Research Interests

Below are examples research interests of the faculty and researchers..(Not an exhaustive list of all members nor work)


Ilkka Lindstedt
Ilkka is a university lecturer in Islamic theology. His current project deals with the religious phenomena in late antique Arabia, ca. 400-700 CE, on which topic he is writing a monograph with the preliminary title “Muhammad and his followers in context”.

Mulki Al-Sharmani
Mulki Al-Sharmani is Associate Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. She works on Muslim family laws and gender in Islamic legal tradition; Qur’anic ethics and Islamic feminist exegesis; and modern diasporas with a focus on transnational Muslim families.

Teemu Pauha
Current project is titled: “The role of the Qur’an in the everyday lives of young Shiʿa Muslims”
In the project, I approach the Qur’an on one hand as a symbolic resource that young Muslims are using to negotiate their religious identities. On the other hand, I study the Qur’an as one knot in a web of religious authorities in a young Muslim’s life. I am interested in the folk hermeneutics that young Muslims apply to reading the Qur’an and seek to understand how such hermeneutics are informed by a dialogue with various others, for example, parents and teachers.

Doctoral Researchers:

Pasqualina Eckerström

Research Interests: Human Rights; Blesphemy; Sociology of Religion; Sociology of Islam; Nonreligiosity; Islamic Law; Subcultural Studies; Interaction between Religion and Politics, Gender Equality in Muslim Context.

Dissertation title: Extreme heavy metal music in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

I am a doctoral researcher in Religious Studies at the University of Helsinki. My research focuses on the dynamics of transgression in religious authoritarian countries. Specifically, my dissertation investigates how musicians in Iran and Saudi Arabia use heavy metal music to express their subversive identities and promote their right to self-actualisation. Additionally, I have researched how various waves of moral panic have impacted the music communities in Syria, Egypt and Iran.


Aytan Bashirova
Title of research: “Science without Religion is Lame? Religion without Science is Blind?” Finnish Muslim Youth’s Understandings of Islam and Science.

Emine Turkoglu
My title of research: “The Gulen Movement in Diaspora After 2016: A Case Study of Finland” The research is about the Gülen (Service) movement, which emerged from a few people around the charismatic preacher M. Fethullah Gülen in 1960s with Islamic motivations, transformed itself into a society in general with millions of adherents in more than 100 countries by using educational, dialogue and interfaith activities in a short time. After July 2016, a new field has emerged for research regarding the viewpoint of the movement members who came as political refugees in Europe and other parts of the world, their activities in the diaspora and the integration situations in the host states they are in. In this research, albeit the social and historical formation and basic values of the movement are given in order to better present the subject, an important part of the research will focus on the motivation of the members of the movement who came to Finland after 2016, seeking asylum, why they involved to the movement in the first place, and to what extent they maintain their loyalty, as well as the effect of this on the integration processes; moreover, the position of women in the movement before and after forced migration will be analyzed and discussed by utilizing social movement theory and using obtained information from interviews with the adherents.

Iiris Nikanne
Iiris Nikanne is a doctoral researcher in the Doctoral programme of theology and religious studies at the University of Helsinki. In her MA thesis for Middle Eastern studies, she researched the experiences of Arab asylum migrants in Finland who have converted from Islam to Christianity. Her PhD continues this research by studying the experiences of Iraqi migrants in Finland who have converted from Islam to Christianity, as well as Finns who have converted from Christianity to Islam. Her PhD project has received funding from the Church Research Institute.

Mariam Khawar
Title: Marxist political economy and Islamic economics: Developing the theoretical foundation of Islamic economics and finance
Description: This doctoral research project aims to study Islamic economics within a Marxist political economy framework to (a) introduce a non-Eurocentric economic philosophy into critical political economy; (b) to introduce a new analytical approach to the study of Islamic economics. The main research problems to be studied are: interest rates relative to class relations, the concept of exploitation in Islamic economics vis a vis the Marxist interpretation of it, and the transformation of the so called ‘economic man’ to labour and its gendered dimensions.The research methodology includes conducting interviews with professionals in Islamic banking, and academics in both Islamic economics and Marxism. Utilising the case studies of banking practices and Islamic economic policies this project will harmonise theoretical knowledge and financial practice.The aim is to provide new perspectives on interest rates, labour rights, power struggles in developing countries and gender in Islamic economics. This is done through a multidisciplinary approach and an experimental theoretical framework.

Pasqualina Eckerström
My work concentrates on extreme heavy metal music as a religious and political transgression in the Middle East. I mainly focus on how these anti-authoritarian artists engage in resistance despite the risk of being persecuted as blasphemers.
Doctoral candidate in Religious studies
Funding: Finnish Cultural Foundation
​​I also work on studies which promote gender equality in Muslim contexts

Riina Sinisalo
PhD Researcher in Theology and Religion studies
My research topic is called “Muslimness in urban space. How lived religion meets city planning.” I am conducting an ethnographic case study in Helsinki with an aim to find out, first, how Muslimness is manifested and negotiated in everyday urban public space, and second, how the city planning processes are tackling religious diversity in the city space.

Saila Kujanpää
I am an Islamic religious education teacher and PhD researcher in the doctoral programme of Theology and Religious Studies. My broad interest is Islamic education in Europe. My PhD research deals with teacher education of Islamic religious education teachers in Europe. Important questions in my research are, for instance, how Islamic religious education is defined in different European countries, how it balances between the interests of different stakeholders such as state, religious communities and general public and how teachers of IRE see their role as teachers of Islam. I am also interested in how Islamic religious education contributes to interpreting and redefining Islam in the European environment.

Sumeera Hassan
Title:‘Coming Together in Faith’: The Muslims of Ahmadiyya Jamaat in Finland.
This project takes on a qualitative method to study Ahmadiyya Muslims in Finland. Ethnographic field research with in-depth qualitative interviews will be conducted among the members of Ahmadiyya Jamaat Finland during the 4 years of PhD. The project mainly investigates Ahmadiyya identity formation in relation to broader Finnish society and the thesis has three sub-studies that are tied to the central subject of Ahmadiyya identity construction. The first paper studies how Ahmadiyya are negotiating between their religious and citizen identities in Finland, the second paper investigates their theological engagements as a community and finally the third paper focuses on the often-overlooked perspective of Ahmadiyya women’s navigations of gender, citizen, and religious identities (piety). It is the first study to be conducted on Ahmadiyya Jamaat Finland. Not only it fills a void in academic scholarship, but also envisions to raise awareness about the Ahmadiyya community within the religious and citizenship discourse. It will also spark a discussion on the challenges religious minorities experience in a pluralistic Finnish society where everything appears to be fine from a distance.

Tiina Hyyppä
PhD is titled ‘Local councils as civil actors in the Syrian war’.
Her research interests include civil resistance, local governance, civil-military relations, and rebel governance.
In the Department of Cultures.

Tommi S. Ahonen,
Research Topic: Religion and Morality in The Everyday Life of Young Finnish Muslims.