Entries by simar

Meditations on Scuba Diving and Snorkeling – Oludamini Ogunnaike

Abstract: “I recently had the pleasure of spending my honeymoon on the small island of Culebra off the coast of Puerto Rico. There my wife, herself an avid snorkeler and scuba diver, introduced me to the wonders of life under the sea, taking me on several dives and snorkeling trips along the island’s teeming reefs. We had many discussions on the spiritual significance and symbolism of this contemplation of the world under the water, and I have tried to organize my thoughts on this topic in this short essay. I take a ‘kaleidoscopic’ approach in this piece, meaning that I consider the same phenomena from several distinct, and often contrasting, symbolic perspectives.“

The Sacred and the Post-Modern: An Impossible Convergence

Abstract: “The sacred is the projection of the celestial Center into the cosmic periphery.”‘ These words by Frithjof Schuon beautifully suggest what the sacred has represented for mankind throughout the ages, and across traditional civilizations.They remind us, first of all, that the world of the sacred is a centered world. The concept of “center,” which […]

Universal Science: An Introduction to Islamic Metaphysics

Abstract: “These observations on the centrality of philosophy in the human experience, by the author of ʿIlm-i kullī, are redolent with the wisdom of the living Islamic philosophical tradition, a tradition which survives in all its fullness into our own times only among the Shīʿah. Āyatullāh Mahdī Ḥāʾirī Yazdī was not only an authority on […]


Abstract: “The arguments of this book have been in the making for more than a decade, particularly since 2009, when they became an almost permanent staple in my course offerings at Columbia University. Throughout these intellectual exercises, I have come to learn that there is no single important aspect of modernity that is not touched, […]

Avicenna on Theology

Abstract: “The year 1951 is being celebrated throughout the Muslim world, and especially in Persia, as the millennary according to lunar reckoning of the birth of Avicenna, one of the greatest and most original thinkers produced by Islam, Dom in 370 (980) at the little village of Afshana in the province of Bukhara-a region now […]

Metaphysical Themes 1274–1671 – ROBERT PASNAU

Abstract: “The present study seeks to learn something about the metaphysics of substance in light of four rich but for the most part neglected centuries of philosophy, running from the late medieval period to the early modern era. At no period in the history of philosophy, other than perhaps our own, have metaphysical problems received […]

The Wisdom of Animals – William C. Chittick

Abstract: “More than any other Muslim thinker, Ibn ¡Arabi dedicated his teachings to clarifying the presence of the divine wisdom in all things and the human necessity of conforming to that wisdom. The arguments he offers are at once metaphysical and scrip- tural, cosmological and psychological, scientific and ethical. He addresses every dimension of human […]


Abstract: “There is a well-known saying of’All ibn Abi ‘falib, the cousin and son-in­ law of the Prophet of Islam and representative par excellence of Islamic esoterism and metaphysics, according to which one should pay attention to what is said and not who has said it. This teaching has been close to my heart since […]

Avicenna – Jon McGinnis

Abstract: “Ex nihilo nihilo fit: Nothing comes from nothing, and Avicenna and his philosophy are no exception. Indeed, multiple influences were at work in the formation of his thought. In this chapter, I consider a few of these influ- ences so as to provide a general backdrop against which to situate the intel- lectual and […]

Knowledge Triumphant – The Concept of Knowledge in Medieval Islam – Franz Rosenthal

Abstract: “Civilizations tend to revolve around meaningful concepts of an abstract nature which more than anything else give them their distinctive nature,” Rosenthal begins his study, introducing his subject; this concept is, for Islamic civilization, knowledge, { ilm. The audacity of the undertaking is stunning; because, in essence, I regard Knowledge Triumphant as Rosenthal’s response […]

Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand – Ulrich Rudolph

Abstract: “Abū Manṣūr Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-Māturīdī (d. 333/944) is among the few Islamic theologians whose significance needs no emphasis nor special reminder. His reputation as a groundbreaking mutakallim is long undisputed; his influence on later generations, which manifested in its own school of theol- ogy, is acknowledged by all. This legacy has raised him […]

Rumi: Swallowing the Sun – Poems Translated from Persian

Abstract: “The extraordinary success and influence of certain translations and adap- tations of Persian poetry into western languages – those by Sir William Jones, Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Rückert, August von Platen, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward FitzGerald, Basil Bunting, Robert Bly, Coleman Barks and Dick Davis – makes the burden of the translation past and […]