© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008 DOI: 10.1163/156852908X271123 Religion and the Arts 12 (2008) 343–355 www.brill.nl/rart RELIGION and the ARTS Following Steﬀen A. J. Stelzer Th e American University in Cairo Abstract Recent studies of Islamic mysticism have unearthed and developed the central role of “imagination” in Suﬁsm and mystical philosophy. Th is has been done in conscious contrast to the perceived “degradation of the image” in Western thought. Imagination is said to be both a cosmological and a noetic realm in the midst of a hierarchy of universes that mark, at the same time, diﬀerent stations on the initiatory path of human beings on their way to God. Into these well laid-out plans of worlds and images, my paper introduces a compo- nent that is found very rarely in these studies and occurs, rather, in Islamic hagiographic texts about the lives of Saints or the “Friends of God” ( awliya ʾ ). Th is component is the motive of “following,” or obedience to the Prophet ( sequela prophetae ). In one particular account of a meeting of two “Friends of God,” reference is made to the incapacity of imagination to contain—i.e. to imagine—one of them. Th e
Religion and the Arts – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2008
Keywords: SUFISM; IMAGINATION; RUMI; OBEDIENCE; PROPHETS; ESCHATOLOGY
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