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Professor Ahmet T. Karamustafa On Sufism

Professor Ahmet T. Karamustafa On Sufism

By Lili Martinez

Professor Ahmet T. Karamustafa came to campus last Thursday, Feb. 24 to speak on “Musicians of the Soul: Mevlana Rumi and the Mevlevi order” as the first in a series of lectures about Sufi mysticism. His talk was funded by the Title VI USIFL Grant for Islamicate Civilizations, which provides money to host lectures, seminars, and other events in order to educate students about the Islamicate world. Karamustafa spoke at 7:00 p.m. in Higley Auditorium to a large and enthusiastic crowd. His talk covered the basic practices of the mevlevi order, an order that offers spiritual training on the path of Sufism. It is based on Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi’s thoughts and poetry. Rumi is considered one of the greatest mystics and poets in the world, and his order has a large following in the United States as well. Karamustafa discussed how Rumi’s life and poetry informs the Mevlevi order and rituals. The Mevlevi tradition encourages a religion of love and enlightenment for those seeking to develop their humanity to the fullest potential. Followers of the Mevlevi order are also known as whirling dervishes; Rumi believed that music, poetry, and dance were the best ways to reach God, and the “whirling” dance could destroy and resurrect the soul at the same time.

Karamustafa is a Professor of history and religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, and he is an expert on the social and intellectual history of premodern Islam. Professor Karamustafa has written several books, including God’s Unruly Friends about ascetic movements in medieval Islam and Sufism: The Formative Period, a comprehensive overview of early Islamic mysticism. He has also contributed to the journal Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and South Asian Societies as a writer and editor. Karamustafa is the vice-president of the American Research Institute in Turkey and Chair of the Committee of the Study of Islam Section at the American Academy of Religion.

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