Lecture series

Upcoming Conference

The Reception of Early German Mysticism in Early Modern England

3-day International Conference sponsored by the School of Religious Studies, McGill University and the Centre for the Study of Platonism, Cambridge University

 Conference will be hosted on Zoom (Montreal-EDT)

19–21 June 2021

SATURDAY, 19 JUNE
14h00 (EDT) Session—Platonism and the German Theology

SUNDAY, 20 JUNE
11h00 (EDT) Session—Mysticism and Metaphysics

14h00 (EDT) Session— Jacob Boehme and Mysticism in England

MONDAY, 21 JUNE
10h00 (EDT) Session—German Mysticism in Cambridge Platonism and American Puritanism

 

About the conference:

The project consists in establishing the fundamental influence of German or Rhenish mysticism on English religious thought, chiefly in the 17th-century.

The English reception of such German mystical authors as Meister Eckhart (c. 1260-1328), the anonymous author of Theologia Germanica, Johannes Tauler (c. 1300-1361), Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), Sebastian Franck (c. 1499-1542), Hans Denck (1500-1527), Valentin Weigel (1533-1588), and Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), to mention just the most significant representatives of this tradition, has been hitherto little studied, or not studied at all. There are some notable exceptions, particularly the research of Douglas Hedley on the exceptional role of the Cambridge Platonists, especially of Henry More, in the dissemination of German mysticism in England in the seventeenth century, and Nigel Smith’s monograph Perfection Proclaimed (Oxford, 1989).

This project will not only reconstruct for the first time the wide-ranging reception of these German thinkers in Early Modern England, but also show that it was through this reception that the influential tradition of 'German mysticism' was first created. For instance, while in 17th-century Germany the writings of the main figure of this tradition, Jakob Böhme, went underground because of accusations of heresy, in England they were keenly translated, commented upon, and considered in relation to other German writers who had also been translated at the same time, specifically Sebastian Franck and Valentin Weigel.

Through their work, the English readers thus established a lineage that connected these thinkers, and that at the same time created a philosophical bridge between England and Germany. The project will highlight the international legacy of these authors by adopting the perspective of historico-philosophical engagement with the sources, placing them also in the theological milieu of their time.

Click here for PDF containing details on schedule, time zones and more info on sessions and presenters.

Birks Annual Lecture Series

An annual series was established in 1950 through the generosity of the late William M. Birks. The lectures are given by distinguished visitors, usually in late September or early October. The first lecturer was the Right Reverend Leslie Hunter. More recent lecturers have included Huston Smith, Northrop Frye, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Gregory Baum, Jurgen Moltmann, Robert McFee Brown, Krister Stendahl, James Barr, Charles J. Adams, John H. Hick, Jon Levenson, David Little, Azim Nanji, Paul Griffiths, Bernadette J. Brooten, Harvey G. Cox, John S. Hawley, Gabriel Vahanian, Oliver O'Donovan, Jan Assmann, Donald Lopez, Rémi Brague, David Fergusson, John J. Collins, David Shulman, Talal Asad, Robert L. Wilken, Jens Schroter and Rachel Fell McDermott.

Public lecture, The Worlds that Translation Opens, by Professor Rachel Fell McDermott, Professor and Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College, Columbia University
Creating and Translating a Giant: The Curious Journeys of Omar Khayyam, Tuesday, October 8 at 5:30 p.m.
Translating and Creating a Genre: The Legacy of Muslim Devotional Singing in Two Bengals, Wednesday, October 9 at 5:30 p.m.
Poster

2018

Public lecture, The Formation of the Christian Bible: Current Trends and New Perspectives, by Professor Jens Schoter, Chair of Exegesis and Theology of the New Testament and New Testament Apocrypha at the Humboldt-Universitat of Berlin
The Emergence of the New Testament Canon: "Canonical" and "Apocryphal" Writings in Early Christianity, Wednesday, September 26 at 5:30 p.m.
The Septuagint, Jewish Writings, and the 'Old Testament': Authoritative Writings in Second Temple Judaism and the Formation of the Christian Bible, Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m.
Poster

2017

Public lecture, Christian Origins of Religious Freedom, by Professor Robert Louis Wilken, Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity, University of Virginia
Endowed with Freedom, Tuesday, October 3 at 5:30 p.m.
Liberty in the Things of God, Wednesday, October 4 at 5:30 p.m.
Poster

2016

Public lecture by Professor Talal Asad, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center
Reflections on Secularization and Christianity, Tuesday, November 1 at 5:30 p.m.
Thinking about Translation, Paideia and Secularization, Wednesday, November 2 at 3:30 p.m.
Poster

2015

Public lecture by Professor David Shulman, Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Kudiyattam: The Last Living Sanskrit Theater in the World, Tuesday, October 13
The Making of a Grisly Goddess, Wednesday, October 14
Poster; link to youtube video of October 13 lecture; link to youtube video of October 14 lecture.

2014

Public lecture by Professor John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale Divinity School
Torah and Jewish Identity in Second Temple Judaism, Tuesday, October 21
Non-Mosaid forms of Judaism in the Second Temple Period, Wednesday, October 22
Poster; link to youtube video of October 21 lecture; link to youtube video of October 22 lecture

2013

Public lecture by Professor David Fergusson, October 15 and 16
The Theology of Providence: Perspectives and Problems
View video recording of the two lectures: Providence in Christian Tradition: theoretical and practical challenges; Re-envisioning Providence Today

2012

Public lecture by Professor Rémi Brague, October 9
The Question Atheism Can't Answer; Remi Brague at McGill; youtube

2011

Public lecture series given by Professor Donald Lopez, September 26 and 27
Buddhism among the Religions

2010

Public lectures by Professor Jan Assmann, October 12 and 13
Lecture audio podcast: October 12; October 13

2009

Public Lecture by Dr. Olivier O'Donovan, October 14 and 15
Faith and Society

G. Campbell Wadsworth Lectures

The G. Campbell Wadsworth memorial Lecture series was established in 1997 by the Estate of Dr. G. Campbell Wadsworth. A series of lectures on the life and works of John Calvin is organized on a bi-annual basis. The first G. Campbell Wadsworth memorial Lecture was presented by Professor Alan J. Torrance; the second, by Professor Colin Gunton; the third by Professor John Webster; the fourth by Professor Joan Lockwood O'Donovan.

Reverend Wadsworth was Minister of the Montreal West United Church for many years, a keen student of the history and doctrine of the Reformation, and an active member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

2019

Wadsworth Memorial Calvin Lecture by Dr. Richard Rex, September 9
The Reformation in England and France: Tales of the Unexpected

2017

Wadsworth Memorial Calvin Lecture by Dr. Elsie McKee, March 21
Calvin the Biblical Theologian

2012

Wadsworth Memorial Calvin Lecture by Professor Bruce Gordon, February 15
Scripture and Church: Calvin, Servetus and Castellio

2009

Public Lecture by Dr. Joan Lockwood O'Donovan, October 13
Faith and Society: Human Dignity and Human Justice

Islamic Encounters Series

2019

Repoliticizing the Silk Road: China in Islamic Political Thought Geographical Imagination, by Dr. Kaveh Hemmat, Benedictine University.

Women of the Empire from Zoroastrianism to Islam, by Dr. Fatemeh Sadeghi, McGill University.

The Problem of 'Human Natue' in Greek and Islamic Thought, by Dr. Michael Nafi, John Abbott College.

In the Aftermath of the Revolution: Islam, Translation, and the 'Outside', by Dr. Milad Odabaei, McGill University.

Dreaming at the Threshold of the Law: An Islamic Liturgy of of Healing, by Dr. Stefania Pandolfo, University of California, Berkeley.

Magic of Warlords: Imperial Occult Science in the Early Modern Persian Cosmopolis, by Dr. Matthew Melvin-Koushki, University of South Carolina.

Muslim Initiatives in International Interreligious Dialogue, Dr. Patrice Brodeur, Université de Montréal.

2018

Islam, Science and the Gender of Reason, by Dr. Alireza Doostdar, University of Chicago.

Rethinking the Jewish-Muslim Past in the Twentieth Century Maghrib through music, by Dr. Christopher Silver, McGill University.

For Love of the Prophet: The Art of Islamic State-Making in Sudan, by Dr. Noah Salomon, Carleton College.

New perspectives on Christian philosophers in medieval Islamic Baghdad, by Dr. Damien Janos, Université de Montréal and Dr. Robert Wisnovsky, McGill University.

Mawlana Rumi's Spiritual Legacy within World Civilizations, by Dr. Bilal Kuspinar, Necmettin Ebakan University, Turkey.

Miraly Pluralism Lecture Series

Established in 2019 in support of a Lecture Series to explore issues of pluralism and diversity in secular societies. It will provide an opportunity for international scholar to engage in and develop studies and dialogue in Religious Studies and Arts, and may also draw on other disciplines, such as Law, Medicine, as appropriate in the thematic of a given year.

Religion, Politics, and Society Lecture Series

Public lecture by Professor Ateş Altinordu, Sabanci University, Istanbul. Politics and Unbelief in Turkey. Friday, May 17, 2019 from 10:00–11:30.
Poster

Public lecture by Professor Ateş Altinordu, Sabanci University, Istanbul.
The Political Incorporation of Anti-System Religious Parties: The Case of Turkish Political Islam. Wednesday, November 16, 2016 from 11:30–13:00.
Poster

ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion

Past lectures

March 24, 2021, 1:30 PM EDT (UTC-4).

Hüseyin Yılmaz, George Mason University, Patron Saints of the Rum and their Chosen Dynasty: The Story of Ottomans in Sufi Hagiographies

The Keenan Chair of Interfaith Studies and the James McGill Professor of Islamic Philosophy are collaborating in a reflection on religion, Islam, and cosmopolitanism associated with McGill’s academic tradition of Islamic Studies, and epitomized by scholars such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Fazlur Rahman, and Toshihiko Izutsu.

In preparation for the Keenan Conference on World Religions and Globalization, we are hosting an online lecture series titled ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion: History, Theory, and Society. While the study of the Islamosphere has stimulated a critical reconceptualization of the notion of religion, we would like to extend this reflection to how religious concepts have been embedded in broader views of history and society, including the Western colonial construction of the “Middle East” as the cradle not just of Islam but of all Abrahamic religions.

The seventh speaker in the series will be Prof. Hüseyin Yılmaz, George Mason University. The title of the lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A, is Patron Saints of the Rum and their Chosen Dynasty: The Story of Ottomans in Sufi Hagiographies. Professor Aslıhan Gürbüzel, McGill University, will serve as a discussant of the lecture.

Abstract: The post-Mongol Western Anatolia was a breeding ground for ambitious Turkic chieftains and charismatic saints competing for a new spiritual and political order. These rulers and dervishes, often clashing with each other, constantly negotiated the nature and boundaries of spiritual and temporal authorities. This talk will elaborate on how hagiographies reflected Sufistic visions of authority and portrayed the Ottomans from the 14th through the 16th centuries.

Hüseyin Yılmaz is currently an associate professor in Department of History and Art History, and research director at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University. He received his PhD in 2005 from Harvard University in History and Middle Eastern Studies. From 2005 to 2009 he taught at the Humanities Program and Department of History, Stanford University. From 2009 to 2012 he taught in Department of History, University of South Florida. As research fellow, he spent Spring 2010 at Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna. His research interests include political thought, geographic imageries, social movements, and cultural history of the Ottoman Empire and the broader Islamicate world of the early modern era. He is the author of Caliphate Redefined: The Mystical Turn in Ottoman Political Thought (Princeton University Press, 2018). His recent publications include “The Eastern Question and the Ottoman Empire: The Genesis of the Near and Middle East in the Nineteenth Century” and “From Serbestiyet to Hürriyet: Ottoman Statesmen and the Question of Freedom During the Late Enlightenment.”

Video of lecture: Patron Saints of the Rum and their Chosen Dynasty: The Story of Ottomans in Sufi Hagiographies
Poster of lecture: Patron Saints of the Rum and their Chosen Dynasty: The Story of Ottomans in Sufi Hagiographies


March 10, 2021, 1:30 PM EST (UTC -5).

Professor Setrag Manoukian, McGill University, Towards a Poetic Sociology of Iran

The Keenan Chair of Interfaith Studies and the James McGill Professor of Islamic Philosophy are collaborating in a reflection on religion, Islam, and cosmopolitanism associated with McGill’s academic tradition of Islamic Studies, and epitomized by scholars such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Fazlur Rahman, and Toshihiko Izutsu.

In preparation for the Keenan Conference on World Religions and Globalization, to be held in Montreal in May 2022, we are hosting an online lecture series titled ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion: History, Theory, and Society. While the study of the Islamosphere has stimulated a critical reconceptualization of the notion of religion, we would like to extend this reflection to how religious concepts have been embedded in broader views of history and society, including the Western colonial construction of the “Middle East” as the cradle not just of Islam but of all Abrahamic religions.

The sixth speaker in the series will be Prof. Setrag Manoukian, McGill University. The title of the lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A, is Towards a Poetic Sociology of Iran.

Abstract: Poetry occupies a specific place in Iran’s history, culture and everyday life. This is perhaps no different from other countries in the Middle East or the world at large; however, media and scholarly narratives often see an essential connection between Iranians and their poems, and use these texts to explain Iranian politics, morality, and the self. A variant of this approach considers poetry as a pivotal expression of political dissent and existential angst.

As a counterpoint to these narratives, this talk analyses the power of poetry in Iran by examining the constitutive relationship between poetry and social configurations in light of contemporary poetic practice in the city of Shiraz. Instead of a sociology of Iranian poetry, I propose a poetic sociology of Iran.

Prof. Setrag Manoukian is an anthropologist interested in knowledge and its relationship with power, understood both as existential and social force. He approaches cities, poems, videos and other technologies as forms of knowledge with specific existential trajectories and attends to their historicity. His special area is Iran. He is looking for ways to pursue Giambattista Vico’s combination of anthropology and philology.

Video of lecture: Towards a Poetic Sociology of Iran
Poster of lecture: Towards a Poetic Sociology of Iran


February 17, 2021, 2:00 PM EST (UTC-5).

Dr Benjamin Schewel, Duke University, Imagining the Islamic Ecumene: Marshall Hodgson as Philosopher of History

The Keenan Chair of Interfaith Studies and the James McGill Professor of Islamic Philosophy are collaborating in a reflection on religion, Islam, and cosmopolitanism associated with McGill’s academic tradition of Islamic Studies, and epitomized by scholars such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Fazlur Rahman, and Toshihiko Izutsu.

In preparation for the Keenan Conference on World Religions and Globalization, to be held in Montreal in May 2022, we are hosting an online lecture series titled ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion: History, Theory, and Society. While the study of the Islamosphere has stimulated a critical reconceptualization of the notion of religion, we would like to extend this reflection to how religious concepts have been embedded in broader views of history and society, including the Western colonial construction of the “Middle East” as the cradle not just of Islam but of all Abrahamic religions.

The fifth speaker in the series will be Dr Benjamin Schewel, Duke University. The title of the lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A, is Imagining the Islamic Ecumene: Marshall Hodgson as Philosopher of History.

Abstract: Ibn Khaldun's studies of the rise and fall of Islamicate empires have proven to be of widespread and enduring relevance within broader fields of social scientific research.

In the same vein, this lecture argues, the insights that Marshall Hodgson derives from his far-reaching study of the origins and evolution of the Islamicate ecumene should figure centrally in the ongoing efforts of philosophers, social theorists, and humanistic scholars of various sorts to reconceptualize world history through a non-Western-centric and more spiritually sympathetic lens.

In order to advance this claim, the presentation situates Hodgson's major world-historical arguments within the discourse on the nature and implications of the Axial Age (800-200 BCE), an approach that he consciously utilizes to orient his analyses in The Venture of Islam.

Benjamin Schewel is a Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University and Director of the Center on Modernity in Transition (COMIT). He additionally serves as an Affiliate Member of the School of Religious Studies at McGill University and as an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Seven Ways of Looking at Religion, published by Yale University Press in 2017, and is currently finishing a second book, also to be published by Yale University Press, entitled, Encountering the Axial Age.

Video of lecture: Imagining the Islamic Ecumene: Marshall Hodgson as Philosopher of History
Poster of lecture: Imagining the Islamic Ecumene: Marshall Hodgson as Philosopher of History


January 27, 2021, 1:30 PM EST (UTC -5).

Prof. Timur Hammond, Syracuse University, Religion In, Of, and From the City

The Keenan Chair of Interfaith Studies and the James McGill Professor of Islamic Philosophy are collaborating in a reflection on religion, Islam, and cosmopolitanism associated with McGill’s academic tradition of Islamic Studies, and epitomized by scholars such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Fazlur Rahman, and Toshihiko Izutsu.

In preparation for the Keenan Conference on World Religions and Globalization, to be held in Montreal in Spring 2022, we are hosting an online lecture series titled ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion: History, Theory, and Society. While the study of the Islamosphere has stimulated a critical reconceptualization of the notion of religion, we would like to extend this reflection to how religious concepts have been embedded in broader views of history and society, including the Western colonial construction of the “Middle East” as the cradle not just of Islam but of all Abrahamic religions.

The fourth speaker in the series will be Prof. Timur Hammond, Syracuse University. The title of the lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A, is Religion In, Of, and From the City. The lecture is based on a chapter that Professor Hammond is contributing to The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East in course of publication (both online and in print) with Oxford University Press, edited by Armando Salvatore, Sari Hanafi, and Kieko Obuse: Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East - Oxford Handbooks

Abstract:

The ‘city’ and ‘religion’ have a long and rich history in scholarship in, of, and about the Middle East, ranging from early articulations of the ‘Islamic city’ to more recent engagements with questions of politics, urban life, everyday experience, and governance. Yet despite a shared interest in the place of religion in the city, scholars often operate from quite distinct methodological, conceptual, and epistemological positions. In this talk, I identify four meta-questions that underpin much of this scholarship: (1) How do we conceptualize ‘religion’ and the ‘city’ as linked objects of study? (2) How and why do we think about religious difference within and between cities? (3) Is there a single urban process? (4) And what are the advantages and disadvantages of framing our work as a regional analysis of the Middle East?

Paying greater attention to these questions provides an opportunity to revisit – and perhaps reframe – the unacknowledged assumptions that tend to structure our research questions, methods, disciplinary approaches, and findings. Indeed, I use the talk to suggest that beginning from these questions opens up new opportunities for an expanded interdisciplinary exchange. In the process, we might develop new opportunities for more responsive, reflexive, and responsible approaches to studying religion in, of, and from the city.

Timur Hammond is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at Syracuse University. Trained as a cultural and urban geographer, his research examines the practices and processes through which people encounter cities as meaningful places. His current book project focuses on the Istanbul district of Eyüp and uses that district’s 20th century transformations to show the changing geographies of Islam over the past century. He has also published on the relationship between geography and Middle East area studies and on the politics of memory following Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt.

Video of lecture: Religion In, Of, and From the City
Poster of lecture: Religion In, Of, and From the City


January 7, 2021, 1:30 PM EST (UTC -5).

Dr Dyala Hamzah, Université de Montréal, (De)commissioning Ibn Khaldun? Sufis, Statesmen and Publicists during the Long Nineteenth century.

Abstract: The Ibn Khaldun of the long 19th century is usually either conjured as a theoretical framework in order to make sense of the venture of Islamic reform or broken down to a cluster of atomized concepts which then one attempts to trace in the thought of said Islamic reformers. Both these readings partake in the uneasy assumption of a “European discovery” of Ibn Khaldun, and both obfuscate the fact that while the 14th century historian did not advocate reform, reformists had no vested interest in the discipline of history.

Taking a step back from the usual genealogies of Islamic reform, this lecture explores the impact of such disjunctive readings on our reconstructions of individual trajectories that made up this long 19th century. It posits that the significance of their Khaldunian engagements by such Islamic entrepreneurs as the mystic Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Sanusi (1787-1859), the statesman Khayreddine Pasha (1822-1890) and the publicist Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865-1935) can only accrue if we problematize the extent to which Ibn Khaldun had become naturalized by the time of the Tanzimat and the Nahda, within the so-called Ottoman center and its peripheries, in sufi networks, bureaucratic practice and the public sphere.

Dyala Hamzah is Associate Professor of Arab History, Université de Montréal. She is the author of the forthcoming Muhammad Rashid Rida ou le tournant salafiste (CNRS Éditions, 2021) and editor of The Making of the Arab Intellectual (Routledge, 2013).

Video of lecture: (De)commissioning Ibn Khaldun? Sufis, Statesmen and Publicists during the Long Nineteenth century.
Poster of lecture: (De)commissioning Ibn Khaldun? Sufis, Statesmen and Publicists during the Long Nineteenth century.


November 26, 2020, 1:30 PM EST (UTC -5).

Dr Florian Zemmin, Leipzig University, The Secular in Middle East and Islamicate History

The Keenan Chair of Interfaith Studies and the James McGill Professor of Islamic Philosophy are collaborating in a reflection on religion, Islam, and cosmopolitanism associated with McGill’s academic tradition of Islamic Studies, and epitomized by scholars such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Fazlur Rahman, and Toshihiko Izutsu. In preparation for the Keenan Conference on World Religions and Globalization, to be held in Montreal in Spring 2022, we are hosting an online lecture series titled ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion: History, Theory, and Society.

While the study of the Islamosphere has stimulated a critical reconceptualization of the notion of religion, we would like to extend this reflection to how religious concepts have been embedded in broader views of history and society, including the Western colonial construction of the “Middle East” as the cradle not just of Islam but of all Abrahamic religions. Some of the lectures will contribute to such reflections also through the foil of the interdisciplinary legacy of Ibn Khaldun, a champion of non-Western thought and precursor of social theory.

The second speaker in the series will be Florian Zemmin, Leipzig University. The title of the lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A, is The Secular in Middle East and Islamicate History. The lecture is based on a chapter that Dr Zemmin is contributing to The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East in course of publication (both online and in print) with Oxford University Press, edited by Armando Salvatore, Sari Hanafi, and Kieko Obuse. Sari Hanafi will serve as a discussant of the lecture.

Abstract: Islam is all too frequently regarded as the other of secular (Western) modernity. Sometimes this perception extends to Middle Eastern societies, for which Islam allegedly plays a constitutive role. However, secularity, the difference between religion and the secular, has been shaping modern societies in the Middle East too. Moreover, recent scholarship has highlighted patterns of secularity both within modern Islamic thought and in Islamicate history.

The lecture first establishes the factual secularity of modern Middle Eastern societies, focusing on the relation between religion and politics. Moving from structures to ideas, it then shows how modern Islamic thought conceptualized secularity. Examples from Islamicate history will make clear that secularity in the Middle East was not the exclusive product of colonial modernity, but drew also on earlier distinctions between religion and the secular.

Florian Zemmin is Senior Researcher at the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences “Multiple Secularities - Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities,” Leipzig University. He is the author of Modernity in Islamic Tradition. The Concept of ‘Society’ in the Journal al-Manar (Cairo, 1898–1940) (De Gruyter, 2018) and co-editor of Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor's Master Narrative (De Gruyter, 2016) and Islam in der Moderne, Moderne im Islam. Eine Festschrift für Reinhard Schulze zum 65. Geburtstag (Brill, 2018).

Video of lecture: The Secular in Middle East and Islamicate History
Poster of lecture: The Secular in Middle East and Islamicate History


October 28, 2020

01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada

Speaker: Fitzroy Morrissey, All Souls College, University of Oxford, Ibn Khaldūn on Sufism: Mysticism through the Lens of History, Philosophy, and Law

Abstract:

The nature of Ibn Khaldun’s relationship to Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, is a complex and much-debated issue. The great North African historian and philosopher of history has variously been described as a critic of the Sufis, an admirer of Sufism, or even a Sufi himself. Through a close look at Ibn Khaldun’s discussion of Sufism in the Muqaddimah and other relevant sources, this talk aims to shed further light on the issue.

Placing Ibn Khaldun’s treatment of Sufism in the context of his wider intellectual project, we shall consider how his views on Sufism tie into his famous philosophy of history and other essential aspects of his thought. In this way, the talk aims to elucidate not only Ibn Khaldun’s relationship to mysticism, but also his thought more generally.

Fitzroy Morrissey is a Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. A specialist in Sufism and Islamic intellectual history, he is the author of Sufism and the Perfect Human (Routledge, 2020) and Sufism and the Scriptures (I.B. Tauris, forthcoming).

Video of lecture: Ibn Khaldūn on Sufism: Mysticism through the Lens of History, Philosophy, and Law
Poster of lecture: Ibn Khaldūn on Sufism: Mysticism through the Lens of History, Philosophy, and Law

Seymour David Steinman Memorial Lecture

2019

Established in 2019, in memory of Seymour David Stienman, BA 1959, BCL 1964 to establish and annual lecture series. The annual Lectures will focus on comtemporary social and moral/ethical problems that fall within the intersection of the following disciplines and fields: religious studies, ethics, law, politics, and public policy.

The first lectures series took place in the Fall 2019, From Hate to Tolerance: The Prevention of Extremism, Violence, Anti-Semitism & Religious Discrimination; Video, Poster

South Asian Religions Distinguished Lectureship

The South Asian Religions Distinguished Lectureship was established in 2009 to complement the strong undergraduate and graduate programs on South Asia in the School of Religious Studies at McGill, and to encourage public understanding of South Asian religions. It has been made possible through the generosity of Professor Robert Stevenson, Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill from 1966 to 1991.

2018

Emilia Bachrach, Assistant Professor of Religion, Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, Oberlin Colgate and Conservatory, Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. Birks Heritage Chapel, 3520 University Street, 2nd Floor.
Religious Reading and Women's Leadership in Contemporary Western India

2015

Padma Kaimal, Professor of Art and Art History, Colgate University, Friday, March 20, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. Birks Heritage Chapel, 3520 University Street, 2nd Floor.
Scattered Goddesses: Travels with the Yoginis

2014

Rachel Dwyer, Professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema, SOAS, University of London, Friday, March 28
Remover of Obstacles: The Persistence of the Mythological Genre in Hindi Cinema

2012

Joanne Punzo Waghorne, Professor of Religion, Syracuse University, Friday, March 9
Gods in the High-Rise: Hindu Gurus About it All

2011

Sumathi Ramaswamy, Professor of History, Duke University, Friday, March 11
A Historian Among the Goddesses of Modern India; Brochure

2010

Philip Lutgendorf Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies, University of Iowa, Friday, March 5
Mira: Cinematic Citations of a Radical Woman Saint

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