Dr Raihan Ismail

Senior Lecturer
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Islamic Studies 220403
  • Political Science 1606



Raihan Ismail is a Senior Lecturer at the Coral Bell School, ANU. She was a DECRA Fellow from 2019-2022. She is currently the 2022-2023 Goldman Faculty Leave Fellow at Brandeis University in Boston.  She was the co-recipient of the Max Crawford Medal in 2018, awarded by the Australian Academy of the Humanities for 'outstanding achievement in the humanities by an early-career scholar'.

Her research interests include Political Islam, sectarianism, women in Islam and the intertwining nature of religion and politics in the Middle East. She has presented at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, examining Saudi clerics and Sunni-Shia relations in the Middle East, the Crawford Australian Leadership forum 'Global Realities', discussing challenges and opportunities for the Middle East, the Canberra Writers Festival, examining the geopolitics of the Middle East, as well as other academic and non-academic events. She delivered the 8th Hancock lecture for the Australian Academy of the Humanities, titled "Hybrid Civilisation or the Clash of Civilisations: Rethinking the Muslim Other".

Raihan has been the co-convenor (2015-2018) and convenor (2019-2020) of the Political Islam seminar series for various Commonwealth government agencies, including AGD and Defence. She is a regular commentator in Australian and international media on Islam and Middle East politics and appeared as a panelist on the ABC's Q&A program. In 2019, she was placed in the ABC’s Top 5 Media Residency Program for humanities scholars.

She has published in academic and non-academic outlets including the Washington Post. She is the author of Saudi Clerics and Shia Islam, published by Oxford University Press in 2016. Her latest book, Rethinking Salafism: The Transnational Networks of Salafi ‘Ulama in Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, was published by Oxford University Press in October 2021.

She has a Bachelors Degree in Political Science, with a minor in Islamic Studies, a Masters in International Relations from the International Islamic University of Malaysia, and a PhD from the ANU.


Researcher's projects

a) Transnational authoritarianism

b) Muslim politics

c) Clerical networks

d) Religious institutions and governance

Current student projects

Aidan Parkes (PhD) – ‘Shrine cities as ‘pivots’ in world politics

Phillip Etches (PhD) – ‘Salafism in Lebanon’ 

Past student projects

Samuel Blanch (PhD) – ‘A political anthropology of transnational Shia Muslim communities (Completed).

Sandra Wright (Advanced Masters) – ‘Domestic and family violence in Australian Muslim communities’ (Completed).

James Turner (Advanced Masters) – ‘To Love and Hate Thy Brother: ‘Al-wala Wa-l Bara’ and the Salafi Conception of the Ummah’ (Completed).

Ross Dennis (Advanced Masters) – ‘Usurped Identities: Martyrdom in the Iranian Discourse’ (Completed).

Tony Allison (Honours) – ‘The Prince: Muhammad Ibn Salman and social reforms in Saudi Arabia’ (Completed - Winner of the Professor Riaz Hassan for best Honours thesis 2020).


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  26 September 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers