The British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS) and De Gruyter are delighted to announce the outcome of the sixth (2021) round of the BRAIS – De Gruyter Prize in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World.

The winning submission was:

Amin El-Yousfi
University of Cambridge
The Neoliberal Turn in Regulating Islam: Between the Paradoxes of Neutrality and Legitimacy in France and the UK



This dissertation analyses how everyday Muslim pieties encounter and operate through policies of secular and neoliberal governmentality. Based on an ethnographic analysis of the everyday life of local Muslim leaders and various state and non-state actors in France and the UK, this work studies the neoliberal turn in regulating Islam. This turn refers to the importation of formalities, rules and procedures, and the development of manuals, toolkits and guidelines derived from private enterprise and corporate market into the traditional sphere of mosques and madrasahs (Islamic schools) as well as Halal and pilgrimage industries. This dissertation analyses the neoliberal turn as simultaneously and dialectically structured through the relation between top-down practices of legal regulation and the ground-up activity and agency of local Muslim actors. It is not only the manifestation of an operation of power (top-down), but also the operation of ethics (bottom-up). Both operations take place in light of two paradoxes. The first one refers to the state’s claim of neutrality although it constantly intervenes in the regulation of the socio-religious field. The second paradox lies in the local Muslim leaders’ calling for neoliberal bureaucratisation to become professional and legitimate, while resisting state attempts to control mosques and madrasahs, which are often plagued by opaque management. In this sense, this research discusses not only the existing contradictions of the so-called French and British secular ‘regulation of Islam’ but also the impact of the neoliberal turn on the ethical self-making of local Muslim leaders.


2021 Honorable Mention:

Hanif Amin Beidokhti

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Suhrawardī’s Criticism of the Aristotelian Doctrines of the Categories and Hylomorphism