Biography

Shafique N. Virani
Visiting Research Fellow

Introduction

Professor Shafique N. Virani is a scholar of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto. He was previously on the faculty of Harvard University and was later the Head of World Humanities at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. After earning a joint honours degree with distinction in Religious Studies and Middle East Studies and a master's degree in Islamic Studies at McGill University in Montreal, he completed an MA and PhD at Harvard University. His doctoral thesis was awarded 'Best Dissertation of the Year' by the Foundation for Iranian Studies, earned Harvard University's Ilse Lichtenstadter Memorial Publication Prize, and was recognized by the Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award of the Middle East Studies Association as 'a path-breaking work of Islamic history.' It was also named International Book of the Year by the government of Iran, which invited him to Tehran as an official guest of state for the awards ceremony.
 
Professor Virani's research focuses on Islamic history, philosophy, Sufisminfo-icon, Shi'ism, and Islamic literatures in Persian and South Asian languages. He has contributed articles to the Journal of the American Oriental Society, the Encyclopaedia of Religion, the Annual of Urdu Studies and several other academic journals and books. He also served on the board of editors for the Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review. His most recent publication is through Oxford University Press and is entitled The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation. To view the Book Trailer, please click here.
 
Professor Virani's teaching experience spans not only a diversity of subject matters but educational contexts as well. He has taught illiterate boatmen on the banks of the Ganges and members of the royal family in Abu Dhabi, Afghan refugee children in Calgary and Indonesian mullahs at McGill, troubled teenagers from inner-city high schools and both graduate and undergraduate students at Harvard. He loves teaching and has enjoyed learning from students of incredibly diverse backgrounds, in numerous countries and a variety of languages. The recipient of many teaching awards, Professor Virani has pioneered the incorporation of multimedia and computer innovations in the curriculum to supplement traditional teaching methods. He is the first professor in North America to incorporate the I-Clicker classroom response system into the teaching of history and religion.

In his spare time, Professor Virani loves doing volunteer work, particularly with children. He helped found the al-Mishkat Arabic summer camp for Syrian youth in the mountains of al-Khawabi and also volunteers with the Madrasa Resource Centres of East Africa, which reach out to slum dwellers and other disadvantaged communities in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar. He enjoys fiction, and wrote and acted in a Gujarati comedy, entitled Sui Gayo Hashe or He Must Have Fallen Asleep, which was performed in Vancouver, Edmonton and the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary, Canada.