Teaching Islam, Teaching Islamic Mysticism

David Cook

in Teaching Mysticism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751198
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918782 | DOI:

Series: AAR Teaching Religious Studies Series

Teaching Islam, Teaching Islamic Mysticism

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This chapter begins by noting that teaching “Islamic Mysticism” is problematic on several fronts. Any pedagogical strategy would do well to begin with identifying how the term mysticism can be applied to Islam. This being thoroughly vetted, the course focuses primarily on Sufism—which is a vast, broad system that has come to permeate Islam over the past 1000 years, and yet remains distinct from it, often being rejected as being “non-Muslim.” In addressing how to speak of Sufism, one must include not only an overview of its central historical developments, holy figures, and practices (e.g., the creative images and metaphors of al-Ghazali, the immortal poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi, the mystical visions of Ibn al-`Arabi), but also a discussion of controversial debates (e.g., are the methods used by Sufi holy figures truly Islamic? Do the creative and sometimes risqué interpretations of the holy texts that they preach go beyond the boundaries of strict monotheism?). Additionally, consideration will be given to how Sufism has provided the means for mass conversions to Islam and provided a creative ground for Islamic art and culture. Sample syllabus included.

Keywords: Islamic mysticism; pedagogical strategy; Sufism; al-Ghazali; Jalal al-Din Rumi; Ibn al-Arabi

Chapter.  6514 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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