Photo of Associate Professor Sajjad Rizvi

Associate Professor Sajjad Rizvi

Research Interests

My research interests lie mainly in three concurrent (and I hope complementary) areas:

1. Islamic philosophical traditions in particular Mulla Sadra (d. c. 1635) and Safavid philosophies. I am interested in a number of intersecting problems: first, the relationship between philosophy and other intellectual disciplines such as theology and rational mysticism; second, the course of Neoplatonism(s) in later Islamic thought; third, concepts of the self and self-reflective understanding of philosophy in Islamic culture; fourth, problems of epistemological systems in later Islamic thought; fifth, the legacy of Safavid thought in particular in India; and finally, philosophical theology, the God-world relationship and the possibility of God-talk. This is my primary area of interest. In this context, I am involved in two projects: a European collaboration to produce a new critical edition and study of the so-called Theology of Aristotle funded by the Italian Humanities research council, and a collaborative project to study neotics and the theory of the soul in Arabic-Islamic Philosophy organised by CNRS, Paris.

2. Qur'anic studies and textual hermeneutics. How do interpreters confront and envision the text? How does one make sense of the exegetical traditions in Islam? I am particularly interested in Sufi and Shi'i experiential and mystical exegeses and hermeneutics of the text. Here, I am continuing my association with the Quranic Studies Unit at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London.

3. Shi'i theology of all three branches. I have been interested for some time in the relationship between Mu'tazili thought and Shi'i theologies and am focused on three areas: first, the non-Mu'tazili Zaydi tradition exemplified by Sayyid Humaydan b. Yahya (fl. 13th century); second, the development of Twelver traditions of philosophical theology focusing on the role of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d. 1274) and al-'Allama al-Hilli (d. 1325); and third, the development of Ismaili thought in the pre-Alamut period.

Research Supervision

I am happy to supervise research students in Islamic intellectual history, Qur'anic studies, Shi'i thought and aspects of contemporary Islamic thought.

I have examined the following:
Yanis Esots, 'Mulla Sadra on Mysticism and Philosophy', PhD University of Tallinn, Estonia, May 2007.
Mohamad Hossein Talebi, 'A critical study of Finnis' Natural Law Theory from an Islamic philosophical perspective', PhD University of Manchester, July 2005.
Soudabeh Marin, 'Ostad Elahi: ethique, conscience, droits et devoirs de l'homme', PhD Universite de Paris X- Nanterre, June 2006.

Mohamed Haj Yousef, 'The concept of time in Ibn 'Arabi's cosmology', PhD University of Exeter, May 2005.
Mahmoud el-Kastawy, 'Al-Biruni and cross-cultural dialogue', PhD University of Exeter, March 2007

Research Students

I have successfully supervised the following doctoral projects:

Rushdan Jailani, The Sufi Metaphysics of Shamsuddin Sumatrai (d. 1630) - 2007

Khalil Toussi-Alaghebandi, The Ethics and Politics of Mulla Sadra (d. 1640) - 2007

Chi-Chung (Andy) Yu, Islamic Responses to Modernity: Comparing Tariq Ramadan and Seyyed Hossein Nasr - 2008

Saud el-Tamamy, The Metaphysics of Political Philosophy: Comparing Averroes and Kant - 2009

Kemal Argon, An Intellectual History of Islamism in Pakistan - 2010

Babar Ahmed, Toward a rational Hermeneutics of Islam - 2011 

Minlib Dallh - Serge de Beaureceuil and Abdullah Ansari - 2011 

Ammar Nakhjuvani, A Source-critical Approach to Leadership in Early Islam: The Case of Muʿāwiya bin Abī Sufyān - 2011 

Khaled Troudi, Qurʾanic Hermeneutics and Narratives: A Study of Medieval Exegetical Traditions - 2011

Ghazoan Ali, Substance and Things: Dualism and Unity in the Islamic Cultural Field - 2012 



I am currently supervising the following doctoral projects:

  • Khairul Anam Che Mentri, Avicenna's Philosophy of Science. PhD FT.
  • Gehad Abdelkhalek, Being, Reification and the Problem of Ritual in Islam. PhD FT.
  • Amin Ehteshami, Shiʿi Hermeneutics. PhD FT. 
  • Usama al-Atar, Theology in the Nahj al-balāgha. PhD FT. 
  • Charalampos Varvouzanis, The Theology of Jihad: Medieval Precedent and Modern Ideology. PhD FT.
  • Ahab Bdaiwi, Mulla Sadra and the School of Shiraz. PhD FT.
  • Zubir Ahmed, Ethno-Sectarian Conflict and State Building in Iraq post-2003. PhD FT.
  • Ahmad al-Malik. Orientalism and Occidentalism in Arabic and English Novels post 1991. PhD FT.
  • Mirza Abbas, An Intellectual Biography of 'Allama Tabataba'i. PhD FT.
  • Zuheir Esmail, From the School of Tehran to the School of Qum: Mystical Philosophy in Iran. PhD FT.
  • Amina Inloes, The Construction of Gender in Classical Shiʿi Texts. PhD PT.
  • Sumeyye Parildar, Intentionality in Mullā Ṣadrā. PhD FT. 
  • Pooya Razavian, Faith, Autonomy and Freedom in Contemporary Shiʿi Thought. PhD FT.