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Biographies

Shaykh Luqman Ali - Artistic Director, Lecturer

Luqman initially trained in the sciences of Islam and the languages (Arabic, Persian and Urdu) and cultures of the Middle East and the Sub-continent and spent a decade working for publishing houses in the USA and the UK.

In 1997, Luqman co-founded Khayaal, the first professional theatre company of its kind offering audiences a fascinating experience of classic Muslim world culture through contemporary stagecraft. He adapted, co-directed and produced Khayaal’s award-winning debut production, Conference of the Birds, in 1998 which was described by Time Out as ‘a pleasure’ and ‘a refreshing burst of visual creativity’. He went on to pioneer the theatrical interpretation of the tales of Jalaluddin Rumi and Fariduddin Attar producing numerous theatrical shorts including Four Mystics and a Merchant, Bad Beard Day, Between the Devil & Me and Tattoos in Qazvin. In 2004, he broadened the scope of his work adapting traditional tales from right across the Muslim world in Tales from Muslim Lands which included Peony Garden on Nanshan Mountain, Bling Bling Blind, Incey Witty Spider and Man Take Thy Flight.

Luqman’s latest works are Sun & Wind, a spiritual reflection on extremism and Hearts & Minds, a theatre-in-education play for young people exploring issues of identity, citizenship and extremism. Since 2008, Hearts & Minds has reached over 20,000 mainly young people in schools and colleges across England and has also been performed in the USA. Luqman is currently writing a play exploring the intersection of Britain and Islam in the story of coffee. Luqman is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship and a member of the Concordia Forum.

Eleanor Martin - Associate Director

Eleanor obtained a BA Hons. in Drama & English Literature prior to training as a professional actor at Mountview Theatre School. She went on to work in theatre, film and television in Britain and abroad including parts in popular television drama series. Eleanor is also a theatre-in-education specialist with 25 years of experience delivering training in drama to adults and children nationally and internationally.
As a founding member of Khayaal, Eleanor has researched, produced, devised, directed, and performed for the Company since its inception. She co-directed and performed in the Conference of the Birds, Khayaal’s award winning debut production and has since played a pivotal role in all of Khayaal’s productions. For four years Eleanor toured Khayaal’s one woman play, Sun & Wind, about which BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme said ‘the play makes use of powerful writing and the extraordinary ability of the actress to convey the highs and lows of a woman struggling to reconcile her own pain with the need to convey truth.’ She most recently devised and delivered bespoke workshops for the British Museum’s critically acclaimed Hajj Exhibition as well as for Shakespeare’s Globe, Living Islam Festival and Goldsmiths University.

Shaykh Shafi Chowdhury

Sheikh Shafi Chowdhury graduated from one of the UK's oldest Islamic seminaries where he read classical disciplines including Shariah studies, Tafsir, and Hadith, with associated usul. Since graduating in 2002 he has worked extensively within a wide range of Muslim communities as an imam and educator. He has served as a Muslim Chaplain in the Prison Service and currently serves as a consultant to the Home Office and HMPPS on the development and delivery of programmes for Islamic spiritual learning and countering extremist narratives.

Shafi is a founding director of the City Retreat, an outreach and engagement facility based in Leicester where he runs weekly halaqas, delivers the Friday khutba, and runs counselling sessions, and is a lecturer at Ebrahim College, London. He has spoken in national and international conferences in both the public and private sectors, radio shows, and university speaker tours.


Shaykh Fazl e Mohammed

Shaykh Fazl e Mohammed studied Islamic sciences at Jamia Al Karam and completed the darse nizami at Dar al-Uloom Qadria Jilania, London. He also holds a LLB (Hons) degree. He undertook hadith studies at Dar al-Uloom Jamia Hanafia Sialkot, Pakistan.

He has studied from prominent scholars of the time including:
  • his grandfather (Muhaddith of Sialkot Shaykh ul Hadith Allamah Hafiz Muhammad Alam (ra),
  • the leading theologian and jurist of his time Mufti Ghulam Rasool Jamati (ra)
  • the founder of Jamial Al Karam, Shaykh Imdad Hussain Pirzada
  • Allamah Syed Zahid Hussain Shah Ridhawi
  • his father, Allamah Fazle Ahmed Qadri
  • and many more leading scholars.

Currently he is the Head of Faith and Pastoral Care at HMP Nottingham and delivers lectures/classes on Islamic studies across the country.

Dr. Arzina Lalani

Arzina R Lalani received her doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh. Currently a Research Associate at the Department of Academic Research and Publications, Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, she works with early and medieval Arabic texts. Dr Lalani is the author of Early Shi'i Thought: The Teachings of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (London, 2000) situating Leadership in Early Islam that has won prestigious literary awards. It is translated in several languages including Russian, French, Gujarati, Persian, Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. Her Degrees of Excellence: A Fatimid Treatise on Leadership in Islam (London, 2010), is an Arabic edition and English translation of the Kitab Ithbat al-Imama, a classical manuscript that contributes to the philosophical curriculum of medieval Islam.

A contributor to several Encyclopaedia articles and shorter studies, Dr Lalani has served on the Editorial Board of The Qur'an: An Encyclopaedia and contributed to several articles and short studies in other works. Her forthcoming monograph on Leadership and the Qur'an: Classical Arabic Exegesis examines Qur'anic semantics and exegesis from a range of schools in Classical Islam. Presently, she is preparing critical editions and translations of the Risala fi’l 'Ishq and the Risala fi'l Iman as part of the larger compendium of the Ikhwan al-Safa' Series.

Dr Lalani communicates within several constituencies in the academic and broader community and has chaired and organized panels in national and international conferences including BRISMES, MESA and WOCMES. Convener of a Shi'i Studies Symposium (April, 2004), she continues to network and foster opportunities for scholars in the field to share research interests and developments. An educator at several levels, she designed and taught the Arabic Two Course on Hadith literature at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge, served as a mentor in Arabic at DeMontfort University and gives advanced seminars to the Graduate Program in Islamic Humanities at The Institute of Ismaili Studies in London.


Professor Seyed Mohammad Ghari Fatemi

Seyed Fatemi spent thirteen years studying to the highest level in the traditional educational seminaries of Qum under the direct instruction of some of the leading scholars of the present day. Alongside his traditional education Seyed Fatemi was also trained in Public Law at Tehran University, receiving the award of both an LLB and an LLM. In 1999 Seyed Fatemi was awarded with a PhD from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manchester for research engaging with Comparative Human Rights.

Seyed Fatemi’s teaching and research interests include; the Philsophical foundations of human rights, International and comparative Human rights, Islam and Human Rights, Usul al-Fiqh and Hermeneutics, the History and Development of Fiqh, and Muslim Theology