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Published: Aug 14 2017
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Ata Anzali is an assistant professor of religion at Middlebury College. After undergoing extensive training in traditional Islamic disciplines in Shi'i seminaries of Iran, he moved to the United States and received his Ph.D. in religion from Rice University in 2012. In addition to a number of publications in Persian, his most recent publications in English include two co-authored books: Opposition to Philosophy in Safavid Iran and Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms.
"Mysticism in Iran deserves to be widely read. Of interest to the study of early modern Iran and the processes by which Sufi orders were displaced by elite forms of theoretical mysticism in Iran, those in religious studies analyzing the social contexts for the construction of religious identities will also profit from it. Theoretically sophisticated and based on the analysis of many works that remain in manuscript, it provides us with a key to understanding the contestations over spiritual authority in contemporary Iran."—Sajjad H. Rizvi, University of Exeter
"Ata Anzali brings a fresh approach and great insight to a rich and complex topic, the evolution and transformation of Sufi thought and practice between the Safavids and the Qajars. His study is most innovative in connecting the Safavid to the post-Safavid period by examining the emergence and development of a new type of mysticism, irfan. By tracing its evolving role in the relationship between religion and state from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, Anzali charts the trajectory of irfan toward an individualist open-minded, free-spirited practice compatible with modern science and rationality, and, ultimately, a 'religion after religion.' This is a must-read for anyone interested in the intellectual history of early modern Iran."—Rudolph P. Matthee, University of Delaware
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