Wednesday, May 9, 2018
On April 3, 2018, the Faculty of Arts of the University of Cairo assigned to Fr. Giuseppe Scattolin the emblem (here they call it the shield) of the Faculty itself as a sign of appreciation for his contribution in the renewal of studies on Islamic Sufism. This is represented by his work on Ibn al-Fâriḍ, including the critical edition of his diwan, and Fr. Scattolin’s ‘Reflections on Sufism and Interreligious Dialogue’ (Ta’mmulât fî al-taṣawwuf wa-l-ḥiwâr al-dînî). “I believe – says Fr. Scattolin – it is an important step for a true comprehension of Arab-Islamic culture. I hope this event will encourage many to engage seriously in this task of ‘real Dialogue’”.
In the West we so often hear of Islamic radicalism, which exists, but not of Sufi Islam, many of whom who preach a spirit of brotherhood. Egypt is deeply influenced by Sufism. Shaykh al-Azhar is a Sufi, and so are many prominent Shayks like the former Mufti Dr. ʿAlī Jumʿa. Sufis were also among the most outspoken critiques of the Muslim Brotherhood that used many Sufi concepts but politicized their meanings (see our book From Ruling to Opposition, 2017).
Not only do we often get a slanted image of Islam, it also rarely happens that Western non-Muslim scholars are honored for their scholarly work on Islam. Yet, the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University, has honored Comboni priest and scholar Father Dr. Giuseppe Scattolin with the shield of the Faculty as a sign of appreciation for his work on Sufism in general, and of ʿUmar Ibn al-Farīd in particular, with the critical edition of his diwan, and also his contribution to interreligious dialogue with his book Ta’mmulāt fī al-taṣwwuf wa-l-ḥiwār al-dīnī [Reflections on Sufism and Religious Dialogue].
Father Scattolin, has truly dedicated his entire life to Sufism and interreligious dialogue. He has lectured in Egypt and in many countries around the world. He has also written much about Sufism, and plays a major role in a deeper understanding of Sufism.
A few years ago I have highlighted two Muslim and two Christian scholars who have greatly impacted our work in the field of dialogue. One of them was Father Dr. Giuseppe Scattolin. The text I then wrote about him can be found here.
Father Scattolin is at the end of his career. I am now in North-America for Matthew Anderson’s defense of his thesis on blasphemy in Islam, May 22 at Georgetown University. Matthew Anderson studied Taqī al-Dīn al-Subkī’s (d.1355) al-Sayf al-maslūl ‘alā man sabba al-rasūl. Very remarkable in his work are the concepts of mercy and repentance.
Scattolin and Anderson show the great diversity one finds in Islam. With this they work towards building bridges between Muslims and Christians. We have invited Matthew Anderson to teach at our summer school, June 25- July 6, at Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development. We have many Egyptian applicants but would like to see more diversity with international students. Thus, please sign-up.