Lecture by Professor Carl W. Ernst: Sufism and its Contemporary Relevance
“A Sufi never claims himself to be a Sufi.”
Professor Carl W. Ernst, the professor of religious studies and director of the California center for the study of the Middle east and Muslim civilizations, USA, started out his lecture by defining the very term ‘Sufism’ and its Indian relevance.
Hosted in the main north campus’s conference center hall, the chief guest of the event was the very much debated vice chancellor of Delhi University, Dr Dinesh Singh who was curiously absent in the notices that were put up all over the campus, which announced the date as well as the venue of the lecture. In the neatly packed hall of the conference center then, the seminar saw attendance from the students of several departments of the university including Political Science, Philosophy, English Literature and of course the Persian department whose head, Professor Chander Singh was one of the members, chairing this seminar.
One of such members, Professor Minni Sawhey, Dean of Faculty of Arts initiated the seminar by addressing Professor Carl W. Ernst and honoring him by a bouquet of roses. Professor Ernst, on the other hand thanked the Delhi university for inviting him simultaneously for the second time in the gap of an academic year.
He appeared very comfortable as he sailed across the distant origins of Sufism, standing tall at the podium, smiling and cross questioning the audience. His discussion ranged under subtopics like national attitude towards Sufism, Earlier European hostility towards its origins as well as the sacred relevance of Sufi shrines that derive their importance from rituality and the power of narratives.
“Involving. To the point. And extremely refreshing as compared to our routine lectures. I think such seminars should be held more often.” remarked Mohammad Abbas, a fresher from the Department of Persian. Refreshing indeed. The lecture delivered what was promised, leaving us all open minded and more receptive in the terms of understanding rather more deeper aspects of Islamic studies.
Photo credits :Mohammad Shuaib and Ashita Chaturvedi