Spotlight: Iranian and Persian Studies

Iran and Iranian studies are becoming hot topics in scholarship—particularly under the recent regional and international developments—similar to studies regarding the Persianate World. This page, curated by Abbas Aghdassi, features a select group of annotated bibliographies from existing subject areas in Oxford Bibliographies that address key topics in Iranian and Persian Studies. The content of this page will evolve as new and more relevant scholarship is published.

We welcome new bibliographic articles on different aspects of Iranian and Persian Studies (see the call). The new articles will be categorized under one of the related Oxford Bibliographies subject module. Articles from both disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches are highly encouraged.


  • Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (Islamic Studies

    “Fakhr al-Din Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al-Razi (b. c. 1149–d. 1210) was one of the most important philosophers and theologians of the post-classical period of Islam, that is, the period after al-Ghazali (d. 1111). In philosophy, Fakhr al-Din rearranged the structure of the philosophical summa in the Islamic East and thus also the curriculum of philosophical studies.” - Frank Griffel

  • al-Ghazali (Islamic Studies) 

    “Al-Ghazali (c. 1058–1111) is widely regarded as one of the most impressive thinkers in the Sunni Islamic world, encompassing a wide range of intellectual positions through his career.” - Oliver Leaman

  • Ibn Sīnā (Islamic Studies

    “Ibn Sīnā (370–429 AH/980–1037 CE) is generally considered to be one of the most creative thinkers within the Peripatetic tradition, doing much to formalize the structure of philosophy of his time. Like most of the other philosophers, he was also interested in mysticism, although the extent of this interest is often overemphasized.”- Oliver Leanman

  • Miskawayh (Islamic Studies

    “Miskawayh (b. 932–d. 1030) was a formative Islamic philosopher in the 10th century. He is known for his work both as a historian and a philosopher (see Arkoun 1982, cited under Miskawayh’s Influence).” - Ufuk Topkara

  • Mulla Sadra (Islamic Studies

    “Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Yahya al-Qawami al-Shirazi (b. 1571–d. 1640), sometimes referred to as Sadr al-Din Shirazi and known commonly as Mulla Sadra, is one of the prominent figures of the post-Avicennan (Ibn Sina; d. 1037) period of Islamic philosophy.” - Ibrahim Kalin


  • Battle of Salamis: 480 BC (Military History

    “In 480 BCE, the Greeks defeated the Persian fleet off the island of Salamis in the largest naval battle ever fought in the ancient world. The Greek victory proved to be the turning point in the war, for the Persian king, Xerxes, returned to Asia with his surviving ships and the majority of his land troops.” - Peter Krentz

  • Bukharan Jews (Jewish Sudies)

    “Bukharan Jews (also known as Bukharian Jews or Bokharan Jews) are from the territory in Central Asia that is today demarcated by the independent states of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Some folk tales assert that ancestors of these Jews were among the Lost Tribes, who arrived in this region after the Assyrian exile in 722 BCE.” - Alanna Cooper

  • Safavids (Islamic Studies

    "The Safavid period is conventionally dated from the capture of Tabriz in 1501 by Ismail I (d. 1524) to the fall of the capital Esfahan to the Afghans in 1722. As such, the Safavid dynasty was the longest-ruling dynasty in Iran’s history, since its conquest by Arab Muslim armies in the 640s, and stands between Iran’s medieval and modern history.” - Andrew J. Newman

  • The "Persian" Period (Biblical Studies)

    “In the context of biblical studies, the term “Persian period” is usually taken to refer to the time when the Ancient Persians were in power throughout the Near East. These early Persians are also referred to as “Achaemenids,” after the eponymous ancestor first named in inscriptions by Darius I, and later mentioned by Herodotus.” - Jenny Rose

  • The Babi Movement (Islamic Studies

    "The Babi movement, or Babism (Babiyya) was a post-Islamic religion that emerged from the matrix of Shaykhism in 19th-century Iran and derives its name from the Iranian prophet, Sayyid ʿAli Muhammad Shirazi (b. 1819–d. 1850), the Bab (Arabic: Gate)." - Farshid Kazemi, Armin Eschraghi


  • Islam in Iran (Islamic Studies

    “The terms “Persia” and “Persians” are seldom used in the early 21st century except in the United Kingdom or in reference to ancient, pre-Islamic Iran and Iranians, or in reference to “cultural” phenomena. “Iran” and “Iranians” are the terms used by Iranians themselves since at least 1935, when Reza Shah (d. 1941) ordered that “Iran” be used in all official correspondence." - Andrew A. Newman

  • Ismaʿili Shiʿa (Islamic Studies

    “The Ismaʿilis, the second largest branch of the Shiʿa, take their name from their imam, Ismaʿil b. Jaʿfar al-Sadiq. They branched off from the main group, the Imāmiyya, following the death of Jaʿfar al-Sadiq in 148/765 in a dispute regarding the latter’s succession.” - Ismail Poonawala

  • Shaykhism (Islamic Studies

    “The Shaykhīs (Shaykhīyya) or the Shyakhī school (also called the Kashfiyya), is a movement that emerged within Twelver Shīʿī Islam (Ithnā ʿasharī) in 19th-century Iran and Iraq, and derives its teachings from the charismatic philosopher and mystic Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsāʾī (d. 1826 [AH 1241])), and his successor Sayyid Kāẓim al-Rashtī (d. 1844 [AH 1259])." - Farshid Kazemi

  • Shi`i Islam (Islamic Studies

    “Shiʿi Muslims believe that after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE his cousin and son-in-law ʿAli (died 661) inherited Muhammad's spiritual and political authority over the umma (Muslim community)." - - Andrew A. Newman

  • Sufism (Islamic Studies

    "Sufism” is the English term used to refer to mystical interpretations and practices of the Islamic religion. This mystical strand is designated in Arabic by the term tasawwuf, while in Persian the term irfan (gnosis) is also used." - Marcia Hermansen


  • Ethnographic Films from Iran (Anthropology)

    “Iranian ethnographic films began with a focus on preserving Iran’s diverse traditions and indigenous cultures. Many of these films were salvage documentaries marked by nostalgia for disappearing traditions of rural and tribal life." - Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri

  • Iranian Cinema (Cinema and Media Studies)

    “Iranian cinema first came under international attention for its prerevolutionary art cinema known as the Iranian New Wave and more widely for its postrevolutionary cinematic movement called the New Iranian Cinema.” - Farshid Kazemi

  • Music in Afghanistan (Music)

    “The literature on the musics of the peoples of Afghanistan is recent and small. Due to the cross-regional setting, Afghanistan’s music cultures and literature overlap with three neighboring zones: the Iranian, the Central Asian, and the South Asian.” - Mark Slobin

  • Music in Iran (Music)

    “Iran is a vast multiethnic and multilingual state with rich and diverse musical traditions. What is often called “Persian music” refers to the canonical repertoire that is also known as classical, sonnati (traditional), asil (authentic), honari (art), ʿelmi (learned), or dastgahi (dastgah is the name given to principal divisions of the modal system), and is associated with the Persian language (Farsi) and poetry.” - Ameneh Youssefzadeh

  • Timurid Art and Architecture (Art History)

    “The Timurid dynasty (1370–1506) emerged from the confederation of nomadic tribes making up the Ulus Chaghatay in central Asia. In its political and social structure and cultural traditions, the Ulus Chaghatay shared much in common with the preceding regional political entity, the Chaghatay Khanate, first created by Genghis Khan in 1227, which endured until 1363 as one political unit of the Mongol Empire." - David J. Roxburgh


  • Muhammad Khatami (Islamic Studies

    “Muhammad Khatami was born on 14 October 1943 in the city of Ardakan in the Yazd Province in central Iran. He is a Shi’a cleric with a rank of Hojjatol Eslam (authority or proof of Islam), an honorific title applied to middle-ranking theologians in the Twelver Shi’ism.” - Nader Entessar

  • Political Development of Iran (Political Science)

    “Iran’s political development has undergone momentous changes over the past century: the advent of constitutionalism in 1906–1911; the period of absolutist rule and stealth modernization under two Pahlavi monarchs; the brief period of parliamentary democracy under the premiership of Mohammad Mossadeq; the Islamic revolution in 1979 with its attendant conservative, pragmatic, reformist, neoconservative, and neopragmatist incarnations.” - Huss Banai

  • Politics and Foreign Policy of Iran (International Relations)

    “A nation of rich intellectual and historical background, Iran is indeed one of the oldest surviving civilizations in the world. Its political and intellectual depth has profoundly shaped a region of the world known as the Middle East.” - Mahmood Monshipouri

  • Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini (Islamic Studies

    “The Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini (b. 1902–d. 1989) was a senior Shiʿa theologian and the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was a controversial figure credited with reviving the modern wave of Islamism in the world and founding the first modern Shiʿa theocracy. Khomeini combined political activism with religious scholarship.” - Nader Entessar

  • The Iranian Revolution (Islamic Studies

    “The Iranian revolution of 1978–1979 has been one of the most significant sociopolitical developments in the Middle East and the entire Muslim world since the early years of the 20th century."- Nader Entessar

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