I am originally from London but have lived in Wales since 1993: my interest in studying Islam developed through an unconventional route. I worked in radio production and presentation in the UK and abroad. This activity included several years with the BBC, working in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Bush House (home of the World Service). It was an invaluable experience for what I have been doing since, especially as I'm so interested in politics, current affairs, and their relationship to religion. I also worked elsewhere in broadcasting and print media.

I later found myself working and travelling in the Middle East in a job that allowed a certain amount of spare time. I had access to a good book collection, started reading about the region's people, history, culture and religions - and became 'hooked'. After exhausting the library, I wanted more and decided to study the subject further at university. Going to university was a surprise for me. I'd never thought about it much at school and didn't come from an academic background. I just wanted to get out of the classroom as quickly as possible!
Having worked before my studies, it took a while to get into the culture shock of university life. My 'years out' were helpful, especially as I became increasingly interested in Islam-related subjects.

My studies gave me time to develop an interest in the history of Islam and its relationship with 'the West', especially regarding the flow of ideas and concepts. My journey from traveller to 'academic' occurred when I focused on the contemporary issues influencing Muslim societies and their reflection on historical patterns during my university studies in Kent, Durham and Wales. I was particularly interested in the phenomenology of religion and the impact of religious symbols and language on spirituality. I was also concerned with the issues of identity and historical representation associated with Islam and Muslims in Britain, and this has influenced a lot of my academic work.

My work has taken me to exciting locations - including research in Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Some of my postgraduate work was closer to home, focusing on Muslim communities in the UK, undertaking interviews and discussing contemporary concerns - especially relating to decision-making based on primary sources, including the Qur'an. I enjoyed talking to people while conducting hundreds of interviews with individuals and organisations, which I analysed in my Ph.D.

I have always been interested in current affairs - this was already time-consuming in the pre-internet era. When I discovered I could access content online, my time was no longer my own! I combined my interests in contemporary Islam and computers into my research.

Results have included the books Virtually Islamic, Islam in the Digital Age, iMuslims, Hashtag Islam and Islamic Algorithms. My work has been translated into several languages. I was a Subject Coordinator for the Higher Education Academy's Philosophy and Religious Studies Subject Network, including responsibilities for developing its Islamic Studies Network. I am a Senior Fellow in the Higher Education Academy. I am the Principal Investigator for the ESRC-funded Digital British Islam project (2022-) and Co-Investigator for the CHANSE-funded Digital Islam Across Europe project.

I approach Islamic Studies as a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary subject, enabling people to draw upon different disciplines, skills and perspectives to interpret various issues. It's an exciting subject which attracts many people from different perspectives and worldviews. I've had the privilege of engaging in dialogue, healthy discussion, and - at times - stimulating arguments (and disagreements!) on different issues. There's plenty of room for different angles on many themes within the subject area. The important thing is to possess or obtain the appropriate academic tools to discuss these different issues, and I have sought to pass these on to the students and postgraduates during my academic career.

Outside of my family, my interests include exploring Wales, photography (including the photos on this website), and music (playlists range from Natasha Atlas and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to blues, rap, punk and dub reggae).


In 2023, I was interviewed by Chris Deacy as part of his Nostalgia podcast series, discussing my background (primarily the broadcasting elements) and how I became an 'academic'.