Most Sufis in Islamic History
1. Most Sufis in Islamic history have been Sunnis, and many Sunnis have been Sufis. We see this with Hujwiri and Attar, and also in how al-Ghazali argued for Sufism. Why can there be an affinity between Sunnism (theological beliefs and other beliefs) and Sufism?2. Al-Farabi and al-Ghazali have different views about the relationship between philosophy and religion. How would you describe the difference between their views?
3. What is the relationship between religion and political science according to al-Farabi? Could his view of this relationship apply to the modern US or another country?
4. What is the Sufi idea of purifying the self as we see it in the Shaykh Sam’an story? How does this relate to Yahya b. Adiyy’s idea of virtue?
5. Yahya b. Adiyy explains what virtue is and why we should pursue it. Is his account compatible with Sufism? You can use al-Ghazali’s work Deliverance from Erroror the Shaykh Sam’an story as your example.
6. The Shaykh Sam’an story conveys Sufi ideas in a way that is quite different from Hujwiri in Kashf al-Mahjub and al-Ghazali. What makes poetic stories effective in a way that is different from Kashf al-Mahjubor Deliverance from Error? Focus on one idea, like love, gnosis or nafs, that you can compare in a concrete way.
7. The Shaykh Sam’an story and al-Ghazali’s story about himself have a great deal in common but they also have differences. Make an argument about something that you think is a key difference between the two stories.
- The paper should be 4-6 pages (about 1500 words)
- The paper should have a clear argument/thesis.
- The argument/thesis should be supported by evidence, including references to the texts you are talking about.
- Try to address any obvious objections to your argument, if there are any.
- Remember that your argument should not be something obvious, but something that you need to persuade people of.
- It does not matter if your thesis could ultimately be proven wrong. What matters is how well you express it and support it.
- If you use any other sources, make sure to cite them properly. You can use any standard method of citation.
- Turn in the paper in the dropbox on D2L and bring a printed copy to class on the day it is due.
Grading and Evaluation:
Clarity of thesis (CT) – thesis is clearly expressed, prominently stated. 20%
Strength of thesis (ST) – thesis is not something obviously true or false, but something that is plausible, that can be supported and argued for, and could be true or false. 20%
Organization of paper (O) – it is clear what point each paragraph is making and how it is connected to the thesis. The paragraphs come in some kind of apparent order that helps the argument. 15%
Support (S) – the points made by the paper clearly support the thesis. 15%
Reference to texts (R) – the paper provides examples from the texts as evidence for the points it is making and indicates where these examples came from. 15%
Writing style (W) – the paper is clearly written and easy to follow. Grammar and spelling are fine. 15%