Research Seminar: Intellectual Synthesis and Separation: Exploring Sufism and Philosophy in Shia Seminaries

On Wednesday 8th May 2024, AMI’s Department of Mysticism and Spirituality will be hosting a research seminar on ‘Intellectual Synthesis and Separation: Exploring Sufism and Philosophy in Shia Seminaries’ by AMI’s Visiting Research Fellow, Dr Seyed Amir Hossein Asghari.


This seminar examines the intellectual evolution and contrasting schools within contemporary Shia seminaries, specifically focusing on the Sufi/ʿIrfānī School of Najaf and the Maktab-i Tafkīk (School of Separation). It explores the historical development and philosophical synthesis of the Sufi School, which integrates philosophy, revelation, and Sufism, juxtaposed against the Maktab-i Tafkīk, which advocates for their separation. Highlighting contributions from key figures such as Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabāʼī, the talk delves into how these schools have influenced Shia theological discourse, advocating a comprehensive interpretation of fiqh that includes both legal and esoteric knowledge. The seminar also addresses the challenges and criticisms from within the Shia community regarding the place of Sufi practices and philosophical inquiries in seminary education, aiming to provide a deeper understanding of their impact on Islamic thought and practice.

Speaker bio:

Dr Seyed Amir Hossein Asghari is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Baylor University, focusing on interreligious understanding and the Islamic Intellectual tradition, notably Sufism and Shiism. His postdoctoral project involves a collaboration with Dr. Paul Martens on “Natural Law: Islamic and Christian Approaches.” Also serving as a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Middle East at Indiana University, where he earned his Ph.D., Asghari’s upcoming academic publication, “Scholars and Mystics,” examines the dialogue between philosophy and Sufism in Shia Seminary.


The seminar will be held in-house at Al-Mahdi Institute on Wednesday 8th May 2024 at 3:00pm – 4:30pm (BST). All are welcome to attend and there is no fee for attendance. For those unable to join in person, please register to join online here.

We look forward to your participation in the seminar.