Sufi Conception of Beauty: The Case of Rūzbihān Baqlī (d. 1209)

Sufi literature is often associated with the ideas of love and beauty, but what do Sufis actually understand of “beauty”? In this seminar, Kazuyo Murata, the author of Beauty in Sufism: The Teachings of Rūzbihān Baqlī (Albany: SUNY Press, 2017), will explore the place of beauty (jamāl, ḥusn, and nīkūʾī) in the worldview of Rūzbihān Baqlī, a Sufi master from twelfth-century Shiraz. Among Sufi writers, Rūzbihān stands out in the frequency and sophistication of his discussion on beauty in his writings in Arabic and Persian, ranging from Quran and Hadith commentaries to poetry. Topics that he implicitly addresses in his famously convoluted writings include the difference between jamāl and ḥusn; the role of beauty in the creation of the world; the nature of divine, cosmic, and human beauty; and the need for cultivating an eye for finding beauty in all things. The seminar will touch on these matters with a focus on the concept of beauty as understood by Rūzbihān.