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In his sparkling new book, “Mysticism” in Iran: The Safavid Roots of a Modern Concept (University of South Carolina Press, 2017), Ata Anzali, Assistant Professor of Religion at Middlebury College, offers a sweeping and brilliant intellectual history of the concept of ‘Irfan in medieval, early Modern, and modern contexts. Combining a mesmerizingly layered analysis of previously unexplored manuscripts with close attention to shifting social and political contexts, Anzali shows, with dazzling nuance, the processes and dynamics that informed the institutionalization of ‘Irfan in Iran. This nimbly written book will be of considerable interest to scholars of Muslim intellectual history and Religious Studies. In this conversation, we talked about the key themes, theoretical interventions, and arguments of this book.

SherAli Tareen is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at Listener feedback is most welcome.

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