The Department of Mysticism and Spirituality

The Department of Mysticism and Spirituality conducts research on mysticism and spiritual psychology with a specific focus on the Shīʿī tradition. The Shīʿī mystical tradition has much to offer in addressing spiritual needs globally as it offers valuable insights for contemporary contexts such as the current mental health crisis worldwide. By studying this tradition, valuable insights can be gained, enabling its application in contemporary contexts, and fostering meaningful discussions that lead to the development of culturally relevant and practical Shīʿī spiritualities. As part of its research activities, this department hosts a biannual international research conference, research seminars, book reviews, and visiting fellows.  


Head of Department:

Zoheir Esmail, Ph.D. (2016), University of Exeter, is a Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Al-Mahdi Institute. Dr. Esmail qualified as a chartered accountant before pursuing full-time studies in the seminaries of Syria and Qum for a period of 12 years. During that time, he was awarded a doctorate from the University of Exeter with the thesis title: Between Philosophy and ʿIrfān: Interpreting Mullā Ṣadrā from the Qajars to Post-Revolutionary Iran. He returned to the UK in 2020 and taught a number of traditional and academic, graduate, and postgraduate courses including transcendental philosophy, logic, contemporary thought in the Muslim world, and human rights and Islam. He also teaches the whole spectrum of Islamic studies at various levels privately. His research interests include mysticism, spiritual psychology, transcendental philosophy, early Islamic history, Quranic exegesis, and hadith.

Research Conferences

The Department of Mysticism and Spirituality hosts a biannual international conference, which serves as a forum for scholars and academics from around the world to share and discuss their latest research findings in the field of Islamic mysticism and spirituality. Below are details of the upcoming conference.

AMI’s Department of Mysticism and Spirituality is pleased to open registration for their upcoming two-day conference, running from Monday, 22nd April until Tuesday, 23rd April 2024, titled: ‘The Oneness of Being (Waḥdat al-Wujūd): Interpretation, Reception, and Implications‘ convened by Dr Zoheir Esmail. The purpose of this two-day inaugural Mysticism and Spirituality conference at Al-Mahdi Institute is to explore the different perspectives and implications of the concept of waḥdat al-Wujūd and to reflect on its reception in the Muslim world. By discussing how various scholars from diverse denominations and in different geographical locations have engaged with the doctrine and its applications in elucidating the scriptural sources (Qurʾān, aḥādīth and liturgical literature), the papers presented at this conference will provide a more nuanced appreciation of the complexities involved in understanding the doctrine of waḥdat al-Wujūd in historical and modern contexts. Read more.

Research Seminars

Research Seminars welcome academics and dedicated researchers specialising in Mysticism and Spirituality to present their latest research findings. These seminars serve as a confluence of expertise and innovative perspectives, designed to benefit students, scholars, and individuals who are passionate about staying abreast of the latest advancements within this field. Some of the most recent seminars held include:

Shi’i Sufism: An Early Modern Mystical Shi’i Commentary

Dr Alessandro Cancian

Book Talks

Book Talks feature renowned academics and authors from the field of Mysticism and Spirituality to deliver insightful reviews and discussions of their most prominent works, to enrich the global community of researchers, scholars, and individuals with an interest in this specialist field. Some of the most recent book talks held include:

Into the Wild

Sayyid Hussain Makke

Latest News

Below are the latest news and developments related to the Department of Mysticism and Spirituality:

Dr Seyed Amir Hossein Asghari joins AMI as a Visiting Research Fellow for the Department of Mysticism and Spirituality.

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The Department is Mysticism and Spirituality opens applications for a three-month visiting fellowship at AMI.

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The Department of Mysticism and Spirituality announces its call for papers for its inaugural research conference in April 2023.

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