Sufi Narratives of Intimacy
Ibn 'Arab?, Gender, and Sexuality
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book has been a long and full journey. My traveling companions along the way have been invaluable. First and foremost, this book would not have been possible without the love, support, and perseverance of my husband, Ashraf Kagee. He has balanced his academic career with a genuine commitment to sharing household...
Introduction: Tales of Contention: Muslim Gender Imaginaries
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Once upon a time, a wise and generous story unfolded. This is how it might be imagined.1 It is Cairo on a sweltering afternoon, and the faithful are streaming into a beautiful, simple mosque. The Friday (jumuʿa) prayers are about to begin. In the courtyard, people take their ablutions in the cool fountain water that provides welcome...
Chapter 1. Craving Completion: Sufism, Subjectivity, and Gender before Ibn ʿArabī
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Springing from the heart of Islam’s spiritual reservoir, Taṣawwuf, or Sufism, can be described as the process by which a believer embraces the full spiritual consequences of God’s oneness (tawḥīd).1 The goal of the Sufi path is to enable a human being, through the cultivation of virtuous excellence (iḥsān), to commune directly...
Chapter 2. Charting Ibn ʿArabī’s Religious Anthropology
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It is a beautiful starlit night. Ibn ʿArabī, a Sufi teacher revered throughout Muslim lands, is within the sacred precincts of the Kaʾba, the cubelike focal point of Muslim prayers in Mecca.1 This evening, the house of worship is characterized by a feeling of almost intense quiet despite the large number of devotees. Savoring the...
Chapter 3. Mysticism and Gender: A Hermeneutic of Experience
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Ibn ʿArabī’s sophisticated cosmology, his profound understandings of human nature and the processes of spiritual transformation for men and women alike, and his sometimes radical gendered legal positions were birthed from within the complexities of his experience, both mystical and mundane. Using the insightful...
Chapter 4. Reading Gender and Metaphor in Ibn ʿArabī’s Cosmos
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In engaging the tension between perspectives that challenge traditional gender stereotypes and those that reiterate normative conventions, feminist readers encounter a set of more nuanced methodological and theoretical considerations. At the outset, it is imperative to situate Ibn ʿArabī’s teachings on gender within...
Chapter 5. The Poetics and Politics of Adam and Eve
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Now that I have charted Ibn ʿArabī’s gender principles macrocosmically, I proceed to explore some of his other teachings on men and women, including their relationships of love, desire, sexuality, and marriage. In particular, I focus on a number of interweaving creation narratives, primarily that of Adam and Eve, which form...
Chapter 6. Witnessing God in Women: A Different Story of Creation
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This chapter explores the ways in which Ibn ʿArabī propels the reader into a different realm of imagining gender by presenting powerful antinomian images of the feminine, sexuality, and women. I begin by examining his depictions of the divine feminine and his related claim that God is most perfectly witnessed in women. His argument...
Chapter 7. Ibn ʿArabī and Islamic Feminism
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In this final chapter, I outline how my approach to gender in Ibn ʿArabī’s work differs from other contemporary interpretations of his work. In the process, I highlight and reiterate how his central teachings offer unique ways to engage the process and goals of Islamic feminism. I conclude with some reflections on how Sufism...
Appendix: Selected Poems from the Dīwān Ibn ʿArabī
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Index of Qurʾānic Verses
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Index of Traditions (Aḥadīth)
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Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks