Full course description
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This course focuses on Sufism and the mystical traditions of Islam. It begins by introducing students to the history of Sufi studies in Western orientalist scholarship through travellers’ accounts of the Middle East in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course then proceeds to examine core Sufi concepts and practices in their historical context from their origins in the eighth and ninth centuries to their development in systematic treatises of key Sufi personalities of the post-classical period. In addition to the historical study of Sufism, we will also examine the doctrinal features of Sufi thought on topics such as cosmology, God, man, perfection and love. The course ends with a discussion of the complex history of Sufism in a Shiʿi context. As such, this course is intended to provide both a historical and doctrinal introduction to Sufism and the mystical traditions of Islam, their diversity and their manifestations.
By the end of this course, you will be able to appreciate the history of Sufism and the aims and goals of different strands of mysticism in Islam. You will be able to distinguish the varieties of Sufism in Islam and discuss a range of key personalities. The reading seminars will acquaint you with a diverse range of primary texts and hone your analytical and reading skills, which will serve you well as you progress through your journey in the study of Islam.
The course is made up of a combination of lectures and reading seminars each on an alternate week. Students have the option of either watching the reading seminars that are uploaded here or arranging an individual reading seminar with the course tutor.
Lesson 1 Lecture: What is Sufism? Introduction to the Study of Sufism
Lesson 2 Reading seminar:
Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāj: The Book of Flashes (Kitāb al-Lumaʿ) Knowledge of God in Classical Sufism, 65–111
Abū l-Qāsim al-Qushayrī: “Sufism” Principles of Sufism, 301–307
Abū Bakr al-Kalābādhī: How the Ṣūfīs account for their being called Ṣūfīs, The Doctrine of the Ṣūfīs, 5–11
James W. Graham, “A Treatise on Sufism, Or Mohamedan Mysticism,” 1811
Lesson 3 Lecture: Sufism in the Classical Period
Lesson 4 Reading seminar:
Abū Saʿīd al-Kharrāz, The Book of Truthfulness, trans. A. J. Arberry
Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq: Qurʿānic Commentary, Early Islamic Mysticism, 75–88
Abū Sahl al-Tustarī: Qurʾānic Commentary, Early Islamic Mysticism, 89–96
Lesson 5 Lecture: The Sufi Way
Lesson 6 Reading Seminar:
Al-Ghazālī's Ayyahu al-walad
Lesson 7 Lecture: The Four Journeys
Lesson 8 Reading Seminar:
Ibn Ṭufayl's Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān – A Philosophical Tale
Lesson 9 Lecture: Sufi Ethics and Science of the Soul
Lesson 10 Reading Seminar:
Forty Hadīths – Hadīth on Jihād al-Nafs
The Health of the Soul – Miskawayh
Najm al-Dīn al-Rāzī on the Refinement of the Soul
Lesson 11 Reading Seminar:
Book 38 – On Vigilance and Self-Examination
Lesson 12 Lecture: Ibn ֫Arabī and the Unity of Existence
Hours of Study
Dr Wahid Amin
Dr Wahid Amin completed a BSc in Physics from Imperial College London and a PGCE from the Institute of Education, University College London. He then began his studies at the Al-Mahdi Institute and simultaneously completed a BA in Islamic Studies at the University of Birmingham, graduating from both in 2008. He went on to read for an MSt in the Study of Religions at the University of Oxford. His DPhil, also from Oxford, studied the metaphysics of necessary existence in the thought of the Persian polymath Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (d. 672/1274). He joined AMI in 2015 as a Lecturer in Islamic Philosophy where he teaches courses on Islamic philosophy, theology, logic, and mysticism. He is also the Head of Publications at AMI Press and an Associate Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Birmingham. As an intellectual historian of Islam, his primary research interests revolve around post-classical Islamic philosophy and theology. He also maintains an interest in contemporary Islamic philosophy, the intersection between Islamic philosophy and political theory, and modern Shīʿī legal theory.