Professor Todd Lawson

Todd Lawson has been a member of the Bahai community since 1968. He is Associate Professor of Islamic Thought at the University of Toronto where he teaches courses on the Qur'an, Islam, Mysticism and Shi'ism. He has published widely in these areas.


    Ph.D.(1987) McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies

    M.A. (1980) McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies

    B.A. (1976) University of British Columbia, English Literature


    Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations

    Cross appointed at the Centre for religious Studies at UofT

    Cross appointed at the Centre for Jewish Studies UofT


    Faculty Lecturer, McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies (1995-1998)

    Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies, University of Toronto, Department of Middle East and Islamic Studies (1988-1994)


Mystical Quranic Exegesis, Islamic Thought, Shi’ism, Sufism

TEACHING (General Subject Areas):

    Islamic Religion

    Islamic Thought

    Shi'i Islam

    Modern Developments in Islam Quranic Commentary


    Islamic Mystical Tradition Islamic History


Courses Graduate (current)

    Islamic Religious Thought (NMC2052Y)

    Images of the Prophet Muhammad in Literature (NMC 2053Y)

Undergraduate (current)

    Introduction to Islam (NMC185Y)

    The Qur’an (NMC285Y)

    Shi’i Islam (NMC386HF)

    Islamic Mystical Tradition (NMC387HS)

Graduate (previously taught)

    Islamic Philosophy: Intellect

    Major Themes of Islamic Religious Expression

    Islam: Origin and Early Developments

    Islam: Later Developments A Survey of the Development of Islamic Thought

Undergraduate (previously taught)

    Jesus in the Qur’an

INVITED LECTURES (most recent):

    University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies: "Qur'an as Epic" Biennial Conference, sponsored by the Centre of Islamic Studies, SOAS, 12-14: "The Qur'an: Text, History & Culture," November 2009, major paper, 30 minute lecture

    University of Göttingen: "Transcendence and Immanence in the Qur'an: a critique of categories" for Gott und Welt. Transzendenz und Immanenz im Altertum Internationales Symposion des Graduiertenkollegs Götterbilder-Gottesbilder-Weltbilder Polytheismus und Monotheismus in der Welt der Antike Georg-August-Universität Göttingen: 29.-30. Oktober 2009. Major paper and 1 hour lecture

    Institute of Ismaili Studies: October 2009 Conference on Tafsir (continued, see recent AAR panel below), panel on esoteric commentaries: "How to understand the notion of ‘spiritual' in Islamic thought: "Joseph and His Shirt"

    University of Göttingen: May 27-29, 2008. Roads to Paradise (an international conference) organized by Profs. Günther and Lawson. "Paradise in the Qur'an as Apocalyptic Motif."

    University of Chicago: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, February 13, 2009. Friday Lecture Series. "The Myth of the False Qur'an from the Safavids to the Qajars."

    Orient Institut Beirut: (Prof. Stefan Leder, director), December 12-13, 2008. Conference on Cultural and Linguistic Aspects of Bible Translations, "The Book of Revelation and the Qur'an: A Structural, Terminological and Thematic Comparison"

    University of Zanjan: November 4-7, 2008: Tehran, Qom, Kashan: International conference on Feyz e Kashani (invitation declined), paper offered for translation: "Fayz Kashani and the Hidden Words"

    University of Göttingen: November 6-7, 2008: Internationales Symposium des GraKo: Weltkonstruktionen. Topographie und Konstellationen von Chaos und Kosmos "Coherent Chaos and Chaotic Cosmos: The Quran and Its Apocalyptic Substrate"

    University of Göttingen: November 5, 2008: Göttinger Orient-Symposium "The Crucifixion and the Quran"

    AAR pre conference special panel, Chicago, October 31, 2008: The Origins of Exegesis – Contexts and Sources, AAR pre conference special day-long seminar. Panel: The Esoteric and the Exoteric: Methods and Taxonomies. Sponsored by Institute of Ismaili Studies and AAR Qur'an Group: "Time and Typology: In Search of the Spiritual"

    Baha'i Summer School Morrisville, Ont: August 3-4, 2008: "History and Prayer according to the Islamic Intellectual Tradition"

    Irfan Colloquium Acuto, Italy: July 6-9, 2008: "The Salat Kabīr in Bahai Texts"

    Musim Student Association: Islam Awareness Week, University of Toronto, March 26, 2008: "The Qur'ān as World Literature"

    American University of Beirut: Anis Makdisi Program in Literature, February 20, 2008: "On the Poetics of Opposition in the Qur'an: The Apocalypstic Substrate"

    Centre for Islamic Studies, Damascus: February 18, 2008:, 8-10pm: "The Study of Islam and the Life of the Mind in Canada" Filmed for a 1 hour program on al-Jazeera (Arabic channel, broadcast next day)

    Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaru Centre, Abu Nour Mosque, Damascus: February 18, 2008, 12:00-4:00 pm: "Islam and Multiculturalism"

    University of London: SOAS: The Poetics of Duality: The Apocalyptic Substrate of the Qur'an, 7-9 November, 2007

    Iranian Institute of Philosophy, Tehran, Tabriz & Khoy: Corbin's Rumi, 2-5 November, 2007 (withdrawn)

    Freiburg Universität, Orientalische Seminar: Duality and Opposition in the Qur'an: The Apocalyptic Substrate, May 2006

    Strasbourg, Marc Bloch Université: Iranian Humanism: The Theology of Humanism, May 2006

    Northern Command Headquarters: Islam and the life of the Mind, January 2006

    Universite Marc Bloch, Strasbourg, International Colloquium “Dialogue, Culture et Mondialisation” 22-24 November 2005: Shi’ism and Globalization

    Department of Near Eastern Languages, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana: Akhbari Tafsir Revisited.

    Sorbonne, 6-8 November 2003: H. Corbin et le Coran [Colloque Henry Corbin (1903 – 1978): Philosophies et Sagesses des Religions du Livre]

    McGill University, 2-6 June 2003: The Rhetoric of Good and Evil in the Qur'an [Evil in International Affairs, Carnegie Foundation]

    University of Toronto, 26-27 May, 2002: Nicholas of Cusa and Islam [Yvonne Y. Haddad Plenary and Symposium, CSSR]

    Isfahan, April 27-29, 2002: The Imaginal World East and West [Cordoba & Isfahan: Two Schools of Islamic Philosophy, Society for the appreciation of Cultural Works, et alii]

    University of Toronto, 1 February 2002: The Poetics of Duality in the Qur'an [Department for the Study of Religion]

    University of Copenhagen, 22-24 August, 2001: From the Parochial to the Universal: the Transformation of Shi’ism into the Bahai Faith

    Bristol University, 5 September 2000: Ahmad Ahsa’i’s Critique of Fayz Kashani on the Problem of God’s Knowledge

    Concordia University, 27 April, 2000: Islam and the "Lower Senses": The Story of Joseph. Uncommon Senses: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Senses in Art and Culture April 27-29, Montreal


    San Francisco, 21-24 November 2004: Suluk according to Ahmad Ahsa’i and Kazim Rashti [Middle East Studies Association]

    San Diego, 22-24 March 2004: A ‘New’ Book by Rajab Bursi [American Oriental Society] Ravenna, 6-11 October 2003: Philosophy and Fundamentalism [Fifth European Conference of Iranian Studies]

    Bamberg, 3-6 July 2003: Tafsir, Qajar and Safavid [Fourth Safavid Round Table]

    Concordia University: 27 April, 2000: Islam and the "Lower Senses": The Story of Joseph. Uncommon Senses: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Senses in Art and Culture April 27-29, Montreal

    Edinburgh University, August 19, 1998: A 'New Testament' for the Safavids: 17th Century Iranian Quran Commentary Third International Round Table on Safavid Persia, 19-22 August 1998 The Edinburgh Institute for the Advanced Study of Islam and the Middle East, Edinburgh


    Full Member, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto, (current)

    Visiting Fellow, Australian National University, Canberra, Autumn, 1998.

    Graduate Studies Council, McGill University, 1995-96

    Faculty of Graduate Studies, McGill University, 1995-1998

    Associate Member, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto (1991-1994)

    Scholarship Committee, Inst. Islamic Studies, McGill (1995-1998)

    Secretary/Treasurer, Oriental Club of Toronto, University of Toronto (1992-1994)

    Departmental liaison for the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, University of Toronto (1988-94)


    American Oriental Society

    British Institute of Persian Studies

    Canadian Society for the Study of Religion

    Middle East Studies Association

    Societas Iranologica Europaea