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Professor Francis Robinson CBE DL

Professor Francis Robinson CBE DL

Professor Francis Robinson

My main field of research is religious change in the Muslim world from the eighteenth century to the present. I am particularly interested in South Asia (British India, then India, Pakistan, Bangladesh). Throughout my time at Royal Holloway I have supervised 30 successful PhD theses and several Masters by research.

I am particularly interested in the roles of ulama and Sufis, that is learned and holy men, in transmitting, sustaining and interpreting the central messages of Islam. In pursuing this interest I have had the great advantage of working on the private papers of the Farangi Mahall family of Lucknow, the leading family of Islamic learning in South Asia for nearly three centuries. Working with these records, and others, I have been concerned to explore: the great movement of revival and reform which has swept through the Muslim world since the eighteenth century; the new ways of being Muslim which this movement developed; the responses of Muslims to Western dominance in their world since 1800; and the various forms of modernity which Muslims have fashioned.

I have published 14 books on aspects of the Muslim World. Close to my heart are: The ‘Ulama of Farangi Mahall and Islamic Culture in South Asia (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001; London: Hurst, 2002; Lahore: Ferozesons, 2002) and Jamal Mian: The Life of Jamaluddin Abdul Wahab of Farangi Mahall, 1919-
2012 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2018; New Delhi: Primus, 2020). A feature of both these books is that they enable the reader to engage with the inner worlds of the Farangi Mahallis in general and that of Jamal Mian in particular.

More information about my research is available via PURE


Islam since 1700

Religious change



Farangi Mahall

I have worked with Ahmadi TV on several occasions

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