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Shabbir Akhtar (born 1960) is a philosopher, researcher and writer. His interests include political Islam, Quranic interpretation, revival of philosophical discourse in Islam, the thought of Søren Kierkegaard, inter-faith dialogue as well as Islamic readings of the New Testament.

Shabbir Akhtar


Personal lifeEdit

Shabbir Akhtar was born in Pakistan, raised in Bradford in the United Kingdom and went to Canada for higher education.


After studying philosophy (BA and MA degrees) at Cambridge, Shabbir got a PhD in philosophy of religion from the University of Calgary (1984), his thesis being entitled: "Religion in the age of reason : faith and the apostasy of humanism."


His first book, Reason and the Radical Crisis of Faith (1987), on the possibilities and complexities of upholding faith in a secular society, was described by anti-theist author Keith Parsons as "to be widely read. He argues with insight, wit, and lucidity. His arguments gain a special cogency from the scrupulous fairness with which Akhtar treats those whom he criticizes."[1]

After the publication of The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, Akhtar represented the Bradford Council of Mosques in the ensuing media interest in the reactions of the Muslim community in the United Kingdom. On 27 February 1989 he published an article in The Guardian, in which he stated: "there is no choice in the matter. Anyone who fails to be offended by Rushdie's book ipso facto ceases to be a Muslim...Those Muslims who find it intolerable to live in a United Kingdom contaminated with the Rushdie virus need to seriously consider the Islamic alternatives of emigration (hijrah) to the House of Islam or a declaration of holy war (jihād) on the House of Rejection."[2] The article also included the much-quoted sentence: "The next time there are gas chambers in Europe, there is no doubt concerning who'll be inside them."[3]

In the mid-1990s, he taught philosophy in Malaysia but came back disillusioned of the belief that a majority Muslim society would really pursue reason in education.[4]

Recently, he has published books that are philosophical in approach and strident in presenting a certain point of view and trying to lay the foundation of modern Islamic philosophy.[5]



  • Reason and the Radical Crisis of Faith, New York: Peter Lang, 1987.
  • The Mother of Judas Iscariot and Other Poems, London: Regency, 1988.
  • Be Careful with Muhammad!: The Salman Rushdie Affair, London: Bellew, 1989.
  • A Season in the Ghetto: Collected Poems, London: Regency, 1989.
  • The Light in the Enlightenment: Christianity and the Secular Heritage, London: Grey Seal, 1990.
  • A Faith for All Seasons: Islam and the Challenge of the Modern World, London: Bellew, 1990, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1991.
  • Islam in the Liberal Age, London: Grey Seal, 1991.
  • The Final Imperative: Islamic Theory of Liberation, London: Bellew, 1991.
  • The Muslim Poetic Imagination: poems, London: Scorpion, 1992.
  • The Muslim Parents' Handbook: What Every Muslim Parent Should Know, London: Ta-Ha Publications, 1993.
  • Love in the Wrong Season: Collected Poems, London: Melisende, 2000.
  • Divine World Order, Glasgow: Ossian, 2004.
  • Jesus and His Twin Flock, Glasgow: Ossian, 2004.
  • The Linking Faiths of Jesus and Muhammad, Glasgow: Ossian, 2004.
  • The Quran and the Secular Mind: A Philosophy of Islam, London: Routledge, 2008.
  • Islam as Political Religion: The Future of an Imperial Faith, London: Routledge, 2010.
  • The New Testament in Muslim Eyes: Paul's Letter to the Galatians, London: Routledge, 2018.


  • "Religious Messages and Cultural Myths", Sophia, Vol.25, No.3 (1986), pp. 32–40.
  • "The Virtues of Fundamentalist Exegesis", Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, Vol.9, No.2 (1988), pp. 41–49.
  • "Is there an Epistemic Parity Between Faith and Rejection?", The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Vol.26, No.3 (1988), pp. 293–305.
  • "Miracles as Evidence for the Existence of God", Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, Vol.11, No. 1, Spring (1990), pp. 18–23.
  • "Faust and the New Idolaters: Reflections on shirk", Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol.1, No.2 (1990), pp. 252–260.
  • "An Islamic Model of Revelation", Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol.2, No.1 (1991), pp. 95–105.


  1. ^ Keith M. Parsons , "Reason and the Radical Crisis of Faith. Shabbir Akhtar ," The Journal of Religion 69, no. 2 (Apr. 1989): 273.
  2. ^ Michael M. J. Fischer, Mehdi Abedi. Debating Muslims: Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition. Univ of Wisconsin Press (1990): p. 390.
  3. ^ See Malise Ruthven "Islam in the Media" in Interpreting Islam Ed. Hastings Donnan. SAGE Publications (2002): p. 74; Kenan Malik. From Fatwa to Jihad. Atlantic Books, London (2009): p. 131
  4. ^ Subki Bin Ahmad (29 September 1997). "Cooperative society". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  5. ^ Review of Shabbir Akhtar, The Quran and the Secular Mind: A Philosophy of Islam – Springer