Prof Alan WilliamsProfessor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion

Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion

Full contact details
View graph of relations



  • MA in Oriental Studies (Persian and Arabic) (Oxford),
  • PhD in Iranian Studies (SOAS, London)
  • Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion
  • Head of Religions and Theology in the School of Arts Histories and Cultures 2008-2011
  • Joined the University of Manchester in 1985

For books and articles etc see under Publications, and for lectures see under Research Interests

Further information

Further Publications 2

2010 Review article: Beshara and Ibn Arabi: A Movement of Sufi Spirituality in the Modern World, by Suha Taji-Farouki. Oxford: Anqa Publishing, 480 pp. Hardback 2007, in The Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, vol. 47, 2010, 131-138

Purity, Pollution and the Body in M. Stausberg and Y. Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina (editors) Blackwell Companion to the Study of Zoroastrianism, London: Blackwell, Forthcoming late 2010 early 2011
Translation?. In: Michael Stausberg & Steven Engler (editors) Handbook of Research Methods in Religious Studies. London: Routledge, Forthcoming late 2010 early 2011
2009 Anniversary and Ecstasy: Rumi?s sama/sema as expressive and commemorative rite?. In: Christine Allison/Anke Joisten-Pruschke/Antje Wendtland (eds.). From Daena to Den. Religion, Kultur und Sprache in der iranischen Welt. Festschrift fuer Philip Kreyenbroek zum 60. Geburtstag. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 2009, 485-96
2009 The Theological Significance of Dualism in the Three Times of Zoroastrian Eschatology, in Zeit und Ewigkeit als Raum goettlichen Handelns: Religionsgeschichtliche, theologische und philosophische Perspektiven, ed. Reinhard G. Kratz & Hermann Spieckermann, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fuer die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, Band 390, Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter 2009, 53-66
2008 The Literary re-placement of Iran in India?, Acta Orientalia Vilnensia,Volume 8: 1, Vilnius, Vilnius University Publishing House, December 2008, 15-39
2008 The Continuum of Sacred Language: From High Speech to Low Speech in the Middle Iranian (Pahlavi) Zoroastrian Tradition, in Nile Green and Mary Searle Chatterjee (eds) Religion Language and Power, London: Routledge, December 2008, 123-142
2007 The Structure, Significance and Poetic Integrity of the Qesse-ye Sanjan, in Parsis in India and their Diaspora, ed. John R. Hinnells and Alan Williams, London and New York: Routledge/ Taylor and Francis, 2007, 15-34
2007 Jalaloddin Rumi The Spiritual Verses Masnavi-ye Ma?navi Book 1, Translated and abridged by Alan Williams, total time on 4 CDs 4:44:07, read by Anton Lesser, Naxos Audiobooks, August 2007

Further Publications 3

2005 Lexicography and Zoroastrian Meanings in the Pahlavi Book?, in Carlo G. Cereti and Mauro Maggi, Middle Iranian Lexicography, Serie Orientale Roma XCVIII, Orientalia Romana 8, Roma: Istituto Italiano Per Africa E Oriente, 2005, 387-398
2004 (2008) New Approaches to the Problem of Translation in the Study of Religion, in Peter Antes, Armin W. Geertz, Randi R. Warne (eds), New Approaches to the Study of Religion Volume 2: Textual, Comparative, Sociological and Cognitive Approaches. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 2004, 13-44. Paperback edition 2008
2004 Hyde, Thomas D.D., in Ehsan Yarshater (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. XII, Fasc. 6, London and New York, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 2004, 590-592
2003 The Zoroastrian Qesse-ye SanjÄn and Judah Halevi?s aliya to Eretz Israel: Reflections on Two Contrasting Journeys in Faith?, in Shaul Shaked and Amnon Netzer (eds), Irano-Judaica V, Studies relating to Jewish Contacts with Persian Culture Throughout the Ages, Ben Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East, Jerusalem 2003, 27-51


Further publications

Forthcoming Chapters in Books and Articles
The Re-placement of Zoroastrian Iran to India in Geert Jan van Gelder (ed.) Ratanbai Katrak Lectures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Oxford Oriental Monographs series, Forthcoming 2011
Authority and Identity in the 9th Century Pahlavi Books, in E. Herzig and S. Stewart The Idea of Iran vol. 4 The Early Islamic Period?, eds. S. Stewart and E. Herzig, London: I.B. Tauris, Forthcoming early 2011
Open Heart Surgery: the Operation of Love in Rumi's Masnavi in L. Lewisohn (ed.) The Philosophy of Ecstasy. London: I.B. Tauris, Forthcoming late 2010
Narrative Structure and Polyphonic Discourse in the Masnavi in F. Keshavarz and L. Anvar-Chenderoff, Wondrous Words: The Poetic Mastery of JalÄl al-Din Rumi. London: I.B. Tauris, Forthcoming late 2010 early 2011
Purity Boundaries and Rules Reconsidered?, Proceedings of the Twenty Eighth Aram International Conference on "Zoroastrianism in the Levant", Aram volume 24, Forthcoming 2011



2009 The Zoroastrian Myth of Migration from Iran and Settlement in the Indian Diaspora: Text Translation and Analysis of the 16th Century Qesse-ye SanjÄn The Story of Sanjan, Numen Book Series, Studies in the History of Religions, Texts and Sources in the History of Religions, Vol.124, Leiden and Boston: Brill September 2009, xii + 250pp. For this book I was named as joint winner (with Vladimir A. Livshits and Dieter Weber) of the 2010 Ehsan Yarshater Book Award for Ancient Iranian Studies. I am currently translating the book into Persian in order to publish it in Tehran and also rewriting it for an Indian publisher (Athornan Educational Trust/Zoroastrian Studies, Mumbai) to make the text available to Indian Parsi community.
2008 In the Mirror of the Stream (Dar Ayine-ye Rud), selected poems of Shafii Kadkani, translations and paintingsby Pari Azarm Motamedi, edited by Alan Williams, Contemporary Persian Poetry Bilingual Edition, Sokhan, Tehran, April 2008, xi + 435pp.
2007 Parsis in India and the Diaspora, Introduction by John R. Hinnells and Alan Williams (1-11) and Chapter 1 by Alan Williams (15-34), eds. John R. Hinnells and Alan Williams, London and New York: Routledge/ Taylor and Francis,. December 2007, xiv + 290pp.
2006 Spiritual Verses, The First Book of the Masnavi-ye Ma?navi of Jalaloddin Rumi, translated with an Introduction and Notes, London and New York: Penguin Classics, September 2006, xxxviii + 422 pp. From December 2008 also available as an e-Book.
1990 The Pahlavi RivÄyat Accompanying the DÄdestÄn Ä DÄ?nÄg, Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Historisk-filosofiske Meddelelser 60:1 & 2, Munksgaard, 1990, 2 vols., 738 pp. Quoted extensively by Jacob Neusner in Judaism and Zoroastrianism at the Dusk of Late Antiquity: How two ancient faiths wrote down their great traditions, in his ch. 7 The Pahlavi RivÄyat Accompanying the DÄdestÄn i DÄ?nÄg Compared to the Bavli?, Atlanta, Georgia Scholars Press, 1993, 127-141, et passim.

External positions

Full Member of Governing Council and Trustee, British Institute of Persian Studies

30 Nov 201730 Nov 2019

Chair of Research Committee, British Institute of Persian Studies

30 Nov 201730 Nov 2019

Chair of the Trust, E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust

26 May 201725 May 2019

Director of Medieval Research Programme, British Institute of Persian Studies

1 Apr 20141 Apr 2018

Trustee, E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust

1 Jan 20111 Jan 2021

Member of Academic Council, Iran Heritage Foundation

1 Apr 20101 Apr 2020

Asst. Editor, Mawlana Rumi Review

1 Jan 20081 Jan 2021

Areas of expertise

Education / academic qualifications

  • 1984 - Doctor of Philosophy, Iranian Studies, University of London - School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) (1976 - 1979)
  • 1978 - Master of Arts, Oriental Studies (Persian and Arabic), Oxford University (1973 - 1976)

Related information


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

View all (28)

Media coverage and contribution

Press/Media: Expert comment

Press/Media: Expert comment

View all (4)


Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

View all prizes (1)