Dr Milad Milani

BiographyDr Milad Milani

Dr Milad Milani is a Senior Lecturer in the study of religion at Western Sydney University, specialising in Sufism and Islamic history. He convenes units of study in the Islamic Studies and the History, International Studies and Politics (HISP) majors in the University’s School of Humanities and Communication Arts, and is a Member of the Religion and Society Research Cluster (RSRC). Dr Milani received his doctorate in the multi-disciplinary field of religious studies from the University of Sydney, where he also received First Class Honours and secured the Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship.

Dr Milani’s research broadly seeks to define, compare, and interpret religion, utilising a systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives method. As such, he has cross-disciplinary concentration integrating, for example, Hodgson’s conscience and history, Foucault’s archaeology of knowledge, Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice, and Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenology as working theories in his publications. His research pays special attention to the juncture of religion, culture, society and politics, and how this impacts on living traditions such as Islam in the West and reading Islamic history in modernity. Dr Milani has specific interest in specialised readings of philosophy of history and historiography in relation to how the past is understood in the present time.

His recent research projects include: Sufi belief systems, organisations, and history in Australia (Pilot Study in conjunction with Professor Adam Possamai, RSRC); Sufism, religious pluralism and the alternative narrative in Islam (ECR internal grant, HCA); the category of cultural Muslims; and approaches to the study of Islam.

Dr Milani is an internationally published academic. He has two books, entitled Sufism in the Secret History of Persia (London: Routledge 2013, Gnostica Series) and Sufi Political Thought (London: Routledge 2017, Religion in Asia Series). The first, with a forward by Professor Garry W. Trompf (USyd), examined Sufism as cultural catalyst for localised religious identities; the latest, with a forward by Professor Bryan S. Turner (ACU), details the activity of Sufism as a socio-political force exploring the underlying tension between Sufi agency and Islamic structure. For a full list of Dr Milani’s publications please visit the Research Direct site.

Dr Milani is regularly called upon to comment on Islam in media and politics in national broadcast services, and is regularly invited to speak at schools and community organisations. Dr Milani is a Member of the Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (AAIMS), and is Communications Officer for the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (AASR), a member association of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR).


Phd, History of Religions (USyd)
BA, Honours (First Class), Studies in Religion and Philosophy (USyd)

Areas of Research

Classic and contemporary Sufism; Islam in Modernity; Islamic intellectual history; hermeneutics, historiography, and phenomenology in the study of religion, Sufism, Islam.



Milani, M. (2018) Sufi Political Thought, Routledge

Milani, M. (2013) Sufism in the Secret History of Persia (Gnostica Series), Routledge: London.

Journal Articles

Milani M. and D. Cottle (2018), 'Quest for justice: Islamism, social justice, and civility in Islamic history', Journal of Religious and Political Practice, Vol 4 No. 3, https://doi.org/10.1080/20566093.2018.1525903

Milani, M. and Adrahtas, V. (2018), 'Modern talking : Sufi socio-political discourse', Journal of Religious and Political Practice, vol 4, no 2 , pp 175 - 194.

Milani, M. (2016), 'Metaphysics of love in Sufi writings', Eremos: Exploring Spirituality in Australia, No. 135, pp 13 - 17.

Milani, M. and Possamai, A. (2016), "Sufism, spirituality and consumerism: the case study of the Nimatullahiya and Naqshbandiya Sufi orders in Australia", Contemporary Islam, DOI 10.1007/s11562-015-0335-1

Milani, M. and Possamai, A. (2013), "The Nimatullahiya and Naqshbandiya Sufi orders on the Internet : the cyber-construction of tradition and the McDonaldisation of spirituality", Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, vol 26, no 1, pp 51-75.

Milani, M. (2013) "Umar Khayyam: A Paradigm of the Secular and Religious", Threskeiologia/Studies in Religion – Sacred/Profane 8(9): 50-78.

Milani, M. (2012) "Representations of Jesus in Islamic Mysticism: Defining the 'Sufi Jesus'", Literature & Aesthetics, 21(2): 45-65.

Book Chapters

Milani M. (2018) Classic Sufism and Gnosis. In The Gnostic World, edited by Garry W. Trompf, Gunner B. Mikkelsen, and Jay Johnston, Abingdon: Routledge.

Milani M. (2018) From “Zurvanism" to Mazdak. In The Gnostic World, edited by Garry W. Trompf, Gunner B. Mikkelsen, and Jay Johnston, Abingdon: Routledge.

Milani, M. (2017), 'The Sufism of Iran : regional indigeneity and Islamic mysticism', Religious Categories and the Construction of the Indigenous, Brill 9789004324411.

Milani, M., Possamai, A. and Wajdi, F. (2017), 'Branding of spiritual authenticity and nationalism in transnational Sufism', Religions, Nations, and Transnationalism in Multiple Modernities, Palgrave 9781137592385.

Milani, M. (2017), 'Ali Shariati', The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory, Wiley-Blackwell 9781118430866.

Milani, M. (2017), 'The cultural Muslim, secularization and the academic study of Islam', Religious Encounters in Transcultural Society: Collision, Alteration, and Transmission, Lexington Books 9781498569187.

Milani, M. (2017), 'Sufi politics in the contemporary West : the role and definition of Sufism in the works of Javad Nurbakhsh (1926-2008)', Sufism, Pluralism, and Democracy, Equinox 9781781792209.

Milani, M. (2015) "Sufism and the Challenge of Modernity in the Twenty-First Century", in Sufism and Social Integration, Mohammad H. Faghfoory and Golam Dastagir (eds.), ABC International Group: Chicago, 367-384.

Milani, M. (2013) "Sufism and the Subtle Body", in Between Mind and Body: Subtle Body Practices in Asia and the West, Geoffrey Samuel and Jay Johnston (eds), Taylor and Francis: Oxon.

Milani, M. (2012) "The Cultural Repository of Persian Sufism: Medieval Chivalry and Mysticism in Iran", in Intercultural Exchange in the Early Medieval Mediterranean, Stephanie Hathaway and David Kim (eds.), London: Continuum, 63-84.

Milani, M. (2012) "The Cultural Products of Global Sufism", in Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production, Carole M. Cusack & A. Norman (eds.), Leiden: Brill, 659-681.

Milani, M. (2006) "Mystical Experience and its Critique of Pure Reason in the Spiritual Epistemology of Suhrawardi and Rumi", in Through a Glass Darkly: reflections on the sacred, F. Di Lauro (ed), Sydney, Sydney University Press, 230-248.

Milani, M. (2006) "Cyclical history, gnosis, and memory: a study in the role and significance of Mystical Poetry as a medium of Popular Culture for Persian Sufism", in The Buddha of Suburbia: Proceedings of the VIIIth International Conference for Religion, Literature and the Arts 2004 (eds.) C. Cusack, F. Di Lauro & C. Hartney (eds.), Sydney, RLA Press, 223-243.

Other Articles

"Islam and the West: What Really Separates Them?" 20 JAN 2015 ABC Religion and Ethics (opens in a new window)

"The trouble with Islam: learning is the traditional and best remedy" 18 February 2015 The Conversation (opens in a new window)

"Sufism" April 27 2015 The Religious Studies Project (opens in a new window)

"Cultural Muslims, like cultural Christians, are a silent majority" 30 September 2014 The Conversation (opens in a new window)

"The truth about whether Islam is a religion of violence or peace" 6 October 2014 The Conversation (opens in a new window)

"All of Islam isn't intolerant, nor did the West always accept blasphemy" 12 January 2015 The Conversation (opens in a new window)

"Islam, Actually: Telling the Truth about Religion and Violence in the Wake of the Sydney Siege" 29 December 2014 ABC Religion and Ethics (opens in a new window)

Professional Affiliations

  • Australian Association for the Study of Religion, Communications Officer
  • The Australian Sociological Association

Contact Details

Email: m.milani@uws.edu.au

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