The Study Circle initiative by ACCW IBA - Making Sense of Sufism

November 14, 2018: Ardeshir Cowasjee Centre for Writing (ACCW), IBA main campus conducted a study circle session on Sufism. The lead discussant was Professor of History SSLA, Dr. Ali Gibran Siddiqui.

The event began with Coordinator ACCW Ms. Maria Hasan giving a brief introduction about the study circle. Dr. Gibran commenced the discussion by asking the participants about what they think Sufism is. When various definitions were given by students it was understood that over the course of human history, much thought has been spared to the study of Sufism and Mysticism. In literature, various definitions of what Sufism implies exist and there is much contention to be found within this field of study regarding the accuracy of each of these definitions.

During his discussion Dr. Gibran referred to the work of Nile Green, titled "From Mysticism to Tradition: Conceptualizing Sufism". He talked about what mysticism was and how it was part of Sufism. Visiting faculty Dr. Aliya Naqvi was also an active part of the discussion and narrated the story of Joan of Arc, which she believes is the closest example to mysticism.

The discussion progressed towards the different contexts of Sufism and how it changed overtime. Having a history of several hundred years all over the world, Dr. Gibran and the students went back and forth discussing what it truly means to be a Sufi. Some believed it is a destination, while others believed you become a Sufi when you aspire to have a union with God.

Towards the end of the discussion the circle talked about Sufism and Islam in the post 9/11 context and how Sufism is being presented as a different kind of Islam that is more tolerant, apolitical, and separate from orthodox Islam.

At the end of the discussion Dr. Gibran and Dr. Naqvi actively engaged with the students and answered all their pertinent questions.