Universiteit Leiden

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Ahab Bdaiwi

University Lecturer

Dr. A. Bdaiwi
+31 71 527 1639


My research interests are four-fold:

First, my research focuses majorly on 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 Sunni Ashʿari philosophers (chief among whom are Razi, Iji, Jurjani, and Dawani), and especially the Dashtaki philosophers and their students. Primarily, my work addresses the following topics: the general and specific principles of existence, the nature of the soul, mental existence, the distinction between existence and essence, the necessary being and proofs for its existence, metaphysical causality, Arabic Neoplatonism: monism and pluralism, the origins of the cosmos and debates on its pre-eternity, and definitions of knowledge and its modes.

Second, I conduct research on the interaction and interplay between Avicennan metaphysics and Shiʿi philosophical theology in the period between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. The leading protagonists whose philosophical writings I study are: Nasir al-Din Tusi, the philosophers of Bahrain, al-Hilli, and the Safavid-era philosophers such as Mulla Sadra and Fayz Kashani. Of central importance to my research are the following topics: debates on religious epistemology, conceptions of the metaphysics of divine justice, the nature and attributes of God, definitions of the intellect, and Islamic ethical theories with reference to moral objectivism and theistic subjectivism.

Third, I am interested in the philosophical and intellectual dimensions of Shiʿism in Late Antiquity and the early medieval period. I turn my attention to the philosophical content of early Shiʿi traditions (i.e., of the ghulat and rationalists) and modes of spirituality, addressing such topics as conceptions of belief, cosmology, the nature of man, philosophical eschatology, the metaphysical nature of the Imam, rationalism and proto-theology, and general metaphysical speculations. I 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 further training, Hebrew.

Fourth, occasionally I foray into contemporary Islamic philosophy motivated in part by my interest in conceptions of metaphysics and epistemology within the learned circles of the seminaries of Iraq and Iran. Philosophical motifs and philosophical arguments abound in the writings of traditional Shiʿi-Muslim jurists, who, in recent times, have looked cautiously at the revival of philosophy in the traditional religious seminaries. I am especially interested in the variegated conceptions of philosophy, the use of philosophical argument, and critiques of philosophy among the scholarly elite.

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, and Classical Readings.

University Lecturer

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 1.20



No relevant ancillary activities