Colloquium: The Case Against ‘Islamism’ Ft. Dr. Asim Qureshi


The June 2022 Ummatics Colloquium was held on Wednesday, June 22 and featured Dr. Asim Qureshi. Dr. Qureshi presented on his essay, ‘The Case against Islamism’ (2022), with responses from Dr. Shadi Hamid, Dr. Khadijah Elshayyal, and Dr. Usaama Al-Azami.

In his essay, Dr. Qureshi seeks to problematize the concept of ‘Islamism’ by highlighting its colonial origins and its usage as a euphemism for Muslims who were seditious to colonial interests. He focuses on the ways in which ‘pan-Islamism’ (and ‘Islamism’ in a contemporary context) has been securitized to the extent that it signifies little more than the notion of a Muslim threat to European political and colonial ambitions. He argues that the use of the word ‘Islamism’ produces a false political dichotomy, which allows the use of religious discourse in order to maintain the status quo of despotic nation states but casts the use of religious discourse to conceive of alternative realities as not only politically seditious, but religiously heretical.

Dr. Asim Qureshi is Research Director at the advocacy group CAGE. He graduated in Law and read for a PhD in International Conflict Analysis. He is author of Rules of the Game: Detention, Deportation, Disappearance (2009), A Virtue of Disobedience(2018), and I Refuse to Condemn: Resisting Racism in Times of National Security (2020).

Dr. Qureshi presented a shorter paper summarising his essay, followed by three responses by Dr. Shadi Hamid (Senior fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institute and Assistant Research Professor of Islamic studies, Fuller Seminary), Dr. Khadijah ElShayyal (Associate Fellow, Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Edinburgh), and Dr. Usaama Al-Azami (Departmental Lecturer in Contemporary Islamic Studies, University of Oxford), and as always, plenty of time for questions, comments and discussion.