When Tim Winter became a Muslim in 1979, Islam was still something of a mystery to the West. He was a 19-year-old undergraduate student at Cambridge University and a self-described “freelance monotheist.”
Winter, keenly aware of this new reality, is tackling it head-on. As one of Europe’s most prominent Islamic scholars and dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, he spends his days training graduates of Britain’s top Islamic seminaries to better navigate and engage with British society.
Both Englishman and Muslim convert, Winter is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between Islam and the West, largely because of the journey that got him here.
The late 70s were a time of religious experimentation for many British youth, and Winter was no different. He had a strong desire to understand the nature of God and humanity, and so he found himself immersed in a study of the world’s religions.
He turned to “the Far East,” then Judaism in search of something that “aimed ultimately to embrace the world.” These traditions fell short, and his own faith at the time, Christianity, had already proven flawed in his mind in part because his “school chaplain failed … to explain to our sneering, skeptical young minds the basic teachings of Christianity, the incarnation and the Trinity, the blood atonement … None of it made any sense, and [the chaplain] admitted that it was something that should just be accepted on faith and didn’t have any biblical or rational basis.