SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Dr Hannah Erlwein

  • Teaching


Staff Silhouette
Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS)

Editorial Assistant

Near and Middle East Section, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Senior Teaching Fellow

London Middle East Institute (LMEI)


Dr Hannah Erlwein
Email address:
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Internal Supervisors


I am Senior Teaching Fellow at the Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East at SOAS, teaching courses on a variety of aspects related to the study of the Qur’an, tafsīr (Qur’anic commentary), ḥadīth (Prophetic traditions), sīra (biography of the Prophet), as well as Sufism. I have previously taught Arabic grammar tutorials for undergraduate students. I am also an editorial assistant within the Centre of Islamic Studies at SOAS, being involved in the publication of the Journal of Qur’anic Studies. I recently graduated from SOAS with a PhD in Islamic Studies. Prior to this, I obtained an MA in Middle East Studies from the University of Exeter and an MA in Islamic Studies from SOAS.

PhD Research

The title of my thesis is “Arguments for the Existence of God in Classical Islamic Thought: A Re-appraisal of Perspectives and Discourses”. It challenges the assumption, frequently articulated in previous studies, that a key element of medieval Islamic theology (kalām) and philosophy (falsafa) was the endeavour to prove God’s existence through reason and rational argumentation. My thesis, however, proposes a major re-evaluation of this classical Islamic discourse. It argues that there are no proofs for God’s existence to be found in the works of medieval Islamic theologians and philosophers. This is not to say that their arguments are flawed and do not succeed in proving God’s existence; rather, it argues that their arguments have a different objective: these scholars never sought to prove that God exists. Based on a great number of primary sources from the 3rd-7th/9th-13th centuries, including such works as Ibn Sīnā’s (d. 427/1037) al-Shifāʾ, al-Ghazālī’s (d. 505/1111) Tahāfut al-falāsifa, and Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s (d. 606/1209) al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, I seek to answer the following two main question: first, where has previous scholarship misunderstood the discourse in question? And second, what did Islamic theologians and philosophers seek to prove, if it is not that God exists?