TEHRAN, June 13 (Mehr News Agency) -- The Iranian Society of
Cultural Works and Luminaries paid tribute to the U.S. Islamologist William
Chittick during a ceremony held at the venue on June 11.
Several Iranian scholars, including ISCWL Director Gholamreza Avani, Mehdi
Mohaqeq, Shahram Pazuki, Shahin Avani, and Manuchehr Saduqi, attended the
Gholamreza Avani made a short speech in which he talked about his memories of
Chittick and discussed how Chittick has served the Persian culture.
Chittick then gave a lecture, in which he said, "When I began to work for the
Encyclopedia Iranica 28 years ago, I got to know Baba Afzal Kashani and began to
read his works. I read his writings and translated several of his works into
Baba Afzal al-Din Kashani was a respected Sufi philosopher and poet of the 13th
century who lived in Kashan. Kashani did not write for advanced students of
philosophy but rather for beginners. Chittick uses Kashani and his work to
introduce the basic issues and arguments of Islamic philosophy to modern
Chittick explained why he chose Baba Afzal and his works to study, saying, "If
one has studied philosophy and has become familiar with Molana Rumi and Mulla
Sadra, one knows how difficult philosophy is and that one must spend a lot of
time to understand it well. Baba Afzal wrote his works in both Persian and
Arabic. He himself said that he did not write his works for philosophers but for
those who are seeking wisdom."
Chittick referred to the situation of Islamic philosophy at universities in the
West, stating, "The English-speaking people of the West do not know Persian and
Persian philosophy. There are only a few scholars who work on Islamic philosophy
and seek wisdom in its traditional authentic meaning."
He added, "In writing my books I mostly address the students not the professors
of the universities of the United States, since they each follow their own
specific school of philosophy. There is no Islamic philosophy in the West and
they accept nothing but the modern philosophy of the West.
"When I am writing a book I only pay attention to the youth, especially the
Muslim youth who were born in the United States to families who are
disinterested in religion, but the youth themselves want to know what Islam is.
They are interested in Islam and want to know more about it."
The ceremony ended with a question and answer session about ways to understand
Chittick, 65, is currently professor of religious studies at the State
University of New York, Stony Brook.
He is author of over 20 books on Islam, philosophy, and Persian literature.
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