Symposıum On “Holıness, Saınthood And Prophecy In Islamıc Thought And Tradıtıon”
Symposium on “Holiness, Sainthood and Prophecy in Islamic Thought and Tradition” was held by KURAMER on 4 March 2017 at Istanbul 29 May University/ ISAM Conference Hall. More than 30 academics, from a variety of universities, attended the conference. KURAMER, where we aim to conduct research on scholarly issues with an objective perspective, held this symposium with the intent of analysing the conception of holiness – which has a crucial status in Islamic tradition and thought legacy – in relation to mystic categories and hierarchy of notions from various aspects with an objective, scholarly perspective, which would promote a free discussion. After the inaugural conference, six paper were presented and discussed. During the symposium, historical background of the notions of holiness, sainthood, and prophecy were addressed. The conceptions shaped around these notions, their influence on religious experience and how they are considered according to difference disciplines of Islamic sciences were also addressed during the symposium. Each paper was discussed comprehensively by many scholars from various disciplines of Islamic sciences.
The inaugural conference, which addressed subject-matter notions of the symposium from the view point of primary sources of Islam - namely Qur’an and Sunnah, was presented by Professor Ismail Hakki Unal.
The first paper titled, “The Conception of Holiness in the pre-Islamic Religions”, was presented by Professor Sinasi Gunduz in the first panel, which was hosted by Professor Omer Faruk Harman. In this paper, which functions as a framework to analyse the various conceptions of holiness throughout Islamic period; the notion of holiness, its manifestation on temporality, space and humanity, and the notion of holy and holiness in the pre-Islamic traditions were addressed. Professor Ismail Taspinar discussed the paper.
The second paper titled, “The Perspectives of Sects on the Conceptions of Sainthood, Prophecy and Holiness”, was presented by Professor Yusuf Sevki Yavuz. Professor Yavuz addressed the issues regarding the conceptualization of the terms “saint”, “evliya” and “prophecy” in Sunnah and the considerations shaped around these terms in the context of Ibadiyya, Mu’tezilites, Shia, Sufiyya, and followers of Sunnah. He analysed the above-mentioned terms in terms of how they were understood by the various scholars who followed the rulings of different sects. Professor Yavuz made a critique of these understandings on the basis of the religious texts. Professor Metin Ozdemir discussed this paper.
The second panel were chaired in the afternoon by Professor Ali Kose. The first paper of this session were presented by Assistant Professor Muammer Cengil. In this presentation, titled “The Psychology of Orientation Towards Sufism and Religious Cults”, the factors leading one to the mystic life-style were addressed. The paper expressed the influence of solitude and alienation generated by urbanization and modern life-style on the individual’s striving for meaning that leads one to Sufism. Other elements of influence leading individuals to mystic life-style were analysed from a psychological viewpoint. Assistant Professor Halil Apaydin discussed the paper.
The second paper, titled “Comprehensions Formed Around the Belief of Sainthood and Holiness in Sufism”, dealt with the notions of “prophecy, rabita, intercession, tavassul, ricalu’l-gayb”. Professor Salih Cift expressed the idea that some issues require further elaboration to make a proper analysis and evaluation of the notions addressed. He stressed the idea that when we tackle the issues related Sufism and Sufis, we need to ask, “which Sufi?”. He also stated that we need to take the historical process of Sufism into account. Professor Abdullah Kartal discussed the paper.
The last panel of the symposium was chaired by Professor Saim Yeprem. The first paper of this session was titled “Traditional Criticisms on Prophecy Beliefs in Sufism and The Basis of Legitimacy”. In this paper, the views of various scholars (Ibn Hazm, Abu Bakr, Ibnu’l Arabi, Ibnu’l Cevzi, Ibn Teymiyye, Birgivi) on the issues of sainthood, holiness and prophecy were addressed. In his paper, Professor Mahmut Ay, first, stressed the ontological and epistemological differences between the individual religious and moral consciousness and cultural metaphysics/mysticism. He considered the legitimacy issues related to mysticism. He expressed that there are attempts to use inauthentic hadiths, to refer randomly to primary sources of religion in forming the fundamental paradigms of value system and transforming these metaphysical elements into religious form. He defended the ideas that mystic experience and the literature based on this experience should not be included in the religious science category, and they should be considered from the perspectives of philosophy, literature and psychology. Professor Temel Yesilyurt discussed this paper.
The last paper of the symposium was presented by Professor Ilhami Guler. Professor Guler addressed some notions and beliefs relate to Sufism, in particular the Mystic thought develop along the lines of Ibn Arabi from the viewpoint of Kalam principles in his paper titled “An Overview of the Conception of Religion Shaped Around the Belief of Prophecy and Metaphysical Disposal That are Attribute to Individuals in Contemporary World”.
The expectation of KURAMER from these kind of meetings is providing various experts from different field with the opportunity to express their own ideas freely, sharing ad discussing the knowledge and ideas in this regard; not imposing any idea to public from a singular point of view, or making assessments on targeted audience. During the symposium, this criterion, to a large extent, has been met. The papers, which are presented at the symposium, have been discussed by the invited young academics from various Divinity Faculties in Anatolia. These discussions contributed to develop further ideas. The proceedings of this symposium will be published soon, as it has been the case for the previous symposiums.
During this symposium, KURAMER publication and Research Awards have been given. Assistant Professor Hadiye Unsal have won the award with her work titled “Analysis of Early Period Mecca Surahs”; Assistant Professor Fatih Tiyek have won the publication award with his work titled “The Role of Context in Making Sense of Qur’an”; Assistant Professor Fatih Tok have won the research award with his PhD Thesis “Imam Azam Abu Hanife’s Understanding of Qur’an”.