Founded in 2010, the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East (CSIME) is a Washington-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to interfaith dialogue and the study of Islam and the Middle East. CSIME has emerged as a leader in pursuing these endeavors through systematic research, dialogue, and exchange of ideas.

Through our dedication to objective research and analysis, CSIME engages the West, the Middle East, and the Islamic World to combine knowledge and expertise in order to offer policy recommendations that will be effective and enduring. CSIME’s purpose is to serve leaders and the public through merit research and education so that misunderstandings and misconceptions are minimized between the West, the Middle East, and the Islamic world.

Our diverse and committed staff works to empower people to expand the boundaries of knowledge, analysis and sound decision-making hoping to spur actions that would bring about a more peaceful and prosperous region.


Dr. Ahmad Iravani is an Iranian philosopher, scholar, and clergyman from the Northern region of Iran, along the Caspian Sea. An avid advocate of the interfaith and intra-faith peace dialogue, he has dedicated his life to such intellectual subjects. He continually strives to spread peace, tolerance, and acceptance among people of all religions and cultures.

Besides being the executive director of CSIME,  Dr. Iravani teaches courses in Islamic Law, Introduction to Islam, and Modern Iran in the Columbus School of Law and the School of Theology of The Catholic University of America (CUA). Ayatollah Iravani received the highest possible degree in Islamic Studies (Ijtihad) in 1997 (Qom), and the First Kharej Degree (equal to a Ph.D.) in Islamic Studies, from the Islamic University in Qom (1992). His previous work includes being Dean of the Philosophy School, Mofid University (1996-2000), and President of the Center for Islamic Studies, Zimbabwe (1987-1990). In 2010 he received his Doctor of Philosophy after defending his Ph.D. dissertation under the title of “Foundations of Jacques Maritain’s Political Philosophy” at the Iranian Institute of Philosophy in Tehran, Iran.

Dr. Seyed Masoud Noori is a former Faculty member of Department of Law, Mofid University (Qom, Iran); a Member of the Academic Council of the Center for Human Rights Studies (CHRS); and a member of the Council Law Clinic at that university. His experience includes working with UNICEF, UNDP, and the ICRC, as well as the International Bar Association (IBA). Before joining CSIME, Dr. Noori was a Senior Scholar in Residence at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHR&GJ) at New York University School of Law. In 2011 he was a visiting scholar at the Irish center for human rights (National University of Ireland, Galway) and in 2012 he taught as a visiting professor at Emory Law School as well. In April of 2007, he and his colleagues in CHRS founded the first academic legal clinic in Iran. In addition to a Ph.D. in private law, he has more than 20 years of experience in studying, teaching, and researching Islam—especially the Shi’a school—at Qom seminary, one of the most important seminaries in the Muslim world. He has served as Deputy Director and Director of Research and Education for the CHRS. Dr. Noori’s interests include comparative studies between Islam (with special emphasis on the Shi’a school) and International Human Rights Law, and legal clinical education. He has published extensively on Islamic jurisprudence and law, the compatibility of international human rights with Islamic law, and the modern conception of group rights and religions.

Dr.Sayed Hassan Akhlaq was born in Afghanistan. He has been involved in comparative study and inter and intra-faith dialogue. For the past decade, he has been writing scholarly books, and papers and giving lectures and speeches worldwide including USA, UAE, Iran, Afghanistan, South Korea, Greece, Russia, and the UK. He earned a Ph.D. degree in Philosophy in 2009 from Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran, Iran. Also, he completed his Islamic theological studies (Hawzeh Elmieh) in Mashhad. He worked as the chancellor of Gharjistan University, a branch of Farah-Afghanistan in 2011. He acted as an academic advisor of the Afghanistan Academy of Sciences in 2010. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Iranian universities like Al-Mustafa International University and Payam-e Noor during 2007-2010. He is doing research and academic activities with George Washington University, the Catholic University of America, and George Mason University in the Washington DC area.  He is a member of the American Academy of Religion. currently, he works as an advisor for the Center for Study of Islam and the Middle East in Afghanistan Affairs.

Dr. Shoja Ahmadvand is a researcher and Associate Professor of political science at Allameh Tabataba’i University’s Department of Political Science in Tehran, Iran. Dr. Ahmadvand was a visiting research scholar at the Catholic University of America (2016-2017). He is a senior advisor to the CSIME regarding Iran’s scientific, academic and cultural issues.

Besides different academic activities such as writing and translating numerous books from English to Persian and publishing more than 40 articles in scientific quarterlies and attending international seminars, he has served as Vice-President for Research of  Allameh Tabatab’i University (2013- sep.2016); Head of Center for Regional Studies (2004-2007); Vice-Dean for Education and Postgraduates, Faculty of Law & Political Sciences, Allameh Tabatab’i University (2007-2009); Vice-Dean for Research, Faculty of Law & Political Sciences, Allameh Tabatab’i University (2009-2011); Head of Center for International Academic Cooperation, Allameh Tabatab’i University (2011-2012);

He is A Member of the Iranian Political Science Association (2008-now) and is the Editor-in-chief of The State Studies Quarterly,  a Journal of ATU Faculty of Law & Political Sciences, Allameh Tabataba’i University.


Ahmad Iravani is the President and Executive Director of the CSIME. He is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. For the past fourteen years, he has been teaching at the same University. He also served as the Director of Islamic Studies and Dialogue at the Center for the Study of Culture and Values from 2002 until the end of 2009. Since 2003, he has been teaching two courses on Islam and Iran during summer at the University of California, DAVIS. In addition to his academic activities, he has diversified his role in the community by participating in several interfaith dialogues around the world. He recently participated in the World Economic Forum (Davos) and became a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith for 2014-2016. He completed his religious studies in the Islamic Seminary (Hawzeh Elmieh) of Qom, Iran. He received his degree called Rotbe Awwale Kharej in 1992 and Ijazeh of Ijtihad from Grand Ayatollah Sannei in 1997. He also has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Iranian Institute of Philosophy in Tehran. He has taught courses on Islamic Law, Islamic Economics, Philosophy, and logic at Tehran and Qom universities. He was the Dean of the School of Philosophy of Mofid,1997-2000. He has also been a strong advocate for social justice, peace, and harmony among people and places.


Dr. Alireza Mahmoudieh has been with the El Portal Department of Radiation Oncology in Merced, CA since 2008. Before joining El Portal, Dr. Mahmoudieh worked for Kaiser Permanente in Roseville and was the Director of the Prostate Brachytherapy Program. In 1996, he received his medical degree from the Albert Szent Gyorgi School of Medicine in Szeged, Hungary. Dr. Mahmoudieh is a member of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO). Throughout his career, he has played an active role in humanitarian efforts here and abroad. In addition, to fundraising for the victims of Haiti’s earthquake, Dr. Mahmoudieh has been involved in opening a Farsi school in Boston in 1998 as well as in several community events in Sacramento with the Nour organization, and Shifa Clinic, to provide free medical care for the uninsured.

David Laylin grew up in Washington DC, in an international environment. In this respect, Iran has been a large part of his life since his father, an international lawyer, represented Iran at the Security Council of the UN in the 1946 Azerbaijan case against Russia. David was in private business, in Iran, for 15 years during the period of 1959 to 1979. Since then, he has continued to be involved in wildlife conservation in Iran and information exchange activities between Iran and the US. He makes extended visits whenever possible. His sister, Louise Firouz, was also well known for her work in breeding and reviving the Caspian and Turcoman horse species in Northern Iran. In addition to the members of his Iranian family, David has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances in Iran. He is interested in humanitarian work, inter-religious dialogue, and in furthering the other work of CSIME.

Ayatollah, Dr. Mohaghegh Damad is a Professor of Jurisprudence and Law at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, and a Professor of Islamic Theology and Transcendental Philosophy at the Iranian Institute of Philosophy. Since 1990, he has served as the Director of Islamic Studies at the Iranian Academy of Sciences. He received his traditional Islamic education in Qom and consequently, received the status of Ijtihad (Ayatollah) in 1970. He also holds a doctoral degree in Law from the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. He has also served as the Chairman of the Commission of Compiling Judicial Acts, and as a judge in Iran’s Ministry of Justice. Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad has published numerous books, articles, and papers in Farsi, English, and Arabic dealing with various practical and theoretical issues such as Islamic jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, inter-religious dialogue, human rights, laws of armed conflict, and the environment. Dr. Damad and Dr. Iravani have been working for more than two decades in different issues related to Interfaith and IntraFaith dialogue and peacebuilding and conflict regulation.