zondag 11 maart 2012

Syafaatun in Utrecht

Last Tuesday, 8 March 2012, International Women's Day,  Syafaatun Almirzanah was one of the fours speakers at an international seminar with the title Women reading across traditions, about feminine reading of scripture in a cross-religious way. Gé Speelman and Marianne Moyaert were the two Dutch speakers. They stressed the more general theme that Scripture is not a dead body, but is living in reading and talking by people and therefore always new meaning will be born.
The Norwegian Anne Hege Grung wrote about the Ishmael/Ismail story in Genesis and in the Hadith by Bukhari. She also compared reactions on women passages of the Bible in Timothy 2 with Qur'an 4:34. At the story of Ismail, Bukhari tells how Hagar leaves Ismail under a tree while looking for water. Immediately one of the women cried that this text must have been written by a man, because a mother never will leave her baby without care somewhere in the desert!

Syafaatun gave the printed copy of her dissertation to me (and quite a few other friends here in Utrecht). When Mystic Masters Meet: Towards a New Matrix for Christian-Muslim Dialogue, New York/Istanbul Blue Dome, 2011. Syafa has sent her son to a Gülen elite school in Semarang, so I guess that Blue Dome has some Turkish, perhaps even also Gülen connections, but that is difficult to assess.
The book is a report of her comparative and enriching reading of Meister Eckhart and Ibn Arabi. Syafaatun learnt very good Arabic as a young girl in a pesantren and she likes this world of mystical thinking, that does not care too much about difference of religions. She did not elaborate much about Islam versus Christianity or so, her concern is more about the legitimacy of mystical and creative thinking within religions in general. Dorothee Sölle is very important for her. She has become a quite self-confident, good-looking lady, speaking with enthusiasm. She is a nice example of the result of IAIN training, where people with lower pesantren education could make a career in the humanities and even social science. Lies Marcoes developed more towards social science, Syafaatun is more philosophical and mystical, but not a vague or 'soft' person: she speaks with knowledge and good decision. It was good to see here again. I had here as a BA srudent in 1986-8; then she stayed with us in Utrecht in 1996 (or in 1997?) for two months. We went together to Cologne, for Sunday Mass in a church where Eckhart had given his sermons. Now we saw her again as a mature scholar. Thank you Syafaatun for growing so nice.

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