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Job Opening: Beyond Sharia: The Role of Sufism in Shaping Islam

Beyond Sharia: The Role of Sufism in Shaping Islam (chaired by Prof. Asghar Seyed-Gohrab) examines the emergence, flourishing and lasting appeal of non-conformist movements in Islamic intellectual history from the tenth century to the present day, investigating how Islamic antinomian movements consolidated Islam in a vast region from the Balkans to Bengal, while offering methods of self-reflection that allowed for critical thinking within Islamic streams of thought.

By examining how generations of Islamic mystics and intellectuals in the Persianate world challenged, redefined or rejected Islamic canonical law in their poetic, artistic, philosophical and political writings and teachings, this project generates significant new insights into transgression in Islam.

Important Data

The application deadline: 15 November 2021.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities

Department: Departement Filosofie en Religiewetenschap, Utrecht University

Hours per week: 38 to 40

Please indicate for which of the following projects you would like to apply:

  1. The PhD candidate will conduct research into the phenomenon of the wise fools in the early period of Islam, in particular consulting Arabic and Persian hagiographical and literary sources, while also paying attention to other religious traditions in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.
  2. The PhD candidate will examine the figure of a non-conformist Islamic dervish called qalandar and his conceptual world, the theological debates these dervishes generated, and the different ways in which qalandari topoi were applied in classical Persian poetry: in the religious or secular sphere, metaphorically or in reality.
  3. The PhD candidate will examine ‘Divine Religion’ (din-e elahi) at the Indian Mughal court of Emperor Akbar. While analysing the roots and implications of this Divine Religion and its concomitant “Universal Peace,” the student will contextualise the works of the poet laureate Feyzi (1547-1595) and other prominent courtly figures, paying attention to the polemical arguments against the Divine Religion.
  4. The PhD candidate will investigate the modern reception history of the 13th-century mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi, focusing on how his non-conformist ideas are interpreted as a humanist philosophy, transcending religious boundaries.


The successful candidate will have:

  • a Master’s degree either in Persian Studies, Islamic Studies, Arabic Studies or Religious Studies by the time of appointment;
  • the ability to work both independently and collaboratively, with good organizational and communication skills;
  • creativity and is innovative in her/his work;
  • expertise in working with primary Persian and Arabic primary sources;
  • proficiency in spoken and written English.


This is a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for the duration of 18 months. In case of good performance and a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 30 months (4 years in total). The gross salary starts with €2,434 per month in the first year and increases to €3,111 per month in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) for a full-time employment.

Besides that, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development and an excellent pension scheme.

About the organisation

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Humanities has around 6,000 students and 900 staff members. It comprises four knowledge domains: Philosophy and Religious Studies, History and Art History, Media and Culture Studies, and Languages, Literature and Communication. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent amenities in the historical city center of Utrecht, where the Faculty is housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact: prof. dr. Asghar Seyed-Gohrab external link (Professor), via a.a.seyed-gohrab@uu.nl external link


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the ‘apply’ button below.

The application should include:

  • a brief cover letter discussing what interests you about this position and your research theme, how your background prepares you for the research, and any other information about your circumstances relevant to assessing your suitability for the position (app. 500 words);
  • a curriculum vitae. Please include the names and contact details of two referees whom we may contact.

In case you are shortlisted, we will also invite you to prepare a short research proposal.

Interviews will be scheduled to take place by early January 2022 and are likely to be conducted online, via Zoom. Employment will become effective on 1 March or 1 April 2022 or, by mutual agreement, shortly thereafter.

For more information Click Here.

About Ali Teymoori

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