Life, like the arts of poetry and painting, is wholly expression. Contemplation without action is death.

(Stray Reflections)

Second Yearly Iqbal Seminar held at Copenhagen University on 10th November 2012:

(Picture Gallery)

Iqbal Seminar 2012 was held on 10 November this year in the Seminar Hall of Copenhagen University. As usual it was arranged jointly by Iqbal Academy Scandinavia (IAS) and Islamisk-Kristent Studiecenter (IKS). The theme of the event was The Role of Sufism in Modern Islam. This was second year of a very useful social activity in Copenhagen by the two organisations, IAS and IKS. The high light of this event was that Dr.(theol) Lissi Rasmussen, the leader of IKS, performed as moderator during the first half of the session and Professor Jĝrgen S. Nielsen director of Center European Thought at University of Copenhagen acted as a moderator during the second half. The audience/participants were mostly from higher classes students of different Universities and intelligentsia from Danish society including those having origin in Iran, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Bosnia.
The session was opened by Ghulam Sabir, chairman Iqbal Academy Scandinavia who thanked and highly appreciated the planning and marvelous arrangements made by the organizers Dr. Lissi Rasmussen, Professor Jĝrgen S. Nielsen and Safet Bektovic. He also thanked all the five speakers by name. After him Safet Bektovik, Lecturer in Copenhagen University, delivered an elaborated and beautifully worded speech on Sufism. Iqbal’s analysis of Sufism is fully relevant of the understanding of modern Islam. that he was Sufi criticized the traditional particularly the Sufi traditions, teachings and practices, such as doctrine of annihilation, pantheism or monasticism. He confirms Sufi experience as a source of religious knowledge – in this way he helps us to understand Sufism’s constructive role within Islam.
Professor Mustansir Mir, head of the Centre Islamic Studies, Youngstown State University, Ohio, USA selected to speak on the topic “Was Iqbal a Sufi”. He said that Iqbal never said or considered himself as a Sufi, rather he criticized the traditional Sufism in modern Islam, in which some believe to annihilate their life in order to get God’s company. Mustansir Mir being a fine and one of the top scholars on Iqbal’s philosophy said that Man has his own unique existence in this world. He recited Iqbal’s Persian verses of which English translation is given below:
You made the night, I made the lamp;
You made the earthen bowl, I made the goblet.
You made deserts, mountains and valleys;
I made Gadens, meadows and parks.
I am one who makes a mirror out of stone;
And turn poison into sweet, delicious drink.
When he was reciting the above verses the audience looked overwhelmed by the magic of Iqbal’s poetry mixed with recitation of Mustansir Mir. The next guest speaker was Professor Javed Majeed, director of Comparative Literature Programme, Department of English Language and Literature, Kings College, London. He selected to speak on ”Iqbal, Sufism and Post Colonialism.” He said that as a part of global history of modernity and science Islamic traditional thought, according to Iqbal, needs reconstruction. So, too, his rethinking of Sufism emerges from the global cosmopolitism. He said dthat Iqbal’s concept of Khudi (selfhood), of a creative undivided selfhood, is articulated against mystical notion of Fana, or the living annihilation of the individual self in the presence of God. Thus, Iqbal reinterpreted Sufism in terms of the interiority of the selfhood and is experiences to fill the category of the individual self or Khudi with inner content, and the expensive nature of an inner landscape. The speech of Javed Majeed in full is available on page Ariticles/Papers of this website.
Besides above, a young girl, PhD student Iram Nisa Asif, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen. She presented a well prepared speech on the topic The Taste of Sufism: Dhikr and Social Cohesion in Danish Sufi Circles, which was applauded by the audience. The fifth speaker was a well known Lady from Aarhus, Anne Risager. She attracted the audience by her stylish speech. Being a Psychotherapist with specialty in spiritual guidance, surpassing illness confusion and depression, she related her personal experiences with Sufism.
At the end of second half of the day full one hour was devoted to discussions and Q&A, which was conducted beautifully and in a lively manner by Professor Jĝrgen S. Nielsen. He made a panel of the speakers on the stage comprising of four speakers, Mustansir Mir, Javed Majeed, Anne Risager and Safet Bektovic, and then he invited the audience to come up with their questions. That followed a shower of questions and warm discussion. It was the most beautiful part of the event, which proved to be highly meaningful and educative for all the participants.
The video of this event will be displayed in due course on IAS website, in which full text of all speeches will be available.

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