• 26 Mar 2015
  • London
  • Talks and Lectures

Public Lecture and Book Launch: Words of Power: Hurufi Teachings between Shiʿism and Sufism in Medieval Islam

The IIS launches Words of Power by Dr. Orkhan Mir-Kasimov who will also give a lecture on the teachings of the Hurufis.

This lecture will focus on the mystical and messianic movement that came to be known under the name of Hurufiyya, meaning ‘letterists’, which was founded in Iran in the second half of the 8th AH/14th CE century by Fadl Allah Astarabadi (d. 796 AH/1394 CE). Although the Hurufis exerted a wide and lasting influence upon the formation of the political, religious and literary cultures of the late medieval Islamic world from Anatolia to South Asia, the origins and doctrines of the movement have remained obscure until recent years.

Upon what kind of experience did Fadl Allah establish his claim to religious authority? Why did he choose to compose his magnum opus, the Jawidan-nama-yi kabir (the Great Book of Eternity) in such an enigmatic way? What are the contents of Fadl Allah’s doctrines and how do they compare to the known intellectual and spiritual currents of Islam? How can Fadl Allah’s approach to Qurʾanic exegesis and his interpretation of Jewish and Christian material be characterised? Answers to these and other questions might give us an insight into the factors underlying the ideology that contributed to the emergence and consolidation of the Ottoman, Safawid and Mughal empires, as well as the continuing influence of Hurufi literature to  the present day.  


Orkhan Mir-Kasimov

Orkhan Mir-Kasimov obtained his PhD in Islamic studies from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne University, Paris), and has lectured at the École Pratique as well as the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO) in Paris. He is currently a Research Associate at The Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. He has published several articles and book chapters on various aspects of Ḥurūfī thought as well as on broader issues related to Islamic mysticism and messianism. His edited volume, Unity in Diversity: Mysticism, Messianism and the Construction of Religious Authority in Islam, was published in 2013.


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