The Importance of Sufism in Chinese Islam (with Sachiko Murata)


Cemalnur Sargut Hocam asked us to say something about the significance of the Kenan Rifai Chair of Islamic Studies at Peking University, which we inaugurated in the Spring of 2012. As many of you know, the Kenan Rifai Chair is housed in Te Institute of Advanced Humanistic Studies. The Institute was founded by Professor u Weiming in 2010 shortly after he retired after thirty years at Harvard. During our timein China we taught one course at Peking University, another at Minzu University, and we participated in several conferences and workshops. We met many of the foremost Chinese scholars of Islam and we had a number of talented students


Actionless Action – Mohammed Rustom


“It has indeed been a blessing to sit with the great Kenan Rifai’s commentary upon book one of Mevlana’s Mesnevi .Spending time with this book naturally led me to Kenan Rifai’s explanation of a famous tale in the Mesnevi  centered around ‘Ali b. Abi Talib tale is retold from Islamic tradition and is cast in Mevlana’s unique terms and worldview. The long and short of the story is as follows: in the heat of a one-on-one encounter with an enemy of Islam, ‘Ali gained the upper hand and thru this opponent to the ground. Just as he was about to finish him off withone blow from his sword, the enemy spat at ‘Ali’s face. When this happened, ‘Ali immediately dropped his sword and walked away. This per-plexed his enemy, and led him to ask ‘Ali in earnest why he had not killed him at that very moment. ‘Ali then speaks, telling the enemy that he only fights for the sake of God. But, when the man insulted him by spitting at him, the possibility that it would become a personal affair had presented itself to him. So he walked away from the situation. ‘Ali then explains that he never acts out of self-interest, but only for, in, and through God


Poised on the Higher Horizon: Seeing God in the Sahara – Ariela Marcus-Sells


“This article presents an Arabic transcription and complete English translation of an untitled text – labelled “Khalwa ” in the manuscript catalogue – attributed to S ī d ī  al-Mukhtār al-Kunt ī , a Saharan scholar and Suteacher of the late-eighteenth century. In the accompanying commentary, I demonstrate how this textdraws together two passages in the Qur’ān: the ambiguous visionary encounters of 53:1-18 and Moses’srequest to see God in 7:142-143 to argue that, unlike Moses, Muḥammad received a direct vision of God. I further argue that, for S ī di al-Mukhtār al-Kunt ī , the question of seeing God was linked to his concern over legitimate and illegitimate knowledge from the realm of the unseen (ʿālam al-ghayb ). Intertextual references demonstrate that S ī d ī  al-Mukhtār understood the friends of God to occupy the same role in thespiritual hierarchy as Muḥammad and the prophets. Read in this context, “Khalwa ” suggests that the friends of God might be able to follow Muḥammad’s example, see God with their own eyes, and thus master the sciences of the unseen”


The History of Sufism in Multan: New Data from the Urdu Tadhkirah Tradition – Muhammad Touseef


“The medieval history of Sufism in Multan is relatively well known. A figure such as the famous Suhrawardi Shaykh Baha’ al- Dn Zakariyya from the thirteenth century embodies this prestigious period. Our article shows that the Sufi brotherhoods have continued to flourish until today, far beyond what traditional historiography describes. Using unexplored sources mostly modern Urdu hagiographies devoted tot he sacred history of Multan—we reconstruct the biography and the bibliography of many Sufi shaykhs as well as the lineages, especially Qadiri and Chishti, from which they come; we identify several mausoleums and lodges across the city; eventually, we reveal the existence of marginal mystics who marked the religious memory of this heritage city of the Pakistani Punjab”