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Lecture | Leiden Lectures on Arabic Language & Culture

Why Poetry? A Sufi Response

Tuesday 7 February 2023
The lecture will be from 17.00 to 18.00. Afterwards drinks are served.
Leiden Lectures on Arabic Language and Culture
National Museum of Antiquities
Rapenburg 28
2311 EW Leiden
Temple hall

Why Poetry? A Sufi Response

Sufis used poetry to both stage and describe mystical experiences and to render thoughts whose subtlety resisted expression in prose. The lecture will look at reports and reflections from Sufi works from the 10th and 11th centuries to explain why and how Sufis evoked past poets and their poetic heritage, employed courtly poetic motifs often rejected by other religious scholars and the lay public, and actively defended the use of poetry as a form of expression and a means for meditation. The lecture establishes the importance of poetry as a necessary practice and a site of Sufi thought and experience.

About Bilal Orfali

Bilal Orfali is Chairman, Professor, and Sheikh Zayed Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University of Beirut and previously held the M.S. Sofia Chair in Arabic Studies at the Ohio State University. He specializes in Arabic literature, Sufism, and Qurʾānic Studies. His recent publications include: The Anthologist's Art (Brill, 2016), The Book of Noble Character (Brill, 2015), The Comfort of the Mystics (Brill, 2013), Sufism, Black and White (Brill, 2012), In the Shadow of Arabic (Brill, 2011).

More activities

This lecture is part of series of festivities that are organised to celebrate that Beatrice Gruendler will receive an Honorary Doctorate on the 8th of Febuary (Dies Natalis)

Also see the workshop: Wisdom literature in the Islamicate Middle Ages.

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