Principal Teacher

An Islamic Studies scholar, theologian, and advocate for intelligent and constructive interfaith relations,  Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti is the Founder and Principal Teacher of the Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation in Toronto.  He is also an Asociate Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies at Renison University College (University of Waterloo) and the former Director of Islamic Studies at the American Islamic College in Chicago (www.aicusa.edu).

Prior to establishing IISF in Toronto and joining AIC in Chicago, he served both York University and the Noor Cultural Centre (Toronto) as the York-Noor Chair of Islamic Studies and subsequently as the York-Noor Fellow in Arabic & Islamic Studies. During his five years as a scholar in residence at Noor, he also served the NCC community as a religious education director, volunteer imam, and khatib.  Dr. Gianotti has, in addition, served on the Religious Studies faculties of the University of Virginia, the University of Oregon, and Penn State University.

Holding a B.A. (1988) from the University of Notre Dame in Great Books and Classics, his M.A. (1990) from the University of Toronto in Islamic Intellectual History and classical Arabic language & literature, and his Ph.D. (1998) also from the University of Toronto in classical Islamic Philosophy & Theology, his undergraduate and graduate studies included several periods of residence in the West Bank and Jordan, where he studied literary Arabic, Islamic History, the traditional Islamic religious sciences, and various topics in Christian and Jewish thought.

His scholarly research and writing reflect a fascination with the soul, especially as understood by the classical Islamic philosophical, theological, and spiritual traditions. Because this study of the soul naturally leads to the larger “worlds” of the state, the cosmos, and, ultimately, the Hereafter, the arenas of ethics, moral theology, spiritual formation, politics, and eschatology all factor into his preoccupation with human nature. More generally, Dr. Gianotti’s teaching and interests span the fields of Islamic spirituality, Islamic theology, Islamic ethics and political thought, medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophy, mysticism within the Abrahamic traditions, Qur’anic interpretation, and the language and imagery of war within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

He is the author of Al-Ghazali’s Unspeakable Doctrine of the Soul (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2001) and In the Light of a Blessed Tree: Illuminations of Islamic Belief, Practice, and History (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011), in addition to a range of articles, book chapters, and theological essays. His current project — Walking the Way of the Afterlife: al-Ghazālī on the Jurisprudence of the Heart (fiqh al-qalb) — explores the inner processes of moral beautification and character formation within a traditional Islamic framework.

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