The Institute of Ismaili Studies is pleased to welcome Dr Maria De Cillis as a Research Associate in the Department of Academic Research and Publications. Dr De Cillis completed her undergraduate studies in the field of English and Arabic Languages and Literatures at the Università degli Studi di Napoli - L’Orientale in Naples, Italy, in 2001. In 2004, she completed an MA in Islamic Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Dr De Cillis continued her interest in Islamic studies by completing a PhD at SOAS where her thesis was entitled: The Discourse of Compromise: Theoretical Constructs of Free Will and Predestination in the Works of Avicenna, Ghazali and Ibn al-‘Arabi. The thesis examines the contributions made by these scholars to discourses on doctrines of free will and predestination in classical Islamic thought. Her work showed how these luminaries were committed to compromise between philosophical, theological and mystical outlooks.

Her research interests include the Islamic tradition in the formative period, Islamic theology ('ilm al-kalam), the study of the Qur’an, Islamic philosophy (falsafa) and Islamic spirituality and mysticism (al-tasawwuf), as part of the evolution of Islamic intellectual history.

She has taught at Birkbeck College and SOAS, and her publications include an article entitled Avicenna’s Qur’anic Discourse on Prime Matter, published in the Journal of Qur’anic Studies as well as fourteen biographical entries and translations for the Biographical Dictionary of Islamic Civilisation and Culture, both forthcoming in 2012.