Scholars of the ICCI
MEET THE SCHOLARS
Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad
Professor of Islamic Law & Philosophy at Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran
Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad completed his seminarian studies at the Fayzieh School in Qom, Iran, where he achieved the status of a mujtahid by the age of 25. Amongst his notable teachers are Allama Tabatabai and Shaykh Murtada Mutahhari, under whom he studied Islamic philosophy. His studies in Islamic Jurisprudence and Legal Theory were conducted by the likes of Ayatollah Mohammed Reza Golpaygani and Ayatollah Morteza Haeri Yazdi. Parallel to his seminarian education, Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad pursued secular academic studies, obtaining a degree in Islamic Philosophy and a Masters in Islamic Jurisprudence, both from Tehran University, before going on to earn his PhD in Law at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. He is the Dean of the Department of Islamic Studies at The Academy of Sciences of Iran, and a Professor of Law and Islamic Philosophy at Tehran University. He is recognised as one of the world’s most influential Muslims by The Muslim 500 for his scholarly work. In October 2010, at the Pope’s behest, Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad addressed the Synod in the Vatican and he was honoured as a prominent figure of Humanities in Iran at the 8th Farabi International Award ceremony in 2017.
Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain
Senior Lecturer and Director of Al-Mahdi Institute
Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain founded the Al-Mahdi Institute in 1993, and currently serves as its Director and Senior Lecturer in Islamic Legal Theory and Muslim Philosophy. For over twenty years, he has been at the forefront of developing and delivering advanced Islamic Studies, tailored towards equipping students with the skills to contribute meaningfully at both an academic and grass-roots level. He is continually publishing works in English that are aimed at addressing the challenges faced by Muslims living in contemporary societies.
Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain was educated at the Madrassah Syed al-Khoei, London between 1985-1988, where he also taught Grammar, Logic, Islamic Jurisprudence and Legal Theory. He continued his seminarian post-graduate studies in Qom, Iran between 1989-93 and attended private training and research lessons between 1990-1994. Alongside his studies, Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain also taught in Qom across a wide spectrum of traditional Muslim scholarly disciplines. After returning to the UK, he was taught by Ayatollah H. Amini, who was a student of Ayatollah Khoei.
Dr Haider Hobballah
Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies & Head of the Department of Hadith and History at Al-Mahdi Institute
Dr Haidar Hobballah completed his introductory and intermediate levels of hawza studies in 1995 at the age of 22 and went on to undertake advanced studies with Sayyid Mahmud al-Hashimi al-Shahroudi. In 2004, Dr Hobballah graduated with a master’s degree in Quranic and Hadith Studies from the college of Usul al-Din. Thereafter, he received another masters in Islamic Law from al-Mustafa International University in 2016. He received his PhD in Comparative Religions and Christian Theology from the University of Religions and Denominations in 2020. Amongst his notable teachers are Sayyid Mahmud al-Hashimi al-Shahroudi, Shaykh Hussain al-Najati, Shaykh Baqir al-Irawani, Shaykh Wahid al-Khurasani, and Shaykh Abdullah Jawadi Amuli.
As well as his hawza studies, Dr Hobballah worked as the editor in chief of various academic journals such as al-Minhāj al-Bayrūtiyya, Nuṣūṣ Muʿāṣira, and al-Ijtihād wa-l-Tajdīd. He was previously a member of the editorial board of the journal of Fiqh Ahl al-Bayt al-Takhaṣṣuṣiyya. He has authored two dozen books and numerous articles in the fields of jurisprudence, legal theory, theology, philosophy, and Quranic and hadith studies. Dr Hobballah taught intermediate level classes in the hawza for more than 15 years and began teaching advanced classes (baḥth khārij) in 2005 at the Hawza of Qom in jurisprudence, legal theory, hadith, and the study of narrators. In addition to his teaching and publications, he has also supervised many masters and doctoral theses in the seminary of Qom, al-Mustafa University, the University of Religions and Denominations, and the College of Usul al-Din. At Al-Mahdi Institute, he is the Head of the Department of Hadith and History and a Lecturer in Hadith Studies. He joined the International Centre for Collective Ijtihad in 2023.
Professor Seyed Mohammad Ghari S Fatemi
Lecturer at Shahid Beheshti University and Al-Mahdi Institute
Professor Seyed Fatemi pursued seminarian education for over 13 years in the Hawza illmiyya of Qom, Iran, where he studied Islamic Jurisprudence and Legal Theory under the supervision of renowned teachers including Ayatollah Montazeri and Ayatollah Mohammad Rohani. His studies in Islamic Philosophy were conducted under Ayatollah Javadi Amoli. Alongside his traditional education, Professor Seyed Fatemi also trained in Public Law at Tehran University, attaining both an LLB and an LLM. Following this, he was awarded a PhD from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manchester for research engaging with comparative human rights. He is currently a faculty member at Shahid Beheshti University and Al-Mahdi Institute, supervising PhD candidates and lecturing on the Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, Islam and Human Rights, and Legal Hermeneutics. He also teaches the Public Governance in Islamic Thought module, as part of Al-Mahdi Institute’s collaborative Masters in Islamic Studies with the University of Birmingham.
Professor Seyed Fatemi publishes books and articles in both Persian and English on a range of topics, with a particular interest in the philosophical foundations of human rights, Islamic legal theories, and hermeneutics. The first edition of his book entitled ‘An Introduction to Human Rights in the Contemporary World, Concepts, Foundations and the Sources’, was published by the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights in 2004, and he is currently working on the third volume, which deals with Islam and Human Rights. Professor Seyed Fatemi is an associate member of the Iranian National Academy of Sciences, and Department of the Biomedical Ethics of the Iranian Academy of Medical Science.
Dr Ali Fanaei
Director of Graduate Students, Department of Philosophy, Mofid University & Lecturer at Al-Mahdi Institute
Dr Fanaei undertook traditional seminarian studies in Qom, Iran for over 17 years under renowned teachers including Ayatollah Montazeri, Ayatollah Syed Kazim Haeri, who was a student of Ayatollah Baqir al-Sadr, and Ayatollah Javad Tabrizi, who was a student of Ayatollah Khoie. He obtained a Masters in Islamic Theology from the University of Qom and after relocating to the UK was awarded a Mphil and PhD from the University of Sheffield for his research in moral epistemology. He is currently a faculty member of the Department of Philosophy at Mofid University, Qom, and a senior lecturer at Al-Mahdi Institute in subjects including Islamic jurisprudence, legal theory and hermeneutics. Previously, Dr Fanaei has lectured across academic institutions in Iran such as Shahid Beheshti University, Baqher al-Ulum University, and the Hawza Ilmiyya during which time he has supervised several MA and PhD candidates. His influential works have been published in both English and Persian through which he is being recognised as an important member of the select group of ‘enlightenment thinkers’ in Iran.
Dr Kumail Rajani
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Islamic Studies , University of Exeter
Dr Kumail Rajani is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Islamic Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, where he completed his doctoral thesis. He is currently working on the Law, Authority and Learning in Shiite Islam project (http://www.lawalisi.eu/) with Professor Robert Gleave; the 5-year project, funded by the European Research Council, examines the emergence, development and operation of the Shiite legal system. Though primarily focused on the origins and development of Shiʿi hadith, his research includes Qurʾanic exegesis, Islamic law and legal theory, Ismaili studies, and Shiʿi studies more broadly. He has published both in Persian and English. His entry on ‘Hadith: Shiʿi’ is published in the online Oxford Bibliography of Islamic Studies and he has two forthcoming articles on Shiʿi hadith criticism and ʿilm al-rijāl which he co-authored for The Oxford Handbook of Ḥadīṭh Studies. He is also the founder of Shiʿi Dates Project (www.shiidates.net).
Dr Kumail Rajani has undertaken seminary studies in Qum for over 17 years during which he attended the lectures of Ayatullah Sayyid Ahmad Madadi al-Musawi for 7 years and Ayatullah Shubayri Zanjani and Ayatullah Wahid Khurasani for 3 years. Whilst in Iran, he taught modules on hadith studies, comparative religion, history, Islamic law and legal theory at the Al-Mustafa International University and other educational and research institutions. Alongside teaching, he supervised and advised on several BA and MA dissertations in English, Persian and Urdu. He has also taught Islamic Law and Society at the University of Exeter, and Islamic History at Al-Mahdi Institute.