College of Humanities, Department of History, Department of Religions and Philosophies & School of History, Religions and Philosophies

Professor Ayman Shihadeh

Key information

Department of History Professor of the Intellectual History of the Islamic World Member School of History, Religions and Philosophies Head of School
BA (London), MSt, DPhil (Oxford)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Telephone number
+44(0) 20 7898 4343


I am an intellectual historian of the Islamic world, whose research focuses on the history of theology, philosophy and wider intellectual and religious culture.

After receiving a first-class BA (Hons) from SOAS, I completed my postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford in 2002, and then taught at the Universities of Edinburgh, Exeter and Glasgow before joining SOAS in 2008. I was awarded the Senior Humanities Research Fellowship at New York University Abu Dhabi for two years, between 2019-2021.

My main areas of research interest include the history of systematic theology, the Avicennan philosophical tradition, and the interaction between philosophy and religious thought in the pre-modern Islamic world. I am interested in the thought, especially in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, anthropology and dialectical practices, as well as the sources and wider environments in which thought developed and was transmitted and contested.

My publications include several books, including two monographs, the first on the ethical theory of the influential theologian-cum-philosopher Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210), and the second on the little-studied 12th-century philosopher Sharaf al-Din al-Mas‘udi, as well as studies on Avicenna (d. 1037), al-Ghazali (d. 1111), Ash‘arism and Mu‘tazilism.

The first monograph later appeared in Arabic and Turkish translations. My current research investigates sources from the 10th through the 13th centuries.

I have been active in service to the academic community by serving in the following roles:

  • member of the History Sub-panel in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), the official system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions
  • Editor-in-Chief, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
  • Editor-in-Chief, Islamic Translation Series. (Brill, previously BYU Press)
  • Editor of the Philosophy and Theology section, Encyclopaedia of Islam (Brill)
  • member of the advisory boards of several academic journals and research projects, including Global Intellectual History, Oriens: Journal of Philosophy, Theology and Science in Islamic Societies, and Islamicate Intellectual History. 

My previous roles include co-chairing and then chairing the British Association for Islamic Studies between 2012-2019, and founding and chairing the BRAIS-De Gruyter Prize in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World.

Previous doctoral supervisees:

Current doctoral supervisees:

I convene the SOAS Intellectual History Reading Group, which is attended by scholars and doctoral students. We study medieval Arabic texts, which tend to be of an advanced nature.

Research interests

Medieval Arabic intellectual history; the history of medieval Arabic philosophy and Islamic theology, especially kalam; Arabic codicology

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Tariq Mir "Conceptualising Reality" in the Theology of Saʿd al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī (d. 792AH / 1390CE)
Miss Mariam Shehata God, Time, and the World: Abū l-Barakāt al-Baghdādī’s Theory of Divine Temporality