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Unscripted #50 | Prof Jonathan AC Brown in Lockdown

In this lockdown Unscripted Live episode, Dr Salman speaks to Prof Jonathan A.C. Brown. They talk about a range of topics from “the best joke he ever made”, to the future of Muslim activism and politics, Queer Theory, LGBT politics, and more.

This Unscripted Live episode was pre-recorded due to scheduling constraints.


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Source: www.islam21c.com

About Prof Jonathan A. C. Brown

Dr Jonathan Brown is an Associate Professor and Chair of Islamic Civilization at Georgetown University. He received his BA in History from Georgetown University in 2000 and his doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 2006. He has studied and conducted research in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Iran. He is a Director of Research at Yaqeen Institute, the editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and the Law, and the author of several books including Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy.


  1. From around 50:40 Prof Jonathan AC Brown made the statement below which, I suppose, highlights his guidelines on the conditions under which he would cooperate with various western political groups. He said, “It’s not about who do you work with. It’s about, do you require those who work with you to take your sensibilities into consideration…For example, I’m not going to work with them [a right wing group] if they are also trying to prohibit the immigration of Muslims or they are trying to ban Shari’ah, I don’t care what common interests we have…Similarly if I am working with a left-wing or progressive group…I also expect them to respect my religious beliefs. I am not going to agree with certain things. I am not gong to approve of certain things. I am not going to morally advocate certain things. If they are not okay with that, then I can’t work with them. If they are okay with that then we can work together.”

    It ties in nicely with the comments made on Islam21C regarding Muslims in the UK being encouraged to vote for Labour or work with liberal minded groups over the last 2 decades, and the consequences of doing so with respect to the LGBTQ issue in schools. I acknowledge Dr Salman Butt’s statements that “You didn’t think the slope was that slippery” and “It is fundamentally unjust to accuse you of being pro…”

    Dr. Salman Butt also said, “Diversity does exist within Muslims. Some people might be more inclined towards conservative values…Some people might be allying on more socialist type of issues…” There are western psychologists who argue that the direction you are more inclined towards could be largely affected by your personality type. For example, people who are higher in ‘conscientiousness’ might be more ‘conservative’ leaning whereas people who are higher in ‘openness’ could be more ‘liberal’ leaning. The truth could sometimes be found nearer to one end or the other, or it could be in the middle, so yes, it probably is healthy for the society to have both types of people. I’m not sure if it links with this but didn’t Abu Bakr (ra) and Umar (ra) provide a healthy balance for the fledgling Muslim society, as one was softer and the other one harsher.

    • I apologise for adding more information, again. There’s no facility to amend your initial comment.

      Certainly, here in the UK, the Professor’s conditions would make it impossible to work with these groups. I took on Ofsted once, on behalf of a small Muslim school I worked at, and they are far too powerful now to accept that we will not agree with and approve of certain things. The complaint reached the Tribunal level which (after mysteriously changing the person making the judgement, part way through) concluded in Ofsted’s favour. There were inspectors who were sympathetic to our plight and our values but those in charge were extremely agenda-driven and too powerful to budge (they changed the original judgement of the inspectors who came to the school).

      Incidentally, if anyone does find themselves having to fight an emotionally draining and time consuming fight that they never envisaged they would have to, the whole tiring experience of arguing and counter-arguing reminded me of the ayah in the Qur’an, “And don’t be weak in the pursuit of the enemy; if you are suffering (hardships) then surely, they (too) are suffering (hardships) as you are suffering, but you have a hope from Allah (for the reward, i.e. Paradise) that for which they hope not, and Allah is Ever All­-Knowing, All­-Wise.” (TMQ 4:104).

      I only dealt with them one more time before I left the school and they were at pains to convince us to resolve any conflicts with them before they left, and not let the issue turn into a formal complaint.

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