Sufism and Philosophy: Historical Interactions and Crosspollinations
About The Event
Date: April 26-27, 2019
Venue: University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
The intellectual history of Sufism is intertwined with that of philosophy in the Islamic world. From the mystical strains in the writings of Avicenna and Ibn Ṭufayl to the philosophical Sufism of Ibn ʿArabī’s school, the encounter between Islamic mysticism and philosophy has produced a rich nexus of mutual influence and rapprochement, as well as polemical engagement and debate. Despite the extent and significance of such interactions, modern scholars in the fields of Sufism and Islamic philosophy alike have often been reluctant to venture beyond the conventional boundaries of their respective disciplines and investigate the links that tie Sufi thought to the philosophical traditions of the Muslim world.
The aim of this conference is to provide a forum for a cross-disciplinary exploration and re-examination of the relationship between Sufism and philosophy.
Key discussion-points include:
A) Sufism’s reception of ancient and late antique philosophical traditions. When did this process begin, how did it manifest itself, and through which channels did it occur?
B) Falsafa’s interaction with classical Sufism. What impact did the mystical aspects of Avicenna’s thought have on the subsequent development of Islamic philosophy? Have such aspects been over-emphasized or under-estimated?
C) ‘Philosophical Sufism’ in the post-classical era. How apt is this label? To what extent did the members of Ibn ʿArabī’s school adopt or engage with theories propounded by al-Fārābī, Avicenna, Suhrawardī or the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ?
• Session 1: Early Philosophical Sufism
– Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī and the Art of Knowing
– Devil’s Advocate: ‘Ayn al-Quḍāt’s Satanology as Metaphilosophy’
• Session 2: Philosophy and Sufism in Muslim Spain
– Andalusī Philosophers on Sufism and Not Living Like an Animal
– Maribel Fierro (Madrid), “Ibn Ṭufayl’s Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān: An Almohad Reading
• Session 3: Sufism and the Avicennan Tradition
– Mystical Union in a Rational Universe: The Incoherence, Avicennan Psychology, and ʿAṭṭār’s Muṣībat-nāma
– (Fictionally) Debating with Avicenna on the Role of the Intellect: ʿAlāʾ al-Dawla al-Simnānī’s Criticism of Philosophy and Rational Thinking in Context
• Session 4: Philosophical Sufism beyond the Classical Muslim World
– ‘Brahman Was a Hidden Treasure, Who Loved to Be Known…’: Philosophical Sufism and the Encounter with Sanskrit Non-Dualism
– Sufism and Philosophy in the Mughal-Safavid Era: Consciousness and First-Person Subjectivity in Mullā Ṣadrā and Shāh Walī Allāh
– Philosophical Sufism in the Sokoto Caliphate: The Case of Shaykh Dan Tafa
• Session 5: Philosophy and the School of Ibn ʿArabī
– The Imagination According to Ibn ʿArabī and his Commentators: Between Sufism and Philosophy
– Towards a Correlative Ontology: A New Approach to the Notions of “Being” (Wujūd) and “Fixity” (Thubūt) in Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240), Through his Epistemology of ‘Perplexity’ (Ḥayra)
More information on: Birmingham University’s Website
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