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Ahab Bdaiwi

University Lecturer

Dr. A. Bdaiwi
+31 71 527 1639

My research ventures into an array of subjects and themes in Islamic studies but oftentimes revolves around the disciplines of philosophy, theology, intellectual history, and oriental manuscripts in Islamicate societies.

More information about Ahab Bdaiwi


My research ventures into an array of subjects and themes in Islamic studies but oftentimes revolves around the disciplines of philosophy, theology, intellectual history, and oriental manuscripts in Islamicate societies.

In philosophy, I focus majorly on Avicenna (d. 1037), Avicennan, and post-Avicennan Arabic-Islamic philosophy in the medieval period. Central to my concerns are the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophical theology, particularly the writings of philosophising Sunni (Ashʿari) theologians in the post-classical period, chief among whom are: Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210), ʿAdud al-Din al-Iji (d. 1355), al-Sayyid al-Sharif al-Jurjani (d. 1413), and Jalal al-Din al-Dawani (d. 1502), and especially the Shiʿi philosophers of Shiraz, Sadr al-Din al-Dashtaki (d. 1498) and Ghiyath al-Din al-Dashtaki (d. 1542), and their students. Primarily, my work addresses the following topics: the principles of existence (wujud), the nature of the soul and self-awareness, the debate on the ontological priority of existence or essence, proofs for the necessary being, the divine attributes-essence problem, and knowing and modes of knowing.

In theology, I conduct research on the interaction and interplay between Avicennan metaphysics, Akbarian mysticism, and Shiʿi philosophical theology in the period between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. The leading protagonists whose writings I study are: Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d. 1274), the philosophers of Bahrain, al-ʿAllama al-Hilli (d. 1325), and the Safavid-era philosophers such as Mulla Sadra (d. 1635) and Fayz Kashani (d. 1680). Of central importance to my research are the following topics: religious epistemology and the place of Shiʿi scriptures, theories of imamate, the metaphysical conception of the Shiʿi Imam, and the reception of Ibn ʿArabi (d. 1240) and critiques of Sufism and monism in philosophical Shiʿism.

In intellectual history, I study the doctrines and doctrinal development of Shiʿi Islam between Late Antiquity and the late medieval period. I turn my attention to such topics as conceptions of God, the nature of belief (orthodoxy) and disbelief (heresy), philosophical esotericism and occultism (including early gnostic literature), cosmological anthropology, apocalypticism, the nature of man, philosophical eschatology, the metaphysical nature of the Imam, rationalism and proto-theology, and general metaphysical speculations in the Shiʿi literature. To a lesser extent, I also attempt to trace the provenance of philosophical doctrines and intellectual concepts key to the genesis of early Shiʿism and its concomitant philosophical traditions. In the main, and as means of comparison with post-Islamic philosophical traditions, I engage with Christian and Jewish philosophical writings (from 400-900 AD) in Arabic, Syriac, and, pending on-going training, Hebrew.

In Islamic studies, I am interested in the historical development of the transmitted sciences in Shiʿism, chiefly legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh), qurʾanic studies, and hadith criticism. My attention is cast over the epistemological foundations and rational principles that suffuse medieval and modern Shiʿi legal theory, the uses of hadith in theology, apocalyptic, and eschatological literature, as well as the assessment of ‘heretical’ transmitters, or riwyat. In qurʾanic studies I look at conception of the Qurʾan and its reception among philosophers and theologians, and the reception and transmission of qurʾanic codices in medieval Shiʿism.

I am also an avid admirer and student of Islamic manuscripts, and to a lesser extent, codicology. My research explores the little-appreciated genres of commentaries, glosses, and marginal notes of codices in the manuscript tradition, as well as the preservation/collection and transmission of manuscripts in medieval Iran and Iraq that address, in the main, the rational sciences and intellectual traditions.

Curriculum vitae

Dr. A. Bdaiwi studied at the Universities of London and Exeter, and received his PhD in Arabic and Islamic Philosophy from the University of Exeter (2014). He spent three years as a lecturer in Islamic and Iranian intellectual history at the University of St Andrews (2013-2016). In January 2016 he was Visiting Scholar of Medieval Studies at the College of William and Mary. Since August 2016 he is Assistant Professor of Medieval Arabic Philosophy at Leiden University. He is also a member of the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS). 

Teaching activities

I teach the following courses at undergraduate (BA) level: History of Philosophy, Introduction to Medieval Philosophy, Introduction to Shiʿi Islam, and Classical Readings.   

University Lecturer

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  • Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte

Work address

P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden
Room number 2.11



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