Abdallah Soufan

Research Associate

Phone: +961 (0)1 359184


Abdallah Soufan joined the OIB as a research associate in September 2019. He received his PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Georgetown University with a dissertation entitled “Tradition and Its Boundaries: A Diachronic Study of the Concept of Bidʿah in Early Islam.” He holds a BS in Mathematics, and a BA and an MA in Arabic from the American University of Beirut, where he had worked for several years as an Instructor of Arabic and Islamic Thought. His research investigates dichotomies in classical Islamic thought, including the dichotomies of sunnah-bidʿah, veridicality-tropicality, reason-tradition, word-meaning, and exoteric-esoteric. His current project focuses on the dichotomy between the literal and the metaphorical (veridicality-tropicality = ḥaqīqah-mağāz), so essential to Islamic thought. His main argument is that this dichotomy is not self-evident. It was constructed as a theoretical framework that would facilitate an ongoing process of disenchantment in Islam. His publications include a critical edition and a translation of Epistle 48 of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity (jointly with Abbas Hamdani; OUP, 2019).

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  • Hamdani, Abbas, and Abdallah Soufan (eds. & trans.). The Call to God: An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistle 48. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Journal articles and book chapters

  • Hamdani, Abbas, and Abdallah Soufan. “The Imām Speaks about His Shiʿa in an Epistle of the Rasāʾil Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ.” In “Labor limae: Atti in onore di Carmela Bafioni,” edited by Antonella Straface, Carlo De Angelo, and Andrea Manzo. Special issue, Studi Maġrebini 12-13, no. 1 (2014-2015): 319-336.


  • “On the Interpretation of Quran 57:27” (submitted to Journal of Quranic Studies)

  • “On the Meaning of Ḥadaṯ and Iḥdāṯ” (submitted to Journal of the American Oriental Society)

  • Tradition and Its Boundaries: A Diachronic Study of the Concept of Bidʿah (Religious Innovation) in Early Islam (under review for Brill)


  • Sumi, Akikū Mūtūyūšī [Akiko Motoyoshi Sumi]. “Al-Mubārāh ṭaqsan iḥtifāliyyā.” Translated by ʿAbd Allāh Ṣūfan [Abdallah Soufan]. Al-Abḥāth 51 (2002-2003): 95-144.


  • “The (Un-)literal World: How the Construction of Metaphor Theory in Islam Created a New ‘Common Sense’ (ʿuqalāʾiyyah) and Perpetually Reshaped the Muslim Weltanschauung”, OIB Public Research Seminar, 5 November 2020, OIB.

  • “The Concept of Bid'ah in Early Islam”, Georgetown Graduates Association for Islamic Studies, 25 April 2018, Washington, DC.

  • “Revisiting Ğurğānī’s Concept of Bayān”, MESA Annual Meeting, 19 November 2016, Boston, MA.

  • “Ibn Taymiyyah’s Theory of Language and His Theological Project”, MESA Annual Meeting, 25 November 2015, Washington, DC.