Amira El-Zein, Associate Professor at SFS-Q, Georgetown University,
Title: 'Sufism in the work of the Libyan novelist Ibrahim al-Koni'
About the talk:
Ibrahim al-Koni is a Libyan Tuareg writer whose work has earned him international standing and esteemed academic appreciation. Themed primarily around a desert context, especially the sub-Saharan world, his novels narrate the desert as link and vibrant blend of cultures and ethnicities. His novels are translated in many languages and have been classified as post-modern, polyphonic, mysterious, and mostly Sufi. This paper offers a Sufi reading of three of his novels, namely: The Bleeding of the Stone, The Seven Veils of Seth, and Anubis. I argue that these works are Sufi works that are better interpreted from the Sufi perspective rather than from the perspective of literary criticism. Most specifically, this paper maintains that al-Koni’s work in general and these three novels in particular, express a quest for the Unity of Being, which has many names, such as Unity of Existence, Oneness of Being, unity and multiplicity, or wahdat al-wujud.
About the speaker
Amira El-Zein is Visiting Associate Professor with Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. She is the author of Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn (Syracuse University Press, 2009) and the co-editor of Culture, Creativity and Exile (Bethesda Maryland, Kitab Publications, 2003). She is also a published poet in Arabic, French, and English. Among her published poetry are The Bedouins of Hell (2002) and The Jinn and Other Poems (Arrowsmith, Boston, 2006). El-Zein is the author of more than a dozen articles published in refereed journals, such as Christian-Muslim Relations, Connaissance des religions, and Alif: The Journal of Comparative Poetics. She works on an ample range of topics including but not limited to Sufism in medieval and contemporary Islam, Francophone literature, Arabian Nights, and contemporary Arabic poetry and fiction. She is currently working on a book project on Gulf literature dealing especially with gender issues and globalization.