In traditional Islamic societies, living sages are the embodiment of spirituality and enlightenment, serving as inspirational role models for their communities. However, the rise of extremism and atheism within contemporary Islam is increasingly being attributed to the loss of connection between these paragons of virtue and the everyday Muslim. 

Join acclaimed British photographer Peter Sanders and authors Michael Sugich and Dr Karim Lahham, along with special guests, for a conversation about Exemplars For Our Time, their incredible collection of short, photographic essays aimed at introducing a new generation of young people to some of the greatest living Muslim sages of the 20th and 21st centuries.

About The Speakers

Peter Sanders

Peter Sanders is the world’s pre-eminent photographer of the Muslim world. For more than 55 years, he has captured over half a million images reflecting a rich traditional civilization filled with warmth, humanity and compassion.

He began his career in the mid 1960s as one of London’s leading rock and roll photographers, and his images of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, among others, are today considered classics of the period. This was a springboard which led him to his early travels throughout India and then to Morocco documenting their various faiths. In 1971 he photographed the Hajj after obtaining a unique permission for a westerner at that time.  

Peter’s physical journey ran in parallel with his own spiritual exploration. These journeys led him to document deeply, the Islamic world of peoples, architecture and geography and culture. It is the personal and spiritual insight that Peter gained that allows him to produce images that truly encapsulate the subject. More recently, Peter has been active in numerous ways to facilitate a greater spiritual and broader understanding of the Islamic faith in the western world. As an illustration of the breadth of influence, Peter received the ‘Fashion and Islamic Art 2013’ award from HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum in Dubai.   

Sanders is currently working on many new publications. In 2019 he published a fifty-year book project entitled ‘Meetings with Mountains, Encounters with Saints and Sages of the Islamic World’ with a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This year he will launch a nine-part monograph series ‘Exemplars for Our Time’ at the Bradford Literature Festival, a collaboration with the author Michael Sugich. Alongside this, he is working on ‘Heaven, Earth and the Ten Thousand Things’, documenting the history and the lives of Muslims in China.  

He continues to travel, undertake commissions, hold photographic exhibitions, give presentations around the world, and regularly undertakes international photographic workshops ‘The Art of Seeing’ with inspires creatives in exotic and traditional locations. 

As a result of his activities Peter has been named as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.  He is a permanent Ambassador of the charity MOSAIC which was established by HRH Prince Charles and prior to that was on the Board of Trustees of MOSAIC for five years. 

Michael Sugich

Michael Sugich is the project leader and series editor of the Exemplars for Our Time book series receiving its worldwide launch at the Bradford Literature Festival 2022. He is also a contributing author of four biographies within the series. Mr. Sugich is the author of Signs on the Horizons: Meetings with Men of Knowledge and Illumination and Hearts Turn: Sinners, Seekers, Saints and the Road to Redemption and other books. He has been a professional writer for forty years. A native of Santa Barbara, California in the USA, he studied at the University of California at Los Angeles (ucla) and the California Institute of the Arts (Cal-Arts). He was initiated into a traditional Sufi order in 1972. Since that time, he has studied Islam and Sufi doctrine with spiritual masters across the Arab and Islamic world. He lived for twenty-two years in the precincts of the sacred city of Makkah al-Mukarrama where he kept company with many men of knowledge and illumination. He lives in Istanbul. 

Dr Karim Lahham

Dr Karim Lahham is a Barrister-at-law of the Inner Temple, London. Karim Lahham has a Masters from the Royal College of Art, read law at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and completed a doctorate in Islamic Studies at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was called to the London Bar in 1999 as an Inner Temple Major Scholar and continues to practice in the field of commercial law. Karim is also Senior Research Fellow at Tabah Foundation, Cairo. His publications include: The Roman Catholic Church’s Position on Islam After Vatican II (2008); Muhammad Shahrur’s Cargo Cult (2012); Response to Cardinal Scola’s House of Lords Speech (2013); The Intelligibility of the Islamic Tradition in the Context of Modern Thought (2013); The Vocational Society (2014); Gandhi, Islam and the Principles of Non-violence and Attachment to Truth (2016); ‘Being Good’: An Ontological View of Ethics (2017); The Anatomy of Knowledge and the Ontological Necessity of First Principles (2021); and a critical edition of Ibn ‘Arabi’s al-Tanazzulat al-Mawsiliyya (forthcoming).