Fri 11 Sep 2015 | PhD defense of Pieter Coppens | 'Seeing God in This World and the Otherworld: Crossing Boundaries in Sufi Commentaries on the Qurʿān' | Utrecht University

On Friday 11 September, NISIS PhD candidate at the Faculty of Religious Studies and Theology of Utrecht University, Pieter Coppens, defended his dissertation 'Seeing God in This World and the Otherworld: Crossing Boundaries in Sufi Commentaries on the Qurʿān' at Utrecht University. 

Time: 10.30-12.30 hrs.
Venue: Senaatzaal, Academiegebouw, Domplein 29, Utrecht.

'Seeing God in This World and the Otherworld: Crossing Boundaries in Sufi Commentaries on the Qurʿān'

This project explores ṣūfī understandings of some key verses in the Qurʾān that deal with the relation between this world (dunyā) and the otherworld (ākhira). In 'mainstream' Islamic thought there is a tendency to hold on to a strict dichotomy between God and His creation, and to imagine Paradise and Hell as physical places, separated in time and space from present life, that will be only reached after death and resurrection. Muslim mystics have challenged this separation from a very early stage, by claiming the crossing of boundaries through mystical experience of God (in the form of theophany or mystical union) or indeed of Paradise and Hell (heavenly journeys, eating fruits from Paradise in this world).

The various understandings of these key verses will be studied taking into account the influence of ṣūfī hermeneutics, mystical theories about the soul and the cosmos, as well as the historical and intellectual atmosphere in which the ṣūfī Qurʾān commentaries were written. By examining mystical Qurʾān commentaries from the fourth to the eight century AH, this research seeks to understand the differences in the interpretation of these verses in relation to the broader development of Sufism in this pivotal era in Islamic history. Thus, besides contributing to the history of Islamic eschatology, new light will be shed on the history of Sufism and Qurʾān exegesis in general.


Masterclass 'The Study of Sufism in the Netherlands: Current Perspectives and Challenges'

The defense by Pieter Coppens was followed by a masterclass entitled 'The Study of Sufism in the Netherlands: Current Perspectives and Challenges.' Several scholars of Sufism working in the Netherlands presented their current and future research:

Dr. Asghar Seyed-Gohrab: The Notion of Intention in Mystical Love Poetry
Pieter Coppens MA: Embodying the Vision of God from the nussāk to the Sufis
Arjan Post MA: Reviving Sufism in Morocco: A Sufi Manual by Aḥmad ibn ʿAjība (d. 1224/1809)
Yunus Yaldiz MA: Zuhd and taṣawwuf: Are They Really Related?
 
Prof. Carl Ernst (University of North Carolina) responded to the papers. Anyone interested in the study of Sufism was invited. There was ample space for interaction, questions and comments. 
 
Those wishing to participate were required to send an email to p.coppens@uu.nl to register.

Time: 14.00-16.00 hrs.
Venue: Ravensteynzaal, Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, Utrecht

Pieter Coppens

Pieter Coppens (1983) obtained a BA and MA degree (both cum laude) in Arabic Language and Culture at Radboud University Nijmegen. His current PhD research is part of the larger research project The Here and the Hereafter in Islamic Traditions (HHIT), which is under supervision of prof.dr. Christian Lange (Utrecht University).

For more information please visit the website of Utrecht University.

Last Modified: 30-11-2015