Meet ICAIR’s governing board

Meet ICAIR’s governing board


January 31, 2024

  The International Centre for Advanced Islamic Research (ICAIR) is happy to announce the appointment of its Governing Board, a significant milestone in its journey.

ICAIR aims to address the intellectual and ethical challenges facing the global Shi’a community, in particular the Khoja Shi’a Ithna Asheri Community, by bridging the divide between the community, the seminary, and the university, and making scholarship on Shi’i Islam accessible to all. This esteemed group, composed of distinguished scholars and professionals, will play an important role in shaping the future of ICAIR.

The Governing Board’s primary role is to provide strategic direction and oversight, ensuring that ICAIR’s activities align with its mission and objectives. This includes guiding the research agenda, overseeing major projects, and ensuring fiscal responsibility. The board will also work closely with the Head of ICAIR, offering support and advice to enhance the institute’s impact.

With a blend of expertise in Islamic studies, academia, and strategic development, the board members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. Their guidance will aid ICAIR to deliver on its initiatives, from academic research and publications to seminars, workshops, and public outreach programs.

On 14th October 2023, the ICAIR Governing Board convened for its first meeting. The session focused on defining ICAIR’s strategic vision and establishing a detailed development plan. Key areas of academic research, community engagement, and operational growth were discussed, setting a clear direction for the institute’s future endeavours.

The ICAIR Governing Board members tasked with overseeing the strategic and operational direction of the institute, are as follows:

Alhaj Safder Jaffer is a partner in one of the largest global actuarial firms and has been in this profession for more than 20 years. He advises leading public and private companies on high-stakes financial services and risk management. He is trusted to advise financial and health regulators, giving him vital knowledge of risk management, governance  and actuarial consultancy services.

He lectures on Islamic subjects and has travelled world-wide reciting majalis as a Muballigh in English, Urdu and Gujarati. He gained a postgraduate degree in Islamic Finances and also resided in the Holy City of Qom for several years, interacting with scholars and deepening his knowledge in Islamic Theology. He specialises in the field of Islamic Finances including Islamic Insurance (Takaful).

Alhaj Safder Jaffer was a key member of The World Federation’s first ever five-year Strategic Plan in 2002 as an actuarial consultant and Islamic Education advisor. He served as the Chairman for the Islamic Education Board from 2003-2005. He spearheaded the development of the Madrasah Centre of Excellence’s worldwide Tarbiyah curriculum and currently head of Tarbiyah.

He acted as WF liaison to the Mara’ji in Najaf and Qom, particularly as key contact between our Marja, His Eminence Sayyid al-Sistani (DA) and The World Federation for over 17 years.

Alhaj Safder Jaffer serves as the current  President of The World Federation of KSIMC.

Shaykh Dr. Murtadha Alidina is the Head of the Islamic Education department of The WF.

He attained a medical degree from the Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam. He then studied Islamic studies at the Hawza seminary of Qom, for over 15 years, during which he attended classes of its high-ranking scholars. In July 2009, the Seminary of Qom awarded him with an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his work in the field of education and religious propagation.

Known for his meticulous observations, his interests include advanced jurisprudence and its principles, Qur’anic exegesis, and contemporary religious thought.

Under his guidance, the Khoja Shi’a Ithnasheri community has been able to strengthen its relations with the offices of the grand maraji’, high-ranking scholars of the hawza and the wider Islamic world.

Sayyid Sulayman Hassan was born in Western New York. While in high school, he studied and graduated with distinction from the Islamic Seminary in Medina, NY. He then pursued a degree in business administration at the University of Buffalo, from which he earned a Bachelor of Science at the age of 18.

Upon graduation, he proceeded from there to the Islamic Seminary of Qum, Iran, where he was privileged to study under world-renown scholars, specializing in Islamic law, history, and Arabic literature. He served as a researcher with the Aal al-Bayt Institute affiliated with the office of Ayatullah Sistani and was a fellow at the Zekr Institute for Advanced Legal Studies for over 4 years.

After returning to the United States, Sayyid Sulayman has served as Religious Director at the Baitul Ilm Academy and as president of the Ahl al-Bayt Islamic Seminary in Streamwood, Illinois. He currently serves as the president and religious director of Imam-e Asr Islamic Seminary in Alexandria, VA. He lectures widely in both academic and masjid settings and is an active participant in interfaith and interfaith outreach.

Sayyid Sulayman holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago.

Professor Aun Hasan Ali is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at CU Boulder. He received his PhD from McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies. His research centers on Islamic intellectual history and he is the author of two forthcoming books: The School of Hillah and the Formation of Twelver Shii Islamic Tradition and Why Hadith Matter: The Evidentiary Value of Hadith in Imami Law (7th/13th to 11th/17th Centuries) (co-authored with Hassan Ansari). His recent publications include: “The Canonization of Nahj al-Balaghah between Hillah and Najaf: al-Sistani and the Iconic Authority of the Maraji,” “The Rational Turn in Imamism Revisited,” and “Some Notes on the History of the Categorization of Imami Hadith.” In addition to intellectual history, Ali maintains an interest in Urdu and Persian literature.

Professor Cyrus Ali Zargar is Al-Ghazali Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies and Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Central Florida. Zargar’s research interests focus on the metaphysical, aesthetic, and ethical intersections between Sufism and Islamic philosophy. His first book, Sufi Aesthetics:  Beauty, Love, and the Human Form in Ibn ʿArabi and ʿIraqi, was published in 2011 by the University of South Carolina Press.  His most recent book, The Polished Mirror: Storytelling and the Pursuit of Virtue in Islamic Philosophy and Sufism, was published in 2017 by Oneworld Press. His forthcoming book concerns Sufi ethics and the theme of self-transformation in the corpus of the Persian poet ʿAṭṭār.

Shan E Abbas Hassam is a seasoned community worker and business leader based in Birmingham, UK. Shan E Abbas is the father of 2 – Malika Zahra (10) and Maliha Fatema (9) and is married to Misba Hiridjee. Shan E Abbas currently co-owns a pharmaceutical retail and wholesale group based in Birmingham with offices around the world.

Shan E Abbas has been involved in community volunteering positions since he was a teenager. He was a member of the Birmingham Jamaat Executive Committee at the age of 18, and volunteered for The World Federation and Council of European Jamaats in various positions. He served as The World Federation’s youngest-ever Executive Councillor and later the youngest Secretary General serving 3 terms. He is interested in both the Aid and Islamic Education sections of the organisation and keen for greater access to knowledge for our community members. Shan E Abbas currently serves as Head of the Reciters Committee of the KSIMC of Birmingham.

Arifali Hirji is an Energy Trading professional and has covered a wide number of commodity classes, including Natural Gas, LNG, Global Oil, Electricity, Coal, Machine Learning and Algorithmic trading.  He is currently the Chief Business Officer as well as Head of LNG Analytics for a global energy trading company.

He is a trained Quantitative Analyst, with an MSc in Engineering Physics from the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, specialised in Applied Mathematics and Financial Engineering. He has also studied Business, Economics and Arabic.

Arifali studied in Qom at the Islamic Seminary. He continues to study Islamic seminary subjects and gives lectures as a Zakir.

Arifali was blessed to serve in multiple capacities in his native Märsta, Sweden:  As a Madressa Teacher from his teen years; established a youth committee and was elected its Chair; Editor-in-Chief for the Zainabiya Magazine and Jamaat & Madressa webmaster. He also served as the Vice President for the Jamaat in 2000-2001 as well as acting President for a short period. Within The World Federation he has volunteered for IEB and CETAB.

After moving to the UK, he taught in the Shia Ithnasheri Madressa, Hujjat Stanmore, and was Head of its Tareekh Department. He also was the first Head of Relief for the Council of European Jamaats.

He is one of the organisers of Hujjat Academy, which, since 2016, has offered foundation level and Hawzavi modules to the community.

Currently, he serves as the Secretary General of The World Federation of KSIMC.

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Harefield, UB9 6NS
United Kingdom


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ICAIR Newsletter

The International Centre for Advanced Islamic Research
WF House, Moorhall Road
Harefield, UB9 6NS
United Kingdom


Support our mission to address the intellectual and ethical challenges facing Shi’ism today.

ICAIR Newsletter