Robert Rozehnal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion Studies and the founding Director of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University. He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Duke University, and a M.A. in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of numerous articles and a monograph, Islamic Sufism Unbound: Politics and Piety in Twenty-First Century Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007/2009). His current research project focuses on Internet Islam, with a forthcoming book entitled Cyber Sufis: Virtual Expressions of the American Muslim Experience (Oneworld Publications). He is also the editor of a forthcoming volume, Piety, Politics and Ethics in Southeast Asian Islam: Beautiful Behavior (Bloomsbury).
Faqir or Faker? The Public Battle Over Sufism in 21st Century Pakistan
On April 1, 2001, more than one hundred Pakistani men lost their lives, crushed to death in a mob stampede at the tomb of one of South Asia's most renowned Sufi saints: Baba Farid ad-Din Mas'ud Ganj-i Shakkar (d. 1265). Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this lecture explores the diverse interpretations of the state, the shrine's custodians, and disciples of the Chishti Sabiri Sufi order to the causes, consequences and meanings of this tragic event. My analysis frames Sufism as an emotive and multi-valent symbol—a lightning rod in Pakistan's contentious public debates over Islamic identity, authority and authenticity.
- Friday 2 June 2017- 14:00-17:00 - EHESS (AS1_24) - 54, boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris
A Photo of a Deceased Sufi Master: Accounting for the Miraculous in the Ethnography of Sufism
During fieldwork research in Pakistan, I photographed an elderly man at a Sufi shrine. When this picture circulated among disciples of the Chishti Sabiri Sufi order, I was told that this stranger was in fact the deceased spiritual master, Shaykh Wahid Bakhsh Rabbani (d. 1995). With this miracle story as a backdrop, this lecture spotlights the complexity and ambiguity of religious experience—and offers an alternative model to account for the polyphonic and multivalent nature of Sufi conceptions of time, place, and agency.
- Wednesday 7 June 2017 - 16:00 - EHESS (room 11) - 105, boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris
Reimagining Pakistan: A Sufi Vision of History, Orthodoxy and Identity
This lecture explores a Sufi response to the conundrum of Pakistani identity through an analysis of the writings of a prominent spiritual master within a sub-branch of the Subcontinent’s oldest Sufi lineage: Shaykh Wahid Bakhsh Rabbani (1910-1995 CE) of the Chishti Sabiri order. In his voluminous political tract, The Magnificent Power Potential of Pakistan, Wahid Bakhsh presents a sweeping survey of Islamic military and cultural history. A critical examination of this eclectic text offers insights into postcolonial subjectivity and the fluid, contested definitions of Islamic orthodoxy and national identity in contemporary Pakistan.
- Thursday 8 June 2017 - 13:00-16:00 - IISMM - 96,bd Raspail 75006 Paris
Digital Sufism: American Muslims in the Virtual Landscape
In the twenty-first century, Cyberspace offers tech-savvy Muslims an alternative platform for narratives and networking, politics and polemics, piety and performance. Drawing on new research, this lecture examines how a transnational, diasporic Sufi order rooted in an Indo-Muslim past employs the Internet as an alternative mediascape for the refashioning of authority, identity and ritual practice in the contemporary United States. By charting the web presence of the Inayati Order of North America, I map the present and future of digital Sufism amid the hybrid landscape of American Islam.
- Wednesday 14 June 2017 - 14:00 - EHESS (BS1_28) - 54, boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris