The Other Ethical Approval

The Importance of Being “Islamic”


  • Abdul-Azim Ahmed Cardiff University



codes of ethical practice, Islam, mosques in Britain, Muslims in Cardiff, reflexivity, research ethics


The researcher, in carrying the name of the institution, is bound to an ethical standard of behaviour; standards which are maintained through ethical approval that researchers must obtain from their departments before conducting research. There exists another form of ethical approval a fieldworker must obtain, that of their research participants. This Other Ethical Approval is often related to access; a participant must consider the researcher to have integrity in order to allow them the privileged insight into their own lives and behaviours. The article outlines and explores this secondary ethical approval derived from the author’s experience of conducting research as a doctoral student. It is argued that being attentive and conscious of the ethical standards of the research field can only improve the quality and rigour of the research, and is increasingly important in spaces where access is not easily obtained. After outlining the research project, there follows a statement of ethics as the author encountered and negotiated it in the field. It is expressed through statements derived from Islamic sacred texts, structured in a similar way to statements of ethics produced by scholarly associations such as the American Anthropological Association. This reflexive account will be of value to researchers interested in British Muslim studies, as well as to scholars researching contemporary religious communities more generally, who need ethical approval from their research participants.


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Author Biography

Abdul-Azim Ahmed, Cardiff University

Abdul-Azim Ahmed completed his doctorate at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, Cardiff University. He conducted an ethnography of a British mosque, exploring the construction of sacred space and the everyday functioning of mosques, using the theories of Henri Lefebvre in particular to describe its rhythmic life, arguing for a foregrounding of the congregation in future research on Muslim sacred spaces.


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How to Cite

Ahmed, A.-A. (2018). The Other Ethical Approval: The Importance of Being “Islamic”. Fieldwork in Religion, 12(2), 204–222.