"...the Imagination (or love, or sympathy, or any other sentiment) induces knowledge, and knowledge of an 'object' which is proper to it..."
Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was a scholar, philosopher and theologian. He was a champion of the transformative power of the Imagination and of the transcendent reality of the individual in a world threatened by totalitarianisms of all kinds. One of the 20th century’s most prolific scholars of Islamic mysticism, Corbin was Professor of Islam & Islamic Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Teheran. He was a major figure at the Eranos Conferences in Switzerland. He introduced the concept of the mundus imaginalis into contemporary thought. His work has provided a foundation for archetypal psychology as developed by James Hillman and influenced countless poets and artists worldwide. But Corbin’s central project was to provide a framework for understanding the unity of the religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His great work Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi is a classic initiatory text of visionary spirituality that transcends the tragic divisions among the three great monotheisms. Corbin’s life was devoted to the struggle to free the religious imagination from fundamentalisms of every kind. His work marks a watershed in our understanding of the religions of the West and makes a profound contribution to the study of the place of the imagination in human life.

Search The Legacy of Henry Corbin: Over 800 Posts

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Enseignements et séminaires de l’IISMM

Institut d’Études de l’Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman 
Enseignements et séminaires 2 20 01 10 0- -2 20 01 11 1   
Les séminaires ont lieu dans la salle de réunion de l’IISMM, 
96 bd Raspail, 
1er étage 


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bulletin de l’IISMM

Institut d’Études de l’Islam 
et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman 
Bulletin de l’IISMM 
Octobre 2010 


Monday, September 27, 2010

Pathways to an Inner Islam

Patrick Laude's new book is available in hardcover:

Pathways to an Inner Islam: Massignon, Corbin, Guenon & Schuon

Publisher's description:

An introduction to four Western figures influenced by Sufism who wrote about an esoteric or spiritual “inner Islam.”

Pathways to an Inner Islam provides an introduction to the esoteric or spiritual “inner Islam” presented by Western thinkers Louis Massignon, Henry Corbin, René Guénon, and Frithjof Schuon. Particularly interested in Sufism—the mystical tradition of Islam—these four twentieth-century authors who wrote in French played an important role in presenting Islamic spirituality to the West and have also had an influence in parts of the Muslim world, such as Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. Patrick Laude brings them together to argue that an understanding of their inner Islam challenges reductionist views of Islam as an essentially legalistic tradition and highlights its spiritual qualities. The book discusses their thought on the definitions of spiritual Islam and Sufism, the metaphysical and mystical understanding of the Prophet and the Quran, the function of femininity in Islamic spirituality, and the inner understanding of jihad. In addition, the writers’ Christian backgrounds and their participation in the intellectual and spiritual traditions of both Christianity and Islam offer a dynamic perspective on interfaith dialogue.

“Few questions could be more important for a contemporary understanding of Islam than the authority and interpretation of sacred texts, the role of women, and the nature and legitimacy of war. Laude addresses each of these issues, among others, with admirable sophistication.” — James S. Cutsinger, author of Advice to the Serious Seeker: Meditations on the Teaching of Frithjof Schuon

“This book makes a major contribution to Islamic studies by promoting the esoteric interpretation of Islam as a viable, tolerant alternative to the fundamentalists’ version of Islam.” — Mehdi Aminrazavi, author of The Wine of Wisdom: The Life, Poetry, and Philosophy of Omar Khayyam

Patrick Laude is Professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. His books include Divine Play, Sacred Laughter, and Spiritual Understanding and Frithjof Schuon: Life and Teachings (coauthored with Jean-Baptiste Aymard), also published by SUNY Press.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meister Eckhart

The Eckhart Society is dedicated to the study and promotion of the principles and teachings of Meister Eckhart, a medieval theologian, philosopher and mystic.

The Society is committed to the highest possible standards in scholarship and spirituality – which was also the goal of the Meister. It welcomes all, no matter of what faith or none, to whom Meister Eckhart is of interest

Friday, September 24, 2010

Khaled Mattawa

Khaled Mattawa has been selected as the recipient of the 2010 Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

From the Academy website:

Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya in 1964 and immigrated to the U.S. in his teens. His collections of poetry include Ismailia Eclipse (Sheep Meadow, 1995), Zodiac of Echoes (Ausable, 2003), Amorisco (2008) and Tocqueville(New Issues, 2010). Mattawa has also translated many volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry and co-edited two anthologies of Arab American literature. About Mattawa's work, Academy Chancellor Marilyn Hacker says: "Khaled Mattawa is one of the most original, lyrical and intellectually challenging American poets of his generation. Toqueville is a book that is as daring in its amalgam of poetic techniques as it is dazzling and pertinent in the breadth of its subject-matter, while Amoriscos expands possibilities of the lyric in English with its historical and cultural reach. He is also one of the best translators of contemporary poetry working today, from Arabic or indeed any language—creating viable, memorable poems in the receptor language."

Mattawa's honors include a Guggenheim fellowship, a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the PEN American Center Poetry Translation Prize, and three Pushcart Prizes. He teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

About his poetic process, Mattawa has said: "I'm still surprised by the urgent presence of the poem in me, sometimes well-shaped but often a foggy insistence that I must adhere to. I write what appears to be dictated to me, one phrase beckoning another. The beginning of a poem is often a series of directions to a place or a moment. I rework it slowly, adding, reducing, stopping and waiting for months, and changing tracks until the parameters of a landscape begin to show, which means that the poem has grown larger than my intentions."

Bibliography (from Wikipedia)
Books of Poetry:
Toqueville New Issues, 2010
Amorisco Ausable Press, 2008
Zodiac of Echoes Ausable Press, 2003
Ismailia Eclipse The Sheep Meadow Press, 1995
Poetry Books of Translation from Arabic:
Adonis: Selected Poems (The Margellos World Republic of Letters), Yale 2010
Invitation to a Secret Feast, by Joumana Haddad, Tupelo Press, 2008
A Red Cherry on A White-Tile Floor, poems by Maram Al-Massri, Copper Canyon, 2007
Miracle Maker, Selected Poems of Fadhil Al-Azzawi, BOA Editions, 2004
Without An Alphabet, Without A Face: Selected Poems of Saadi Youssef, Graywolf Press, 2002
In Every Well A Joseph Is Weeping, poems of Fadhil al-Azzawi, Quarterly Review of Books, 1997
Questions and Their Retinue: Selected Poems of Hatif Janabi, University of Arkansas Press, 1996
Anthologies of Arab American Literature:
Dinarzad's Children: An Anthology of Arab American Fiction, University of Arkansas Press, 2004
Post Gibran: Anthology of New Arab American Writing, Syracuse University Press, 1999

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adonis at the 92nd St Y - New York, OCT 25

"Long considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Syrian poet Adonis is "today's most daring and provocative Arab poet," wrote Edward Said. Now 80 and living in Paris, Adonis makes his first appearance at the Poetry Center, reading from his newly published Selected Poems." DETAILS HERE

Praise for the Selected Poems: “Poetry is the most authentic cultural medium of the Arabs, and the Syrian-born Adonis is one of its sublime masters. For well over half a century now, Adonis has given voice to the Odyssey and yearnings of the Arabs, he has modernized a revered and ancient art form. Khaled Mattawa has rendered Adonis into English with beguiling beauty and fidelity. His exquisite translation does justice to one of the great poets of our time."—Professor Fouad Ajami, The Johns Hopkins University

Monday, September 20, 2010

Elif Shafak - The Politics of Fiction

From the TED Profile: "Elif Shafak is the most-read female author in Turkey, where she is as well known for her descriptions of backstreets Istanbul as she is for her global and multicultural perspective. Her writing is at once rooted in her politically feminist education and her deep respect for and knowledge of Sufism and Ottoman culture.

Using these paradoxes, she creates a third way to understand Turkey's intricate history. Shafak's international sensibilities have been shaped by a life spent in a very diverse range of cities, including Ankara, Cologne, Madrid, Amman and Boston. She has written novels in Turkish -- such as her first work, Pinhan ("The Sufi") -- as well as English, including her most recent novel, The Forty Rules of Love, in which two powerful parallel narratives take the reader from contemporary Boston to thirteenth-century Konya, where the Sufi poet Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams.

Her uncommon political stances have not gone without controversy. At the publication of her novel The Bastard of Istanbul, which crosses two family histories, one Turkish, the other Armenian, she faced charges for "insulting Turkishness." The case was later dismissed, and Shafak's role in the rare combination of radical and sentimental writer remains uninterrupted. Shafak also writes song lyrics for well-known rock musicians in her country." See her website here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nasr on Corbin

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, and Ramin Jahanbegloo. In Search of the Sacred: A Conversation with Seyyed Hossein Nasr on His Life and Thought. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger, 2010.

Below are the most important pages in Nasr's discussion of Corbin.

Nasr on Corbin From in Search of the Sacred

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Leonard Lewisohn on Henry Corbin

Below is an excerpt from Leonard Lewisohn's Review of MatthijsVanden Bos, Mystic Regimes: Sufism and the State in Iran, from the Qajar Era to the Islamic Republic (Leiden:Brill 2002). I have selected the most pertinent section on Henry Corbin. The full citation is as follows:

Lewisohn, Leonard (2009) 'Theoretical Extremes of the Study of Mystic Man in Modern Iran: Review Article', Iranian Studies, 42: 2, 285 — 310.
From Lewisohn - Theoretical Extremes of the Study of Mystic Man in Modern Iran_ Review

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Western Esotericism at Groningen

Dear colleague,

We have completely updated the information for prospective international students who want to enroll in the Bachelor, Master (one year), or Research Master (two years) programs Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. Please see
http://www.rug.nl/ggw/informatievoor/prosstud/index for details.

The Bachelor Minor "Religions in the Modern World" and the entire Master and Research Master programs are taught in English. In Groningen, the study of Western esotericism is part of a larger program that addresses the history of religion in Europe. The BA minor "Religions in the Modern World" includes the module "New Age in Historical Perspective" and related topics.

For the more advanced study of Western esotericism the Research Master "Religion and Culture" is the best option. This program includes 3 core modules on "Religion and Culture: Key Issues in the Study of Religions,"
"Asia and Europe: A History of Religious and Cultural Interaction," and "Religion and Philosophy." These modules can be complemented with 3 modules taken from the one-year MA program (e.g., "Religion and the
Natural Sciences," "God, Evil, and History," or "Religion in the Public and Private Sphere"). The research focus on Esotericism can then be further deepened in 3 individual Traineeships that are set up in close collaboration with professors at the University of Groningen or other universities. Please see
http://www.rug.nl/ggw/onderwijs/maopleidingen/researchmaster/index for details.

If you know of interested students, I'd highly appreciate if you could forward this information to them.

Thanks a lot and best wishes,

Kocku von Stuckrad

Prof. Kocku von Stuckrad
University of Groningen
Department of Religious Studies
Oude Boteringestraat 38
9712 GK Groningen
The Netherlands
Phone (office): +31-50-363-5579
Fax: +31-50-363-6200
E-Mail: c.k.m.von.stuckrad@rug.nl
Homepage: http://www.vonstuckrad.com
Department Homepage: http://www.rug.nl/ggw
LinkedIn: http://nl.linkedin.com/in/kocku
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KvStuckrad

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shanama in Washington DC

Sackler Gallery Celebrates 1000 Years of the Shahnama
Rare Folios from the Persian Book of Kings Showcase Iran's Literary Masterpiece
Intricately detailed and sumptuously painted images of kings, heroes and mythological creatures from the Shahnama, Iran's national epic and one of the world's greatest literary masterpieces, will be on view in "Shahnama: 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings" at the Sackler Gallery Oct. 23 - April 17, 2011. Completed in ca. 1010 by the poet Firdawsi, the Shahnama recounts the myths, legends and "history" of Iran from the beginning of time to the Arab conquest in the 7th century. The exhibition comprises 33 paintings and objects from the 14th to 16th centuries, including folios from two of the most celebrated copies of the Shahnama in existence.
"This exhibition celebrates the remarkable achievement of Firdawsi and the manuscript painting it has inspired over the last millennium," said Massumeh Farhad, chief curator, curator of Islamic art and organizer of the exhibition. "In its cultural significance and popularity the Shahnama is on equal footing with the works of Shakespeare, Homer and the Mahabharata."

The Shahnama is composed of some 50,000 verses, structured around the reign of 50 monarchs, which in turn serve as a frame for other stories, replete with colorful characters and supernatural beings. The stories explore epic themes, such as honor, loyalty, justice and fate through heroic battles, feats of bravery as well as human folly and hubris. The vivid poem draws on a wealth of oral and written sources, including the Avesta, the sacred text of the Zorastrian religion.

The exhibition includes several folios from a 14th-century copy of the Shahnama completed for the Mongol rulers of Iran, which is considered an artistic watershed in the history of Persian manuscript illustration because of its scale and highly original compositions. Also on display are folios from the most lavishly produced Shahnama manuscript in the Islamic world, a 16th-century copy commissioned by Shah Tahmasb (reigned 1524-76). Several silver and bronze vessels, produced in the sixth and seventh centuries under Sasanian patronage, are also included.

"Shahnama: 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings" is divided into three parts. After an introduction to principal themes of the epic and their ancient Iranian origins, the exhibition introduces major characters from the Shahnama's mythical section such as the legendary hero Rustam, known as the protector of Iran, and his father, Zal. A highlight of this section is the painting The Court of Jamshid, that depicts the enthroned legendary monarch who introduced the arts, crafts, and sciences to Iran and thought that he was superior to all, even God. His hubris, however, cost him his life and throne. This remarkable illustration embodies the ideals of Persian manuscript painting with its emphasis on meticulously balanced compositions, jewel-like surfaces and superb draftsmanship.

The second section of the exhibition focuses primarily on Iskandar or Alexander, the Macedonian conqueror, who ushers in the quasi-historical section of the Shahnama. Although Alexander invaded Iran in 330 BCE, he is represented in Persian literature as a just, sage-like king. "The recasting of Alexander illustrates how effortlessly the epic transforms history to serve the interest of national myth and ideology" said Farhad.

The galleries will offer exhibition-related programming that includes a family-friendly performance of the legendary Persian tale "The Adventures of King Bahram, the Hunter" by Ardavan Mofid & Co. Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. On Dec. 4 from 2-5 p.m., the galleries will offer a two-part program: the renowned scholar and professor of Persian literature Dick Davis will speak on the role of women in the Shahnama, and Azar Nafisi, the best-selling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, will discuss the lasting significance of Iran's national epic.

"Shahnama: 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings" is organized by the Sackler Gallery with support from The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund. The exhibition will be accompanied by a color brochure.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, except Dec. 25, and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about Freer and Sackler exhibitions, programs and events, the public may visit www.asia.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000 or TTY (202) 633-5285. 
# # #
Sam Returns With His Son Zal, Tabriz, Iran. 1520s, Opaque watercolor, gold and ink on paper. Ebrahimi Family Collection. ELS2010.7.2

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Corbin Lectures in England - A Reminder

Henry Corbin, Islam & the Imagination   -   Saturday Oct 9, Oxford, England
Details here.

The Prophetic Tradition & The Battle for the Soul of the World: An Introduction to the
Spiritual Vision of Henry Corbin

The Role of the Grail in Henry Corbin’s Thought - DR JOHN CAREY

In Search of Lost Speech: Nostalgia, Eros and the Angel Out Ahead - DR TOM CHEETHAM

Correspondences Between English Romantic and Persian Sufi Poets - DR LEONARD LEWISOHN

ALSO - on October 7 at the University of Kent in Canterbury, I'll be presenting another talk on Corbin & poetry:  
The Barzakh & the Open Field.
Persons from outside the University should contact me if they have an interest in attending. (tcheetham@gmail.com)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Concern Is Voiced Over Religious Intolerance - NYTimes

WASHINGTON — Sept 7, 2010, Laurie Goodstein -  Prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders held an extraordinary “emergency summit” meeting in the capital on Tuesday to denounce what they called “the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry” aimed at American Muslims during the controversy over the proposed Islamic community center near ground zero. “This is not America,” said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the emeritus Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, flanked by three dozen clergy members and religious leaders at a packed news conference at the National Press Club. “America was not built on hate.”  They said they were alarmed that the “anti-Muslim frenzy” and attacks at several mosques had the potential not only to tear apart the country, but also to undermine the reputation of America as a model of religious freedom and diversity. Read the entire article.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On Science & Religion

Mystery & Evidence - by Tim Crane, in the NYTimes 9/5/2010

Tim Crane is Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of two books, “The Mechanical Mind” (1995) and “Elements of Mind” (2001), and several other publications. He is currently working on two books: one on the representation of the non-existent and another on atheism and humanism.

"... it’s pretty obvious that whatever it is, religion commands and absorbs the passions and intellects of hundreds of millions of people, many more people than science does. Why is this? Is it because — as the new atheists might argue — they want to explain the world in a scientific kind of way, but since they have not been properly educated they haven’t quite got there yet? Or is it because so many people are incurably irrational and are incapable of scientific thinking? Or is something else going on?" Read the essay.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Crescent and the Cross

Christians and Muslims have co-existed for millennia. As we know, the relationship has not always been a peaceful one. In this special two-part series for the BBC World Service, Owen Bennett Jones explores several key turning points in the history of Islam and Christianity. Audio links below - mp3 or podcast:



Thursday, September 2, 2010

F. Edward Cranz - In Memorium

F. Edward Cranz 1914-1998

A remembrance, and a celebration of the publication of

Reorientations of Western Thought from Antiquity to the Renaissance by F. Edward Cranz. Edited by Nancy Streuver. Ashgate, 2006.

I had the good fortune to be a student of this wonderful man. It is with considerable pleasure that I take note here of the publication of a remarkable work of scholarship that may be of interest to students of Henry Corbin. Readers of my books will know of Cranz's work, as I have mentioned him several times, although briefly. What gives his work significance for those thinking about Corbin is his analysis of the mutability and historical variability of human experience. For Corbin, we are not in history, "history is in us." This is not Cranz's position and I am not sure that he would have had much sympathy with Corbin's work (though he was kind and fair to everyone). But taking Cranz's profound and exacting scholarship seriously at the very least serves to loosen the grip of any positivist  historicism that assumes a simple relation between cognition and reality. His work can be unsettling for those who accept its implications. Cranz's "phenomenological hermeneutics" is a fascinating complement to Corbin's work as a whole. My essay below appears in the American Cusanus Society Newsletter Volume XXVII, Number 1, July 2010, 17-21. [I have placed his work in a context that is important to me in an essay available here. As of August 2015 my remembrance can also be found at the website of the CTC as a link to F.E.Cranz in the About People page]

 FE Cranz in Memorium - T Cheetham