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Call for Articles: Reviving Muḥyiddīn - The contemporary uses of Ibn ʿArabī’s thought and the reinventions of Islam (Religiographies special issue)

2022-10-13 15:21 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

Vol. 3, n. 1, May 2024

The intellectual and spiritual legacy of Muḥyiddīn Ibn ʿArabī (d. 1240) has been the object of multiple socio-political and religious interpretations. The fact that his thought is at the same time intensely innovative and deeply rooted in the tradition may explain in part why it had such a lasting influence, both among followers and detractors (Knysh 1999). His ideas became – even if this is not always explicitly acknowledged – the common conceptual background of a variety of spiritual movements and textual traditions, in both erudite and popular Sufism (Morris 2001; Knysh 2017). Moreover, in the words of Morris, “Ibn ʿArabī has constantly provided (and still does today) an indispensable and powerfully effective theologico-political instrument for defending and supporting creative spiritual movements of all sorts in predominantly Islamic cultural and political settings” (Morris 2001).

In the West, Ibn ʿArabī appears today as a central reference in contemporary debates concerning Islamic spirituality, and his thought is one of the main sources of inspiration of the proponents of various creative adaptations of traditional Sufism in contemporary societies, ranging from the most conservative forms to openly New Age and syncretic movements (Morris 1986 ; Sedgwick 2017). Beyond this, Ibn ʿArabī is also regularly quoted by contemporary Muslims in theological debates regarding creed, ritual practice, or religious normativity, as for example in the question of the imamate of women and the emergence of a feminist Islamic scholarship (Shaikh 2012 ; Geoffroy 2021). Ibn ʿArabī’s inspirational and poetical oeuvre has also been used by various artists and performers, whether as a source of ideas and vision, or as the central focus of their work itself.

This special issue aims to explore and analyze contemporary cases of the use of Ibn ʿArabī’s thought, and to shed light on the motivations, dynamics and methods underlying its interpretations. In order to better understand the variety of appropriations and to distinguish between the common links and the peculiarities of those cases, we would like to address various questions, including: What precise needs does Ibn ʿArabī’s thought answer for various types of actor? What are the most important conceptual and hermeneutical tools that they find in his thought to address contemporary issues? How do different types of actor relate to the same texts or doctrines of Ibn ʿArabī, from their own perspective and with their own objectives? What aspects of Ibn ʿArabī’s multi-layered and often paradoxical thought are emphasized, or on the contrary minimized, by those actors? How is Ibn ʿArabī’s thought integrated or not in the larger spectrum of the Islamic intellectual tradition? And how is it on the other hand integrated or not in modern and contemporary Western philosophical and spiritual thought?

We invite scholars from all backgrounds in the humanities and social sciences, as well as social and political actors and artists, to propose contributions focusing on Ibn ʿArabī in connection with one or more of the following topics:

  • Sufism, Sufi institutions, and the spiritual path
  • Theology, metaphysics, and epistemology
  • Anthropology, cosmology, and world vision
  • Normativity, Islamic law, and rituals
  • Ethics, ecology, and politics
  • Social issues, gender, and diversity
  • Art, media, and creativity

Guest Editors:

  • Mark Sedgwick (Aarhus University)
  • Gregory Vandamme (Université catholique de Louvain)

Abstracts and Timetable:

You are invited to submit a brief proposals (title and max 500 words), accompanied by a CV by the 5th of January 2023 to A notification of acceptance will be forwarded by the 30th of January. Following the notification of acceptance, we will ask you to send us the manuscript (between 6,000 to 10,000 words in length) by the 1st of November 2023. The manuscripts will be sent to blind peerreview and, after suitable revision, published in May 2024.

You can download the CFA pdf document from here.

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