The link between Cambridge and Islam goes back many centuries to the establishment of the Professorship in Arabic by Sir Thomas Adam in 1632. Through the ages, many prominent scholars on Islam have taught at the University of Cambridge including Edward Palmer, Edward Granville Brown, Reynold Nicholson and Arthur Arberry.
Reynold Nicholson taught Muhammad Iqbal at Cambridge. Reynold Nicholson also translated Kashf al Mahjub by Ali al Hujwiri and the Mathnawi by Jalaluddin Rumi. Arthur Arberry translated the Qur’an into English and his translation is regarded by many authorities as one of the best translations. Abdullah Yusuf Ali was also at Cambridge, as a student of law at St John’s College.
Shaykh Abdul Wadod Shalabi (1925-2008), former Deputy Shaykh al-Azhar, received his doctorate from Cambridge University in 1976. Chaudhry Rahmat Ali (1895-1951), founder of the Pakistan Movement and author of the Pakistan Declaration read law at Emmanuel College. Shaykh Ahmad Bullock, first English Imam, studied at Pembroke College during the Second World War.
Other Cambridge Muslim alumni include the economist Mahbub ul Haq, founder of the Human Development Report, and Yusuf Hamied, a pioneer in providing cheaper accutane medicines for the developing world.
Today, the Islamic Society at the University of Cambridge numbers in the hundreds, with representation from British Muslim communities as well as across the Muslim world. There is also a sizeable presence of Muslim academics across the faculties of the University.