Islamic Mysticism (Religion 337)
Theme:  The Persian Love Tradition In Sufism

Colgate University
Spring 2005

Omid Safi: osafi@mail.colgate.edu

(315) 228-7690

 

Sufism:

Path to God,

through the Heart

"Love is a flame.

It burns away all

that is not God."

 
 

 

Course Description

 

Schedule of Classes & Reading Assignments

(All readings on given days are to be completed before you come to class.)

January 17        M      First Day: Special schedule for 20 minute meetings for all classes.

 

 

Encountering a Sufi master

January 19        Wed  Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak, Love is the Wine, p. iii-39.

January 24        Mon.  Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak, Love is the Wine, p. 40-94.
* For a web representation of the followers of Sheikh Muzzafer,
see
http://www.jerrahi.org/  [question: what forms of engagement with the modern world do you see this group undertaking? How do they identify their relationship with Islam?]

 

 

Defining "Sufism" and the problematic of the "Mystical"

Wednesday, January 26           Sufism and the problematic of "the mystical"
                        Ernst, Shambhala Guide to Sufism, xi-31
* Nicholson, "Origin and Development of Sufism", pp. 330-348.  (handed out in class Monday)

* For some thoughtful reflections on the category of "mystical", refer to:
http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/gthursby/mys/define.htm
 
and pay particularly close attention to:
http://www.uga.edu/islam/sufism/sufismlumdef.html

( Assignment: Based on what you have seen so far, how would you translate the term tasawwuf ?
What seems to be the problematic of translating the term as "Islamic Mysticism"?
How comfortable are you with a rendering that ends in an "-ism"?
What problems arise with translating the term as Islamic "esotericism" or "spirituality"?)

 

 

The Foundational Sources of Sufism: 

Qur’an and the baraka of Muhamamd (S)

January 31        Monday      
      Ernst, Shambhala Guide To Sufism, Chapter 2 (32-57),
      Sells, Early Islamic Mysticism, Chapter 1 (29-56)

extra material:

*For some information on Sufi exegesis of the Qur’an, also see
www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/Sufism.html#Sufi Qur'an Commentary

* For a Sufi interpretation of the Opening chapter of the Qur’an,, see
www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/ruzguide.html

( Assignment: Discuss the Sufis’ relationship to the Qur’an, particularly in terms of their hermeneutics.
How do they access different layers of meaning in the holy text?
)

 

 

 The example of the Prophet, and the Heavenly Ascension (Mi'raj)

February 2 Wednesday    Sells, Early Islamic Mysticism, Chapter 2 (75-97)
                       
*For some information on Sufi exegesis of the Quran, also see
                       
www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/Sufism.html#Sufi Qur'an Commentary

                        * For a Sufi interpretation of the Opening chapter of the Quran,, see
                       
www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/ruzguide.html

We have talked about significance of Hadith Qudsi.  Browse:
http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/hadithqudsi.html

 

* See the following web-site associated with the Mi'raj:
http://www.al-aqsa.com/HISTORY.html#anchor661673

The poem to the right is by the Persian poet, Sa'di, in honor of the Prophet. 
This poem, in Arabic, is sung all over the Muslim world.

Balagha 'l-ula bi-kamlalihi
kashafa 'l-dujja bi-jamalihi
hasunat jami'u khisalihi
sallu alayhi wa alihi

"He reached hights of perfection
he unveiled darkness through his beauty
he achieved the totality of beauty in all qualities
Peace be upon him, and his family."

(Assignment: What aspects of Muhammad’s being do Sufis seek to emulate? )

 

 

Wednesday, February 14th: Early Sufi theorists, early female Sufi

February 7        M         Sells, Early Islamic Mysticism, Chapter 3 (Qushayri)
* James Morris, "Listening for God: Prayer and the Heart in the Futht",
 [available through
www.ibnarabisociety.org/morris.html ]

February 9        W         Sells, Early Islamic Mysticism, Chapter 4,5 (Rabi'a and Muhasibi)
* Music: Zuleikha, featuring chanting of the names of significant Sufi women.
 

Web: www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/Sufism.html#Rabi'a  
and,   http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/Sufism.html#Sufi Women

( Assignment: In looking at Rabi’a, how is she a woman Sufi?)
* Music: "Namidanam kuja budam" plus handout from Burckhardt book.,
(poem by Amir Khusrau, song by Sabri Brothers, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan)

 

 

 

Ecstasy Unleashed:  Hallaj, Bistami, etc.

February 14      M         Sells, Early Islamic Mysticism, Chapter 6, 7
Also, see an early 13th century definition of "what is tasawwuf"
Also:   www.naqshbandi.org/chain/6.htm

 February 16      W         Sells, Early Islamic Mysticism, Chapter 8, 9
www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/Sufism.html#Hallaj

 

 

 

Lives of Sufi saints:   Memorial of Godfriends (Tadhkirat al-awliya' of Attar)

You can access a free copy of this text online.
 It is also available in the "course documents" section of Blackboard.
Skip the translator's introduction.

February 21      M         Muslim Saints and Mystics, from Hasan of Basra to end of Dho 'l-Nun Misri (in the PDF pages,

 February 23      W         Muslim Saints and Mystics, from PDF.

 

 

 

 

The Path of Love:  Mazhab-e 'eshq
Ahmad Ghazali's Sawanih

February 28      M         Muslim Saints and Mystics, from PDF source.  Only read the chapters on Hallaj and Shebli from the remainder of the document.


Also, from the "course documents" section of Blackboard, get the PDF File for Sawanih, and read only pages 15-22, plus chapters 11 (page 31), and 13 (33-34).  This is a dense, though rewarding, read, so try to read this twice.

 

 

 

 

Transmission/transformation of Sufism in the West

   March 2            W        Essential Sufism 1 (skim into, read closely 35-86)
Assignment:   What historical aspects of Sufi teachings
are highlighted in the process of transmission? 

March 7            M         Essential Sufism, 2 (read 87-193)
For transmission of Sufism to the West,
see look at:  http://www.uga.edu/islam/sufismwest.html

March 9           W   Bawa Muhaiyaddeen's Islam and World Peace handout      
 browse Essential Sufism, 3 (read 197-258)
 

 

March 12-20     Mid Term Recess

The heart of this course: 
12th and 13th century Persian Love Tradition of Tasawwuf

 

Hazrat Mawlana (Rumi)           

April 11  M        March 21st: Ernst, Shambhala Guide To Sufism, chapter 6
 Masnavi 1-55
First, start with this page, and pay attention to the Persian original of the first 18 lines.
Then, check out the various translations of the same 18 lines.  
Then, read the commentaries on the first 18 lines by Nicholson:  part I, part 2, part 3

March 23rd:  
W         Masnavi 56-119
music:  Daram hava-ye 'asheqi

March 28:         M         Masnavi 120-180
music: Baz amadam, baz amadam

March 30th:       W        Masnavi 180-243
* Music: man dard-e to-r ze dast sn nadaham; by Shahram Nazeri
 

 

 

Fakhruddin 'Iraqi, translated by Chittick

April 4:   Iraqi, 1

April 6    M    Iraqi, 2

 

 

Path of God's Bondsmen,
by Najm al-Din Daya,
 translated by Hamid Algar

April 11th:     Razi, pages 25-148


April 13th: 
     Razi, pages 149-254
 

April 18th:     Razi , 255-394
* For some more information on dhikr/zekr, see
http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/Sufism.html#Remembering God
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/ABewley/Page5.html
* Music: Bosnian zekr, Turkish zekr.
 

April 20th:   Razi, 395-497


(note: picture on the right has nothing to do with Najm al-Din Daya, I just adore the Taj Mahal...)

 

 

 

Sufi Aesthetics:  music and dance

April 25            Monday        
Ernst, Shambhala Guide To Sufism, chapter 7

* Jean-Louis Michon, "Sacred Music and Dance in Islam", pp. 469-506
[handout available in the religion department, ask Jeanie  the angelic secretary]

* check out web page:
http://www.shariahboard.com/fatwa/Tasawwuf/1200.php

 

 

 

Sufism in the contemporary world

April 27            W         Ernst, Shambhala Guide To Sufism, chapter 8 

* Camille Helminski’s article on Sufi women:
http://www.webcom.com/threshld/society/articles/women.html
* On Sufi women, see
http://www.ias.org/swo/
Assignment:  Which historical
aspects of Sufi teachings
are neglected or omitted?


pay close attention to
: "Islam's Relationship to Sufism: Approval and Criticism
http://www.uga.edu/islam/sufismislam.html
for example of Salafi approach to Sufism,
see:  http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=79051
Yusuf al-Qaradawi on Sufism:  http://www.famsy.com/salam/Sufism0404.htm

 

 

May 2-3            Examination Period

May 4               Review Day     

May 5-6            Examination Period                   

May 6 and 7      Examination Period

Senior Grades Due May 9

All other grades due May 16
 

Michael Sells, "Ibn Arabi’s Garden Among the Flames: The Heart Receptive of Every Form," pp. 90-115. [handed out]

 

Assigned sources:

Books:

Required for the class, bring the readings with you to each class.

  1. Sheikh Mozzafer, Love is the Wine

  2. Michael Sells, Early Islamic Mysticism

  3. Razi, Path of God's Bondsmen

  4. Carl Ernst, Shambhala Guide to Sufism

  5. William Chittick, Fakhurddin 'Iraqi 

  6. Fadiman, Essential Sufism

  7. Jawid Mojaddedi, Rumi: Masnavi (Oxford)
     

  8. STRONGLY Recommended CD: Oruj Guvenc, Oceans of Remembrance.

Web resources:

You would do well to acquaint yourselves with the following web-page,

and use it as a frequent point of entry and exploration around many of the issues we will be discussing:
http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/sufism1.html

Articles:

  1. R. A. Nicholson, "Origin and Development of Sufism", Journal of Royal Asiatic Society (1906): 330-348.
  2. Michael Sells, "Ibn Arabi’s Garden Among the Flames: The Heart Receptive of Every Form", Mystical Language of Unsaying, pp. 90-115.
  3. James Morris, "Listening for God: Prayer and the Heart in the Futht", [available through www.ibnarabisociety.org/morris.html

 

Grade to be based on:

 

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