• Scholars of the ICCI


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    Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad

    Professor of Islamic Law & Philosophy at Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran

    Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad completed his seminarian studies at the Fayzieh School in Qom, Iran, where he achieved the status of a mujtahid by the age of 25. Amongst his notable teachers are Allama Tabatabai and Shaykh Murtada Mutahhari, under whom he studied Islamic philosophy. His studies in Islamic Jurisprudence and Legal Theory were conducted by the likes of Ayatollah Mohammed Reza Golpaygani and Ayatollah Morteza Haeri Yazdi. Parallel to his seminarian education, Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad pursued secular academic studies, obtaining a degree in Islamic Philosophy and a Masters in Islamic Jurisprudence, both from Tehran University, before going on to earn his PhD in Law at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. He is the Dean of the Department of Islamic Studies at The Academy of Sciences of Iran, and a Professor of Law and Islamic Philosophy at Tehran University. He is recognised as one of the world’s most influential Muslims by The Muslim 500 for his scholarly work. In October 2010, at the Pope’s behest, Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad addressed the Synod in the Vatican and he was honoured as a prominent figure of Humanities in Iran at the 8th Farabi International Award ceremony in 2017.

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    Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain

    Senior Lecturer and Director of Al-Mahdi Institute

    Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain founded the Al-Mahdi Institute in 1993, and currently serves as its Director and Senior Lecturer in Islamic Legal Theory and Muslim Philosophy. For over twenty years, he has been at the forefront of developing and delivering advanced Islamic Studies, tailored towards equipping students with the skills to contribute meaningfully at both an academic and grass-roots level. He is continually publishing works in English that are aimed at addressing the challenges faced by Muslims living in contemporary societies.

    Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain was educated at the Madrassah Syed al-Khoei, London between 1985-1988, where he also taught Grammar, Logic, Islamic Jurisprudence and Legal Theory. He continued his seminarian post-graduate studies in Qom, Iran between 1989-93 and attended private training and research lessons between 1990-1994. Alongside his studies, Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain also taught in Qom across a wide spectrum of traditional Muslim scholarly disciplines. After returning to the UK, he was taught by Ayatollah H. Amini, who was a student of Ayatollah Khoei.

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    Dr Haider Hobballah

    Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies & Head of the Department of Hadith and History at Al-Mahdi Institute

    Dr Haidar Hobballah completed his introductory and intermediate levels of hawza studies in 1995 at the age of 22 and went on to undertake advanced studies with Sayyid Mahmud al-Hashimi al-Shahroudi. In 2004, Dr Hobballah graduated with a master’s degree in Quranic and Hadith Studies from the college of Usul al-Din. Thereafter, he received another masters in Islamic Law from al-Mustafa International University in 2016. He received his PhD in Comparative Religions and Christian Theology from the University of Religions and Denominations in 2020. Amongst his notable teachers are Sayyid Mahmud al-Hashimi al-Shahroudi, Shaykh Hussain al-Najati, Shaykh Baqir al-Irawani, Shaykh Wahid al-Khurasani, and Shaykh Abdullah Jawadi Amuli.


    As well as his hawza studies, Dr Hobballah worked as the editor in chief of various academic journals such as al-Minhāj al-Bayrūtiyya, Nuṣūṣ Muʿāṣira, and al-Ijtihād wa-l-Tajdīd. He was previously a member of the editorial board of the journal of Fiqh Ahl al-Bayt al-Takhaṣṣuṣiyya. He has authored two dozen books and numerous articles in the fields of jurisprudence, legal theory, theology, philosophy, and Quranic and hadith studies. Dr Hobballah taught intermediate level classes in the hawza for more than 15 years and began teaching advanced classes (baḥth khārij) in 2005 at the Hawza of Qom in jurisprudence, legal theory, hadith, and the study of narrators. In addition to his teaching and publications, he has also supervised many masters and doctoral theses in the seminary of Qom, al-Mustafa University, the University of Religions and Denominations, and the College of Usul al-Din. At Al-Mahdi Institute, he is the Head of the Department of Hadith and History and a Lecturer in Hadith Studies. He joined the International Centre for Collective Ijtihad in 2023.

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    Professor Seyed Mohammad Ghari S Fatemi

    Lecturer at Shahid Beheshti University and Al-Mahdi Institute

    Professor Seyed Fatemi pursued seminarian education for over 13 years in the Hawza illmiyya of Qom, Iran, where he studied Islamic Jurisprudence and Legal Theory under the supervision of renowned teachers including Ayatollah Montazeri and Ayatollah Mohammad Rohani. His studies in Islamic Philosophy were conducted under Ayatollah Javadi Amoli. Alongside his traditional education, Professor Seyed Fatemi also trained in Public Law at Tehran University, attaining both an LLB and an LLM. Following this, he was awarded a PhD from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manchester for research engaging with comparative human rights. He is currently a faculty member at Shahid Beheshti University and Al-Mahdi Institute, supervising PhD candidates and lecturing on the Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, Islam and Human Rights, and Legal Hermeneutics. He also teaches the Public Governance in Islamic Thought module, as part of Al-Mahdi Institute’s collaborative Masters in Islamic Studies with the University of Birmingham.

    Professor Seyed Fatemi publishes books and articles in both Persian and English on a range of topics, with a particular interest in the philosophical foundations of human rights, Islamic legal theories, and hermeneutics. The first edition of his book entitled ‘An Introduction to Human Rights in the Contemporary World, Concepts, Foundations and the Sources’, was published by the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights in 2004, and he is currently working on the third volume, which deals with Islam and Human Rights. Professor Seyed Fatemi is an associate member of the Iranian National Academy of Sciences, and Department of the Biomedical Ethics of the Iranian Academy of Medical Science.

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    Dr Ali Fanaei

    Director of Graduate Students, Department of Philosophy, Mofid University & Lecturer at Al-Mahdi Institute

    Dr Fanaei undertook traditional seminarian studies in Qom, Iran for over 17 years under renowned teachers including Ayatollah Montazeri, Ayatollah Syed Kazim Haeri, who was a student of Ayatollah Baqir al-Sadr, and Ayatollah Javad Tabrizi, who was a student of Ayatollah Khoie. He obtained a Masters in Islamic Theology from the University of Qom and after relocating to the UK was awarded a Mphil and PhD from the University of Sheffield for his research in moral epistemology. He is currently a faculty member of the Department of Philosophy at Mofid University, Qom, and a senior lecturer at Al-Mahdi Institute in subjects including Islamic jurisprudence, legal theory and hermeneutics. Previously, Dr Fanaei has lectured across academic institutions in Iran such as Shahid Beheshti University, Baqher al-Ulum University, and the Hawza Ilmiyya during which time he has supervised several MA and PhD candidates. His influential works have been published in both English and Persian through which he is being recognised as an important member of the select group of ‘enlightenment thinkers’ in Iran.

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    Dr Kumail Rajani

    Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Islamic Studies , University of Exeter

    Dr Kumail Rajani is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Islamic Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, where he completed his doctoral thesis. He is currently working on the Law, Authority and Learning in Shiite Islam project (http://www.lawalisi.eu/) with Professor Robert Gleave; the 5-year project, funded by the European Research Council, examines the emergence, development and operation of the Shiite legal system. Though primarily focused on the origins and development of Shiʿi hadith, his research includes Qurʾanic exegesis, Islamic law and legal theory, Ismaili studies, and Shiʿi studies more broadly. He has published both in Persian and English. His entry on ‘Hadith: Shiʿi’ is published in the online Oxford Bibliography of Islamic Studies and he has two forthcoming articles on Shiʿi hadith criticism and ʿilm al-rijāl which he co-authored for The Oxford Handbook of Ḥadīṭh Studies. He is also the founder of Shiʿi Dates Project (www.shiidates.net).


    Dr Kumail Rajani has undertaken seminary studies in Qum for over 17 years during which he attended the lectures of Ayatullah Sayyid Ahmad Madadi al-Musawi for 7 years and Ayatullah Shubayri Zanjani and Ayatullah Wahid Khurasani for 3 years. Whilst in Iran, he taught modules on hadith studies, comparative religion, history, Islamic law and legal theory at the Al-Mustafa International University and other educational and research institutions. Alongside teaching, he supervised and advised on several BA and MA dissertations in English, Persian and Urdu. He has also taught Islamic Law and Society at the University of Exeter, and Islamic History at Al-Mahdi Institute.

  • Experts of the ICCI


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    Dr Mohammad Sahib Mahmud

    Neurology Registrar & Clinical Research Fellow

     Dr Mohammad Sahib Mahmud is a Neurology Registrar who is pursuing a PhD as a Clinical Research Fellow as part of the Imperial College Brain and Vestibular Group (BAVG). His research is motivated by clinically important questions about perception, consciousness, balance and brain injury. He has an interest in integrating technology to improve research and patient care. Currently, Dr Mohammad Sahib Mahmud is supervised by Dr Barry Seemungal and is researching the brain mechanisms of vestibular and cognitive dysfunction. He leads on a project investigating behavioural, psychological and imaging markers of brain injury, working in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic. Dr Mohammad Sahib Mahmud has a Bachelor of Science and Medical degree from Imperial College London, and he was awarded MRCP(UK) Diploma in 2013 and completed his Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Neurology in 2019. He was awarded Fellowship at Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in 2018 and completed a two-year Diploma in University Learning and Teaching at Imperial College London in 2019.

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    Professor Mohamed Iqbal Asaria

    Adjunct Professor, INCEIF, Malaysia; Lecturer, Cass Business School; Associate, Afkar Consultants Ltd.

    Professor Mohamed Iqbal Asaria is a globally recognised leading expert in Islamic Banking, Finance, and Insurance, and has advised many banks and insurance companies in the UK on their launch of Islamic financial services. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants and a graduate of the Victoria University of Manchester, where he also completed his masters in Economics (Accounting & Finance). He was awarded the CBE in the 2005 Queen's honours list for services to international development. He is a trained Economist and Accountant, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies at INCEIF, the Global Islamic Finance University, in Malaysia. Professor Mohamed Iqbal Asaria also teaches several post graduate courses in Islamic Finance, Banking and Insurance at leading universities including CASS Business School, CASS Executive MBA program in Dubai, University of East London, and Bangor Business School. He is Special Advisor on Business & Economic Affairs to the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, and was a member of the Governor of the Bank of England's working party set up to facilitate the introduction of Shariah compliant financial products in the UK market.

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    Dr Munzela Raza

    Medical Doctor; graduate of Al-Mahdi and MA in Islamic Studies, University of Birmingham

    Dr Munzela Raza completed a BSc (Hons) in Neuroscience in 2006 where her research focused on the protective role of Heat Shock Proteins in diabetic neuropathy. In 2009, she graduated with an MBChB from the University of Manchester. She completed her foundation training as a medical doctor, entering the North-West Histopathology Specialty Programme. In the course of her medical training, she continued research and conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis on the use of aspirin in pre-eclampsia as well as a number of audits in the primary and secondary care settings. A significant strength of hers is in the teaching space where she played an active role in teaching medical and nursing students. A few years into her training, she changed her field and began to pursue Islamic studies at the seminary level. She graduated from Al-Mahdi Institute’s four-year Hawza Programme in July 2022 and most recently completed an MA in Islamic Studies with merit from the University of Birmingham in July 2023. Her dissertation focused on ֫Allama Ḥillī’s Ghāya al-wuṣūl, specifically the section on ijtihād. She is currently pursuing further studies at the Al-Mahdi Institute. With nearly 10 years in medical education and training and 6 years in Islamic studies she has a unique set of skills in that she can understand medical and scientific subject matter, translate this subject matter into lay language and facilitate further conversations and connections with medical experts. She is also the founder of HIL (Holistic Islamic Learning), an innovative way of delivering Islamic education using a combination of iCBL (Islamic case-based learning), virtue ethics mentoring and didactic teaching.

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    Dr Abbas Ramjee

    NHS Consultant Psychiatrist

    Dr Abbas Ramji graduated from the University of Birmingham with degrees in Medicine and also Behavioural Sciences. He has also completed a postgraduate certificate and a postgraduate diploma in Medical Education with The University of Cardiff and is a fellow of the higher education academy. Having completed his postgraduate specialist psychiatric training within the West Midlands region, he is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.


    He has been a Consultant Psychiatrist since 2013 and is also the Deputy Director of Medical Education at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, where, in addition to his clinical role leading a busy community mental health team, he is also responsible for coordinating the postgraduate training programme for junior doctors working in Psychiatry across South Derbyshire. He has previously been an examiner for undergraduate medical school finals exams, and is now an examiner for the Royal College of Psychiatrists postgraduate membership exams, the flagship psychiatric postgraduate qualification taken by doctors from across the world. He is both a clinical and educational supervisor, involved in supervising and supporting junior doctors on their career path towards becoming a consultant psychiatrist. He is also an active member of the community in Birmingham having supported various mental health awareness campaigns over the years.