My primary research is Islam-West relations, specifically Muslim communities in the West. I am particularly interested in interpretations and manifestations of Islam among Muslim communities in Western liberal democracies and their impact on relations with wider society and the nation state. My research also has a substantial focus on the international context, particularly the impacts of post-colonial interpretations of Islam on Muslim societies globally and conflicts overseas involving Islamist non-state actors and Western armed forces, which have significantly contributed to a rise in radicalisation and extremism among segments of Western Muslim communities and strained Muslim relations with wider society and the state.
Given the prominence of mass and social media concerning what is understood about Islam and Muslims in the West, my research has a strong focus on media representations of Islam and Muslims and its impact on inter-community relations. My research has sought to redress some of the misrepresentations of Islam and Muslims in the media by examining the processes of news production and framing of Islam and Muslims in the media, highlighting the diversity of Muslim communities, providing perspective and proportionality in relation to the more contentious issues concerning classical and neo-classical interpretations of Islam, and articulating a distinction between the faith of Islam and the Islamist political ideology that is most often associated with violent extremism. My work has generated important counter-narratives vis-à-vis Islamist extremism grounded in a methodology for the interpretation of Islamic texts that counters neo-classical and politicised versions of Islam that have become prominent since the latter half of the twentieth century. In this regard, I am currently involved in an international study of the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with Christian and Jewish communities and their implications for Islam-West relations, which is being led by Professor Ibrahim Zain of Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar.
My PhD thesis, which became my first book, 'Reconstructing Jihad amid Competing International Norms', was awarded the University Medal of Excellence. Two of my books, 'Islam and Contemporary Civilisation: Evolving Ideas, Transforming Relations' and 'Media Framing of the Muslim World: Crises, Conflicts and Contexts' are required reading in a number of university courses. For my contributions to learning and teaching, I was awarded the Prime Minister’s award of Australian University Teacher of the Year in 2015. In addition to the recognition I have received from the academic community, I have also been recognised by Australia’s Muslim communities having received the Mission of Hope Australian Muslim Achievement awards of Man of the Year in 2007 and Professional of the Year in 2016. I am currently the Islam-West Relations field of study leader at Griffith University and a founding executive member of the Australian Association for Islamic and Muslims Studies (AAIMS). My latest book, co-authored with Dr Adis Duderija, is entitled 'Islam and Muslim Communities in the West: Major Issues and Debates'.