The Shiʿi Studies Unit

One of the most important aims of the Shiʿi Studies Unit is to enhance our understanding of the plurality of traditions within Shiʿi Islam in both its historical and contemporary contexts. We aim to elucidate common grounds among the various traditions based on a comprehensive multidisciplinary and civilisational approach. This is a natural extension of the Institute’s distinctive and significant work in the field of Ismaili studies.  

A book cover of the book 'The study of Shii Islam'

Our Strategy

We explore a range of key themes and provide a deeper understanding through high-quality research on: Shiʿi history, thought, interpretations of the Qurʾan, religious law, intellectual traditions, the nature and role of religious authority, and the formation of rites and rituals. We also conduct research on the contributions of Shiʿi communities to intellectual traditions, arts, music, architecture and literature through the ages.  

We established the Shiʿi Heritage Series to disseminate our research and expand our academic partnerships internationally. It seeks to bring together some of the most significant contributions in the study of Shiʿi Islam through an interdisciplinary approach, making these accessible to a wide audience of academics and non-specialists.   

In addition to their research and publication work, members of the unit offer a core course entitled "Key moments in Shiʿi History, Thought and Society" as part of the Institute's Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH).  

GPISH Programme


Our research 

The overriding research objective of the Shiʿi Studies Unit is to enhance scholarly attention to Shiʿi Islam. We seek to promote a better understanding of its history, doctrines and practices, as well as how these relate to issues of modernity and contemporary manifestations of Shiʿi traditions in arenas as diverse as culture, politics, economics and law. 

To achieve this objective, we constantly strive to adhere to the principle of academic excellence. We also collaborate with other institutions and eminent as well as young scholars to enhance the status of Shiʿi studies within the wider fields of Islamic studies, religious studies and humanities at large.  

Our broad definition of what constitutes Shiʿi Islam is an important and defining characteristic of our approach to Shiʿi studies. We study not only the three major branches of Shiʿi Islam (Twelver, Ismaili and Zaydi), but also groups and communities that had historical, theological and doctrinal relationships with them, such as the Sufis, Druze, Hurufiyya and Nusayriyya.