Conference: Islam and Peaceful Relations

The Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at the University of Coventry and the MBRN are delighted to share details of the programme for our conference, ‘Islam and Peaceful Relations’, which takes place on 5th April in Coventry.

Our schedule is below.

To purchase tickets, please go to our eventbrite page:



The conference will explore the role religion can play in achieving more peaceful and just societies. Faith can be a driver of peace, reconciliation and social justice, yet it can also be a source of violence, exclusion and misunderstanding. This conference will build on our research expertise and will explore the positive difference faith and belief, in this case Islam, can make in today’s world and how conflicts relating to Islam can be overcome.

Islam has been an important force for peace in the world historically and now. Peace is integral to Islamic theology and Muslim ethos, either as part of the individual’s personal experience or the wider context of maintaining peaceful relations in society. Yet terrorism undermines this discourse around peace and Islam. Recent attacks in France, Lebanon and Bangladesh have once again put Islam at the fore of debates around religiously-motivated conflict. Terrorists constitute a very small proportion of the global Muslim population and their ideology at best represents only a fringe, yet the narratives they propound have a dominating influence in shaping how Islam and Muslims are perceived. This has resulted in an increased focus on radicalisation and preventing violent extremism in policy, media discourse and some academic research around Islam and Muslims in Britain and beyond, subverting most other narratives of Islam and Muslims.

This conference will ‘radically’ depart from this trend. Instead it will focus its discussion about Islam on dialogue, peace and peaceful relations. In doing so it will uncover Islamic theological traditions around peacebuilding, historical precedents of peaceful existence with Muslims and contemporary lived experiences of intra-faith and inter-cultural dialogue, improved societal understanding of difference and peaceful relations. The conference will move the debate beyond simplistic ‘good and bad’, ‘us and them’ binaries to more complex discussions that consider the impact of diverse social factors including, gender, class, economy and geography.

09.15 – 09.45: Registration

09.45 – 10.00: Welcome and Housekeeping: Professor Mike Hardy (CTPSR), Dr. Kristin Aune (CTPSR), and Professor Sophie Gilliat Ray (MBRN)

10.00 – 10.50: Plenary Session 1
Professor Jørgen Nielsen, ‘Can Islam be a Force for Peace?’
(Chair: Professor Sophie-Gilliat Ray)

10.50 – 11.00: Short Break

11.00 – 12.15: Parallel Panels

Panel Session 1: Spaces for Peace-Building 1: Education, Art and the Mosque
1. Abdul-Azim Ahmed, ‘The Mosque: Beyond the Conflict Narrative’
2. Mag. Nicole Brown, ‘Interacting and Connecting in a Pluralistic World’
3. Rev. Tom Wilson, ‘Learning Well Out of School’

Panel Session 2: Ethics and research in a politicised atmosphere
1. Professor Alison Scott-Baumann (Chair), SOAS, University of London, ‘Research ethics and religion on campus’
2. Dr Mathew Guest, University of Durham, ‘Inter-religious Relations’
3. Dr Shuruq Naguib, Lancaster University, ‘Islamic Studies’
4. Dr Ashraf Hoque, SOAS, University of London, ‘Radicalisation’
5. Dr Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, CTPSR, Coventry University, ‘Gender Relations’

Panel Session 3: Dialogue in Plural Contexts: Who speaks with authority?
1. Shahnaz Akhter, ‘The Public Discourse of British Muslims Groups’
2. Rachel Winter, ‘The Revival of Orientalism in Contemporary Art’
3. Omar Salha, ‘Islamic Moral Diplomacy: a way to peace and social justice’

12.15-13.45: Lunch

12:45-13:45: Optional visit during lunch to Coventry Cathedral with David Williams, Programme Director – Local Reconciliation

13.45 – 15.00: Parallel Panels

Panel Session 4: Islam on Dialogue: The case of Hizmet Movement
1. Professor Paul Weller, Keynote Speech
2. H Horkuc, ‘Hizmet’s Dialogue: Authentic or not; searching for basis in Medina Constitution’
3. Keles & Ismail M Sezgin, ‘Hizmet’s Approach to Rooting out Violent Extremism’
4. M Demir & David Wiseman & O Sener, ‘Securitisation of Civic Desecuritising Actor: Case Of Gülen Movement In Turkey’

Panel Session 5: Dialogue through challenging stereotypes
1. Dr. Salman Al-Azami, ‘Challenging Media Stereotypes of Islam and Muslims through an Interfaith Focus Group’
2. Salha Aseere, ‘Does Islam support domestic violence against women?’
3. Dr. Michael Munnik, ‘Reaching Out in a Climate of Negativity’

Panel Session 6: Spaces for Peace-Building 2: Shared history and activisms
1. Bahar Davary, ‘Islam, Interreligious Solidarity, and Peace: Re-envisioning, Inclusion, Exclusion, Memory, and Identify’
2. Rianne C ten Veen, ‘Islamic faith-based environmental action’
3. Stephan Tolke, ‘How secular could political thought be in the Mamluk period and what can we learn from it for the present’

15.00 – 15.15: Short break

15.15 – 16.00: Plenary Practitioner Panel, ‘What role can religion play in peace building?’
Dr Waqar Azmi, Chairman Remembering Srebrenica
Tariq Jahan, Peace Activist
Rev Tom Wilson, St Phillips Centre, Leicester
(Chair: Dilwar Hussein)

16.00 – 17.00: Plenary Session 2, ‘What role for the Amman Message in 2016 and beyond?’
Professor Mike Hardy and Dr Sarah Markiewicz
(Chair Dr Kristin Aune)

17.00 – 18.00: Presentation from Rumi’s Circle
Daniel Dyer and Saimma Dyer, ‘How can Rumi help?’

18.00: Conference Ends

Conference Organisers:
Dr. Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor (CTPSR, Coventry University)

Dr. Kristin Aune (CTPSR, Coventry University)
Dilwar Hussain (CTPSR, Coventry University)
Charlotte Martin (CTPSR, Coventry University)
Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray (MBRN)
Dr. Carl Morris (MBRN)
Mobeen Butt (MBRN)
Chris Moses (MBRN)

The Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) at the University of Coventry undertakes innovative, impactful, world-class research that enables dialogue and builds trust in order to foster peaceful relations and strengthen human security.

The Muslims in Britain Research Network (MBRN) has been promoting the multidisciplinary study of Muslims and Islam in Britain for over twenty years – bringing together leading academics, researchers and professionals, and encouraging a new generation of students and practitioners to discuss, inform and collaborate.

To purchase tickets, please go to our eventbrite page:

Strongly recommended for
Academics and professionals researching Muslims and Islam in Britain
Academics and professionals working in Peace Studies
Academics and professionals working in Conflict Resolution
Faith leaders
Inter- and intra-faith practitioners
Policy makers and advisors

For those thinking of staying overnight the University of Coventry has produced a list of available hotels and guest houses, which you can view here.