Aya Johanna Daniëlle Dürst Britt recently (summer 2013) obtained her (research) master’s degree in Islamic Studies at Leiden University with a thesis entitled: "Tuning souls to harmony. The role of music in the mysticism of the Indian Muslim mystic, musician, poet, and philosopher Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927)."
Aya obtained her propaedeutics in Social & Cultural Development at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht in 2001 before she switched studies to Arabic Language & Culture at Utrecht University (2001-2002). Pursuing a minor in the cultures and religions of the ancient Near East while studying Arabic Language & Culture in Leiden from 2004 onwards, Aya obtained her bachelor’s degree there in 2007 with a final paper on the iconographic representation of the animal fable Kalila wa-Dimna in medieval Arabic manuscripts as based upon Ibn al-Muqaffa`’s eighth century rendition of an older Persian collection of stories, which originates in a Sanskrit mirror for princes entitled Panchatantra ("Five principles", ca. 3rd century BCE).
Music, art, and mysticism in the Muslim world and (Mughal) India represent the core of Aya’s research interests. Another theme which fascinates her is the representation of female Divinity in the ancient Near East, Middle East and Indus valley. At present, Aya is an editor of the online al.arte.magazine, which publishes articles in Dutch and English about art, culture and society with regard to Islam, the Maghreb, Mashriq and beyond.