Dr Matthew Wilkinson, Associate Research Fellow, is Senior Research Fellow at SOAS,
University of London, Director of Curriculum for Cohesion and Principal Investigator of
the SOAS-McDonald Centre partnership research programme, Understanding
Conversion to Islam in Prison.
Matthew is a philosopher and sociologist of contemporary Islam whose work explores
the creative synergy between traditional Islamic practice and contemporary dialectical
philosophy. His work is directed practically at promoting human flourishing in institutions
of public life, such as schools and prisons.
In 1989, Matthew won a scholarship in Theology & Religious Studies at Trinity College,
Cambridge. Then, after embracing Islam in 1991, he studied the Qur’an and Islamic law
in traditional settings and taught History, Citizenship and Islamic Studies in schools for
15 years. He was awarded an ESRC Studentship to complete his PhD in Education at
King’s College London.
His experience as a teacher of Muslim young people together with his original work with
critical realist philosophy resulted in his prize-winning book, A Fresh Look at Islam in a
Multi-faith World: a philosophy for success through education (Routledge, 2015). This
book was awarded the Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize (2014) as the most “creative and
innovative” work of critical realist philosophy.
Matthew’s work as an expert witness in Islamic theology in 27 terrorism-related trials has
been described by the police, by judges and by prison staff as something that
“…everyone needs to know”. This work will therefore be made available more widely in
his next book, The Genealogy of Terror: how to distinguish between Islam, Islamism and
Islamist Extremism, to be published by Routledge in Spring 2017.