Dr. Mushegh Asatryan


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Educational Background

Doctor of Philosophy , Yale University, 2012

M.A. , Central European University, 2003


I am interested in the religious, social, and intellectual history of the pre-modern Muslim Middle East.  In particular, I work on in medieval Muslim constructions of heresy and orthodoxy, sectarianism, and the politics of religious polemics.

My first book, Controversies in Formative Shi’i Islam: The Ghulat Muslims and their Beliefs (I.B. Tauris, 2017), is an investigation of one of the earliest sectarian groups in Islamic history, examining their history in the crucible of early Islamic religious polemics, their literature, and their belief system.

 My forthcoming book is a study and translation of the 10th-century Mu’tazili theologian al-Khayyat's Kitab al-Intisar (under review with Gorgias Press), one of the earlies Islamic theological texts available to date, and a unique witness to the culture of debate and sectarian polemics in the Abbasid empire. The study explores the sectarian and intellectual milieu within which Khayyat wrote and the culture of debate in which he participated.

In 2019 I was awarded (as co-director) the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, together with Dr. David Hollenberg of the University of Oregon (project director), for the project entitled Recovering Early Nusayri Shiism: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manhaj al-‘ilm, in the amount of USD 132,266. The aim of the project is a critical edition, study, and translation of an 11th-century theological and cosmological text (ca. 400 manuscript pages). We plan to submit the critical edition and study of the text for publication in 2022, to be followed by the translation as a separate volume.  

My articles explore Muslim heresiology, the continuity between Late Antique religious trends and Muslim sectarianism, antinomianism, and religious polemics. They have appeared in History of ReligionsStudia IslamicaGlobal Intellectual History, and other journals.


Recovering Early Nusayri Shiism: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manhaj al-‘ilm

This project is a study, critical edition and translation of an 11th-century theological and cosmological text from Syria (ca. 400 manuscript pages). It is supported by National Endowment for the Humanities, in the amount of USD132,266 (I am co-Director, the Project Director is Dr. David Hollenberg of the University of Oregon).


  • Zahid Ali Fellowship, Institute of Ismaili Studies. 2020


  • How to Read Muslim Heresiology? An Ismaili Man-of-letters and his Classification of Muslim Sects. Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam . (2022)
  • The Heretic Talks Back: Feigning Orthodoxy in Saffar al-Qummi’s Basa'ir al-Darajat". History of Religions . History of Religions. (2022)
  • Of Wine, Sex, and other Abominations Accusations of Libertinism in Early Islamic Iraq". Global Intellectual History (forthcoming). Global Intellectual History . (2022)
  • An Early Shi'i Cosmology: Kitab al-ashbah wa l-azilla and its Milieu. Studia Islamica . (2015)
  • Bankers and Politics: The Network of Shi'i Moneychangers in Eighth-Ninth Century Kufa and their Role in the Shi'i Community. Journal of Persianate Studies . (2014)