The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) is pleased to announce the award of the first Mohammed Arkoun Doctoral Scholarship to Yaser Mirdamadi, who will pursue his doctoral studies at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh. He was selected from amongst 40 applicants from 11 countries.

Mr Mirdamadi’s research will focus on ‘Revelation as Poetics’. He will be exploring this area from a philosophical perspective, paying special attention to the question of revelation in contemporary Muslim and Jewish philosophy and theology. In particular, he will carry out a comparative appraisal of the thought of Abdolkarim Soroush and Martin Buber, particularly their reconsiderations of traditional understandings of the concept of revelation.

Originally from Iran, Mr Mirdamadi undertook a traditional education at the Hawza ‘Ilmiyya seminary in Mashhad. In 2003, he obtained a BA in Islamic Theology from Ferdowsi University in Mashhad, where he also received an MA in 2007, with a dissertation consisting of a critical review and a partial Persian translation of Josef Schacht’s An Introduction to Islamic Law. He later obtained an MA in Muslim Cultures at the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations of the Aga Khan University in London, where he graduated with Distinction, writing a thesis on ‘Soroush and Non-Orthodox Interpretations of the Muslim Revelation’. He has published a number of articles, mainly in Persian, in academic journals and newspapers.

“I had drawn inspiration from Professor Arkoun’s idea of “unthinkable and unthought in Muslim thought” for my MA thesis at AKU-ISMC. The Mohammad Arkoun Doctoral Scholarship has made it possible for me to pursue my passion for examining the historicity of revelation and Muslim theology in hopes of offering an alternative epistemology of religion. This Scholarship allows me to take a step towards narrowing the scope of what is “unthought” and “unthinkable” in Muslim thought,” says Yaser about his influence on his doctoral research.

Dr Farhad Daftary, Co-Director of the IIS and part of the Committee that awarded the scholarship said the committee was impressed by Mr Mirdamadi’s plans for his doctoral research and felt that the subject of ‘revelation as poetics’ sat well with the areas of academic study in which the late Professor Arkoun was interested. Dr Daftary added: “Professor Arkoun made an important contribution to the field of Islamic studies. His original voice helped to develop a critical approach to the history of Islam. In particular, he advocated joint use of historical research and concepts from modern linguistics and social sciences with the aim of creating a new discipline of an anthropological history of Islam. This scholarship will honour his memory and will contribute to work aimed at pursuing cultural and intellectual inquiry in the field of Islamic Studies.”

The Mohammed Arkoun doctoral scholarship was established in 2011 to honour the legacy of Professor Arkoun and his contribution to Islamic studies. The scholarship will be awarded once every four years for a four-year period to a graduate student pursuing research in the field of Islamic studies, preferably in areas and on questions which were of importance to Professor Arkoun’s work. This includes research that looks at historical and modern issues in Islamic thought and society, harnesses the tools of the social sciences and humanities to the study of thought and culture in Muslim societies and considers theoretical frameworks for a critical understanding of religious thought in Muslim communities and other ‘Societies of the Book’.


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