Mehrdad Alipour



College: College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Discipline: Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Department: Islamic Studies

I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Exeter, Department of Arab and Islamic Studies. I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Philosophy from the University of Qum (Center of Tarbiat Modarris) in Iran (2007) and I also pursued the study of Islam traditionally at the Seminary (Ḥawzah) of Qum for eighteen years. From 2008 to 2013, I was Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy of Social Sciences at the Research Institute for Social Sciences and Islamic Studies in Iran. During that time, I was also at McGill University (department of philosophy) as a visiting scholar (March 2010 - February 2012). 

My academic career has been divided equally between Philosophy and Islamic Studies. I received my first Ph.D. in Comparative Philosophy, and my dissertation explored epistemic justification with a focus on Roderick Chisholm's concept of Foundationalism. In terms of Islamic studies, I have studied Shīʿī Law and Legal Theory (Uṣūl al-fiqh), as well as Islamic Philosophy (Ḥikma) at the Seminary of Qum. My research, teaching, and publishing deal primarily with legal theory and philosophy, particularly the so-called Philosophy of Illumination of Suhrawardī (d. 1191 CE), and the philosophy of mind (nafs) of Afḍal al-Dīn Kāshānī (d. c. 1213-4) and Mullā Ṣadrā (d. 1640). One of my scholarly monographs, entitled Ḥikmat-i Ishrāq-i Suhrawardī (The Philosophy of Illumination of Suhrawardī), received the prestigious Fārābī International Award in Iran, in 2013.  

Since 2014, my research interests have shifted to gender and sexuality studies (with a focus on Islam). From 2014-16, I was affiliated to the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) funded project ‘Contested privates: the oppositional pairing of religion and homosexuality in contemporary public discourse in the Netherlands’, run by Prof. R. Ruard Ganzevoort and Prof. Anne-Marie Korte (hosted by VU Amsterdam and Utrecht University). In 2015-16, I was awarded a research fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) to continue my study of the subject. In 2016-17, I was affiliated to Utrecht University’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies as a visiting researcher. Overall, during the last five years, I have been working on the subject of Islamic tolerance and gender and sexual diversity (with a focus on transgenderism, homosexuality, and bisexuality). The aim of this research has been to examine the hypothesis that cohesion between Islamic sources and Muslim cultures and transgenderism and same-sex desires and acts can be explained in terms of a paradigm shift in ijtihād, the theory of Islamic toleration, and Islamic diversity.