Shafique Virani

Associate Professor, Department for the Study of Religion
Associate Professor, Department of Historical Studies (UTM)
Shafique Virani headshot

Areas of interest

  • Ithna-‘Ashari and Ismaili Shi‘ism
  • Quranic Studies
  • Islamic History, Philosophy, Mysticism and Pluralism
  • Muslim Literatures in Arabic, Persian and South Asian Languages
  • Bhakti Literature


Main Bio

Professor Shafique N. Virani’s research focuses on Ithna-‘ashari and Ismaili Shi‘ism, Quranic studies, Islamic history, philosophy, mysticism and pluralism, Muslim literatures in Arabic, Persian and South Asian languages, and Bhakti literature. His publications include books, a documentary film, multimedia productions, a registered invention, a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, entries in the Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Encyclopaedia of Religion, and numerous peer reviewed articles. Several of his publications can be viewed and downloaded from or this faculty website.

Educated at Harvard and McGill, he has lived, taught, and researched across Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. His work has been translated into over 20 languages and has received over $6 million in monetary awards and grants, including competitive research awards, pedagogical grants, collaborative grants, and others. He has received awards and recognition from the Middle East Studies Association, the Foundation for Iranian Studies, Farabi International, the British Society for Middle East Studies, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and two Iranian presidents. The American Academy of Religion bestowed on him its highest pedagogical honor, and the University of Toronto appointed him a member of the President’s Teaching Academy. He offers many research and internship opportunities to students. 

Professor Virani has served on the faculties of Harvard, Zayed and the University of Toronto, including in senior leadership positions, and received the title of Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation, published by Oxford University Press, and delivered a TEDx Talk entitled “Islamophobia and the Clash of Ignorance.” An avid volunteer around the world, he has consulted for projects by Cirque du Soleil, the History Channel, Lord Cultural Resources, Google, the Unicode Consortium and numerous governmental and other organizations. Describing him as “a visionary,” the United Nations honored him for dedicating his efforts “to the cause of extending the frontiers of knowledge and the welfare of humankind.”