Sufi Culture and Literature Master's Degree - Course Content


TSV 530 Sufi Thought

The class will take up the main themes of Sufi metaphysics that have formed throughout the centuries on the human – universe – Allah relationship. Sufism’s place among Islamic studies, its methodology in comparison to philosophy and theology, the main topics that are based on this methodology, and the influences of this ancient wisdom’s teachings and practices about human life on Islamic thought and practice will be examined.

The main themes in the teachings of Sufi thinkers such as Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Yunus Emre, and Ahmed Yesevi, the place of these teachings in the individual and social life of the human today, and their contributions to humans’ “search for meaning” are among the main topics of the class.

TSV 507 Ottoman Turkish

In this class on Ottoman Turkish, which is the Arabic alphabet used by Turks for nearly ten centuries in their texts for reading and writing, the rules on the writing of Turkish words and suffixes, and the Arabic and Farsi elements in Ottoman Turkish will be considered through 19th and 20th century sample texts. Vocabulary will be developed by transferring prose and poetry written in Ottoman Turkish by building up a transcription capacity.

TSV 504 Sufi History

The history of Sufism is in transaction with many important disciplines of history such as the history of Islamic science, of Islamic cutlure, and of Islamic thought. A view that begins the history of Sufism from the life of the Prophet Muhammad and which finds the core of Sufism in the lifestyle of the Islamic community in this period will demonstrate that Sufism is a perspective attahced to Islam’s notions of belief and practices rather than a parvenu and historical discipline. When this view is followed through, one will be met with the teachings of Sufism whose teachings have remained the same at their core but whose outer shell has changed through commenting on the transformations experienced throughout the history of Islam. While the class aims to formulate a perspective that will supply a reading of the shell changes in that period’s social and political context, it will also trace the teaching that gets transferred through generations without change and with coherence. The purpose of the class is for the student to understand the history of Sufism as a whole, to be aware of its important turning points, while also allow for the student to see the background on the contemporary issues and areas of discussion on Sufism.

TSV 515 Introduction to Arabic

The scientific method is predicated on each discipline’s distinctive texts being examined in their original language. Found within the tradition of Islamic thought, Sufism is an area requiring Arabic language both due to its sources as well as its literature. The content of the class has been organized in a manner appropriate to the content and aims of the graduate program. Accordingly, the class will begin by providing an introduction to those who have had no Arabic language study, followed by the classical method used during the Ottoman period. There will also be an examination and debate of some modern Arabic texts by an expert linguist whose mother tongue is Arabic. The purpose of the class is for participants to gain the language capacity to be knowledgeable and aware of the examined religious and Sufi terms’ pointers in the original language.

TSV 532 Sufi Classics

Every discipline has its own historical adventure, concepts specific to that discipline, and classical works that put forward the views of its main representatives. In this class, the process of Sufism becoming its own independent discipline and classical works written afterwards and their contents will be examined. The contents of Sufi literature, its place and contributions to the tradition of religious and Sufi thought, and its influence on thoughts coming after it will be examined.

TSV 534 Sufi Culture and Art

The discipline of Sufism is a holistic one comprised of parts such as doctrine, culture, and history. Sufism’s cultural content is formed through the cultural products it creates as well as the established cultural structues it influences and transforms. On one hand, Sufism has created its own cultural values, while on the other hand it has been involved in the cultural structures and values already prevailing within society. The class will examine the cultural factors that have been created and involved in by Sufism. Alongside this, it will attempt to clarify the mindset behind this cultural production. The poetics of the art created within Sufi life, its views and development will also form part of the content of the class. The purpose of the class is to consider the discipline of Sufism’s reflections and productions in social and cultural life as well as to clarify the fact that Sufism is a lived and culture-creating structure in the minds of participants.

TSV 536 Sufi Literature and Textual Analyses

The beginning, development, sources, traditions, place in Turkish literature, specialties of type and content, verse types, Sufi terminology of Turkish Sufi literature and the important representatives of Sufi literature will be considered. Through textual analyses, the relationship of religion, Sufism, and beautiful conduct with literature will be presented through the Sufi content of literary texts. The capacity to research and evaluate Sufi knowledge reflected in literature will be gained.

TSV 538 Sufi Beautiful Conduct

In order to measure the influence of Sufism on beautiful conduct, the aim is to consider theoretical and practical beautiful conduct. By teaching the principles of theoretical beautiful conduct, the scientific background of the topic will be prepared. Practical beautiful conduct will then be attempted to be explained based on this grounding. In this way, effort will be expended in order to protect the values of beautiful conduct of both the individual and society.

In the context of the class, the place of Sufism within the Islamic sciences, teaching of beautiful conduct and Sufism, and concepts such as factors of beautiful conduct, dignity, courage, self-possession, humility, surrender, patience, thankfulness, gentleness, etc will be examined. The relationship of beautiful conduct and the three main powers within the human, examples of beautiful conduct from the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and examples of beautiful conduct that are reflected on to the Islamic umma will be treated. On the other hand, there will also be consideration of concepts such as piety, devotion, compassion, submission, modesty, the understanding of work, etc. Additionally, Sufism’s method of beautifying beautiful conduct will be emphasized.

TSV 540 Arabic Texts

Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, and Farsi occupy an important place in Sufi literature. It is necessary to know Arabic to a great extent in order to know Ottoman Turkish. For students who have decided to engage with the discipline of Sufism, reading the classical and literary sources of this discipline firsthand is of utmost importance. By choosing these texts especially from among Sufi classics, Arabic textual analyses will be conducted. Within the frame of close and distant readings that will be done in class, important Sufis and their works will also be taken up. Texts will be from the following sources: El-Luma’, Sarrac, İhyâu Ulûmi’d-Dîn, İmam Gazâlî, Et-Taarruf, El-Kelabâzî, Er-Risâletu’l-Kuşeriye, El-Kuşeyrî, Edebu’d-Din Ve’d-Dünya, El-Mâverdî, Ahlâku’n-Nebî, Ebu’ş-Şeyh El-Asbahânî, Hilyetu’l-Evliyâ, Ebu Nuaym. In the class, texts wherein the examples of beautiful conduct as shown by the Prophet Muhammad’s life will also be read. Again within the scope of texts, some examples will be presented of the beautiful conduct of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad who sat in his classes and the great persons who were nurtured in the light of the Qur’an and sunna.

TSV 542 English Sufi Texts

In this class, English Sufi texts from the classical period will be studied. The most important aim of the class is for the student to read and understand Sufi texts in English and to develop the skills to prepare research papers using academic English. The texts to be read will be closely evaluated through content analysis. The themes used, symbols, and concepts will be examined in depth. While making the effort to open a window into the world of Sufis through primary and secondary sources in English, parts from Cafer-i Sâdık's Kurân tefsiri, Rabia Adeviye’s poems, Kuşeyrî Risâlesi, Serrâc's el-Lümâ, the chapter of “the beautiful conduct of the lover and the beloved” from Ruzbihan Bakli's Abherü'l-âşıkîn, the “Prophet Muhammad as Eternal Light” part from martyr to the love of Allah Hallâc-ı Mansur's Kitâbü't-Tavâsîn, Feridüddin Attar's Tezkîretü'l-Evliyâ, and Rûmî's Mesnevî will be read.

TSV 544 Introduction to Rumi’s Thought

Rumi is one of the exceptional people raised by Islamic Sufism. Due especially to his views on love, he has been regarded as the qutb (pole) of lovers in the history of Sufism. The Mawlawiyya path established in his name has functioned for centuries as a fine arts academy, raising many artisans in the Seljukid and Ottoman periods. In this class, the sources of Rumi’s thoughts which has been made the matter of many a research project in both the East and West, the main themes, its place in the tradition of Sufi thought, and the fundamentals of the culture of Mawlawiyya that are inspired from Rumi are considered. The topics that Rumi lived and gave space to in his works and how they create solutions for the human and the problems of our day will be examined.

TSV 502 The Qur’an and Sunna in Light of Sufi Wisdom

As is known, the Qur’an and sunna are the fundamental sources of Islamic thought and civilization. Islamic thought presents with differences based on the perception and commentaries done on these fundamental sources. Theology, philosophy, jurisprudence and other disciplines have interpreted these sources according to their methods. Sufism giving place to the experience of deep discovery alongside intellect as a source of information set the stage for Sufis to see the deep meanings within these sources that had been apparent from the beginning but which could not be discovered through simple linguistics. Continued through centuries, these commentaries also contributed to removal of monotony from religious thought. In this class, various examples of these commentaries by Sufis, their historical adventure, the principles they are based on, their conditions for validity, and the ontology, epistemology, and ethical values that appear from these comments will be considered. The place of these commentaries in Islamic thought wil be examined.

TSV 546 Important Personas in Turkish Sufi Literature

In order to learn about the content, tradition, and sources of Turkish Sufi literature, the works by Sufi poets who lived between the 13th and 19th centuries will be taken up. The main goals of the poets at the top of Sufi literature, the Qur’anic and hadith culture which forms the content of this literature, and the beautiful conduct and Sufi thought will be revealed.

TSV 548 Introduction to Ibn Arabi’s Thought

Mohyiddin Ibn Arabi is among the most important Sufis of Sufi history due to his explanations of the tradition of Islamic thought that came before him through the data of Sufi experience in a systematic manner. Considereed the most imoprtant sage on this topic by many Sufi thinkers, he is referred to as “Sheikh al-Akbar.”

Many Sufi thinkers who have shaped the fundamental basics of Sufi thought in the areas of ontology, epistemology, and ethics have grown up in the “tradition of Akbari wisdom” that is attributed to him. It is estimated that he has around 550 works and that around 245 of these have reached our day. The basics of this thought have affected all Sufi thinkers in the East and many thinkers and thought systems in the West from Dante to Voltaire. This effect continues today. In the class, the fundamentals of Ibn Arabi’s thought, its main concepts, its views on existence, its influence on the periods coming after it, and Ibn Arabi researches of our day will be considered.

TSV 550 Sufism and Psychology

Moving off of the idea that the spirit and the body affect each other, this class has the purpose of widening and developing the information and possibilities on how the human should consider the spirit-body entirety from based on the disciplines of Sufism and psychology.

The class takes up the contributions made by the science of psychology which examines human behavior through an experimental method and Sufism’s 14 century-long experience, wisdom, and sagacity on the relevant topics through a multi-disciplinary approach. The class will be given by two lecturers who are experts in the fields of Sufism and psychology based on the similarities and differences of the intersecting topics of both areas. Through the works that are taken up in the class and the examined texts, humans’ basic psychological problems and behavioral disorders, the solutions that can be presented through the perspective of Sufism, and the practical solutions that can be offered by psychology to the theoretical topics of Sufism will be examined.

TSV 552 History of Islamic Thought

This is a class aimed at understanding the tradition of Islamic thought in a holistic manner. Rather than providing an approach that presents philosophy, theology, and Sufism in opposition to each other, the class seeks instead to understand the history of Islamic thought in a comprehensive manner. It examines the various Islamic thought currents within their own dynamics. Taking up first the approaches of Muslim philosophers such as Kindi, Farabi, and Ibn Sina to the topics of philosophy, religion, and metaphysics through the translations of texts from the Ancient Greek period, the class then continues with the manifestations of the theological approach in Ghazzali and Ibn Rushd, and ends with how Sufis such as Ibn Arabi coming after all of this considered similar topics through the method of discovery by evaluating it in the whole of and place within the history of Islamic thought.

TSV 554 Sufi Currents in Turkey and the World After the 19th Century

 Students who will have learned about the appearance of Sufism, its formative and development periods, and the main Sufi tariqas from the Sufi history class will in this class learn about the general situation of the topic in Turkey in particular and the world in general in the aftermath of the 19th century. Students will be informed of the penetration and influence of Sufi movements in the West and in the Islamic geography as well as its role in conversion movements. Students will find the opportunity to make comparisons and comment on the currents present today and the topics they focus on with currents from the classical period.

TSV 556 Persian

In this class, the aim is to teach the basic grammar of the Persian language which takes up an important space in Classical Turkish literature and to aid in the understanding of Persian words and concepts that pass in Turkish poetry. By readings sample texts from classical Persian poetry and by providing an opportunity to compare it with Turkish literature, the main grammatical issues are taken up and applied through sample texts.

TSV 524 Research Methodology

This class aims to explain the basics of the research methods which are used to understand and make useful the data coming from myriad sources to which giving a meaning has become increasingly difficult. Focusing on the methodology used in social sciences research, the class will give information through relevant examples on how the stages of planning the research, a research model, sampling, data gathering, and data analysis are done. Later, information will be provided on the method to be used in writing an article on the topic of Sufi culture and literature by way of sample articles, and trial articles will be written. Through these articles, the aim is for students to learn the fundamental terms and to understand the thought structure required for advanced research application.

TSV 526 Vocational Texts

Sample classical and contemporary Sufi texts written in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish will be followed in the class. The aim of the class is to increase the student’s familiarity with Sufi concepts in their language of interest. Limited dictionary and terminology studies will also be done in order to find the correct English equivalent of Sufi terms.

TSV 528 History of Islamic Civilization

In this class, the following topics will be considered: beginning from the culture of the Arabian Peninsula in the pre-Islam period, the belief of unity and the Prophet Muhammad’s prophecy, the Hijra (emigration) and Yathrib becoming Medina, the etsablishment of the first Muslim city-state through the Medina Constitution, the Prophet Muhammad’s last speech, the 4 Caliphs period, the division of Muslims as Sunnis and Shi’a, the expansion of Muslim lands, the rise of Muslim scholars and artisans, the Umayyad empire in Baghdad and Andalus, the Abbasids, Seljukids, Islamic Sufism, science and art, the three great Turkish empires: Ottomans, Safavids, Baburs, global economic movements and inter-ocean rade, loss of land, reforms and new awakenings, world history and civilization from a historical, political, social, and cultural angle and the place and importance of Islamic civilization within it. The content of the class will be examined through primary and secondary sources in 7 historical periods: 1. “Formation and Orientation” period between 500-634, 2. “Transformation and Clarity” period between 634-870, 3. “Breaking Up and Success” period between 970-1041, 4. “Migration and Renewal” period between 1041-1405, 5. “Union and Expansion” period between 1405-1683, 6. “Restructuring, Dependence, and Liberation” period between 1683-our day, 7. “Islam and Globalization: Age of Circulation” period.

TSV 558 Sufism and History of Religions

 Religions and religious beliefs come at the head of factors that lead human behavior and activity from the most primitive tribes to the most developed societies. Among these are the monotheistic religions based on a tradition of revelation while there are also human religions and religious traditions that have appeared in different periods, geographies, and cultures. To the question of what is the essence of religion, some thinkers state that the answer to this question should be sought in the mysitc side where the divine is directly experienced. In this class, rather than focusing on the phenomenological specifics of religions that are considered in the discipline of the history of religions, topics under consideration will be the mystical aspects of current world religions and their contact with Sufism, their similarities and differences, their place in the tradition of ancient wisdom, and the reality beyond the geographical and cultural needs of religion.