Maarten Holtzapffel is a PhD researcher for the ERC Advanced Grant Beyond Sharia: The Role of Sufism in Shaping Islam, concerned with the project Of Love and Wisdom: Rūmī’s Transgressive Ideas and the Rise of Humanism. After a bachelor’s degree in history and Middle Eastern Studies, he obtained his Research Master degree in Persian Studies from Leiden University in 2022. For his master thesis he conducted a study on the appropriation of Rumi’s mystic poetry in contemporary Iranian politics. In particular, he looked at how the political philosopher and theologian Abdolkarim Soroush (b. 1945) appropriates Rumi’s poetry in his political theories.
In addition to Sufism and its reception, Maarten is interested in Iran’s intellectual history and Iranian nationalism. In his PhD project, Maarten would like to extend his study of the appropriation of mystic poetry in Iran to the contemporary reception of Rumi in the West. What motivates him is the opportunity to study the multiple faces of Islam in times of a growing repugnance for religion, and Islam in particular, in the West. With a team of researchers from various backgrounds, he would like to investigate how the non-conformist ideas inherent to the Islamic mystic tradition have been central to the development of Islamic thought, and how these ideas have inspired people in various religious and cultural contexts.