Islamic Mysticism – Fall 2017

Course numbers: AMES 373S, ETHICS 373S, ICS 380S, RELIGION 373S

Course attributions: CCI, EI, CZ

Course Description:

This course explores the mystical dimension of Islam, with a bold, poetic, and mystical emphasis on the legacy of human and Divine love.   No background is needed.

Themes explored in this class include the tradition of love poetry of Rumi and Hafez, the various meditative techniques, Sufi poetry and music. We will also explore the controversies surrounding Sufism in the contemporary scene ranging from attacks on Sufism from Muslim fundamentalists to the destruction of Sufi shrines by ISIS and Wahhabis.

Professor biography:

Professor Omid Safi is an award-winning professor in the department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and the director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center.





Cyber Sufism: Lessons from the Landscape of American Digital Islam

Speaker: Robert Rozehnal, Ph.D.

Within the hybrid, multicultural landscape of American religious life, Cyberspace offers tech-savvy Muslims an alternative platform for narratives and networking, piety and performance. Since the adoption of the printing press, Sufis have demonstrated a remarkable ability to adopt and adapt to emerging media technologies. Even so, the expanding use of the Internet by global Sufi communities remains largely unexplored by academic scholarship. What is ‘new’ about new media, and what is the future of digital religion? Drawing on new research, this talk spotlights key patterns, tropes and trajectories in Cyber Sufism by exploring how several contemporary American Sufi orders employ the Internet as a mediascape for the refashioning of authority, identity and ritual practice.


Robert Rozehnal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion Studies and the founding director of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA). He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Duke University, and an M.A. in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has traveled widely in the Muslim world, with extended periods of study and fieldwork research in Pakistan, India, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Malaysia. In addition to the history and practice of Sufism in South Asia, his research interests include ritual studies, postcolonial theory, religious nationalism, cyberspace religion, and globalization. He is the author of numerous articles and a monograph, Islamic Sufism Unbound: Politics and Piety in Twenty-First Century Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007/2009). His current research project focuses on Internet Islam, with a forthcoming book entitled, Cyber Sufis: Virtual Expressions of the American Muslim Experience (Oneworld Publications). He is also the editor of a forthcoming volume, Piety, Politics and Ethics in Southeast Asian Islam: Beautiful Behavior (Bloomsbury).


This event is presented by the John Hope Franklin Center, and the Duke Islamic Studies Center. A light lunch will be served. Parking is available in nearby Trent Rd. and Erwin Rd. parking decks. The series provides 1 hour parking vouchers to guests.

Law, Dynasty, and Islam in Arab Monarchies, 1860s-1930s

Speaker: Adam Mestyan, Ph.D.

This talk focuses on the legal codification of dynasties in Arab monarchies between the 1860s and 1930s. In a sweeping survey, it compares how the succession order and the members of the ruling family were defined in laws, decrees, and constitutions in the new national kingdoms of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia with comparisons to older monarchies, equally impacted by European imperialism, such as Morocco and Oman. The argument I would advance is that constitutionalism prompted dynastic codification which rulers hastened to achieve before and within the writing of basic laws. This feature also meant that certain re-invented Islamic principles of power, such as the preference for male and sane Muslim rulers, were also codified. Thus the new and old dynasties themselves embodied a fictional core of Muslim constitutionalism in the early twentieth century.

Adam Mestyan is a historian of the Middle East. He is a graduate of CEU and ELTE, Budapest. His first monograph, Arab Patriotism – The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt, was published by Princeton University Press in 2017. Mestyan has initiated Project Jara’id – A Chronology of Nineteenth-Century Periodicals in Arabic, an online bibliography. In addition to his academic interests, he was the bass-guitarist of the legendary underground band the Galloping Coroners between 1996-2014 (VHK, Vágtázó Halottkémek) and established a number of other Hungarian bands (including Yava Folcore Punk Brigade and Dereng). Adam Mestyan also published two award-winning books of poems in Hungarian and continues to write poetry. He runs a marathon every year.

This event is presented by the John Hope Franklin Center and Duke University’s Center for International and Global Studies. A light lunch will be served. Parking is available in nearby Trent Rd. and Erwin Rd. parking decks. The series provides 1 hour parking vouchers to guests.