the alif maqsura in Arabic is also a signifier of the feminine). Thanks

  • Dear Mark, I just checked the wiki page you kindly posted. The page only discusses the morphology (tasrif) of the broken plural. It does not discuss the syntax of the broken plural or its relation with other words in the sentence, therefore it is not surprising that this point is not mentioned.
    Happy learning.

  • Dear Mark thank you for query. Not to detract from the original post: In Arabic the verb can either come before the subject or after it. If the verb comes before the subject it is always in the singular conjugation irrespective of the number of subjects. nasara Zayd (Zayd helped), nasara Zayd wa Uthman (here are two subjects but the verb is singular...

  • Dear Christopher this is an intriguing question. would you kindly elaborate on this a bit more bearing in mind that I'm not a physicist 'Mansur, are you aware of any interpretations of how God's will is applied in Quantum Physics?'

  • If you study early Christianity, pre-Nicean creed (321 AD), you will find that there wasn't one neat understanding of the relationship between God and Jesus. The Ebonites and the Arians believed that he was a Prophet of God. Others believed that he was a demi-God etc.

  • Dear John, the Qur'an condemns the doctrine of trinity and yet calls these very Christians who adhere to this doctrine 'people of the Book'. When we talk about Islam accepting previous scripture, we do not only refer to the the canonical collections but even the apocrypha, the pesudiepigrapha, the protoevangelium. For example the immaculate conception (Mary's...

  • Dear Moshe, to give you one example. Islam understands Prophets to be highly spiritual and moral human beings. This is essential for their message to be accepted, as no one will take an immoral person seriously. Narratives of Prophets in Books like Genesis where Noah is made drunk by his daughters and then indulge incest, or that David got Uriah killed because...

  • A good book to read on this subject is Sherman Jackson's Islam and the problem of Black suffering.

  • Dear all the theological paradox between everything happens with God's wills vs. freedom has engaged many Muslim theologians in the past. A school of Muslim theology (known as the Ash'arite) explained this by introducing a new terminology called 'kasb' or occasionalism. It's a complicated theory, but this is what it means in summary: Nothing happens without...

  • I'm afraid those are the boundaries. The minimum requirement to be recognized as a Muslim theologically. Sociologically there are many people who say that they are Muslim and yet do not believe many of these things. That's a different thing altogether.

  • Most of the converts that I have asked this question to have said that they are still worshiping the same God in Islam as they used to pre-Islam. Only their perspective on God has changed.

  • Dear Mark as Amanda mentioned, there is no neutral gender in Arabic. Everything is either a male or a female. However, grammatical gender does not have to correlate with ontological gender. The name Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus) are grammatically feminine word in Arabic. The broken masculine plural is referred to by a singular feminine pronoun as in Qalat...

  • Dear Christina here is a link to a fascinating speech on Islam and human rights by professor Sherman Jackson. "Western Muslims & Human Rights: An Alternative Framework?"

  • Thank you Christina for your kind words

  • Thank you all for participating. I hope it was a pleasurable experience for you.

  • Thank you Glenn for your observation. In our research we also found that some chaplains felt that their loyalty to their institution was questionable because they were Muslim. This was not the rule, fortunately.

  • Dear Joyce, please see my post above on alternative names for chaplains.

  • Dear Lindy, thank you for your thoughts. Currently there are about 450 (give or take some) chaplains in the country. Muslims have been in chaplaincy since the 90s. We observed that a slow theology of Muslim chaplaincy is being formed. Although some chaplains met with prejudice (especially in the early days), things have got better for them.

  • Thank you Sharon for this observation. Unfortunately our research has shown that there isn't a critical mass or critical yeast of chaplains who are able to influence outside of their institutions. Muslim chaplains are not making massive impact on the community, but we can sense some trickles of their influence seeping in. Lets be hopeful.

  • Dear Diana, please see my post above. Thanks

  • Interesting points you make there Heather. In our research we found that some people/institutions consciously did not use the term chaplain because of its association with Christianity. Here are some alternatives:

    Islamic chaplain
    spiritual adviser
    inter-faith adviser
    One chaplain said that 'I might as well tell people I’m from Mars rather than...

  • hmmm .... interesting points you make there Janet. In our chaplaincy research we asked chaplains who are they chaplains for and most of them replied for everyone. In other words they are chaplains who happened to be Muslims, Christians or Hindus and not Muslim or Islamic chaplains. You can read more about the research...

  • Mansur Ali replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    A Catholic priest once said to me, 'lets all work to be a fruit bowl and not soup pot'

  • This article may be of interest to some of the contributors: Islam and the cultural imperative

  • Good observation Hasnan. Where would you locate this ummah? In Britain, middle east? Is it political, spiritual, pan-Islamic, pan-arab, nationalistic? Would like to hear your thoughts on this.

  • Dear Mr Cant and the rest of the contributors, here are some figures taken from the 2011 census on Muslim demographics. These are broad classifications, you can see the breakdown by ethnicity in the reference i provide below:

    White Muslims: 210,620
    Mixed: 102,582
    Asian: 1,830,560
    All Black: 272,015
    Other (includes Arabs): 178,195

    Dr Sundas Ali,...

  • Dear Mr Cant, you seem to reduce a very complex sociological phenomenon to a simple race issue by essentialising Islam with South-Asians. While South-Asians tend to do have large families they are not representative of the whole picture of the British Muslim landscape. Here is an article on the growing number of white British converts (5,000 a...

  • Thank you Frances, in addition to your very good observation, i'm copying a comment made above for your perusal
    'in addition to self-segregation we can't overlook another sociological phenomenon which can help explain non-integrated society, 'white flight'.
    You can find more information on this here.


  • Dear Steve, in addition to your astute observation, lets not forget the principle of supply and demand. Migrants from the Common-wealth countries and elsewhere came for a better life, however this was facilitated by the fact that the host country needed cheap labour. Near the end of last week, we viewed the video from Cardiff. That video was commissioned by...

  • Dear Irene, in addition to self-segregation we can't overlook another sociological phenomenon which can help explain non-integrated society, 'white flight'.
    You can find more information on this here.


  • Dear Mr Fluck thank you for your news update, we were all yearning to hear this. Now that you have told us, can we please get back to the topic at hand? If you have further comments about ‘the Today’ programme, please take it up with their production team and Mr John Humphries. I’m afraid we are in no position to talk on their behalf. We can only comment on...

  • Some pearls of wisdom from Quilliam

    You will also find some poetry by Quilliam here

  • Thank you Celia for this, how interesting. I would like to visit Inverness one day. What I found really interesting when I went to Rome was that the windows of St Paul's Cathedral were donated by the Ottoman Caliph.

  • Also the 'Mutiny' of 1857 is seen as the war of independence by the subaltern.

  • Thank you Dot for your personal insight.

  • You are welcome

  • Thank you Pamela, you may want to read up on the freed-slave Ayuba Suleiman Diallo. Professor Gilliat-Ray gave a lecture on him at the National Portrait Gallery. You can find more information here

  • Dear Beatriz and Christina glad you liked it. One of our moderators, Riyaz Timol has written a fascinating article on Shakespeare and Islam called, 'Putting the Shaykh into Shakespeare'.
    You can access it here

  • Glad you liked it

  • Dear all tonight we will be hosting professor Humayun Ansari, author of 'The Infidel Within' His lecture is a unique look at Muslims in the 1800s/1900s in Britain by one of the foremost experts of the topic
    The lecture promises to be interesting, and I think for those involved in working with Muslims, it is absolutely essential.
    If you have an hour to...

  • Dear Daniel you would find George Makdisi's book 'The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of learning in Islam and the West' interesting

  • Dear Pauline you kind find more about this on the British Museum website

  • Dear all, I would suggest, ' A Journey Through the Holy Qur'an' by Yahya Emerick as the first translation anyone should read. Yahya is a white American man whose first language is English so understands the subtle nuances of English. In addition he is also a school teacher and understands pedagogy. His translation is indeed a walk through where he fills in the...

  • Hi Elaine, according to Islamic understanding of the nativity story, Jesus was born to Mary miraculously without a father. His mother was the daughter of Imran and Hanna. Mary's cousin was Yahya (John the baptist) the son of Zakariyya. So he was from the Bani Israi'l, i.e. Jewish.

  • Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Muhammad was born naturally

  • You will normally see the letters 'AS' after their name which is alayhis salam. Which means salutations on them.

  • Dear Gary, you are correct. However Muslims believe that the very recitation of the Qur'an is an act of worship even if it is done in 'parrot fashion'. For them this experience is spiritually uplifting. Also the learning of passages of the Qur'an by memory even though it maybe 'parrot fashion' has another function, which is the preservation of the original...

  • Dear Muhammad, thank you for your question. This is a theological question. Although as you rightly point out that to mention Peace Be Upon Him is not a formality but an obligation, however, the issue is not as black and white. It is only required to say the 'Peace be Upon Him' once to fulfill the obligation. Secondly, in a gathering of people, when one person...

  • Hi Liliana here is a response that I wrote to someone else

    'Generally Muslims will read only the Qur’an and not the other scriptures. However, we do find that a number of Muslim scholars have written sympathetic commentaries on the Bible for example the 19th century Indian Muslim reformist and founder of Aligarh University Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan has written...

  • Hi Beatriz I have responded to this question above. I you follow me you can see my response to other fellow students.

  • Hi Edis, you are correct in all of your understanding here.
    The division of the chapters of the Qur'an are indeed according to the length of the chapters. This was according to Arabic literary convention. However, Muslims also believe that this particular arrangement was divinely inspired and the Prophet himself instructed the chapters to be arranged in this...

  • Hi Pamela here is a similar response I gave to another participant

    'Hi Alice thank you for your question. Muslims understand from the Qur’an that Jesus was given a scripture called the ingeel (which literally means good news). It’s not the same as the New Testaments of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, although Qur’anic scholars do believe that aspects of the...

  • Hi Maria, SAW is sometimes abbreviated by Muslims to mean sallallahu alayhi wa sallam (Peace and blessing of God be on him), a prayer uttered by Muslims after mentioning the name of a Prophet.

  • Hi Ramon, Muslims do not follow the Gospel. They follow the Qur'an. However, by Qur'anic mandate they have to believe in the previous scriptures. These scriptures should not be confused with the New Testament or even the canonical Bibles.

  • Hi Jeremy Muslims do not believe that the Torah is in Arabic. There are many non-Arabic words in the Qur'an as you mention.

  • Thank you as well for your contribution

  • Dear Jeremy, words in the Arabic language have primary and secondary meanings. The word Islam first and foremost means to submit or surrender, i.e. to surrender to the will of God. By submitting to the will of God, one is required to follow God’s guidance and teachings which include introspection and worship as well as having good relationship with family and...

  • Hi Sarah, there are 25 Prophets mentioned in the Qur'an by name. The Qur'an mentions that every community was given a Prophet/Messenger. Traditions count that there were 125000 Prophets and all Prophets should be equally respected. However the Qur'anic doctrine of Prophetology demands that they can't do immoral acts. Therefore some of the stories about the...

  • Although the Qur'an claims to incorporate teachings from the previous scriptures, such as belief in one God, life after death, to lead a good and pious life etc.

  • Mansur Ali replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Hi Alice thank you for your question. Muslims understand from the Qur’an that Jesus was given a scripture called the ingeel (which literally means good news). It’s not the same as the New Testaments of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, although Qur’anic scholars do believe that aspects of the Gospel of Jesus can be found in those Books. When Qur’an discusses the...

  • There is a chapter in the Qur'an called Mary. It discusses the nativity story.

  • Generally Muslims will read only the Qur’an and not the other scriptures. However, we do find that a number of Muslim scholars have written sympathetic commentaries on the Bible for example the 19th century Indian Muslim reformist and founder of Aligarh University Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan has written a commentary on the Bible. Similarly both Qur’an translators,...

  • Hello everyone my name is Mansur Ali and I'm a lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cardiff University. I'm one of the educators on this course. I really do hope that you enjoy the course.
    happy studying

  • Dear Oliver, I think you maybe missing the point. Islamophobia is not about silencing critics of Islam. Here in academia our own colleagues are the ardent critics of Islam. The way I see Islamophobia is when an irrational fear of the Islamic faith leads to physical violence against Muslims. I was spat in my face when I asked a gentleman in Liverpool for...

  • Dear Oliver I don't understand how you say you 'I understand that it happened in a different age in a very different culture.' and then say 'I just wish they would be willing to denounce the actions of Muhammad in this case rather than trying to pretend these Hadiths don't exist. Why would they be willing to denounce his actions if this practice was accepted...

  • Dear Just I think you hit the nail on the head when you say 'The idea that the State involve itself in private matters such as adultery upsets and revolts many non-Muslims.' only you've reached the wrong conclusion. As a scholar and lecturer in Islamic law I can tell you that the Shari'a does not delve in to people's private matter. It only becomes the State's...

  • Look at how many people were under suspicion on the back of the Jimmy Saville case (operation Yewtree), but no one sees these as a mistrust of celebrity radio presenters or people of a particular age in the white British community. These are seen as individual incidents. And yes no one reported these crimes (and if they did no one did anything about it) until...

  • @ Ann the issue is not about trust or mistrust. The issue here is about psychological profiling and maligning a whole community (2.7 million people) due to a few individuals. Back in the 70s, 80s and 90s, when the word 'mugging' was used the image that used to be conjured in people's mind is that of a black Afro-Caribbean, although there is no legal definition...

  • I find it quite silly that due to the behaviour of some horrible men who happened to be Muslim, Pakistani and Asian a whole community and religion is being maligned. Do the imams really need to talk about this in the mosque? What have these heinous crimes got to do with the Islamic faith? And yet surprisingly Imams up and down the country spoke about this...

  • Hi Gary just to probe you on something you said earlier 'the atrocities to which I allude, have without question their genesis and inspiration in religious belief.' Do you really believe that they are actually inspired by religious belief? Can one not argue that they are a result of Western intervention in Muslim countries i.e. political which is then given a...

  • I read the Satanic Verses and was really really angry about it. It's not about freedom of speech, or censorship. It's the bigger picture. Post-colonial scholars will say its to do with the people in power showing off that they have power and not caring about the subaltern feeling. Yes it is true that majority of the people during the Rushdie affair did not...

  • Dear Lorna please see my post on the Ummah paradox in week three and how Muslims identify as a group.

  • Thank you Frank

  • What is really interesting is that Muslims (and I mean the immigrant community here) readily identify in Wales as Welsh-Muslims or British-Muslims. I have yet to come across an immigrant Muslim living in England who identifies as an English-Muslim and not British-Muslim. Why do you think this is the case?

  • Thank you Roger

  • Dear Antonia the article does not suggest that the face veil is contrary to the Qur'an. It only suggests that within the broader understanding of covering up there is no one particular Islamic dress. What needs to be understood is that the face veil is not literally mentioned in the Qur'an. It can be established through the Qur'an through interpretive...

  • Dear David and Eileen, I have to confess that this attitude is changing in the younger generation of Muslims (although not completely vanished) due to younger Muslims taking to religion more as well as having a different understanding of female shyness/humility (as a result of living in Britain) than their parents.

    In traditional Bengali society,...

  • Thank you both of you, this was exactly the point.

  • Glad you found it helpful

  • It should be understood that the above sociological factors that I've mentioned are not exclusive to Muslims. Given the situation, any community will react like this. It is not a religious condition but a human one.
    Thank you

    @Omer - off the topic a bit.... Interesting to read the Muhammad Iqbal as a philosopher/poet was a pan-islamicist and as a...

  • c. transcend the British reality (its to painful) to identify with a romantic idea of the ummah since it is not known where this umma is located. This transcendence manifests in a number of ways: i. violent extremism, ii. relief work in Muslim countries abroad.
    d. and there are those who in the midst of all of this are still trying to find a nomenclature and...

  • Dear Omer you have raised a very important and interesting question related to the ummah paradox: are all Muslims one or are they divided? It was interesting to hear about your description of how Muslims in Pakistan see themselves vis a vis the ummah. There are many complicated variables involved here with regards to , let me try to British Muslims. Let me try...

  • Also Stephen to add to what Omer khan has mentioned. You touch upon the question of authority and epistemology. It is true that Muslims submit to the will of God, however the Qur'an is only a book of 6000 verses. Not everything is spelt out. Islamic law in essence is the product of the jurist who in addition to the Qur'an also looks at local customs the status...

  • @ Omer. Dear Omer I will have to humbly disagree with you on this. Although we don't have a vocation of chaplaincy in Islam we certainly do have a strong theology of pastoral care. In chapter 2 of our book Understanding Muslim Chaplaincy (co-authored with Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray) we trace the development of this pastoral theology from the time of Muhammad...

  • @Stewart yes Imams are leaders and they lead the prayer, however its not necessary for a chaplain to be an imam. Also the chaplain's role goes beyond that of the imam's in many ways such as troubleshooting between clients and institutions, giving pastoral support to the family members of army officials etc.. You can learn more about Muslim chaplaincy from our...

  • @Erika, this is most certainly true. Muslims are not a homogeneous group. Next week we will look at religious, ethnic and cultural diversity. However what is interesting to think about is that Muslims themselves see themselves as a part of the global community (the Ummah). This is why a Bangladeshi Muslim will feel for what is happening in Syria or in...

  • Thank you Lorna and Noelle for your personal stories. The question then is not really about religion, colour or ethnicity. Its about deep-rooted insecurities of not knowing what the other is. What do you say about this?