At the moment, I run the ERC Advanced Grant project entitled Beyond Sharia: The Role of Sufism in Shaping Islam as the Principal Investigator. The project Beyond Sharia seeks to explain the emergence, flourishing and lasting appeal of non-conformist movements in Islamic intellectual history, investigating how Islamic antinomian movements both consolidated Islam in a vast region from the Balkans to Bengal, while offering methods of self-reflection that allowed for critical thinking within Islamic streams of thought. By examining how generations of Islamic mystics and intellectuals in the Persianate world challenged, redefined or rejected Islamic canonical law in their poetic, artistic, philosophical, theological, and political writings and teachings, the project generates significant new insights on transgression in Islam. We study how non-conformist mystics combined the ascetic principles of early Islam with shocking deviance, transgressing the holiest Islamic laws such as prayer, fasting, and the pilgrimage to Mecca, and praising other religions such as Christianity. By rejecting the outward piety of the clerics, celebrating wine, gambling and homo-erotic love, they provoked the orthodox, craving rejection and criticism, which they used as a shield to protect their piety.
I have translated five volumes of modern poetry, two volumes on Sohrab Sepehri, one volume on Forugh Farrokhzad, one volume on Mohammad-Reza Shafi'i Kadkani, and together with Professor Hans de Bruijn we have published three volumes on Ahmad Shamlu, Nader Naderpur and Houshang Ebtehaj.
I have edited ten books on very different subjects from manuscript traditions to literary reception theory to the changing pictures of the ‘others' (enemy). In addition to these books, I have written six monographs, three of which explicitly address Islamic mysticism. My monograph on the classical epic poem Nezami of Ganja's Layli and Majnun is the first comprehensive analysis of the most famous romance in the Islamic world (usually compared to Romeo and Juliet) dealing with love, madness, poetry and asceticism. My second book, The Mirror of Meanings, examines the symbolic significance of the terminology used by Islamic mystics from the twelfth century onwards. My other book also addresses Islamic mysticism. It is an analytical overview of Islamic mysticism in Dutch, Soefims: een levende traditie. In another monograph entitled Courtly Riddles I address the structure and meaning of Persian literary riddles, requiring also the study of stylistic development, ekphrasis and ‘descriptive' poetry (vasf). In Mirror of Dew, I introduce one of Persia's female poets Ālam-Tāj Zhāle Qā'em-Maqāmi. Another book (co-authored with Sen McGlinn) is One Word, which introduces European political philosophy. The author believes that the succes of European societies is just 'one word,' (qānun) or codified law. This treatise dates from 1871. In 2015, the edited volume eleven of A History of Persian Literature Project (Columbia University) which treats Persian literature between 1900-1940 was published. In 2017, I published together with S. McGlinn The True Dream: Indictment of the Shiite Clerics of Isfahan at Routledge, Iranian Studies series. This book is a translation of a satirical drama set in Isfahan in the lead up to Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911. Although its three authors hail from the clerical class, they criticize the arrogance, corruption and secularity of the Iranian ruling dynasty and clergy, taking Isfahan as their example. My most recent book is entitled Martyrdom, Mysticism and Dissent: The Poetry of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), dealing with the role of poetry during these two events.
On Persian prose, I co-authored and published the translation of Women without Men by Shahrnush Parsipur. Hushang Golshiri's Prins Ehtedjab en andere Iraanse verhalen is a translation of several famous short stories and novella which was translated by several colleagues and myself.