Spring 2014 Colloquium Series

Dr. Rumee Ahmed (Dept. of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, UBC)

“A Theology of Reform: Islamic Systematics and the Search for Muslim Ethics”

January 23, 6-7pm

Location: Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

This event is FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited; reservations are recommended.        

RSVP: ara44@sfu.ca

Dr. Reza Tabandeh (University of Exeter)

“The Rise of Ni‘matullahi Shi‘ite Sufism in Early Nineteenth-Century Qajar Persia: Husayn ‘Ali Shah, Majdhub ‘Ali Shah, Mast ‘Ali Shah and their Battle with Islamic Fundamentalism”

February 6, 6-7pm

Location: Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

This event is FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited; reservations are recommended.        

RSVP: ara44@sfu.ca

Abstract

The Ni‘matullahi Sufi order flourished as a Persian Sufi order in 8th/14th century. During the Safavid era most of the Sufi orders in Persia became inactive or systematically suppressed and the Ni‘matullahi order moved to Hyderabad in India, and gradually became less important in the mystical milieu of Persia. After the fall of the Safavids, the revival movement of the Ni‘matullahi order began during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Subsequently, Persian masters of the Ni‘matullahi order solidified the order’s place in the mystical and theological milieu of Persia, in the early nineteenth century. They succeeded in converting a large number of Persians to Sufi teachings despite the opposition and persecution they faced from Shi‘ite clerics, who were politically and socially the most influential class in Persia. The clerics were able to turn the political powers against the Sufis to a certain extent. The Ni‘matullahi masters were able to consolidate the social and theological role of their order by reinterpreting and articulating classical Sufi teachings in the light of Persian Shi‎‘ite mystical theology.

Biography

Reza Tabandeh received his PhD in Islamic Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in the University of Exeter, with a thesis on the revival of Ni‘matullahi Sufis and their confrontation with Shi‘ite Fundamentalists. His research interest lies in Islamic mystical philosophies in contemporary Iran. He was invited as a guest lecturer to a number of universities such as The University of Bradford, University of Toronto, York University, Brock University and University of Waterloo. He also participated in conferences and symposium such as 'Approaches to the Qur'an in Contemporary Iran' in The Institute of Ismaili Studies and presented a paper on “Defending the Qur’an in Qajar Iran: Husayn ?Ali Shah and his Refutation of Henry Martyn.”

Dr. Hossein Houshmand (CCSMSC, SFU)

“Rumi's Religion of Humanity: Why Love Matters for Justice”

February 13, 6-7pm

Location: Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

This event is FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited; reservations are recommended.        

RSVP: ara44@sfu.ca 

Abstract

How can we achieve and sustain a just and decent society, one that inspires individuals to sacrifice for the common good? John Rawls argues that if the society is to be stable “for the right reasons,” its basic principles must be embraced with love and compassion. So the essential emotions are integral to justifying the principle of justice. According to Jalaluddin Rumi (13th century great Persian poet and thinker), love –as the physician of our many illnesses - involves personal sacrifice and complete altruism. I will explore the significance of the conception of love for a decent public political culture.

Biography

Hossein Houshmand has studied Islamic theology and philosophy of religion at Tehran and Concordia Universities, where he completed his PhD in comparative religion and ethics with a thesis on "Islamic Political Morality and Human Rights: The Search for an Overlapping Consensus." His research interests include Islamic thought, contemporary political philosophy, and Iranian studies. He is a post-doc research fellow at the CCSMSC. His current research is focused on the idea of the priority of democracy to secularism in the context of Muslim societies.

Dr. Nahid Ghani (University of Tehran)

“Creation Myth in Zoroastrainism”

February 20, 6-7pm

Location: Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

This event is FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited; reservations are recommended.        

RSVP: ara44@sfu.ca

Abstract

The word “Myth” can be defined as a spiritual account whose origin is uncertain. It is the explanation of deeds, beliefs or natural phenomena, partially derived from traditions, practices and narratives and is closely related to religious beliefs and rituals. It also clarifies people’s perspective of human, world and god. Creation myth in Zoroastrianism is one of the most logical in world mythology since it clearly justifies the dualism and the philosophy of creation. According to ancient Iranian beliefs, creation occurs in twelve thousand years divided into four “three thousand year” periods. Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom, resides in his realm of light, whereas Ahriman, Evil, resides in his realm of darkness. Spiritual creation of the world, the seven Manifestations of Ahura Mazda, the Commendable Beings, Ahriman’s invasion of Ahura Mazda’s realm, their covenant to enter fight after 3000 years, physical creation, the advent of Prophet Zoroaster and Saviour Saoshyant are some of the highlights of the talk.

Biography

Nahid Ghani has Ph.D. in Ancient Culture and Languages from the University of Tehran (2013). Her Ph.D. thesis is titled, “Marriage Laws in Ancient Iran according to Zoroastrian Jurisprudential Texts.” She earned her Master’s Degree from the same university (2006). Her M.A. thesis is titled, “An Inspection of some Old Jewish-Persian Texts,” which was published in 2009. She presented at Cyrus and Dhul-Qarnayn Conference, Tehran, 2010. Her paper, “Cyrus: King or Envoy,” examined Cyrus in Jewish-Persian texts and the Bible. She took part in University of Hamburg 2011 Summer School Program in Iranian linguistics, with a focus on Old Jewish-Persian Studies. Her knowledge of Ancient Near Eastern languages including, Old Persian, Avestan, Middle Persian, Manichaean Middle Persian, Sogdian, and Jewish-Persian, as well as Sanskrit, has helped her gain a firm understanding of ancient Iranian culture, religions and mythology.

Dr. Maryam Mahvash (CCSMSC, SFU)

"Light and Spatial Perception in Safavid Architecture"

Thursday, March 6 at 6-7pm

Location: Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

This event is FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited; reservations are recommended.    

RSVP: ara44@sfu.ca

Abstract

The play of light in natural environment, its significance in Persian beliefs and the impact of its various manifestations on the quality of the built environment all inspired the Persian architect to employ light to fundamentally enhance the quality and desirability of the historical Persian architecture throughout centuries. As such, the architecture has been turned into a vessel for light where its entry, transmission, presence and absence are all have been subtly defined; in this respect, light truly becomes the form-giver for architecture. Casting light on crucial factors which distinguish Safavids (1501-1722) from medieval Persia, this lecture will argue the architectural responses of Safavids to the presence of light and will examine how light could significantly affect the spatial perception.

Biography

Maryam Mahvash is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures. Her interests span the broader context of Persian studies as well as history and theory of architecture and urbanism. Her specialty is the study of qualitative dimensions of day-lighting in historical architecture of Persia. Prior to her relocation to Vancouver, She has taught at several universities, including the University of Tehran College of Fine Arts. Her research at the Centre focuses on the comparative study of day-lighting in Safavid and Saljuq Mosques of the greater Persia.