Patrons of the Programme

The Reverend Mark Oakley

Canon Oakley was born in Shrewsbury in 1968 and was educated in London and Oxford. He was ordained at St Paul’s in 1993 and served his first appointment as Curate of St John’s Wood Church (1993-6). He was then asked to become the Chaplain to the Bishop of London (1996-2000) and was later appointed Rector of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, known as “the Actors’ church” (2000-5). He was also Chaplain at RADA from 2003 to 2005. He was subsequently invited to take up appointment as Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, based in Copenhagen. Canon Oakley returned to London in 2008 and served at Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, before being appointed to St Paul’s. He is also a Deputy Priest in Ordinary to HM the Queen (1996-). Canon Oakley’s interests are the relationship between faith and poetry, human rights and the place of faith in the contemporary world. He is the author of several books and is a regular lecturer and broadcaster.

The Canon Chancellor is responsible for the educational and outreach activities of the Cathedral through the work of its Schools and Families Department and the St Paul’s Forum. He also oversees the work of the St Paul’s Institute through which the Cathedral seeks to engage with ethical issues concerning the City, finance and human wellbeing. The Canon Chancellor is also responsible for the visual arts policy of the Cathedral which seeks to enhance the mission of the Cathedral through temporary art installations. Canon Oakley’s interests are the relationship between faith and poetry, human rights and the place of faith in the contemporary world. He is the author of several books and is a regular lecturer and broadcaster.

Lord Mohammed Altaf Sheikh

Mohamed was born in Kenya and brought up in Uganda. His parents originated from the sub-continent of India. Mohamed attended Government schools in Mbale (Uganda) where he attained the Cambridge Higher School Certificate.

Lord Sheikh is now the Chairman and Director of Iqra Ethical Plc (Islamic and ethical insurances & financial services) and Macmillan Sheikh plc (Conventional insurances & financial services) which have offices in Westminster, London. In addition he is the Chairman of two property companies.

Lord Sheikh has also been honoured by the presentation of several personal awards which have been given to him for his achievements, leadership, business success and humanitarian work.

In view of Lord Sheikh’s longstanding connection with the City of London, he took the full title of Baron Sheikh of Cornhill in the City of London when he was appointed to the House of Lords.

Mohamed is President of the Conservative Muslim Forum and also the Chairman of the Conservative Ethnic Diversity Council. He became a life peer in 2006. He also holds the following positions in Parliamentary groups; 1) A Vice Chairman of Conservative Parliamentary Friends of Pakistan, 2) A Vice Chairman of Britain-Bangladesh All-Party Parliamentary Group, 3) Member of Executive of Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India, 4) A Vice-Chairman of All-Party Parliamentary Group of Saudi Arabia, 5) A Vice-Chairman of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Central Asia, 6) A Vice-Chairman of Associate Parliamentary Group on Islamic Finance.

John Esposito

University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, John L. Esposito is Founding Director of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. Previously, he was Loyola Professor of Middle East Studies, College of the Holy Cross.

Past President of the American Academy of Religion and Middle East Studies Association of North America, Esposito has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of State and other agencies, European and Asian governments, corporations, universities, and media worldwide and ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations and was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders and E. C. European Network of Experts on De-Radicalisation. He has received honorary doctorates from St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, the University of Sarajevo, University of Florida and Immaculata University as well as the American Academy of Religion’s Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion, Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azzam Award for Outstanding Contributions in Islamic Studies, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service Outstanding Teacher Award and Georgetown’s Career Research Achievement Award.

Esposito’s more than 45 books include: The Future of Islam, Islamophobia and the Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (with Dalia Mogahed), Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, Islam and Politics; Makers of Contemporary Islam and Islam and Democracy (with John O. Voll), What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam, Asian Islam in the 21st Century (John Voll & Osman Bakar), World Religions Today and Religion and Globalization (with D. Fasching & T. Lewis), Geography of Religion: Where God Lives, Where Pilgrims Walk (with S. Hitchcock), Islam: The Straight Path; Islam and Democracy and Makers of Contemporary Islam (with J. Voll); Modernizing Islam (with F. Burgat) Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism or Reform?, Religion and Global Order (with M. Watson), Islam and Secularism in the Middle East (with A. Tamimi), Iran at the Crossroads (with R.K. Ramazani), Islam, Gender, and Social Change and Muslims on the Americanization Path and Daughters of Abraham (with Y. Haddad), and Women in Muslim Family Law. Esposito’s books and articles have been translated into more than 35 languages.

Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Islamic Studies Online and Series Editor of The Oxford Library of Islamic Studies, he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (6 vols.); The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (4 vols.), The Oxford History of Islam, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, and The Islamic World: Past and Present (3 vols.).

Esposito’s interviews and articles with newspapers, magazines, and the media in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Guardian, The Times of London, CNN, ABC Nightline, CBS, NBC, and the BBC. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., he currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Dr. Jeanette P. Esposito.

Canon Dr Giles Fraser

Canon Dr Giles Fraser a priest in the Church of England, a columnist and editorial board member for the Guardian, and a regular broadcaster on BBC’s Radio 4 including a panelist on Moral Maze. Previously a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Oxford and Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, he is currently a visiting professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics and is writing a theological memoir for Penguin.

Jonathan Bloch

Jonathan Bloch was politically involved in South Africa in the worker and student movements and remains active in human rights circles in the United Kingdom. Since 2002 he has chaired the Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust, one of the largest scholarship awarding organisations in Southern Africa. He is also a councillor in the London Borough of Haringey. He trained in law and now owns and run a worldwide financial information business.