Gholamreza Aavani – A World of Commands

Iranian philosopher Gholamreza Aavani visits Peking University, 2013

*”Journeys are not always horizontal; sometimes we have to take vertical, spiritual journeys as well.”

PKU – The Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, under the guidance of its director Tu Weiming, the Confucian ethicists, invited eminent historian of the Persian intellectual tradition and one of the leading modern Islamic thinkers, Gholamreza Aavani, to teach and research in summer term 2013 at China’s most prestigious institute of Higher Education.

“Al-Amr means ‘command,’ in the Arabic tradition everything happens comes from the world of commands.”

Professor Aavani lectures on the situation of humanities in Iran, and comparative religious studies, and he is an avid supporter of the idea of cultural pluralism and building bridges between Islam and the West.

He will also discuss key philosophical texts of the Islamic tradition with Peking University professors and postgraduates. Seminars are held at the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies (IAHS).

“In Islam, hal and amr – the material world and the spiritual world – are from one single breath of God that existantiates all.”

“In religion, every physical or numerical aspect has a deep metaphysical significance, like all numbers are a repetition of number one. If you take away ‘one,’ there would be no numbers.”

“Human language is temporary, directional, and expressional; we have to take these limitations into account with talking in human terms about God.”

“Nazar is to see but to see with one’s intellect or “the mind’s eye.” It is often misinterpreted that “we see God” but it really means we are seeing him with our intellect.”

Professor Aavni not only enriches Peking Universities intellectual campus life and supports the dialogue between Shia Islam and the three major Chinese traditions (Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism), but also gives translation and textual analysis classes (Persian/English) to selected Chinese students at the beautiful IAHS house close to PKU’s famous Weiming Lake and Boya Tower.

“Zahir is the invisible world. One condition of faith is to believe in an invisible world.”

“Hadim means an eternal being. It has not come into being, it is eternal.”

“Zuhul and tansi are immanence and transcendence. Transcendence is the negative way (lt: via negative), for example: he is not in time; he is not in space, etc.) The way of the prophet is the perfect balance between the immanent and the transcendental.”

*Quotes from Prof. Aavani classes in the context of reading the Wisdom of the East: The Secret Rose Garden of Sa’d Ud Din Mahmud Shabistari, rendered from the Persian with an introduction by Florence Lederer, John Murray,London, 1920.

View Professor Gholamreza Aavani’s CV here. Here is an interview with him.

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