In this episode of History Speaks, Roshan Iqbal speaks with Cyrus Zargar on the role of storytelling and virtue ethics in the work of Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, the 13th-century jurist, philosopher, poet, and polymath. The conversation delves particularly into the virtue of ‘compassion’ within the context of the story ‘The Tale of the Sufi and the Judge,’ from Maulana Rūmī’s magnum opus, the Mathnawī-i Maʿnawī (“The Rhymed Couplets of Spiritual Signification”).
Dr. Roshan Iqbal hails from a small hamlet of 20 million–Karachi, Pakistan. She received her PhD in Islamic Studies from Georgetown University. Prior to this she read for her MPhil at the University of Cambridge. She has studied in Pakistan, the US, Morocco, Egypt, Jordon, the UK, and Iran. Her research interests include gender and sexuality in the Qur’an, Islamic Law, Film and Media Studies, and modern Muslim intellectuals. Her recent book is titled, ‘Marital and Sexual Ethics in Islamic Law: Rethinking Temporary Marriage.’ As an associate professor at Agnes Scott College, she teaches classes in the Religious Studies department and also classes that are cross-listed with Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Film Studies. When she is not working, she loves talking to her family and friends on the phone (thank you, unlimited plans), tracking fashion (sartorial flourishes are such fun), watching films (love! love! love!), reading novels (never enough), painting watercolors (less and less poorly), and cooking new dishes (sometimes successfully).
Cyrus Ali Zargar is Al-Ghazali Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies and Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Central Florida. Zargar’s research interests focus on the metaphysical, aesthetic, and ethical intersections between Sufism and Islamic philosophy. His first book, Sufi Aesthetics: Beauty, Love, and the Human Form in Ibn ʿArabi and ʿIraqi, was published in 2011 by the University of South Carolina Press. His most recent book, The Polished Mirror: Storytelling and the Pursuit of Virtue in Islamic Philosophy and Sufism, was published in 2017 by Oneworld Press. His forthcoming book concerns Sufi ethics and the theme of self-transformation in the corpus of the Persian poet ʿAṭṭār.