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From True “History” to the “He-Story” of Truth:
Al-Mawqif as Narration of the Beginnings

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chafika B. Ouail (Nizwa University, Oman)

online lecture │28 March 2024 │ 6:00 pm (CET)

The challenge in reading Sufism is mainly due to the complexity of the genuine spiritual experience, the ambiguity of its language, and in the very sensitive inner creative imagination. Al-Niffarī’s Spiritual Stations and Addresses is considered to be one of the most ambiguous texts of the Sufi tradition. The main concept it adopts is waqfā (“pause”, “station”, “staying”), which derives linguistically from a very deep Arabic ontological perception that has been invested in classical poetry. This concept shaped also both the ritual and the theological spheres of Islam by transcending time and constructing an imaginary narration of the beginnings. This narration is not reported as an imaginary version of the true “history,” but rather as a reliable “he-story” of truth in which al-Niffarī witnessed several “primordial covenants” (mawāthīq). The aim of the presentation is to investigate al-Niffarī’s experience as an ontological mirror of truth, his truth, which is nothing but his own inner experience.

Dr. Chafika Ouail is a professor of Arabic Literature at Nizwa University, Oman. She is an Algerian scholar holding a Ph.D. in Arabic and Literature from the American University of Beirut and is about to defend another Ph.D. in Qur’anic studies at Batna University (Algeria). She won two post-doctoral fellowships at the Orient Institut in Beirut (OIB) and at the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS). Her academic interest ranges widely, but she is mainly a revisionist philosopher and a scholar in Islamic ethics, Sufism, theology, and classical and modern Arabic Literature. She is also concerned with the history of concepts and narratives. Her first dissertation dealt with one of the most controversial Sufis “an-Niffari”, and the second sheds light on the ethical hermeneutics of Qur’an. She has two forthcoming books: Qiyafat al Ma´na: min at-Ta’wīl ilā al-Meta Ta’wīl (Prognostication of Meaning: from Hermeutic to Metahermeneutic) and Making the Crowd in the Islamic Culture. Besides, Chafika is a poetess; she has won prestigious prizes and participated in many poetry festivals across the Arab world; she has also published two poetry collections.

You can find more information about the lecture series here.

Contact: Dr. Raid Al-Daghistani – raid.aldaghistani@uni-muenster.de

ZOOM-Code: https://wwu.zoom-x.de/j/68440994551