Staging the Ummah: An Evening with Wajahat Ali

A Provocative Look at the State of Muslim Culture Today

Rumi’s Cave
26 Willesden Lane
Kilburn, London
7.00 pm – 9:30 pm
Nearest Stations (Kilburn, Kilburn Park, Kilburn High Road)

What is the state of Muslim arts and culture – cutting edge and innovative, or boring and dull?
Is there a need to define to a British or American Islam? How do we represent Islam on screen, on stage, through novels and in poetry?
Doesn’t staging the ummah mean we are just selling a “safe” version Islam to the chattering classes?
Join us as we talk to award-winning playwright and author Wajahat Ali about the state of Muslim arts and culture today – and whether the project of defining a culturally relevant Islam for our times is even worth pursing.

FREE – but space is limited, so let us know you are coming!

Supported by the Radical Middle Way, The Leaf Network, The Cordoba Foundation and Rumi’s Cave.

Wajahat Ali – playwright, author, journalist and attorney – is a Muslim American of Pakistani descent and is the author of the acclaimed play, The Domestic Crusaders, which premiered in 2005 at the Thrust Stage of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and San Jose University Theatre, broke box office records in New York in 2009, was published by McSweeney’s in December 2010 and went on to be performed at Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Ali’s essays and interviews on contemporary affairs, politics, the media, popular culture and religion frequently appear in the Washington Post, The Guardian , Salon , Slate , McSweeney’s , Wall Street Journal Blog ,  Huffington Post , ,  CounterPunch and Chowk, among other on-line sites. His blog, “Goatmilk: An Intellectual Playground ” is ranked in the top 7% of all political blogs by Wajahat is the recipient of Muslim Public Affairs Council’s prestigious “Emerging Muslim American Artist” recognition of 2009 and was given the 2011 Otto Award for Political Theatre.

In 2011, he was the lead author and researcher of “Fear Inc., The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America” published by The Center for American Progress. Ali is the co-editor of the anthology “All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim” published this June 2012 by White Cloud Press. Wajahat is currently writing a TV pilot with Dave Eggers about a Muslim American cop in the Bay Area, California, and he is working on his first movie screenplay

Celebrating International Day of Peace

Celebrating International Day of Peace

This year the International Day of Peace, which is marked each year on 21 September, falls on  a Friday. Islamic centres and mosques across the UK and overseas will be leading their local communities in marking the day. They will invite visitors to join them during or after Friday  Prayers (Salaatul-Jumu’a) to exchange messages of peace, to celebrate local peace-building  activities and to enjoy the hospitality offered.

Local schools, churches, synagogues, temples, gurdwaras and community organisations will be  invited to observe the day by accepting these invitations.

Some Islamic centres in the UK are pairing up with a nearby church, religious community or school  and linking their observance of the International Day of Peace to similar pairs overseas.

For more information, please click here 

Lecture: How to Engage With Politics – 21st September 2012

In a democratic system like ours, citizens have multiple avenues to influence the policies and laws that govern our society. Yet, many Muslims continue to live on the fringe of politics and do not engage in public matters. The only way for us to ensure our voices are heard is to make the most of the opportunities for involvement and to become engaged citizens.

In this talk, Anas Altikriti, the CEO of The Cordoba Foundation will discuss a variety of paths for engagement in public life and share stories from his own engagement.

Hosted by The City Circle

Venue: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, W1H 4LP
Date and Time: 21st September 2012, 18:45

Free entrance. All welcome. No reservation needed. Prayer space available. Street parking free from 18:30

For more information, please check:

Book Launch: A World of Prayer

Book Launch: A World of Prayer

Date & Time: Wednesday 29 August 2012, 6.00pm for a 6.30 start – 8.00pm

Venue: St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation & Peace
78 Bishopsgate London EC2N 4AG

Some UK contributors will read passages from this book including
Dr. Swee Chai Ang, Bruce Kent, Simon Keyes, Zoya Phan, Canon Patience Purchas, Christina Rees, Amjad  Mohamed-Saleem (from The Cordoba Foundation) & Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.

Editor Ros Bradley will share what inspired her to compile this book which offers a glimpse into the heart of other faiths, as well as some musings since the launch in Sydney.

RSVP by Thursday 23rd August 2012


Evening to remember Srebrenica

Seventeen years ago this month, thousands of Bosnian Muslims were slaughtered in Europe. Some were killed opportunistically, but most were killed in a full-scale military operation: hands tied and blindfolded, they were lined up before freshly dug mass graves and shot in the back. In other cases, rather than bussing them to mass grave locations, their captors chose to murder them were they were detained – slaughtering them by the hundreds at a warehouse and theatre, by volleys of gunfire and rocket propelled grenades.

Later, earth-moving equipment would be used to remove the dead – and perhaps some living – and deposit them into other mass graves. It is estimated that over 8,000 Muslims were executed after the July 11, 1995, fall of Srebrenica, Bosnia, to the Bosnian Serbs. Like many of recent history’s slaughters, the international community was already present. A battalion of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers was responsible for protecting the first U.N.-declared “safe area” in Srebrenica. As the Bosnian Serb Army advanced on the city, U.N. offi cials declined to allow NATO warplanes to intervene until it was too late. The Serbs took Srebrenica without a fight and thousands of Bosnian Muslims fled to what they thought was the protection of the U.N. base in Potocari. Rather than offering a safe haven, the United Nations expelled fearful Muslims from their base and watched as another European genocide unfolded. In a scene evocative of Schindler’s List–a case of life imitating art, imitating life- -families were torn apart under the watchful eyes of the international community. Men and boys were separated from women and small children, never to be seen again.

Every year, international diplomats pause to remember the world’s most recent genocides. On 11th July, the world will mark the seventeenth anniversary of Srebrenica genocide. Join us to remember those who perished and the survivors. Meet British Muslims who visited Bosnia in the past, and a delegation visiting this July.

Date & Time – Tuesday 3rd July 2012 – 7pm

Venue: London Muslim Centre, Seminar Room, 4th Floor, 46 Whitechapel Road, London E1

Organised by London Muslim Centre, Islamic Forum of Europe, The Cordoba Foundation and Bosnia-Herzegovina Islamic Centre – London.

All welcome.


International Symposium: Cosmopolitanism, Religion and the Public Sphere

Do cosmopolitanism and religion stand in opposition with each other? To which extent are cosmopolitan ideas, practices and narratives meaningful to the religious experiences and affiliations of concrete individuals and groups? To which extent have religious communities made use of cosmopolitanism as a cultural resource that is channelled by institutional structures? Which media platforms are available to religious organizations and movements concerned with the promotion of cosmopolitan solidarity and ecumenical understanding at both local and transnational level?

Cosmopolitanism gains momentum both as a practice that is apparent in things that people do and say to positively engage with the ‘otherness of the other’, and as a moral ideal that emphasises both tolerance towards difference and the possibility of a more just world order. Religion is not often seen in connection to cosmopolitanism, a notion that is commonly equated to worldliness and secularism. In fact, some religious affiliations and practices are understood as bound to parochialism, tradition, and lack of tolerance. In the media, the debate on religion is often tied to public discourses about terrorism, security and freedom of expression and opinion in the public sphere. This is particularly significant when we consider the way in which Islam is publicly perceived in the western world as a highly institutionalized religion with a strong influence on the conduct of and collective identity of Muslim communities. The growing visibility of Muslim identity in the public sphere, through particular forms of attire, behaviour, and symbols, is seen as potentially fuelling xenophobia and ethnic conflict in collective imaginaries across the Western world. The continuing controversy over the public use of the headscarf in France, the 2005 affair over the publication of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and the 2009 Swiss vote to ban new mosque minarets, are only a few recent examples of how particular religious symbols and practices make the assertion of Muslim identity more visible in the public sphere. The fact that fundamentalist Islam is being increasingly tied to global terrorism in the mass media has played a key role on stirring the perception of fundamentalist Islam as a threat to individual freedoms and peace. While there is a growing interest in the meanings of religion and secularism in both media and scholarly debates, the linkages between cosmopolitanism and religion only very recently received the attention of sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and religious scholars concerned with the role of religion in public life.  This is in part because particularistic attachments to a community of faith sit uneasily with the ethical universalism and secular ideals of justice and equality that underpin cosmopolitan discourses and perspectives. Yet, while religions divide social groups and ethnic communities, religions can also offer influential forms of transnational, cosmopolitan solidarity and play a key role in conflict resolution both locally and globally. In pursuing particular forms of ecumenical understanding, religious organizations have, through history, always dealt with problems and challenges concerning the question of the ‘inclusion of the other’, which is at the heart of characterizations of cosmopolitanism as an ethico-political outlook.

By bringing together leading scholars from religious studies, sociology and anthropology, this conference seeks to investigate the connection between religion and cosmopolitanism and the role of religion in the public sphere through the lens of sociological, anthropological and theological perspectives.

The Cordoba Foundation will be presenting a paper here on its experiences and thoughts for Cosmopolitanism

For further information, please click here


Seminar: Afghanistan / Pakistan Futures – US Perspectives

With the drawdown of US combat troops from Afghanistan after July 2011 and the planned transition of security to Afghan command by the end of 2014, what are the key priorities for US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

The White House annual policy review last December said that: ‘The core goal of the US strategy in the Afghanistan and Pakistan theatre remains to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al-Qaeda in the region and to prevent its return.’ This built upon US President Barack Obama’s West Point speech a year before in which he said: ‘Our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicentre of violent extremism practiced by al-Qaeda.’

To achieve its goals, what form will US military and civilian engagement in Afghanistan take in the future? To what extent will the US support attempts at reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership?

Prof Vali Nasr is Senior Advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the US State Department. He is Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. From 2003-07 he was Professor and Chair of Research, Department of National Security Affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey and from 2007-09, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He has authored six books on political Islam, including, most recently, Meccanomics: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What it will do for our World.

This event will be chaired by Adam Ward, Director of Studies, IISS.

This is a joint event between the IISS and The Cordoba Foundation

If you would like further information please contact  Charlotte Laycock at

Meeting: Contending Modernities

The Cordoba Foundation will take part in a three day consulation meeting organised by Notre Dame University (USA) on the theme of Contending Modernities, which is a major multi-year, cross-cultural,  interdisciplinary research initiative focused on generating new knowledge and greater understanding of the ways in which religious and secular forces interact for good and for ill in the modern world.  By examining these interactions, the study hopes to identify ways for religious and non-religious people and institutions to work together in addressing the world’s most pressing problems.


 Venue: Notre Dame Centre, London



For more information about the project, please click here