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Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies

Photo of Dr István Kristó-Nagy

Dr István Kristó-Nagy

Senior Lecturer in Arab & Islamic Studies, Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam


01392 724087


I was born in Budapest, Hungary. I studied History and Arabic at Pázmány Péter Catholic University (MA-s in 2000). My PhD in Arabic Studies is from Eötvös Lóránd University and the Université de Toulouse 2, Le Mirail (2006).  A largely updated and revised version of my dissertation was published under the title of La Pensée d’Ibn al-Muqaffaʽ

My academic studies have been supplemented by the enriching opportunity to work as a cultural guide in more than twenty countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America. I speak in Hungarian, English, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, and used to be able to read Latin.

During my undergraduate and MA studies I was awarded with scholarships at the Universitá degli Studi di Napoli “l’Orientale”, the Pontificio Instituto di Studi Arabi e Islamici, the Institut Catholique de Toulouse, the Institut du Monde Arabe and Princeton University. I also received scholarships in different Arab countries such as Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.

After the completion of my doctoral studies, I received a Sultan Post Doctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley and a Mellon Career Development Fellowship in Classical Arabic at the University of Oxford. I taught as a visiting professor at the University of Richmond, Virginia, in the fall of 2009. I declined a Mellon Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in order to come to Exeter where I spent three years as a research fellow in Professor Robert Gleave’s Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence in Islamic Thought (LIVIT) project between January 2010 and December 2013. The proceedings of the conferences organised in the framework of this project are published in a series by Edinburgh University Press:

The title of the first volume is Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qurʾān to the Mongols

The title of the second volume is Violence in Islamic Thought from the Mongols to Europan Imperialism.

While holding this fellowship I was also granted a Mellon Research Fellowship at the Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mediterráneo y Oriente Próximo of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid in 2011.

My lectureship at the IAIS started in January 2013 and my senior lectureship in July 2018.

Since September 2022, I am the director of the Centre for the Study of Islam.

For office hours and research leave go here.

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My main scholarly interests lie in comparative and interdisciplinary studies, especially the social and cultural history of Islam as compared and linked to other civilisations. My research has been centred on the formative period, the evolution of the Arabic adab, Islamicate political thought and wisdom literature. I am highly interested in the interaction between the social structures and the individual; what are the social structures which encourage individuals to fulfil their potential to the utmost, and what can individuals do to promote such structures in society. My research on Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ can be considered as a detailed case study of these questions, centred on one of the most important authors of Arabic literature and Islamicate thought.

During the LIVIT project, I was exploring the religious justifications for the legitimacy of the state’s violence against the individual. I focussed on the first inquisition and persecution in Islam, that of the Zanādiqa (Manicheans and other suspicious dualists) during the reign of two ʿAbbāsid caliphs, al-Mahdī and al-Hādī. This persecution is one of the most striking and less investigated examples of a violent campaign against a non-violent religious community within the Dār al-Islām. I have been also studying the figure of Iblīs (the Devil) as a symbol for individualism, often depicted as an inspirer of the arts and literature.

In addition to linking reflections on religion with those on society, I am trying to trace back fundamental questions of the humanities—such as religious and social phenomena—to geography and biology, and to explore connections between ethics, ethology and genetics.

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I would be happy to hear from prospective doctoral students working on areas related to

Abbasid culture; social and intellectual history; art history; literature; political thought (mirrors for princes and advice literature); comparative studies between the early and classical Islam and other civilisations; Zandaqa (Manicheism and other forms of dualist thought); the kuttāb (administrative elite).

Please see also my research interests.

Research students

Aliya Abdukadir Ali, The status of Abbasid intellectual Elites in Medieval Islamdom.
Rob Charles Cuffe-Fuller, The Jewish narrative surrounding the pre-Islamic Kaʿba.
Rahim Gholami, An Annotated English Translation of Nāṣir-i Khusraw's Khwān al-Ikhwān with an Analytical Commentary.

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2023 | 2021 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2009 | 2008 | 2005 | 2004 | 2001 |


  • Kristo-Nagy I. (2023) The Crow Who Aped the Partridge : Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ’s Aesopian language in a fable of Kalīla wa-Dimna, L’adab toujours recommencé : “origins”, transmissions, and metamorphoses of adab literature, Brill, 367-434.
  • Kristo-Nagy I. (2023) Philosophy for Politics: Ancient Greek philosophy echoed in Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ’s writings, KNOWLEDGE AND POWER IN MUSLIM SOCIETIES Approaches in Intellectual History, Gerlach Press, 53-94.


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2021) Wild Lions and Wise Jackals: Killer Kings and Clever Counsellors in Kalīla wa-Dimna, Prophets, Viziers, and Philosophers: Wisdom and Authority in Early Arabic literature, Barkhuis, 147-209.


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2019) Marriage after Rape: The ambiguous relationship between Arab lords and Iranian intellectuals as reflected in Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ’s Oeuvre, Tradition and Reception in Arabic Literature : Essays dedicated to Andras Hamori, Harrassowitz Verlag, 161-188. [PDF]


  • Gleave R, Kristo-Nagy I. (2018) Violence in Islamic Thought from the Mongols to European Imperialism, EUP.


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2017) Two World Visions: Emanating Circles or Spiral Evolution?, Promissa nec aspera curans. Mélanges en l’honneur de Mme le Professeur Marie-Thérèse Urvoy, Les Presses Universitaires Institut Catholique De Toulouse, 503-519.


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2016) Conflict and cooperation between Arab rulers and Persian administrators in the formative period of Islamdom, c.600–c.950 ce, Empires and Bureaucracy in World History: From Late Antiquity to the Twentieth Century, Cambridge University Press, 54-80. [PDF]


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2015) La violence dans l’héritage biologique, culturel, religieux et notamment islamique, L'ordre social et les religions, Éditions de Paris, 375-404. [PDF]
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2015) Who Instigated Violence: A Rebelling Devil, or a Vengeful God, Violence in Islamic Thought: From the Qurʾān to the Mongols, Edinburgh University Press, 93-105. [PDF]
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2015) Violence, Our Inherent Heritage, Violence in Islamic Thought: From the Qurʾān to the Mongols, Edinburgh University Press, 2-17. [PDF]
  • Kristó-Nagy IT, Gleave R. (2015) Introduction, Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur'an to the Mongols, Edinburgh University Press, 1-24.
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2015) Denouncing the damned Zindīq! Struggle and interaction between monotheism and dualism, Accusations of unbelief in Islam: A diachronic perspective on takfīr, Brill, 56-81.



  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2013) A Violent, Irrational and Unjust God. Antique and medieval criticism of Jehovah and Allāh, La morale au crible des religions, Editions de Paris, 143-164. [PDF]
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2013) La pensée d’Ibn al-Muqaffa'. Un « agent double » dans le monde persan et arabe, Éditions de Paris. [PDF]


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2012) Quelles étaient les raisons de la première inquisition en Islam? L’importance de la zandaqa dans l’histoire des religions et de la pensée, Éthique et religion au défi de l'histoire, Éditions de Paris, 97-118. [PDF]


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2011) Who shall educate whom? The official and the sincere version of Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s theory on intellectual hierarchy, and the role of the elite in the formative period of Islam, Synoptikos. Mélanges offerts à Dominique Urvoy, Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 279-293.




  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2005) Európa és az Iszlám Világ. Verekedős ikrek. II. (Europe and the World of Islam: Contentious twins. II), Ezredvég, volume 2005 March, pages 93-98.
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2005) Ibn al-Muqaffa' al-mağhūl (The unknown Ibn al-Muqaffa'), Ad-Dānūb al-‘azraq, Kék Duna, volume 2/8 2005 June, pages 15-15.
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2005) Európa és az Iszlám Világ. Verekedős ikrek. I. (Europe and the World of Islam: Contentious twins. I), Ezredvég, volume 2005 February, pages 101-107. [PDF]
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2005) Ibn al-Muqaffa': A nagy útmutató. Fordítás és bevezető tanulmány (Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s Kitāb al-Ādāb al-Kabīr. ‘The Major Guide for Rulers and Courtiers’. Translation and introduction), Függőkert, volume II, pages 175-212.
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2005) A magyar orientalisztika új nemzedékéről. (The New Generation of Hungarian Orientalism), Ad-Dānūb al-‘azraq, Kék Duna, volume 2005 December.


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2004) Az állam alapjai: A parasztság és a hadsereg, az adó és a zsold kérdése Ibn al-Muqaffa' műveiben (The Foundations of the State: The Peasantry and the Army: the question of the land tax and the military’s pay in Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s work), Orientalista Nap 2004, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 70-78.
  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2004) Al-ġarb wa-l’-'ālam al-'arabī, al-taw’amān al-mutanāzi'ān (Europe and the World of Islam: Contentious twins. Abridged Arabic version), Ad-Dānūb al-‘azraq, Kék Duna, volume 2004 December, pages 21-21.


  • Kristo-Nagy IT. (2001) Ibn al-Muqaffa' racionalista kirtikája az iszlámmal szemben (Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s Rationalist Critique of Islam), Orientalista Nap 2000, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 107-119.

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