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Conceptions of the Self in Islam

Conceptions of the Self in Islam

This working group brings together a community of faculty members and graduate students at the University of Toronto who work on Islamic Studies across a variety of disciplines. 

The word "self" forms an important part of postmodern scholarly discourse on literature, the body, religion, and space.  Seemingly unambiguous, though, it is difficult to define.  When juxtaposing the self and/or selfhood with Islam we encounter uncertainty with what the relationship is between the self and Islam.  In the realm of law, who the self is can have important implications on one's expectation interests. The self as male, female, minor; as free or slave; as Muslim or non-Muslim; as kin or neighbour -- this typology of the legal self contributes to different and often divergent entitlements under the law. By contrast, in mystical traditions, reference to the self can signal the worldly desire against which the mystic-in-training must discipline him or herself to achieve a higher state of devotion to the divine.

For our monthly meetings, we will integrate paper presentations with reading and discussion of a text or set of texts.  We will also hold a day-long workshop in March or April to culminate a year of exploring expressions, theories and constructions of the self as it is shaped by various aspects of Islamic theology, aesthetics, mysticism, and governance.


Anver Emon (Law)
Amira Mittermaier (Religion/Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations)
Karen Ruffle (UTM Historical Studies)


Zulfikar Hijri, Anthropology, York University
Tod Lawson, Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
Sarfor Niyozov, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Maria Subtelny, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
Mahdi Tourage, Religious Studies, University of Western Ontario
Shafique Virani, Religion; UTM Historical Studies


Omar Ebaidat, Religion
Jairan Gahan, Religion
Usman Hamid, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
Syed Adnan Hussain, Religion
Roshan Jahangeer, Political Science, York University
Mourad Laabdi, Religion
Faisal Malik, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
Nermeen Mouftah, Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
Jessica Radin, Religion

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