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Photo of Dr Leonard Lewisohn

Dr Leonard Lewisohn

Ph.D.,B.A.

Senior Lecturer, Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow in Persian and Sufi Literaure

4090

01392 724090

The staff and students of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, are very sad to announce that, on Monday 6 August 2018, our colleague and friend Dr. Leonard Lewisohn passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. It's a great shock to all of us. Our hearts go out to his wife, his family and his wide network of friends and colleagues. 

Lenny was Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Persian and Sufi literature. We will soon make an announcement about more specific initiatives for commemorating him.  But, for the moment, our thoughts and prayers are with his close family and the many people worldwide who loved him. 

Christine Robins

Director, IAIS

 

Leonard was the co-director (with Dr. Michael Axworthy) of the Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies.

He was also the Editor of the Mawlana Rumi Review.

In April 2016, he organised with Dr. Reza Tabandeh a three-day international conference on "Sufis and Mullahs: Sufis and Their Opponents in the Persianate World.”

Dr. Leonard Lewisohn was Senior Lecturer in Persian and Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow in Classical Persian and Sufi Literature at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter in England where he taught Islamic Studies, Sufism, history of Iran, as well as courses on Persian texts and Persian poetry in translation. He specialized in translation of Persian Sufi poetic and prose texts.

He is the author of Beyond Faith and Infidelity: The Sufi Poetry and Teachings of Mahmud Shabistari (London: 1995), and the editor of three volumes on The Heritage of Sufism, vol. 1: The Legacy of Mediæval Persian Sufism, vol. 2: Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi, vol. 3 (with David Morgan): Late Classical Persianate Sufism: the Safavid and Mughal Period (Oxford: 1999)—covering a millennium of Islamic history.

He was editor of the Mawlana Rumi Review, an annual journal devoted to Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273). He was also editor (with Christopher Shackle) of The Art of Spiritual Flight: Farid al-Din ‘Attar and the Persian Sufi Tradition (London: I.B. Tauris 2006), co-translator with Robert Bly of The Angels Knocking on the Tavern Door: Thirty Poems of Hafiz (New York: HarperCollins 2008), editor of Hafiz and the Religion of Love in Classical Persian Poetry (London: I.B. Tauris 2010), and editor of The Philosophy of Ecstasy: Rumi and the Sufi Tradition (Bloomington, Indiana: World Wisdom 2014), and co-editor (with Reza Tabandeh) of Sufis and Mullahs: Sufis and their Opponents in the Persianate World (forthcoming 2018).

Dr. Lewisohn  contributed articles to the Encyclopedia of Love in World Religions, Encyclopedia of Islam (2nd and 3rd editions), Encyclopædia Iranica, Encyclopædia of Philosophy, 2nd Edition, Encyclopædia of Religion, 2nd Edition, Iran Nameh, Iranian Studies, African Affairs, Islamic Culture, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society and the Temenos Academy Review.

Research interests

Dr. Lewisohn’s research interests were focused on Sufism and classical Persian poetry. He worked on several projects in recent years:

  • editing the Mawlana Rumi Review, an academic review published once a year.
  • preparing for publication The Philosophy of Ecstasy: Rumi and the Sufi Tradition, a volume of essays on Rumi
  • preparing for publication a volume with Dr. Leili Anvar, entitled: Wondrous Words: The Poetic Mastery of Jalal al-Din Rumi, a volume of essays on Rumi

Over the past six years he published books and articles on the major Persian poets such as Nasir-i Khusraw, Ansari, ‘Attar and Hafiz, written articles on minor Persian poets such as Nizari Quhistani, Awhadi Maragha’i and Mir Husayni Haravi, and  also composed studies on well-known Islamic philosophers and mystics such as Sa’in al-Din Turkah Isfahani and Shahrastani. Recently he has published several studies comparing Persian poetry and Sufism with Western and Eastern poetry and love mysticism, including poets such as Shelley, Blake and Tagore.

During all of 2010 Dr. Lewisohn was on research leave for a project entitled “Flowers of Persian Song and Verse: a Database Website for the Golha Programmes” which was sponsored by a British Academy Research Development Award. He was working on construction of a searchable, relational database for the Golha (‘Flowers of Persian Song and Music’) Iranian radio programmes, ca. 850 hours of programmes broadcast from 1956-79, today referred to by scholars and musicians as an encyclopedia of Persian music and poetry. Accessed by a website, the database includes bio-bibliographical data on the performers and authors, musical notation for songs, transcriptions of poetry, and commentaries included in the programmes in order to make them available over the internet, searchable by musicians, vocalists, composers, reciters, poets’ names, as well as by musical mode, submode, poem, literary and musical genre, and poetic meter. On this project, see: http://www.golha.co.uk/

For a video of the 2010 Persian BBC "Pargar" programme, featuring Dr. Lewisohn's debate with Daryoush Ashouri about classical Sufism and Iran, click here.

Please also see an interview in Persian with Dr Leonard Lewisohn and Dr. Leili Anvar on the great mystical poet Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273) on the  BBC Persian Service "Pargar" Programme

Hafiz and the School of Love in Classical Persian Poetry - conference 2007

To listen to the lectures given in 2007 at the conference on "Hafiz and the School of Love in Classical Persian Poetry" convened at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies by Leonard Lewisohn and James Morris, you can access the following link: http://river-valley.tv/conferences/hafiz-2007/. The proceedings of this conference were published as Hafiz and the Religion of Love in Classical Persian Poetry, edited by Leonard Lewisohn (London: I.B. Tauris 2010).

BBC Persian Network TV Interview

Dr Leonard Lewisohn and Mrs Lewisohn being interviewed in their home on Persian Culture, Music,Sufism and Art. Dr Lewisohn is a Senior Lecturer, and an Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow in Persian and Sufi Literaure here at the Insitute.
(interview in Persian)

Research supervision

Completed theses

Nahid Angha. “An Annotated Translation and Examination of the Essential Mystical Teachings in  ‘Abdu’llāh Ansāri’s (396-481/1006-1089) Sad maydan (Hundred Fields)” 2005. This thesis has been published by Dr. Angha with a preface by myself, as Ansari’s Hundred Fields: An Early Persian Treatise on the Sufi Way (London: Archetype 2010).

Theses in Progress

Bahman Solati. “The Reception of the Persian Poet Hafiz in 19th-20th Century Iran”

Reza Tabandeh. “The Rise of Nimatullahi Shi‘ite Sufism in 19th Century Qajar Persia: Husayn ‘Ali Shah, Majdhub ‘Ali Shah and their Battle with Islamic Extremism”

The Alexander Romance in the Persian Tradition: Its Influence on Persian History, Epic and Storytelling.
Dr Leonard Lewisohn

Ibn ‘Ajība (d. 1224/1809) and His Oceanic Exegesis of the Quran: Love in the Moroccan Sufi Tradition
Dr Leonard Lewisohn

An Annotated English Translation of Nāṣir-i Khusraw's Khwān al-Ikhwān with an Analytical Introduction
Dr Leonard Lewisohn
 

 

Biography

Leonard Lewisohn is the author of Beyond Faith and Infidelity: The Sufi Poetry and Teachings of Mahmud Shabistari (London: Curzon Press 1995), and The Wisdom of Sufism (Oxford: Oneworld 2001). He is the editor of The Heritage of Sufism (Oxford: Oneworld Publications 1999), vol. 1: The Legacy of Medieval Persian Sufism, vol. 2: Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi, vol. 3 (with David Morgan): Late Classical Persianate Sufism: the Safavid and Mughal Period covering a millennium of Islamic history.

He is also editor (with Christopher Shackle) of The Art of Spiritual Flight: Farid al-Din Attar and the Persian Sufi Tradition (London: I.B. Tauris and the Institute of Ismaili Studies, forthcoming 2006) His articles have appeared in the Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd Ed., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd Ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd Ed., Encyclopedia Iranica, Iran Nameh, Iranian Studies, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, British Association for the Study of Religion Bulletin, African Affairs, and Temenos.

He was Research Associate in Esotericism in Islam at the Department of Academic Research and Publications of the Institute of Ismaili Studies (London) from 1999-2005. Since 2004 he has been Lecturer in Persian and Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow in Classical Persian and Sufi Literature at the The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, at the University of Exeter in England.