Photo of Dr Leonard Lewisohn

Dr Leonard Lewisohn

Research Interests

Dr. Lewisohn’s research interests are focused on Sufism and classical Persian poetry. He is currently working on several projects:

  • 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 has 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:

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: 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