In celebration of new and upcoming books on Islam by three of our faculty, join us on Wednesday, March 9th, from 5-7 pm, at the University of Toronto Arts Centre, Art Lounge (west of Hart House off Hoskin Ave, on the back campus of University College).
Amira Mittermaier‘s book, Dreams That Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination, came out with University of California Press in December 2010. UCP describes the book as follows: “Dreams that Matter explores the social and material life of dreams in contemporary Cairo. Amira Mittermaier guides the reader through landscapes of the imagination that feature Muslim dream interpreters who draw on Freud, reformists who dismiss all forms of divination as superstition, a Sufi devotional group that keeps a diary of dreams related to its shaykh, and ordinary believers who speak of moving encounters with the Prophet Muhammad. In close dialogue with her Egyptian interlocutors, Islamic textual traditions, and Western theorists, Mittermaier teases out the dream’s ethical, political, and religious implications. Her book is a provocative examination of how present-day Muslims encounter and engage the Divine that offers a different perspective on the Islamic Revival. Dreams That Matter opens up new spaces for an anthropology of the imagination, inviting us to rethink both the imagined and the real.”
“In this study of devotional hagiographical texts and contemporary ritual performances of the Shi’a of Hyderabad, India, Karen Ruffle demonstrates how traditions of sainthood and localized cultural values shape gender roles. Ruffle focuses on the annual mourning assemblies held on 7 Muharram to commemorate the battlefield wedding of Fatimah Kubra and her warrior-bridegroom Qasem, who was martyred at the battle of Karbala, Iraq, in 680 C.E. before their wedding was consummated.
“Ruffle argues that hagiography, an important textual tradition in Islam, plays a dynamic role in constructing the memory, piety, and social sensibilities of a Shi’i community. Through the Hyderabadi rituals that idealize and venerate Qasem, Fatimah Kubra, and the other heroes of Karbala, a distinct form of sainthood is produced. These saints, Ruffle explains, serve as socioethical role models and religious paragons whom Shi’i Muslims aim to imitate in their everyday lives, improving their personal religious practice and social selves. On a broader community level, Ruffle observes, such practices help generate and reinforce group identity, shared ethics, and gendered sensibilities. By putting gender and everyday practice at the center of her study, Ruffle challenges Shi’i patriarchal narratives that present only men as saints and brings to light typically overlooked women’s religious practices.”
Laury Silvers‘s new book, A Soaring Minaret: Abu Bakr Al-Wasiti and the Rise of Baghdadi Sufism, was released in July 2010 by State University of New York Press. The Press writes,
“Sufi scholar Abu Bakr al-Wasiti (d. ca. 320 AH/932 CE) was called a “soaring minaret” for his cutting comments and keen theological insights. Wasiti’s life is little known today, but elements of his lost Quran commentary have come down to us through the glosses of his students, and his career offers a window into the development of Islamic mysticism and metaphysics. Wasiti’s legacy includes a number of firsts: he was one of the first students of the great Baghdadi Sufis, the first to migrate east and establish the Baghdadi Sufi tradition in Khurasan, among the first to compose a Quran commentary, and among the first to articulate a complete metaphysics in keeping with early Sunni theology. Presenting Wasiti’s life and work within the context of the development and spread of Sufism, author Laury Silvers goes on to provide an analysis of his theological perspective on the divine reality.”