Humayun Ansari

Humayun Ansari


  • TW20 0EX

Personal profile

Personal profile

I am Emeritus Professor in the History of Islam and Cultural Diversity here at Royal Holloway. 

The broad area of my research has been the history of Muslims/Islam and cultural diversity, though my primary focus now is the diverse historical experience of Muslims in Britain and other Western societies.  My academic research embraces ethnicity, identity, migration, multiculturalism, Islam in the West, Islamism, Islamophobia, radical Islamic thought and Muslim youth identities. But as these themes are of a contemporary as well as an historical interest, my work has also spanned the academic world, government and policymakers and community-level activity. In 2002, I was awarded an OBE for services to race relations and higher education.

I have written extensively on subjects ranging from ethnic diversity and cross-cultural issues to Muslims in South Asia and Western societies and attitudes to jihad, martyrdom and terrorism among British Muslims. For instance, I prepared a scholarly edition of the Minutes of the London Mosque Fund and the East London Mosque Trust: 1910-1951 for the Camden Series of the Royal Historical Society. It  sought to identify and explain the evolving relationship between Muslims and British society within the historical context of London over the course of the twentieth century.  The richness of this important archive - a unique cultural memory of what was a variegated British Muslim experience - means that my research, by tracing the communal and institutional evolution of Muslims in London and by delineating how their religious activity was shaped both locally and in relation to wider, national as well as international, developments, has helped develop a more textured understanding of the place of Muslims within British society.  

Another area of my research in recent years has focused on the involvement of Indian Muslim soldiers in the First World War, and in particular issues of loyalty.  My work here has also connected with my long-standing research interest in the places of British Muslim significance in and around the Surrey town of Woking, home to the historic Shah Jahan mosque and various Muslim burial places.    

My current research project is a biographical study of the life and times of an understudied but hugely interesting late nineteenth/early twentieth century Indian Muslim, Maulana Barkatullah Bhopali, whose  personal political journey took him around the world as he moved from being a pan-Islamic radical to a revolutionary nationalist, founder member of the Ghadar Party and likewise of the Communist Party of India.  

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions