Asceticism, Mysticism, and the Affirmation of the World in Christianity and Islam

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 November 2024 | Viewed by 4030

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA 92110, USA
Interests: comparative theology; comparative religions; continental philosophy of religion; the history of Christian theology; Islamic mystical traditions; radical political theory and religion

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Religious Studies, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY 13214, USA
Interests: Qur'anic studies; pedagogy; Ibn Taymiyya; Sufism; religion and media

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Religions focuses on the relationship between ascetic practices and mystical theological traditions in the world’s two largest religions, Christianity and Islam. While quality scholarship exists exploring the connections between asceticism and mysticism, these two distinct areas are too often set in opposition to each other instead of focusing on the relationship between ascetic practices and mystical thought as well as experience. This is especially true of Islam, where mysticism is commonly relegated to a peripheral status, and, even more problematic, Islam is regularly portrayed as a nonascetic religion. In both religions, asceticism and mysticism are both often identified as world-rejecting or escapist phenomena, with the role that both play in engaging and affirming the world remaining undertheorized and underexplored. This issue seeks articles that explore any or all of the following: (1) connections between asceticism and mysticism in either or both religions that have been largely ignored; (2) forms of asceticism and mysticism with world-affirming trajectories or teloi; and/or (3) comparative approaches that contribute to theoretical understandings of asceticism and mysticism. All methodological approaches in the fields of religious studies and theology are welcome, including hybrid methodologies such as the subfield of comparative theology pioneered by Francis X. Clooney.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400–600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the Guest Editor, Rico G. Monge (), Elliott Bazzano (), or to the Religions Editorial Office (). Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editors for the purposes of ensuring a proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer review.

Dr. Rico G. Monge
Dr. Elliott Bazzano
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • asceticism
  • mysticism
  • comparative theology
  • comparative religions
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Sufism

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 2488 KiB  
Article
Rūmī’s Asceticism Explored: A Comparative Glimpse into Meister Eckhart’s Thought
by Rasoul Rahbari Ghazani and Saliha Uysal
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1254; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101254 - 2 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1125
Abstract
This paper examines the nature of “asceticism” (rīyāḍat) in Sufism, revolving around the works of the 13th century Persian Sufi Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī Balkī and exploring two critical inquiries: Firstly, it seeks to determine whether Rūmī’s mystical perspective on [...] Read more.
This paper examines the nature of “asceticism” (rīyāḍat) in Sufism, revolving around the works of the 13th century Persian Sufi Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī Balkī and exploring two critical inquiries: Firstly, it seeks to determine whether Rūmī’s mystical perspective on asceticism is world-rejecting or world-affirming. Secondly, it investigates potential parallels and divergences between Rūmī and Meister Eckhart’s stances—specifically, through the Dominican’s Sermons and Treatises—and assesses the implications for the two figures. In examining Rūmī’s works, the current research primarily relies on secondary sources within the Persian intellectual tradition to provide an intracultural context. Utilizing horizontal and vertical interpretations, this study examines critical themes in Rūmī’s works, such as love, detachment (zuhd), the world’s deceptive nature, and seclusion. The findings reveal that Rūmī’s asceticism is not “monastic” (ruhbānī); instead, it balances moderate abstinence and worldly engagement, underpinned by the Quran and the ḥadīth teachings. Rūmī and Eckhart underscore asceticism as an inner transformation rather than mere physical austerity, emphasizing inner purification, self-transcendence, and spiritual detachment as routes to divine unity. The two thinkers’ teachings are catalysts for profound personal transformation and a more fulfilling life in today’s world. Full article
19 pages, 397 KiB  
Article
Asceticism as Renouncing and Embracing the World in Ibn ‘Arabī’s Radical Metaphysics
by Ismail Lala
Religions 2023, 14(9), 1092; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14091092 - 24 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1091
Abstract
Asceticism or renunciation (zuhd) is generally viewed as turning away from the world and all it has to offer in order to connect to the divine. The well-known mystical theorist, Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn ‘Arabī (d. 638/1240), adds a denotation of asceticism [...] Read more.
Asceticism or renunciation (zuhd) is generally viewed as turning away from the world and all it has to offer in order to connect to the divine. The well-known mystical theorist, Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn ‘Arabī (d. 638/1240), adds a denotation of asceticism to this conventional definition. Ibn ‘Arabī argues that the impetus for the creation of the cosmos was the divine wish to be known by something other than Itself. As the fulfilment of this wish, the universe is nothing but a manifestation of the cataphatic aspect of God described as His ‘most beautiful Names’ (al-Asmā’ al-ḥusnā) in the Qur’an, which is not God as He truly is in His apophatic essence that can never be comprehended, much less manifested. This means that there are two forms of asceticism or connecting to the divine: one is to assert God’s transcendence and His true apophatic nature by renouncing the world, while the other is to emphasise His comparability by embracing the world as a manifestation of God’s most beautiful Names. Ibn ‘Arabī presents the world-renouncing form of asceticism through the chapter of Prophet Idrīs in his most popular work, Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam, and he presents the world-embracing from of asceticism through the chapter of Prophet Ilyās. He then combines both forms of asceticism in the chapter of Prophet Muḥammad. Full article
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