University of Sheffield Islamic Circle’s Press Release Regarding the Defamatory Daily Mail Article on Fadel Soliman
On the 9th January, the Daily Mail released an article about Dr Shaykh Fadel Soliman, apparently spreading extremist views at a number of University Campuses in the UK. In the online version of their article, a clip was shared of Dr Soliman giving a lecture at my very own University, the University of Sheffield, in which he concluded his talk by informing students about his Youtube Channel. The article then went on to share clips from his channel, implying that Dr Soliman was somehow radicalising us all at that lecture.
As the President of the University of Sheffield Islamic Circle (USIC), which is home to many intelligent University students from different academic and cultural backgrounds, I find it quite offensive that our intellect is in question here. There seems to be this idea that we as Muslim University students are somehow incapable of challenging controversial ideas and robustly questioning our speakers. If any of our speakers make controversial claims, we are more than capable of holding them account for whatever they say.
The title of the talk delivered by Dr Fadel was ‘Tadabbor beyond Arabic’ or ‘Contemplation (of the Quran) beyond Arabic’, where the discussion of controversial topics did not actually take place. Rather, the purpose of this talk was to help those whose first language is not Arabic to connect with their Holy Book – the Quran. The talk was a part of USIC’s Quran week which aims to reconnect Muslims with the Quran, which Muslims believe to be the divine word of God and to have an open dialogue with our non-Muslim colleagues about our book. We run the events in a very non-confrontational manner; this is not about overzealous
evangelism, but for us as Muslims to discuss scripture with one another and to discuss with others what the Quran means to us as British Muslim University students.
Our decision for inviting Dr Soliman was based on his academic and social credentials. He graduated with a Master’s degree in Islamic Jurisprudence in 2008 and is the founder and director of the Bridges Foundation, an organisation that he established in 2005 with the aim of ‘bridging people from different backgrounds, especially bridging the gap between Muslims and Non-Muslims after 9/11’. Furthermore, given that he has strongly made his views known about the dangers of scriptural misinterpretation leading to violent extremism, we thus felt that his views regarding how we can spiritually reconnect with our Holy Book deserved a platform on our campus.So, when an article that is essentially claiming to have the safety of UK students in its best interest is titled: ‘’It’s fine to hit a wife who doesn’t please you’: What Islamic cleric is telling students as he tours British universities unchallenged… and he’s not alone’, it is not surprising that it is not only misleading but saturated with lack of insight about the purpose, context and essence of the talk that was actually delivered at our University. As always, USIC and the UoS work very closely during the planning of any speaker event. Therefore, to state that those Universities who allowed Dr Shaykh Fadel Soliman to deliver a talk have ‘failed in their duty of care’ is factually incorrect and narrow-minded journalism to say the least.