The Imam and the Priest in Leadership: two sides of the same coin?

Haroon Sidat
Ph.D Candidate, Cardiff University

Abstract
There is a lacuna when it comes to research about the most significant tradition of imam training seminaries, the Dar al-Ulooms, in modern Britain. For the first time, my research provides a rich tapestry of the everyday lived reality of life in a Dar al-Uloom while making a unique contribution to the study of Muslims in Britain. During my presentation, I hope to provide a fascinating insight into a tradition that is experiencing evolution. Given the importance of religious authority in Islam, I will elucidate the multifaceted ways it is construed. I will show that there exist modalities of authority that both complement and interplay with each other. Significantly, using my unique position as both an imam and a researcher, the presentation will challenge the commonly held view that Dar al-Ulooms are engaged primarily in producing imams, while providing alternative ways of conceptualising religious leadership. By comparing experiences with the Christian tradition, I aim to highlight the motivations, experiences and challenges both sets of students and graduates face. Therefore, this presentation weaves together distinctive perspectives to fashion a unique tapestry that tells the ‘story’ of a British Dar al-Uloom, for the first time.