News & Events

Islamic Art and Culture Forum With Dr. Nargis Virani

Thursday October 25th, 2012

Architecture Auditorium Rm.204

Sacred poetry and music are a reflection of the spiritual impulse, among an array of other material culture productions, from Muslim lands. Muslim cultures have produced one of the largest corpuses of poetry in scores of languages, contrary to the widespread belief that music, dance, and poetry are unlawful, or at the very least discouraged in Islam. They have also composed music incorporating several geo-cultural secular and sacred musical traditions. This multi-media rich talk will feature several examples of mystical poetry in performance from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Indonesian, Western European, and North American Muslim mystical traditions.

Professor Nargis Virani is currently Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and Arabic section coordinator at the New School. Formerly, she taught at the University of British Columbia in Canada and Washington University in St. Louis where she also headed the Arabic language program and served a term as the Director of the Center for Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures.  A graduate of Harvard University (Ph. D. 1999), she has widely traveled and studied at many prestigious institutions in the Muslim world such as the University of Jordan in Amman, the Bourguiba Institute in Tunis, and al-Azhar mosque in Cairo. Her research explores intersections between the Scripture (The Qur’an) and the Literature in a Muslim milieu. She is currently working on two book projects.  The first book entitled “The Multilingual Rumi” will be a book of translations of the entire multilingual corpus of Rumi’s poetry into English discussing the relationship between multilingualism and mystical discourse.  The second book, tentatively entitled “The Qur’an in Muslim Literary and Mystical Memory,” discusses the use of the Qur’an in Muslim secular, religious, and mystico-literary writings.

Dr. Virani is the author of articles published in the Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, Voices of Islam, and Comparative Studies of the South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She currently serves on the Steering Committee of the American Academy of Religion’s (AAR) Islam section. She also serves as a member on the AAR’s Committee on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession (CREM).