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the Message Continues ... 6/125


Newsletter for January 2012


Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12



Professor Schimmel will always be missed !

Part 1

Obituary: Professor Annemarie Schimmel

Pakistan didn’t even wait for me to die Khaled Ahmed

The road along the Lahore canal, from the Mall to Jail Road, was named after Goethe; but the road across the canal was dedicated to Annemarrie Schimmel. The twin roads are a befitting symbol of Pakistan’s special relationship with Germany created by Pakistan’s national poet during his academic sojourn there in the beginning of the 20th century. Schimmel used to say laughingly: “Pakistan didn’t even wait for me to die before naming a road after me”

The first disciple of Rumi in our times was Allama Iqbal. In his Persian magnum opus “Javidnamah”, Rumi was his Virgil. Annemarie Schimmel, the greatest living authority on Islamic culture and civilisation who passed away yesterday, loved Iqbal and Rumi with equal intensity. When she came to Lahore in 1996 to deliver a lecture on “Islam and the West” at the Goethe Institut, she was hardly in her room at Hotel Avari for 10 minutes when the phone bell rang and someone requested her for a meeting. She said she was booked for every hour of the day until June 1997, which included her Iqbal Lecture in London.

She had delivered a lecture on Rahman Baba in Peshawar in Pashtu, which, together with Sindhi, she thought more difficult than her first love,
Turkish. (Linguists are agreed that Turkish is one of the most difficult languages to learn.) She loved Sindh, admired its intellectuals, tolerant
culture, and its great poet Shah Abdul Latif on whom she wrote a book. She remembered fondly Sindh’s foremost intellectual, Allama I.I. Kazi and his disciple Pir Hisamuddin Rashdi, and visited the Makli tombs many times. Sitting in a cafe in Bonn once, journalist Tony Rosini told me in a whisper that she wanted to be buried at Makli.

In 1982, she had requested the government of Pakistan to name a road after Goethe, the German national poet that Iqbal admired, on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary. But Pakistan went one better. The road along the Lahore canal, from the Mall to Jail Road, was named after Goethe; but the road across the canal was dedicated to Annemarrie Schimmel. The twin roads are a befitting symbol of Pakistan’s special relationship with Germany created by Pakistan’s national poet during his academic sojourn there in the beginning of the 20th century. Schimmel used to say laughingly: “Pakistan didn’t even wait for me to die”. She was in her mid eighties, in good health, with a mind whose clarity was astounding.

She was recognised by the Islamic world for her knowledge of Islamic civilisation. When she went to Egypt lecturing in Arabic about classical Arab poetry, she was received by President Hosni Mubarak. She lectured in Yemen, Syria and Morocco, talking about a heritage that most Arabs have forgotten. In Tunis, she introduced the revivalist thought of Allama Iqbal; in Teheran, she spoke in Persian about the love of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in Rumi, disabusing today’s revolutionary Islamists of the misconceptions made current about the great Sufis of the past. She was in Uzbekistan talking to the Uzbeks about their great Muslim heritage. “If an Uzbek speaks slowly I can understand him, and I can answer in Osmanli”, she used to say.

Her first love was Pakistan and Pakistan responded to her in equal measure. She fondly remembered the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Mumtaz Hassan, the great teacher of philosophy M.M. Sharif, the historian S.M. Ikram, the scholar Khalifa Abdul Hakim and Pir Hisamuddin Rashdi, who welcomed her again and again to Pakistan when she was young. She recalled her Urdu lecture on Iqbal in Government College Lahore in 1963 on the invitation of Bazm-e-Iqbal. Befittingly, Allama Iqbal’s son, Dr Javid Iqbal, is a devotee who often visited her at her residence on Lennestrasse in Bonn. When national awards were set up, she received the highest of them, Hilal-e-Imtiaz
and Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam.

She was so completely at ease with her subject that she hardly realised that she was working so hard, teaching at Bonn University since 1961, and at Harvard University since 1970. The Islamic world did not ignore her work. She received the First Class Award for Art and Science from Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak, and a Gold Medal from Turkey for her services to Turkish cultural heritage. Austria gave her the prestigious Hammar-Purgstall prize; Los Angeles had given her the Della Vida award for Excellence in Islamic Studies; Germany bestowed upon her the famous Ruecart Medal and Voss Medal for Translation; and the Union of German Publishers recently gave her their highest Peace Prize which she treasured. There are many other German awards that celebrated her work in the promotion of understanding between religions.

Annemarrie Schimmel was born in Erfurt, a town that fell to East Germany after the Second World War, in the family of a civil servant who greatly loved poetry and philosophy. She recalled reading the German classics at home, including the poetry of Rilke. Her interest in the Orient grew out of the classical trend of treating oriental themes in German poetry and drama. When she was seven, the parents already knew she was a special child on whom normal laws of upbringing couldn’t be applied. At 15, she was able to get hold of a teacher of Arabic who had a taste in Arabic classical poetry. Her second love was Turkish which she learned before she went to the university. Her subject led her to Persian, which she learned enough to be smitten by the poetry of Rumi.

She regretted that she didn’t learn English well (sic!) since she was busy passing two classes in a term. (She was an extremely articulate speaker in English.) One is not surprised that when she finally finished her doctorate, she was only 19, a German record at a time when women were not encouraged in higher learning. (She once remarked that the bias still existed because she was not given a chair at the University of Bonn.) The topic of her PhD dissertation was “Position of Caliph and Qazi in Mameluke Egypt”. She recalled that her father was killed four days before the war came to an end, and while she studied, she had to do six months of forced labour and work six days a week in a factory. After the war, she went to West Germany, interpreting and translating in Turkish for the Foreign Office and working on her thesis for teaching. Marburg University took her in as a professor of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, history of Islamic art and religion after her graduation when she was only 23!

In 1949, she did another PhD in history of religions and went to Sweden to pursue theological and oriental studies for two months. In 1952, she was able to travel in Turkey, keen to visit Konia where her “murshid” Jalaluddin Rumi lay buried. She said that Konia was a sleepy little town where the genius of Rumi was easily invoked. In 1953, she was again at Ankara University lecturing on Islamic art and religion in Turkish. The university offered her, a non-Muslim, the chair of history of religion and she stayed there for five years, writing her books in Turkish, including a Turkish version of Allama Iqbal’s “Javidnamah”.

She had written hundreds of books and papers as far apart in subject matter as the mystery of numbers in Arabic, Arabic Names and Persian Sufi poet Qurat-ul-Ain Tahira whom she called the first Muslim feminist. Her first book to be known in Pakistan was “Gabriel’s Wing” but it was published in Holland and was not properly distributed in Pakistan. It is surprising that Pakistani publishers have not tried to get the publishing rights of her great books like “Islam in the Indian Subcontinent” printed 20 years ago, and others like “Deciphering the Science of God” and “Mystery of Numbers” and “Gifford Lectures on Islam”. She translated hundreds of Islamic classics, as is
manifest from the awards she received.

Her work in German will probably take a long time in reaching the international audience (for instance her beautifully produced work on imagery in Persian poetry) but what she published in English is lying with such obscure publishers in Europe and the United States that it has no way of reaching the Pakistani market. She remained a recluse in matters of publishing; her publishers seldom wrote to her because of bad marketing. “I don’t care that I haven’t made money from my books; I have enough to live on”, she used to say thoughtfully. Her house in Lennestrasse was full of rare manuscripts on Islam but she gradually began to give them away to institutions, like Bonn University, as she thought they would take care of them and make good use of them.

Annemarrie Schimmel was not into the politics of orientology as most of us who are busy thinking about civilisational conflict are inclined to think. While she considered Edward Said’s critique of Western orientalism justified, she believed it was misapplied to German and Russian orientology. Her interest in Islam sprang from her great reverence for its intellectual and spiritual genius. She was a “practising” scholar who admired Massignon and was deeply involved in the philosophical aspects of the religion of Islam. She believed that Iqbal was the only Muslim genius who responded intellectually to Goethe’s “West-Eastern Divan”. She was the only western intellectual who responded to the true spirit of Islam. Her poems in German and English were published in two volumes and proved that her interest was not merely restricted to bloodless research. She was of no use to those who study a religion only to find fault with it. She has passed away but her work on and love for Islam will continue to illuminate the true path. *



I was truly saddened to learn of the passing away of Professor Annemarie Schimmel. There are so few remaining great figures as her whose work confidently spans such a range of domains. I remember meeting her about five years ago. She had arrived in London as the guest of a prominent Urdu literary organization. Although frail at the time, she managed to deliver a remarkable and inspiring lecture. I was introduced to her afterwards and remember being unable to say anything of substance as I stood in awe of this great lady. However she was a lovely character, I became entirely comfortable as we chatted. And it was amazing to me that after all I had read of her, she was also a down to earth, friendly and approachable human being. May God bless her soul. Amen.

Annie Shamsi
United Kingdom

Here is one of her many translations of Rumi's poems:

"We worship Thee!" -- that is the garden's prayer in winter time.
"We ask Thy help!" -- that is its cry then in time of spring.
"We worship Thee" -- that means: I come to beg, imploring Thee:
Don't leave me in this sorrow, Lord, make wide the door of joy!
"We ask Thee, Lord, for help" -- that is, the fullness of ripe, sweet fruit.
Now break my branches and my twigs -- protect me, My Lord, My God!
(Diwan-i Shams-i Tabrizi, 2046)

-- from : "Rumi's World" *--
"The Life and Work of the Great Sufi Poet"
By Annemarie Schimmel,
Shambhala Dragon Editions, Boston, 2001


Part 2

Annemarie Schimmel Award for championing a Muslim cause
that you may come to know one another.

Annemarie Schimmel, Professor of Indo-Muslim Culture at Harvard University,
has enough honorary degrees, awards and publications (at least five, twenty
six and eighty respectively) to keep an entire faculty going. But few people
outside the cosseted walls of academia had heard of her until she spoke out
against Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.

Millions of Muslims, precious few of them academics of any distinction, had
debated, argued, and protested that the book, published in 1989, was a highly
offensive slur on the religion of Islam. But the bastions of Western
liberalism, the media, the arts and the seats of learning, were adamant that
freedom of expression was paramount, and that responsibility of expression
was a secondary consideration. And then the talented historian and
polylingual Professor Schimmel, entered the debate.

By doing so, by insisting that Muslims (not just a few, but the entire body
of Islam and its beloved Prophet, in particular) were the victims of a
carefully devised piece of literature, Professor Schimmel effectively took on
the establishment. Her position, based on years of expertise in Islamic
literature and history (she is an authority on Rumi and translated part of
Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddima into German), was authoritative and unwavering. She
challenged many misconceptions of Islam as well as broaching greater
understanding between Muslims and Christians.

Muslims, for political reasons, or for financial or family considerations,
are often reluctant to assert their faith. Too few of us put our reputation
on the line for issues our non-Muslim peers may consider to be subjective,
personal and outdated. Which is why when a Muslim cause is defended or
championed, the rest of the world sits up and takes note, our sense of
self-worth is restored, and we resolve to try harder.

Messages for
The Muslim News

Islam and the West

Penang (Malaysia), 9 October 1995/K/JC/14961c-is

At an international workshop on "Images of Islam: Terrorizing the Truth," the
President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Koechler,
presented the campaign against Professor Annemarie Schimmel as a typical case
of the anti-Islamic bias of important sectors of Western Society. In his
presentation to the workshop, Professor Koechler focused on the historical
causes of stereotypes of Islam in Europe and on the West's tendency to create
a new "enemy stereotype" after the vanishing of the Soviet threat.

The participants of the workshop unanimously adopted a declaration of
solidarity with Professor Annemarie Schimmel. The statement commends the
German President, the German Book Trade, sections of the German media, and
some German intellectuals for standing by Professor Schimmel, and urges them
not to submit to the demand of anti-Schimmel protesters. To surrender to
those forces in German and Western society "would be a defeat for all those
groups and individuals who are committed to the promotion of healthier and
more harmonious relations between Western and Muslim societies."

The workshop concluded its deliberations earlier today with the adoption of a
programme of action in the fields of education and information. Fifty
journalists, University professors and political personalities from 15
countries participated in the workshop which was organized by Just World
Trust (Penang/Malaysia) under the direction of Dr. Chandra Muzaffar.

Among the participants and signatories of the declaration are Mr. Amien Rais,
Indonesian opposition leader, Professors of the Universities of Harvard and
Princeton (USA), former US Congressman Paul Findley, the Middle East
correspondent of the Neue Züricher Zeitung, Mr. Viktor Kocher, and leading
intellectuals and University Professors from Europe and the Muslim World.

Annemarie Schimmel's Acceptance Speech
March 1996
" Honourable assembly, Your Honour Mr. President. I am very grateful for the
guiding speech by which you honoured me and in which you emphasised so
strongly the importance of tolerance and of understanding foreign
civilisations, which are indispensable to our foreign politics. When I learnt
to my great surprise and joy that I had been awarded the Peace Prize, nobody
would have imagined that during the following months a campaign would unfold
- a campaign of such force that it seemed to destroy my life's work, which
was and is devoted to a better understanding between East and West.2 This
hurt me to the very core of my heart and mind, and I hope that those who
attacked me without even knowing me in person or having read my works will
never have to undergo a torture like that.

I learnt one thing: the methods and ways of scholarship and poetry are one
thing, those of journalism and politics something else. Both sides however
agree on one point: that is the central role of the word, the free word, in
our lives.

......I will help in my own way to defend the freedom of speech, of the
word. In the 1950s my Pakistani poet friend Fez wrote from prison;

"Speak! for your lips are still free,
speak! for your tongue is still yours,
speak! your straight body is still yours,
speak! for your life is still yours,
See, how in the Blacksmith's forge
the flames are sharp, the iron is red,
The locks' mouth begin to open,
every rind in the chain becomes wide!
Speak a little time is plenty
before body's and tongues's death.
Speak truth is still alive,
speak out whatever is to be said."

And this leads me to the very subject of my address. Sometimes I thought: if
Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866) were still alive he would certainly deserve the
Peace Prize, as his motto was: "Weltpoesie (global poetry) alone is
Weltversohnung (leading to the reconciliation of worlds)". During his
lifetime, he produced thousands of masterly poetical translations from dozens
of languages and knew that poetry, "the mother tongue of the human race",
connects people as it is part of all civilisations.

But in the period when Ruckert spoke of poetry as the medium of global
reconciliation, and that means, of peace, people had a different relationship
with the non-Western world from what we have now. Amazed and shocked, the
West had observed in the 8th and 9th centuries the Muslim conquest of the
Mediterranean, but thanks to the Arabs who ruled Andalusia for centuries, it
has also inherited the foundations of modern science; medical works by Rhazes
and Avicenna were considered standard works in Europe to the beginning of
modern times; the writings of Averroes played a role in theological
discussions and prepared the way towards the Enlightenment. The translations
of Toledo, where Jews, Christians and Muslims lived peacefully together, made
Arab learning the poetry of the West. The Catelan scholar Ramon Lull, again,
taught the mutual respect of religions which, in his opinion, should end not
only in discussion but lead to a common enterprise - that is to foster peace.

After the siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1529, bloody dramas about the Turks
were part and parcel of a widespread anti-Turkish, and that meant
anti-Islamic literature, but at the same time, Europe came to know another
aspect of the East thanks to objective reports by travellers and merchants.
The first French translation of the Arabian Nights at the beginning of the
10th century showed the West an oriental world of fairies, jinnies and
sensual attractions which inspired generations of poets, painters, and
musicians; at the same time Arabic and Islamic studies as well as Indology
gained an independent status among the sciences thanks to the Enlightenment.
Scholarly studies and translations triggered off a current of orientalising
poetry, which was headed by Goethe, whose West-Oestrlicher Divan with its
"notes and dissertations" is an unsurpassed analysis of Islamic culture.

But when Ruckert published his first poems inspired by Persian poetry in 1820
(one year after Goethe's Divan) people listened to the tales "when far away
in Turkey people fight each other" (as Goethe says in Faust).

As for us, we are not only informed day after day of news events but rather
are entangled by the mass media to watch pictures of the Muslim world, to
which we owe so much. This culture appears strange and alien to most
Europeans, and is constantly blamed because it seems to have no reformation,
no Enlightenment, and is therefore considered "incapable of changing" as
Jacob Burckhardt claimed a century ago with a deadly aversion. But do not
most people know that the Islamic world between Indonesia and West Africa
presents us with most diverse culture expressions, although it has the common
basis in the firm belief in the One and Unique God and the acceptance of
Muhammad as the last Prophet? To look at the Islamic world as something
monolithic is as if we would overlook in the West the difference between
Greek orthodox Christianity and North American Freechurches. But in times
where we are constantly flooded with condensed, brief information, it seems
next to impossible to differentiate, and to recognise the softer shades and
positive aspects of Islam as it is lived.

"Man is the enemy of what he does not know." says the Greek as well as the
Arabic proverb. Maulana Rumi, the great mystical poet of the 13th century,
tells in his Persian prose work that a little boy complained to his mother of
a black figure that appears time and again to frighten him; finally the
mother advises him to address the terrible apparition, as one can recognise
someone's character by his answer. For the word, as Persian poets like to
repeat, discloses the speaker's character by its "smell", just as an almond
cake stuffed with garlic discloses its true character although it may
outwardly look quite appetising.

"A good word is like a good tree." Thus says the Quran, and in most religions
the word is regarded as the creative power; it is the carrier of revelation:
God's word incarnate in Christianity, or His word inlibrate in Islam. The
word is a good entrusted to man, which he should preserve and which he must
not weaken, falsify, or kill by talking too much. For it has a power of its
own which we cannot gauge, it is this power of the word upon which rests the
extraordinary responsibility of the poet and even more of the translator who
by a single wrong nuance can cause dangerous misunderstandings.

The ancient Arabs believed that the poets' words were like arrows, and even
in the Gulf War the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain used poets to propagate his
will to victory. The power of poetry is much greater in the Islamic world
than with us; we are touched by music, the Muslim mostly by the sound of

I have discovered Istanbul corner by corner through the verses which Turkish
poets had sung for five centuries about this wonderful city; I have learnt to
love the culture of Pakistan through the songs that resound in all of its
provinces, and when one of my Harvard students had the misfortune to be among
the American hostages in Tehran, he experienced a great change in his
jailers' attitude when he recited Persian poetry; here, suddenly, a common
idiom emerged and helped to bridge deep ideological differences.

I agree with Herder's words: "It is from poetry that we gain a deeper
knowledge of times and nations than we do from the deceptive miserable way of
political and martial history."

The long dirges which Urdu poets in 19th century India wrote in memory of the
martyrdom of Hussain, the prophet's grandson, served at the same time to
criticise the British colonial power in coded words. We have to decode them
to understand their explosive political message.

For centuries poets have complained about exile and jail. It is sufficient to
mention the contemporary Iraqi poet al-Dayati:

"I dreamt, and separation,
oh beloved, was pain
for I am homeless
I die in a foreign town
die alone, oh my beloved,
without a fatherland."

Hermann Hesse, whose Morgenlandfahrt is well-known to all of us, said in his
Peace Prize speech in 1955: "It is not the poets' affair to accommodate to
any actual reality and to glorify it, but rather to show beyond it the
possibility of beauty, of love, and of peace." Did not the Lebanese poet
Adonis intend the same thing when he wrote during the horrors of the Lebanese
civil war:

"Take a rose, spread it out as a pillow
after a little while
weakness will devour you
in murky dirt
heavy bombs will make you
their victim
after a little while
Take a rose and call it songs
and sing it for the world"

The later poetry of Islamic peoples is largely influenced by mysticism, but
one should not, as is usual, equate mysticism with obscurantism, with fleeing
from reality or as something that has no meaning for post-Enlightenment
people. Many of the great mystics were rebels against what they regarded as
injustice, against corrupt states, against hairsplitting jurists who, as the
great thinker Al-Ghazali in the 11th century wrote in his autobiography,
"knew the tiniest details of the divorce laws but knew nothing of God's
living presence". Such an attitude of mystics is found in all religious
traditions; in Christianity, male and female saints actively tried to change
the fate of their countries, and the same is true for the Chassidim in
Eastern Europe as we understand from Martin Buber's books. Because they
emphasised spiritual values, these people often came to criticise the society
intensely and became fighters for social justice.

The history of Islam contains numerous names of such mystics, whose lives
were devoted to the realisation of their love of God and mankind. The
greatest among them is al-Hallaj, who was executed in Baghdad in 922, in part
because of his daring religious claims but in part because of his political
activities. He remains a symbol for the Muslims to this day, hated by the
traditional orthodox, admired by those who regard him not only as the
representative of pure love of God but also as a fighter against the
establishment. His parable of the moth that casts itself in the flame to gain
new life through dying inspired Goethe's famous poem "Selige Sehnsucht". The
apotheosis of this "martyr of Divine love" whose name is conjured up by
progressive writers in all Islamic countries is a scene in Iqbal's Persian
epic, Javidname, where Hallaj warns the modern poets:

"You do exactly what I once did - beware!
You bring resurrection to the dead - beware!"

That is, resurrection from a fossilised world of legalism, and this is by
denying human responsibility but as a fulfilment of man's real role in the
world. Does not the Quran state that God has honoured humans by entrusting to
them a precious good (Sura 33:72)? Iqbal's, the spiritual father of Pakistan,
is perhaps the best example of a modern interpretation of Islam. His poetry
was on everyone's lips in India in the 1930s, for the largely illiterate
masses could be reached only by the poetical word which can be memorised
easily. Iqbal (whose works, incidentially are banned in Saudia Arabia) had
under the influence of Goethe and Rumi, tried to postulate a dynamic Islam;
he was aware that the human being is called on to improve God's earth in
cooperation with the Creator, and that one should exhaust the never-ending
possibilities of interpreting the Quran in order to survive changing
circumstances. But he also taught that one never should rely exclusively upon
intellect, as much as modern technology and progress can be admired and man
is called on to participate in it. In a central poem of his, "Message of the
East", his answer to Goethe's "Divan", he writes that science and love, that
is critical analysis and loving synthesis, must work together to create
positive values for the future.

This brings us to a point which appears increasingly important to me - this
is the problem of lovingly understanding foreign civilisations. Unfortunately
the word "understanding" seems to be equated today with an uncritical
acceptance and general forgiveness. Yet, true understanding grows from a
knowledge of historical facts and many people lack such a knowledge.
Spiritual and political situations however develop out of historical facts
which one has to know first before correctly judging a situation.

St. Augustine said "one understands something only as far as one loves it"
and our mediaeval theologians knew that "love is the intellect of the eye."
One can of course claim that such a love makes the lover blind, but I believe
that such a deep love also opens one's eyes, for we see all beloved beings'
sins and mistakes with much deeper grief then those of an unknown person. We
spent our lives in studying the world of Islam in its manifold facets and
tried to show its positive aspects to a public that has barely an idea of
this complex world. Therefore for us it is a much more terrible shock to
follow the developments that appeared in some parts of the Islamic world
during the last decades.

In a civilisation whose traditional greeting is Salam "Peace" (like the
Hebrew Shalom) we observe at the moment a horrifying narrowing and stiffening
of dogmatic and legalistic positions. At the beginning we believed that this
could be explained as an attempt to shut the floodgates against the
increasing influence of the West, in order to be such that the believers
follow the straight path shown by the Prophet Muhammad. Now, however it looks
different: in large areas we are confronted with sheer power politics, with
ideologies which utilise Islam more or less as a catchword, and have very
little in common with its religious foundations.

At least I have not discovered in the Quran or in the Traditions anything
that orders or allows terrorism or the taking of hostages. On the contrary,
the Golden Rule is valid everywhere in the world of Islam. No thinking
individual can appreciate acts of terror wherever they appear and in
whichever ideology they are rooted, and nobody would be happier than we,
whatever our special field of research may be, when death sentences or
imprisionment of persons of deviant opinions or critical thinkers would no
longer be pronounced. Many of the radical fundamentalists seem to forget that
the Quran says la ikhra fid-din "no compulsion in religion" and that the
Prophet warned against declaring anyone a kafir, an infidel. The
fundamentalists try to recruit followers among the unemployed, rootless youth
whom they supply with a few simple formulas to manipulate them easily. But
such a politically misused Islam is something completely different from lived
Islam; it is, as Tahe Ben Jalloun writes, a caricature of true Islam, "for it
stands for a political doctrine which was nonexistent until now in the
Arab-Islamic world".

But the image of the West in the media of the different Islamic countries is
also often distorted, and we need to enlighten both sides. Strangely enough
even liberal Muslim intellectuals are but little aware of their own history
and the works that Muslims in other parts of the world have created; they are
most grateful when they are gently led to recognise the great traditions of
their own civilisations which nowadays often seem to be forgotten under a
crust of centuries-old developments and yet could help them find their own
way into a modern future that is genuinely their own. Gently, I said, and not
by lifting one's index finger like a teacher for that can result immediately
in a negative reaction to suspected "cultural colonialism".

I speak from experience after giving innumerable lectures during the last 40
years in different oriental countries. During those years that I, a young
non-Muslim woman, was occupying the chair of History of Religions in the new
faculty of Islamic theology in Ankara (at a time when there were barely any
chairs for women in German universities) I had also to teach `Church History
and Dogmatics'. And that was very important. For we usually forget the great
role Jesus, the "Spirit of God" and his mother play in the Quran and Muslim
piety. Once in a while we should remember a sentence which Novalis in his
novel "Heinrich von Ofterdingen" (published 1801) put in the mouth of the
imprisioned Saracen woman in Jerusalem: "Full of respect, our princes
honoured the tomb of your saint whom we too regard as a divine Prophet. How
beautiful would it have been if his sacred tomb had become the cradle of a
happy understanding and the reason for eternal beneficial alliances ..."

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam knew the ideal of eschatological peace where
lion and lamb lie together in the time of the just ruler. But peace is
nothing static. The UNESCO Declaration about "The role of religion in the
promotion of a culture of peace" (Dec. 1994) says: "Peace is a journey, a
never ending process." There is nothing that is not kept alive by the
principles of change and polarity; a heart that no longer beats is dead.
Peace too is a process of living growth which begins in each of us. The
Muslim mystics considered the constant struggle with their lower qualities
the real jihad: "the greater war in the way of God" and when their souls had
finally reached peace they were capable of working for peace in the world.

One may think that the picture of Islam which I offer is too idealistic, far
away from hard political realities, but as a historian of religion I learned
that one has to compare ideal with ideal. The Swedish Lutheran Bishop Tor
Andrae (d.1948) a leading Islamologist, wrote in his biography of Muhammad:
"A religious faith has the same right as every other spiritual movement to be
judged according to what it really intends and not according to how human
weakness and contemptibleness have stained this ideal".

My picture of Islam has emerged not only from a decades-long interest in
Islamic literature and art, but even more from the friendship with Muslims
all over the world and from all levels of the population, who accepted me
into their families and acquainted me with the poetry of their languages. I
owe them an enormous gratitude, a small part of which I want to acknowledge
today. People like Mevlude Genc, the Turkish woman in Solingen who forgave
those who caused the loss of many of her family members, are representatives
of that tolerant Islam which I have known for so many years. I am so grateful
to my parents who educated me in an atmosphere of religious freedom,
permeated by poetry, as well as to my teachers, colleagues and students each
of whom has expanded my horizons in his or her special way.

I am most grateful to the Borsenverein whose election committee had the
courage to elect me into the illustrious circle of the recipients of the
Peace Prize, although Ibn Khaldun, the great North African philosopher of
history in the 14th century says in the headline of one of his chapters that
"the scholar is one who among all people is least acquainted with the ways of
day-to-day politics."

The scholar's duty is to explain cultures to himself and to others. Martin
Buber pointed out in this place in 1953 that the acceptance of the other is
the basis of dialogue. That is also true of the relations between the West
and the Islamic world, as much as Islam appears to be the enemy after the end
of the East-West conflict. Yet, like Buber, I still believe in true dialogue,
which, as he says, consists in the acceptance of the other as he is, for only
thus differences can be overcome - though not taken out completely - in a
human way.

This Peace Prize is an honour - which I had never dared dream of, and it will
be an incentive to continue and increase my efforts for a better
understanding between the Occident and the Orient as long as my strength will
last. The words which the President of the Federal Republic of Germany has
addressed to me will strengthen me on this path. But first and last I owe my
thanks to Him about whom Goethe says in his "West-Ostlicher Divan":

"The East belongs to God
The West belongs to God
north and southern lands
rest in the peace of His hands,
He, the sole just ruler,
intends the right things for every one,
Among His hundred names
- be this one glorified and praised

Annemarie Schimmel
March 1996

1. The above speech was delivered to an assembly of writers, publishers and
public officials, including the President of the Federal Republic of Germany,
Roman Herzog, on the occasion of the bestowal of the German Book Trade's
annual Peace Prize to Annemarie Schimmel. The speech was translated from
German and published in the London-based weekly, Q-News. JUST has reproduced
the speech with the kind permission of Q-News.
2. When the award of the Peace Prize to Schimmel was first announced in April
1995, two hundred German and European intellectuals protested on the grounds
that she was a supporter of so-called Islamic fundamentalism. A number of
other groups and individuals in Germany and elsewhere, however, came to her
defence and rejected the malicious allegations against Schimmel. JUST was one
of those organisations that submitted a petition to the German government on
her behalf.

Part 3

Subj: Guardian Obit for Schimmel, 5 Feb
Date: 2/11/03 1:10:54 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: <A HREF="mailto:Transcendentlaw">Transcendentlaw</A> (Bob Crane)
CC: <A HREF=""></A>

Here is a particularly good obit on Annemarie Schimmel. In the last
sentence, the word "support" should be replaced by the word "condemn" or
"oppose" in reference to Salman Rushdie. This is a typo.

I don't know whether I will have time to translate the Sueddeutsche
Zeitung obituary before I leave for Saudi Arabia this weekend. In European
journals, such things are published in the original language, on the
presumption, which is quite valid there, that all educated people understand
at least English, French, and German.

It is interesting that she is referred to as a non-Muslim in this
Guardian article. I find it strange that anyone who would be so knowledgable
about her would not know that she formally declared a few years ago after
retiring from Harvard that she has always been a Muslim.

To know the truth might be devastating for some people, just as it would
have been if Saint Thomas Aquinas' embracing of Islam three months before he
died had been widely known. When St. Thomas, Christianity's greatest
theologian, had a religious experience and declared that all forty volumes of
his Summa Theologica were nothing but straw in comparison to what he now
knew, the Pope "invited" him to Rome and he "died" along the way.
Bob Crane

Subj: Guardian Obit for Schimmel, 5 Feb
Date: 2/10/03 8:59:45 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (John A. Williams)

> Annemarie Schimmel
> An orientalist revered across the Muslim world
> Burzine K Waghmar
> Wednesday February 05 2003
> The Guardian
> Annemarie Schimmel, who has died aged 80, was an orientalist who enriched
Harvard university during the last quarter of the 20th century.
> Universally acknowledged as the leading expert on Sufism, classical and
folk Islamic poetry, and Indo-Pakistani literature and calligraphy, she wrote
and translated 105 works, including numerous scholarly and popular articles.
Her own poetry was in the spirit of medieval Muslim mystics such as
al-Hallaj, Hafiz and Rumi - on whom she was the foremost western specialist.
> Schimmel's impressive output was attributable to a solid grounding in not
only the Islamic "tripos" of Arabic, Persian and Turkish, but also Urdu,
Pashto and Sindhi. For good measure she also added Czech and Swedish to her
native German, as well as Latin, English, French, Spanish and Italian. She
conversed in seven languages and delivered lectures in four, speaking and
quoting serenely to enraptured audiences, with eyes shut, extemporaneously
for an hour and often even longer.
> Born in Erfurt, the hometown of the German mystic Meister Eckhart,
Annemarie Schimmel grew up in a house "permeated with religious freedom and
poetry". She began studying Arabic at 15, finished high school two years
earlier than customary, and obtained her first doctorate from Berlin
university at 19 in Arabic, Turkish and Islamic history.
> After studying with Annemarie von Gabain, Richard Hartmann, Ernst Kuehnel
and the brilliant Hans Heinrich Schaeder, she commenced research on Mamluk
history for her Habilitationsschrift (postdoctoral thesis). Having managed
to avoid getting drafted, she was employed in the translation bureau of the
foreign office during the war.
> Interned after Armistice Day (having submitted her thesis a month earlier),
and following an invitation to join the university of Marburg, Schimmel
delivered her inaugural address before turning 24 in January 1946. While
teaching there as assistant professor of Islamic studies (1946-54), she also
secured her second doctorate in 1951 on Islamic mysticism under Friedrich
Heiler, a pioneering historian of religions.
> Remarkably for a non-Muslim woman, Schimmel's next move was to Ankara
university's theology faculty where she taught (in Turkish) comparative
religions and church history from 1954 to 1959. She returned home to become
associate professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at Bonn university
(1961-65) and concomitantly co-edited (with Albert Theile) the Arabic
journal, Fikrun Wa Fann (Thought And Art).
> Despite the persuasion of the late Wilfred Cantwell Smith and Richard Frye,
she was initially disinclined to leave Bonn and her journal for Harvard. Frye
was chiefly instrumental in arranging for the Minute Rice bequest, the first
teaching position exclusively for South Asian Islamic culture, which she came
to hold in 1967 as lecturer and then as full professor of Indo-Muslim
Languages and Culture (1970-92).
> She became honorary professor at Bonn university after her retirement. The
Annemarie Schimmel Chair for Indo-Muslim Culture was instituted there on her
75th birthday in 1997.
> As the doyenne of Pakistan studies, Schimmel was an authority on that
nation's poet-philosopher, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, and hitherto unexamined
aspects of folklore, classical Urdu poetry and popular devotional life. She
came to own presented copies of Iqbal's Payam-i Mashriq (Message Of The East)
and Javidname (Book Of Eternity); and enthusiastically undertook over 35
visits to her second home to visit the tombs of Sindhi poet-saints.
> Over the years she received honorary doctorates, and both a boulevard in
Lahore and a scholarship for female students pursuing research abroad were
named after her. That a grave was always kept prepared for her burial in
Makli, Sind, was widely recounted in senior common rooms.
> Schimmel was revered across the Muslim world as an insider who appreciated
Islam's eclectic expressions of piety and achievement. She was the first
female president of the International Association of the Study of Religion
(1980); a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and a
recipient of the Grosses Bundesverdientskreuz (1989) and Friedenspreis des
Deutsche Buchhandels (1995), among other honours.
> Literary faddists expressed outrage at this on the grounds that she did not
appear to support Salman Rushdie enough and condemn abuses within Islamic
societies. But she was a multicultural orientalist long before both terms
became polluted. She was a gifted teacher, a sensitive interpreter of Islam
and a bridge for intercultural dialogue.
> #183; Annemarie Schimmel, orientalist, born April 7 1922; died January 25
> Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

Subj: [Ruminations] Re: Professor Annemarie Schimmel
Date: 1/31/03 9:25:57 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Eliza Tasbihi)
Reply-to: <A HREF=""></A>

Annemarie Schimmel award for championing a Muslim cause
that you may come to know one another

Annemarie Schimmel, Professor of Indo-Muslim Culture at Harvard
University, has enough honorary degrees, awards and publications
(at least five, twenty six and eighty respectively) to keep an entire
faculty going. But few people outside the cosseted walls of academia
had heard of her until she spoke out against Salman Rushdie's
The Satanic Verses.

Millions of Muslims, precious few of them academics of any distinction,
had debated, argued, and protested that the book, published in 1989,
was a highly offensive slur on the religion of Islam. But the bastions of
Western liberalism, the media, the arts and the seats of learning, were
adamant that freedom of expression was paramount, and that responsibility
of expression was a secondary consideration. And then the talented
historian and polylingual Professor Schimmel, entered the debate.

By doing so, by insisting that Muslims (not just a few, but the entire body
of Islam and its beloved Prophet, in particular) were the victims of a
carefully devised piece of literature, Professor Schimmel effectively took
on the establishment. Her position, based on years of expertise in Islamic
literature and history (she is an authority on Rumi and translated part of
Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddima into German), was authoritative and unwavering.
She challenged many misconceptions of Islam as well as broaching greater
understanding between Muslims and Christians.

Muslims, for political reasons, or for financial or family considerations,
often reluctant to assert their faith. Too few of us put our reputation on
line for issues our non-Muslim peers may consider to be subjective,
personal and outdated. Which is why when a Muslim cause is defended or
championed, the rest of the world sits up and takes note, our sense of
self-worth is restored, and we resolve to try harder.

Subj: [Ruminations] Fw: Annemarie Schimmel
Date: 2/1/03 7:09:35 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Eliza Tasbihi)
Reply-to: <A HREF=""></A>

Un a message dated: 1/30/03 9:27:14 AM Eastern Standard Time writes:

<<Anybody to translate "Afghanischer Frauenverein e V ",
please ? >>

Salaam Nasir,

Here is some explanation, which I received from another list.


<< In response to a request re "Afghanischer Frauenverein e.V.",
here is an explanatory text:

"Afghanischer Frauenverein e.V.:

Afghanischer Frauenverein (AFV) is a Germany-based NGO
whose prime purpose is to support Afghan widows and orphans.
AFV supports a number of community-based projects within
Afghanistan and in Pakistan. Examples are a girl higher education
school project in Peshwawar (Malali), hospital and handicraft
projects inside and outside Afghanistan, and others. During the
Taleban period AFV has supported home schools in Afghanistan
and even one co-education school in the province of Ghazni.
Projects are now gradually transferred into Afghanistan. AFV
intends to open a school in Kunduz quite soon, and another
one in eastern Afghanistan. Your donation will be used for these

As was indicated in an earlier message by Jane Lewisohn,
donations may be made to "Afghanischer Frauenverein e. V.",
Dresdner Bank Neuwied, Bank code 570 800 70, acct. Nr.
068 0850 500, with identification "Annemarie Schimmel" >>

Subj: [Ruminations] Re: Annemarie Schimmel
Date: 2/3/03 11:10:21 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (ashkcontinuum <>)
Reply-to: <A HREF=""></A>

selaamun alaikum!

I saw the obituary today in the Boston Globe newspaper about Anne-
Marie Schimmel. I will be looking for any local memorial service that
is held for her and I definitely plan to attend. I feel that she
should be honored.

fi amaani Allaahi.


--- In, "ashkcontinuum
<ashkcontinuum@y...>" <ashkcontinuum@y...> wrote:
> selaamun alaikum!
> exactly. well, we still have her excellent books.
> fi amaani Allaahi.
> ashkcontinuum
> --- In, "Nihat Tsolak <ntpl5@y...>"
> <ntpl5@y...> wrote:
> > I've just found out about the sad loss of Annemarie Schimmel,
> > an incredible woman, who made a real difference.
> >
> > Nihat
> >
> > Professor Annemarie Schimmel
> > Islamic scholar with mystical qualities
> > 30 January 2003
> >
> > Annemarie Schimmel, Islamic scholar: born Erfurt, Germany 7 April
> > 1922; Professor of Indo- Muslim Culture, Harvard University 1970-
> > (Emeritus); died Cologne 25 January 2003.
> >
> >
> > Annemarie Schimmel was one of the world's foremost scholars of
> > Islamic culture, in particular Sufism, its spiritual dimension,
> > its expression in Persian classical poetry.
> >
> > Apart from Latin, Greek, and half a dozen European languages, she
> > knew Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu and Hindi well enough to
> > and teach and lecture in them. She wrote more than 50 books and
> > innumerable articles and essays for journals and encyclopaedias
> > Islam, Sufism and Islamic art and literature. But her greatest
> > passion was the 13th-century Persian mystic poet Jalaloddin Rumi.
> Her
> > books on the poet and her translations of his poetry ignited the
> > enthusiasm of poets such as Robert Bly and Dick Davis, whose
> > renditions of Rumi's work have made him universally known and a
> best-
> > seller in America – in a recent interview Madonna said that her
> > favourite poet was Rumi.
> >
> > Schimmel was born in 1922 in Erfurt, in central Germany, to
> > cultured parents. Her father's interest in religions and love of
> > poetry influenced her early readings, but it was her encounter
> > Goethe's West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan, 1819) and the
> poet
> > Friedrich Rückert's translations of Arabic and Persian poetry
> > captured her imagination: she became fascinated with Islamic
> history
> > and culture, and at 15 began to learn Arabic.
> >
> > While at the University of Berlin she produced verse translations
> of
> > Rumi and Mansur al-Hallaj (a mystic poet accused of heresy and
> > executed in Baghdad in 922), and in 1941 she obtained a PhD in
> Arabic
> > and Islamic Studies. She began work as a translator for the
> > Foreign Office, pursuing her scholarly interests on the side. Her
> > break came in 1945: she was invited by Friedrich Heiler, the
> > historian of religions, to lecture at the University of Marburg
> > Persian and Arabic poetry.
> >
> > Despite her knowledge of the languages, art and culture of the
> > Islamic world she had never been to an Islamic country or met
> anyone
> > from that part of the world. Then a conference in Holland on the
> > History of Religions in 1950 brought her into contact with great
> > scholars from East and West, in particular the French mystic
> > Massignon, an expert on Hallaj, who became her mentor. Soon after
> she
> > obtained a second doctorate from the University of Marburg on the
> > History of Religions, while her discovery of the poetry and
> > philosophy of Mohammad Iqbal, the Indian Muslim poet (one of the
> > founders of Pakistan, who wrote both in Persian and Urdu), led to
> her
> > becoming his greatest specialist in the West.
> >
> > Annemarie Schimmel wrote prolifically all her life,
> > accessible books and articles that appealed both to specialists
> > laymen. She travelled all over the world to teach and lecture at
> > universities, in various languages. After several years at the
> > universities of Ankara and Bonn, she was offered the Chair of
> > Muslim Culture at Harvard, where she remained until her
> in
> > 1992. It was a happy and fertile period which combined pedagogy
> with
> > creativity.
> >
> > After her return to Germany in 1993, she settled in Cologne, and
> > continued to write and lecture all over the world. She received
> many
> > honorary doctorates from various universities both in the Islamic
> > world and in the West, and numerous honours and prizes, among
> > the German Book Trade Peace Prize in 1995 – an award which
> attracted
> > controversy, since she had expressed disapproval of Salman
> Rushdie's
> > novel The Satanic Verses at the time of the fatwa in 1989.
> >
> > Her substantial oeuvre includes Mystical Dimensions of Islam
> (1975),
> > The Triumphal Sun: a study of the works of Jalaloddin Rumi
> As
> > Through a Veil: mystical poetry in Islam (1982), A Two-Coloured
> > Brocade: the imagery of Persian poetry (1992) and Deciphering the
> > Signs of God: a phenomenological approach to Islam (1994).
> >
> > Annemarie Schimmel was an inspiring teacher. Her profound
> > and enthusiasm attracted many students to her discipline, and the
> > generations of scholars she trained at Harvard are today teaching
> at
> > universities all over America and in Europe. She had devoted
> > admirers, among them the Prince of Wales, for whom she had great
> > respect and affection.
> >
> > Her lectures were always full to capacity, and to attend them was
> > very particular experience. Petite and elegant, she stood up,
> closed
> > her eyes and talked ad lib, transporting her audience. After
> exactly
> > one hour she opened her eyes and with a shy smile and a memorable
> > quote – a line of poetry or an apposite aphorism – brought the
> > audience back to earth and the lecture to an end.
> >
> > She had the genuine humility and courtesy of the true mystic,
> > her vast erudition lightly and suffered fools gladly. She
> > herself as a "learner", and believed that "there is no end to
> > learning". For her learning was "transforming knowledge and
> > experience into wisdom and love, to mature – as according to
> Oriental
> > lore the ordinary pebble can turn into a ruby provided it
> > takes into itself the rays of the sun".
> >
> > Shusha Guppy

Part 4

Subj: Scholar of Islam Professor Annemarie Schimmel died last night in
Date: 1/26/03 8:37:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: <A HREF="mailto:AliHasan2">AliHasan2</A>
To: <A HREF="mailto:AliHasan2">AliHasan2</A>

We wish to share with you with the sad news of the demise of a great and
unique scholar of Islam Professor Annemarie Schimmel last night in Germany.
She was 80.

The following brief biography is provided from the webpage of the Annemarie
Schimmel Scholarship:

Annemarie Schimmel was born in Erfurt, a town in central Germany in
1922. An only child, she grew up in a loving home steeped in the
German classics, especially poetry. She seems at an early age to have
been conscious of her destiny. She writes: ?It was absolutely
clear to me when I was seven years old that I had to study something
that had to do with Eastern languages and cultures. I have never even
thought of doing anything else?. At fifteen she abandoned piano
lessons for the study of Arabic that opened the door to a new world.

She received a doctorate in Islamic Languages and Civilization from
the University of Berlin when she was only nineteen. At twenty three,
she became the Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the
University of Marburg where she went on to earn a second doctorate in
the History of Religions.

A turning point in her life came in 1954 when she was appointed
Professor of the History of Religion at the University of Ankara.
There she spent five years teaching in Turkish and immersing herself
in the culture and mystical tradition of the country.

Annemarie Schimmel was an early admirer of Muhammad Iqbal
and translated the Javidnama into German verse. In 1958 she made
the first of many visits to Pakistan, a country that became central
to her work. It is not too much to say that she is venerated there.
The government has honoured her with the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, its
highest civil award, and a fine tree-lined avenue in Lahore is named
after her.

The recipient of many international distinctions and honorary
degrees, Professor Schimmel ended her academic career as Professor of
Indo-Muslim Culture at Harvard, where she taught from 1970 to 1992.
Following her retirement, she was elected Honorary Professor at the
University of Bonn.

Today she is recognized as one of the world?s greatest
authorities on Islam. The range of her knowledge is legendary,
spanning religion, literature and art. Her command of languages is
prodigious: fluent in German, English and French, she can make her
way in Swedish and Italian. To the classic Eastern languages, Arabic,
Persian and Turkish, she has added Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi and Pushto.
In her seventies, the steady flow of books, translations and lectures
continues. As do her journeys that seem to grow longer and more
frequent: over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, to Iran and
Uzbekistan, always returning to Pakistan, where she hopes to be
buried at Makli among her beloved Sufis.

As a person, her deceptively frail appearance conceals an iron
resolve. Her teasing humour and childlike enthusiasm for new
experiences make her an endearing companion. Cat lover and poet, she
wears her profound learning lightly. It would be hard to imagine a
finer exemplar for aspiring young women scholars.


At the time of evening prayer
everyone spreads cloth and candles,
But I dream of my beloved,
see, lamenting, grieved, his phantom.
My ablution is with weeping,
thus my prayer will be fiery,
and I burn the mosque's doorway
when my call to prayer strikes it. . . .
Is the prayer of the drunken,
tell, is this prayer valid?
For he does not know the timing
and is not aware of places.
Did I pray for two full cycles?
Or is this perhaps the eighth one?
And which Sura did I utter?
For I have no tongue to speak it.
At God's door - how could I knock now,
For I have no hand or heart now?
You have carried heart and hand, God!
Grant me safety, God, forgive me. . . .

-- Ghazal (Ode) 2821
Translated by Annemarie Schimmel
"I Am Wind, You are Fire"
Shambhala, 1992

Subj: Professor Schimmel
Date: 2/12/03 10:58:57 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: <A HREF="mailto:Transcendentlaw">Transcendentlaw</A>

Here is a particularly good article. Id mubarak, Bob Crane

Subj: Fwd: The Times
Date: 2/8/03 1:24:21 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: (John A. Williams)

This obituary was forwarded to me from London, as having appeared there in The
--John A. Williams

> February 06, 2003
> Annemarie Schimmel
> Linguistically gifted scholar of the Islamic world, inspired by its poetry
> and mysticism
> A giant in her field, Professor Annemarie Schimmel was one of the world’s
> foremost experts on Islamic studies, Persian poetry and Sufism. She composed
> hundreds of articles and books on Islamic history, art, theology, poetry,
> calligraphy and mysticism, and also translated Arabic, Persian, Turkish,
> Urdu and Sindhi poetry into German and English verse.
> She was unique, and outpaced both her illustrious contemporaries and her
> orientalist forebears. In breadth of learning, knowledge of a diversity of
> West- ern and Oriental languages, sheer volume of publications, erudition in
> the comparative history of religion, and the wide geographical and
> intellectual scope of her studies and interests, she surpassed all her
> colleagues. If her friends stood in awe of her, those who had the folly to
> dare to become her foes always came off looking like intellectual pygmies.
> The main focus of her scholarship was Sufism, on which she composed what
> remains (for its size) the most comprehensive historical and doctrinal study
> on the subject: Mystical Dimensions of Islam (1975, and often reprinted).
> She was the leading expert on the supreme Persian Sufi poet, Rumi (d.1273),
> who was, she said, “an unfailing source of inspiration and consolation” to
> her. She wrote several important studies of him, including The Triumphal
> Sun: A Study of the Works of Jalaloddin Rumi (1978), I am Wind, You are
> Fire: Life and Works of Rumi (1992) and a German translation of his
> Discourses.
> Born in Erfurt, Germany, in 1922, Annemarie Schimmel received her first
> doctorate in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Islamic art from the University of
> Berlin in 1941, and her second in the history of religion from the
> University of Marburg in 1951. From 1946 to 1954 she taught at the
> University of Marburg, having been appointed to the chair of Arabic and
> Islamic Studies when she was only 23 years old.
> During the Nazi era she was forced to labour on behalf of the regime
> (Arbeitsdienst). She relates in her autobiography that it was only her love
> of Arabic that prevented her being drafted into the Nazi youth party on
> reaching the age of 18, the common fate of girls in Hitler’s Germany.
> After a research visit to Turkey in 1952, she fell in love with the generous
> hospitality and friendship of the poets and mystics of Istanbul (“Germany
> appeared cold and unfriendly to me,” she later wrote), and so in 1954, at
> the age of 30, she gladly accepted the offer of a chair in the history of
> religion in the faculty of Islamic theology at Ankara University —
> I was a Christian woman”. She remained there, lecturing in Turkish, for five
> years.
> On her return to Europe, she was appointed associate professor of Arabic and
> Islamic studies at the University of Bonn (1961-64), before accepting an
> invitation in 1966 to teach at Harvard. She served first as a lecturer in
> Indo- Muslim culture (1966-70) and then, for two and a half decades, as
> professor of Indo-Muslim culture.
> On her retirement from Harvard in 1992, her lifetime of writing and teaching
> was celebrated by the publication of two volumes, published respectively in
> the United States and in Germany, of essays by 50 of her colleagues and
> students.
> In basing her knowledge on intuitive heart-savour (dhawq), Schimmel shared
> the approach of her beloved Persian Sufi poets. Her intellectual learning
> was steeped in an ocean of warm and intense feminine sensitivity and
> feeling.
> She had also learnt the old Sufi trick of dictating passages from the secret
> book of the heart (“And I weave ever new silken garments of words / only to
> hide you . . . ” as she says in one of her poems), so that audiences fell at
> her feet as she discoursed without notes in English, German and Turkish (and
> with notes in Arabic, French and Persian). When she lectured, she would
> close her eyes tightly, clutching her handbag lightly, and reel off the
> chronicles of kings, the verses of poets and seers, the tales of lovers, and
> the accounts of mystical theology and doctrine of Islamic mystics and
> philosophers with eloquent fluency, sometimes for hours on end.
> She composed and conversed with fluency in at least ten languages. When a
> colleague once foolishly vaunted the superiority of the computer over the
> typewriter that she used, he received the robust reply: “When you can read
> 25 languages and write letters to people in 17 of them, what does one need a
> computer for?” She made such an impression in Pakistan that a major
> boulevard was named after her in the city of Lahore. She received three
> honorary degrees from Pakistani universities, and was awarded the highest
> civil distinction of that nation (Hilal-i Pakistan). In Europe, she received
> an honorary degree from the University of Marburg.
> In 1980, she was elected president of the International Association of the
> History of Religion, becoming the first woman and the first Islamologist to
> hold this position. In 1992 she gave the Gifford lectures at Edinburgh,
> which were later published as Deciphering the Signs of God: A
> Phenomenological Approach to Islam (1994). Professor William Chittick of New
> York State University called the book “a landmark in bringing Islamic
> studies into the mainstream of religious studies”.
> At least once a year in London, Schimmel taught summer courses on Islam at
> the Institute of Ismaili Studies (she was close friend of the Aga Khan), and
> she delivered innumerable lectures at the School of Oriental and African
> Studies at London University, the Furqan Foundation and the Royal Asiatic
> Society. Large crowds, often numbering several hundreds, flocked to hear
> her.
> In addition to some 500 articles in journals, books and encyclopaedias,
> Schimmel wrote more than 150 books and pamphlets of her own. After her
> retirement in 1992, she produced no fewer than 40 works, including her
> autobiography, which was completed only last year. She also wrote prefaces
> to many books by her students and colleagues, and popular articles for
> newspapers and local journals.
> Her voluminous works on general Islamic subjects include As Through a Veil:
> Mystical Poetry in Islam (1982), Islamic Calligraphy (1970), Gabriel’s Wing:
> A Study of the Religious Ideas of Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1963), And Muhammad is
> His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety (1985) and
> Islam in India and Pakistan (1982).
> Schimmel concluded one of her very last articles (“Lyrics for the Divine
> Soul”, published in The Times on October 26, 2002, in a special supplement
> on Persian mysticism) with this classical definition of Islamic mysticism:
> “Sufism means to find joy in the heart at the time of grief.” This
> definition not only foretold her death, but encapsulated the mystical
> subtlety of her spirit, for she believed, “as there is no end to life . . .
> there is no end to learning — learning in whatever mysterious way something
> about the unfathomable mysteries of the Divine, which manifests itself under
> various signs”.
> Professor Annemarie Schimmel, Islamic scholar, was born in Erfurt, Germany,
> on April 2, 1922. She died in Bonn on January 26, 2003, aged 80.

Subj: Excerpts on Professor Schimmel?
Date: 2/27/03 4:58:25 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: <A HREF="mailto:Transcendentlaw">Transcendentlaw</A> (Bob Crane)

Subj: Friday Times, Lahore, Feb. 21-27
Date: 2/25/03 1:30:34 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: (John A. Williams)

This Pakistani journalist is probably still living in the colonial world, and
scarcely unaware of the negative connotations of "Orientalist" in academia
today. Thirty-five years ago, we were quite happy to be known that way.
--John A. Williams >>

Last of the great orientalists

Taiman Rashida Latif

explains why the late Annemarie Schimmel’s efforts to
reform Western attitudes to Islam offer a valuable lesson
to the Muslim world

[Unable to display image]he present moment in global affairs is witness to
growing tensions between Islam and the West. Strong anti-Western feelings are
rife within the Muslim world, where many see the ‘war on terror’ as a
pretext to further demonise Islam and (re)colonise various Muslim countries.
In the heat of such emotions what is frequently lost sight of is that there
are numerous individuals in the West who are not only committed to peace, but
are also actively highlighting, in different ways, the profound vision(s) of
the Islamic message.
The late Annemarie Schimmel was one of the last generation of those great
‘Orientalist’ scholars who devoted their lives to the study and
dissemination of different aspects of Islam. While many of these Orientalists
have subsequently been criticised for having a Eurocentric bias, Schimmel’s
work never lost its credibility or appeal in either the postcolonial Muslim
world or the West. Just a few months ago, before she died, she was awarded an
honorary doctorate by the Tehran Women’s University. In Pakistan, she was
decorated by the government and her books awarded many prestigious prizes.
By giving voice to the ideas of some of the best Muslim minds, particularly
through poetry and culture, Schimmel played a key role in informing the West
about Islam. Her writings on Rumi and Iqbal are infused with a genuine
passion for the subjects, but also remain firmly anchored in impeccable
research and a firm grasp of Farsi and Urdu (and a host of other languages).
Beyond the books on Iqbal and Rumi, her life works ranged from the classic
Mystical Dimensions of Islam, And Muhammad is His Messenger, Islamic
Calligraphy, to the more whimsical, but nevertheless scholarly, reflections
found in Islamic Names and Oriental Cats.These were just some of her many
books, which, along with hundreds of research articles, are testimony to her
scholarship and a life time devoted to communicating this knowledge to the
West and future generat! ions of researchers across the world. Such
scholarly gifts on Islam, given by Schimmel to the West are well known. Less
well known is her connection to another sort of gift of knowledge given to
Pakistan. The Annemarie Schimmel Scholarship (AMSS) was established by Zoe
Hersov, a close friend and admirer of Schimmel. They met during the time
Schimmel was teaching at Harvard.University. Zoe Hersov is committed to
forging stronger ties between Islam and Christianity, and for more than forty
years has tirelessly promoted Christian-Muslim dialogue in Britain and the
U.S.A. While not a professional academic with a university post, she has
nevertheless been intellectually involved in engaging the West in an attempt
to help it gain a deeper appreciation of Islam. A scholar herself, she has
degrees in history and theology. She has written articles for academic
journals, and has published translations of texts o! n theHoly Quran from
French, all stemming from her desire to bring Islam and the West closer. Zoe
Hersov donated a personal inheritance to underwrite the scholarship, inspired
by Schimmel’s work and personality and as a tribute to Schimmel and their
friendship, she graciously named it after her. Reflecting the deep affection
of both these women for Pakistan, every year AMSS sponsors one Pakistani
woman (sometimes two) for post-graduate study in Britain. Apart from its
generous, fully funded support, the AMSS is unique in two ways. First, there
is, as such, no age limit. The only provisos are a demonstrable and genuine
financial need, and a commitment of returning to Pakistan and actively
contributing towards national development. The other unique feature is, in a
way, a tribute to Schimmel’s vast erudition. Apart from a few subjects,
including journalism (with which most genuine scholars have little
patience!), the scholarship is open to virtually any discipline from the
sciences, humanities and the arts. The AMSS started in 1990 and since then
Schimmel Scholars have received advanced training, and produced research, in
fields as diverse as Islamic art, public health, linguistics, nursing,
English literature, applied psychology and social development. As the 2002
AMSS scholars set out to do post-graduate work in orthodontics and
environmental studies, the 1996 scholar received her PhD in laser physics
from Imperial College, London. The life and work of individuals such as Zoe
Hersov and Annemarie Schimmel provide a different view of what many in
Pakistan and the Muslim world see as the godless, materialistic West. In the
present state of cultural polarisation, with the Muslim community having a
sense of alienation and outrage, it is easy to lose sight of such
individuals. Their vision of religion, commitment to knowledge, and
generosity of spirit, presents a humbling contrast to the virtual absence of
similar visions in Pakistan. The fact is that there are innumerable such
individuals in the West who continue to quietly and steadily highlight the
beauty of Islam, and not just as scholars, but frequently simply as concerned
citizens trying to build bridges between their society and the Muslim world.
It is unlikely that, proportionately, Muslims can make a similar claim to
such a spirit of service to others, particularly when it comes to matters of
religion. Sadly, instead of focusing on our own shortcomings, the many
obituaries about Schimmel were content to simply list her writings, and bask
in her positive picture(s) of Islam. Even sadder, were the ones written by
certain religious scholars who, while self-righteously acknowledging her
service to Islam, took pains to repeat that she was a ‘hermit’ and a
‘non-Muslim’. The irrelevance (and contestability) of such statements aside,
they suggest a type-casting of women who engage with religion at a scholarly
level, but more importantly, they reveal the dominant, exclusionary mind-set
about Islam in Pakistan. Somehow its narrow vision only seems to look at
outward signs of what it is to be a Muslim. Such a mind is (seemingly)
incapable of understanding the subtlety and profound implications of what Zoe
Hersov states was Schimmel’s and her own view on the matter: that they “bow
to the eternal truth of Islam” yet do not see themselves as “members of the
earthly ummah”.
In their own quiet ways, these two remarkable women offer a mirror in which
each of us can reflect on our impoverishment of spirit and vision of
religion. This mirror shows that what makes a Muslim is something beyond
creed and ritual, and this in turn makes us question, particularly in light
of the Holy Quran’s embrace of Moses and Jesus, what does it mean to be a
Muslim? The voices of our two friends may help in contemplating an answer.
In a letter to Zoe Hersov just a few weeks before her death, the 80-plus
Annemarie Schimmel wrote: “I am grateful that I can do so much work and
travel; the celebrations in Teheran where I was given an honorary degree by
the Women’s University, were really great! And so it goes on. I wish we could
just sit and chat over a cup of tea… Now I have to go to the airport to catch
my plane to Zurich as I have to preach (!!) in a church in Vaduz: I’ll speak
about Jesus and Mary in Islam.” And here, to conclude, is Zoe Hersov writing
about her friend and mentor: “Annemarie sets out on her final journey.
Although she will be laid to rest beside her mother, I feel sure that
spiritually she will be with her beloved Sufis. She remains an inspiration to
all of us who are at home in both worlds. We join Christians and Muslims
alike in prayer for her soul.”

Part 5

From: An Excerpt from "The Triumphal Sun" by Anne Marie Schimmel State University of New York Press, 1993 Pages 332-336

" Rumi's poetry has been produced under the spell of Divine Love.

Save love, save love, we have no other work! Divan 1475/15557

This love, the veritable astrolabe of God's secrets, was kindled by his meeting with Shams, but differs from the experiences of those mystics who saw the Divine Beauty reflected in beautiful youths. His experience of love,
separation, and spiritual union was dynamic; it overwhelmed him and burned him. Therefore, his words about love, which form the warp of his poetry from the first to the last pager, are colorful and fiery.

He knows, like his predecessors in the path of mystical love, that earthly love is but a preparation for the heavenly love. It is a step towards perfection: . . . man's heart can be educated through human love to perfect
obedience and surrender to the friend's will. The happiness of such love, however, will soon vanish; real love should, therefore, be directed towards Him who does not die. This Divine love may start with a sudden rapture or take the form of a slow spiritual development: when the hook of love falls into a man's throat God most High draws him gradually so that the bad faculties and blood which are in him may go out of him little by little.

Eventually, the lover is totally immersed in the ocean of Divine love and those people who are still fettered by hope and fear or think of recompensation for good and punishment for evil deeds, will never understand him.

Love is a quality innate in everything created:

All the particles of the world are loving, Every part of the world is intoxicated by meeting. D 2674/28365

The basis of truth is explained once more in a letter of Mowlana's:

In the eighteen thousand of worlds, everything loves something, is in love with something. The height of each lover is determined by the height of his beloved. Whose beloved is more tender and more lovely, his eminence is also higher. . . Mektuplar I.

But true love is, at the same time, the prerogative of man. He alone can express it and live through it in all its stages. Rumi, although sometimes using language influenced by the discussions of Avicenna and the
theoreticians of Sufism concerning the nature of love, knows that this experience, as produced by Divine power, cannot be described in human words.
He begins his Mathnavi with a praise of this love:

How much I may explain and describe love,
When I reach love, I become ashamed.
Although the commentary by the tongue is illuminating,
love without tongues is more radiant.
Mathnawi I, 112f.

More than a decade later, he still sings:

Love cannot be described; it is even greater than a hundred
for the resurrection is a limit, whereas love is limitless. Love has
five hundred wings, each of which reaches from the Divine Throne to the
lowest earth. . .
Mathnawi V, 2189 f.

Once man has reached the limits of love in this life, his journey continues
in the Life Divine, in which he is faced with ever new abysses of love which
induce him into deeper longing. Love and longing are mutually interdependent;
love grows stronger the more the Divine Beauty unfolds in eternity, in ever
new forms.

Ever more shall I desire
than time's bounded needs require.
Ever as more flowers I pluck
Blossoms new gay spring's attire.
And when through the heavens I sweep
Rolling spheres will flash new fire.
Perfect Beauty only can
True eternal love inspire.
Ghazzaliyat IV 277 f.

Mowlana Jalaloddin sees the power of love everywhere:

Love is like an ocean on which the skies are only foam,
agitated like Zoleykha in her love for Joseph,
and the turning of the skies is the result of the wave of love:
if love were not there, the world would be frozen.
Mathnavi V 3853 f.

One may explain these lines, and also many similar verses found in Rumi's work, as an expression of the almost magnetic force of love which attracts everything, sets it in action, and eventually brings it back to its origin. But Rumi's view is closer to the notion of love as 'the essential desire' of God as defined first in Sufism by Hallaj, who was overwhelmed by the dynamic essence of God which caused the Creator to say: 'I was a hidden treasure, and I wanted to be known. . . '

Rumi emphasizes this dynamic character of love again and again in ever new images:

Love makes the ocean boil like a kettle, and makes the mountains like sand.
Mathnavi V 2735

It is the only positive force in the world:

The sky revolves for the sake of the lover,
and for the sake of love is the dome turning,
not for the sake of baker and blacksmith,
not for the sake of superintendent and pharmatician.
Divan 1158/12293 4.

Love is the physician of all illnesses, Plato and Galen in one, and the cause and goal of existence:

If this heaven were not a lover,
its breast would have no purity,
and if the sun were not a lover,
in its beauty were no light,
and if earth and mountain were not lovers,
grass would not grow out of their breasts.
Divan 2674/28369 ff.

As the sun changes doleful shades and destitute darkness into colorful beauty, love is the great alchemy which transforms life: 'love means to fall in a goldmine.' Divan 1861/19618

From love bitterness's become sweet,
from love copper becomes gold,
from love the dregs become pure,
from love the pains become medicine,
from love the dead become alive,
from love the king is made a slave.
Mathnawi II 1529 f.

as Rumi says in his great hymn in honor of love's power. Much later, he continues in the same strain:

Love makes the dead bread into soul, and makes the soul which was perishable eternal.Mathnawi V 2014

A verse which must be seen in connection with his thoughts on the constant upward development which traverses the whole gamut of existence from minerals to man and angel.

The same idea underlies an oft-quoted passage written towards the end of Mowlana's life:

When the demon becomes a lover, he carries away the ball, he becomes a Gabriel, and his demon - qualities die. "My Satan has become a Muslim' becomes here conspicuous, Yazid became, thanks to his bounty, a Bayazid. Mathnawi VI 3648 f; cf. Divan 1012/10675

That means the base faculties of man, the nafs, seen here in accordance with the Prophetic tradition in the old Arabic image of the demon, can be fully conquered and educated only by love, not by loveless austerities and sheer asceticism. Eventually, man will be blessed with the Prophet's own experience: his demonic qualities become sanctified and serve him only in the way towards God. The stronger the 'demon' was previously, the higher will his rank be in the angelic world, once he has given himself to the power of love; even an accursed sinner like Yazid could, by such an alchemy, be transformed into a Bayazid-like saint. Such an annihilation by love of the nafs, the personal representative of all evil of 'the world', as well as of independent, separate existence can be seen in Koranic terms:

Love is Moses who slays the Pharaoh of existence by means of his Miraculous rod. . .
Divan 1970/20807

And it is the police-officer who helps the soul to break down the door of the prison of the world.

Love, which destroys the borders of separation, is the truly uniting force: it gives union to hundreds of thousands of atoms; their faces which are at present directed towards various, and often conflicting, directions and to egotistic goals, are turned by love towards the One Eternal Sun. There, they will be united in the whirling, mystical dance and, lost to themselves, live in a higher unity, no longer distinct as rose and thorn, or as Turk and Hindu. For the religion of love knows no difference between the seventy-two sects: it is different from all religions.

But how to explain this love? Even examples and parables cannot help: did not Somnun the Lover say in early tenth century Baghdad:

One can explain something only by a means subtler than itself.
Now, there is nothing subtler than love; how, then, can it be explained?
Hujwiri/Nicholson p. 137.

The qal, 'word' conveys only a weak shade of this experience; what is required, is hal, 'mystical state'. Love may be understood by the lover's behavior when his pulse, beating irregularly, tells the secret of his illness, and Rumi replies to his inquiring friends:

Some asked: "What is the state of a lover?"
I said: "Don't ask these meanings!
The moment you become like me, you will see it,
The moment He calls you, you will call!
Divan 2733/29050






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