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S. Nomanul Haq is currently on the faculty of Rutgers University and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. For several years until 1996, he was Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University. His research interests lie in Islamic Intellectual History, Religion, and Sufism.

 

Abstract of paper given at Islam and Ecology conference:
Nature in the Cosmology of Sufi Poetry and Imagination

Classical Sufi poetry in general presupposes certain cosmological doctrines, conveying physical reality as having an immutable structure bestowed upon it by the Creator. This structure is classical, that is, it is hierarchical, and the hierarchy is expressed essentially in terms of place (locus), ranging from the empyrean ('arsh mu'alla) to the lowest earth (taht al-thara). In this system the primordial elements take their naturally assigned places, and as Rumi has it, the primary universal force is mutual attraction between cosmic bodies. These cosmological doctrines have generated a certain range of attitudes to the natural world and have offered Sufis certain characteristic mystical possibilities for imaginal constructions. The paper, based largely on the works of Hallaj, Attar, Rumi, and Iqbal, is a critical exploration of these attitudes and possibilities.

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