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Professor Schimmel will always be missed !
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part5
Subj: Scholar of Islam Professor Annemarie Schimmel
died last night in
Date: 1/26/03 8:37:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: <A HREF="mailto:AliHasan2">AliHasan2</A>
To: <A HREF="mailto:AliHasan2">AliHasan2</A>
We wish to share with you with the sad news of the demise of a great and
unique scholar of Islam Professor Annemarie Schimmel last night in Germany.
She was 80.
The following brief biography is provided from the webpage of the Annemarie
Annemarie Schimmel was born in Erfurt, a town in central Germany in
1922. An only child, she grew up in a loving home steeped in the
German classics, especially poetry. She seems at an early age to have
been conscious of her destiny. She writes: ?It was absolutely
clear to me when I was seven years old that I had to study something
that had to do with Eastern languages and cultures. I have never even
thought of doing anything else?. At fifteen she abandoned piano
lessons for the study of Arabic that opened the door to a new world.
She received a doctorate in Islamic Languages and Civilization from
the University of Berlin when she was only nineteen. At twenty three,
she became the Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the
University of Marburg where she went on to earn a second doctorate in
the History of Religions.
A turning point in her life came in 1954 when she was appointed
Professor of the History of Religion at the University of Ankara.
There she spent five years teaching in Turkish and immersing herself
in the culture and mystical tradition of the country.
Annemarie Schimmel was an early admirer of Muhammad Iqbal
and translated the Javidnama into German verse. In 1958 she made
the first of many visits to Pakistan, a country that became central
to her work. It is not too much to say that she is venerated there.
The government has honoured her with the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, its
highest civil award, and a fine tree-lined avenue in Lahore is named
The recipient of many international distinctions and honorary
degrees, Professor Schimmel ended her academic career as Professor of
Indo-Muslim Culture at Harvard, where she taught from 1970 to 1992.
Following her retirement, she was elected Honorary Professor at the
University of Bonn.
Today she is recognized as one of the world?s greatest
authorities on Islam. The range of her knowledge is legendary,
spanning religion, literature and art. Her command of languages is
prodigious: fluent in German, English and French, she can make her
way in Swedish and Italian. To the classic Eastern languages, Arabic,
Persian and Turkish, she has added Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi and Pushto.
In her seventies, the steady flow of books, translations and lectures
continues. As do her journeys that seem to grow longer and more
frequent: over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, to Iran and
Uzbekistan, always returning to Pakistan, where she hopes to be
buried at Makli among her beloved Sufis.
As a person, her deceptively frail appearance conceals an iron
resolve. Her teasing humour and childlike enthusiasm for new
experiences make her an endearing companion. Cat lover and poet, she
wears her profound learning lightly. It would be hard to imagine a
finer exemplar for aspiring young women scholars.
At the time of evening prayer
everyone spreads cloth and candles,
But I dream of my beloved,
see, lamenting, grieved, his phantom.
My ablution is with weeping,
thus my prayer will be fiery,
and I burn the mosque's doorway
when my call to prayer strikes it. . . .
Is the prayer of the drunken,
tell, is this prayer valid?
For he does not know the timing
and is not aware of places.
Did I pray for two full cycles?
Or is this perhaps the eighth one?
And which Sura did I utter?
For I have no tongue to speak it.
At God's door - how could I knock now,
For I have no hand or heart now?
You have carried heart and hand, God!
Grant me safety, God, forgive me. . . .
-- Ghazal (Ode) 2821
Translated by Annemarie Schimmel
"I Am Wind, You are Fire"
Subj: Professor Schimmel
Date: 2/12/03 10:58:57 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: <A HREF="mailto:Transcendentlaw">Transcendentlaw</A>
To: <A HREF="mailto:SHAMSIN">SHAMSIN</A>
Here is a particularly good article. Id mubarak, Bob Crane
Subj: Fwd: The Times
Date: 2/8/03 1:24:21 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John A. Williams)
This obituary was forwarded to me from London, as having appeared there in The
--John A. Williams
> February 06, 2003
> Annemarie Schimmel
> Linguistically gifted scholar of the Islamic world, inspired by its poetry
> and mysticism
> A giant in her field, Professor Annemarie Schimmel was one of the world’s
> foremost experts on Islamic studies, Persian poetry and Sufism. She composed
> hundreds of articles and books on Islamic history, art, theology, poetry,
> calligraphy and mysticism, and also translated Arabic, Persian, Turkish,
> Urdu and Sindhi poetry into German and English verse.
> She was unique, and outpaced both her illustrious contemporaries and her
> orientalist forebears. In breadth of learning, knowledge of a diversity of
> West- ern and Oriental languages, sheer volume of publications, erudition in
> the comparative history of religion, and the wide geographical and
> intellectual scope of her studies and interests, she surpassed all her
> colleagues. If her friends stood in awe of her, those who had the folly to
> dare to become her foes always came off looking like intellectual pygmies.
> The main focus of her scholarship was Sufism, on which she composed what
> remains (for its size) the most comprehensive historical and doctrinal study
> on the subject: Mystical Dimensions of Islam (1975, and often reprinted).
> She was the leading expert on the supreme Persian Sufi poet, Rumi (d.1273),
> who was, she said, “an unfailing source of inspiration and consolation” to
> her. She wrote several important studies of him, including The Triumphal
> Sun: A Study of the Works of Jalaloddin Rumi (1978), I am Wind, You are
> Fire: Life and Works of Rumi (1992) and a German translation of his
> Born in Erfurt, Germany, in 1922, Annemarie Schimmel received her first
> doctorate in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Islamic art from the University of
> Berlin in 1941, and her second in the history of religion from the
> University of Marburg in 1951. From 1946 to 1954 she taught at the
> University of Marburg, having been appointed to the chair of Arabic and
> Islamic Studies when she was only 23 years old.
> During the Nazi era she was forced to labour on behalf of the regime
> (Arbeitsdienst). She relates in her autobiography that it was only her love
> of Arabic that prevented her being drafted into the Nazi youth party on
> reaching the age of 18, the common fate of girls in Hitler’s Germany.
> After a research visit to Turkey in 1952, she fell in love with the generous
> hospitality and friendship of the poets and mystics of Istanbul (“Germany
> appeared cold and unfriendly to me,” she later wrote), and so in 1954, at
> the age of 30, she gladly accepted the offer of a chair in the history of
> religion in the faculty of Islamic theology at Ankara University —
> I was a Christian woman”. She remained there, lecturing in Turkish, for five
> On her return to Europe, she was appointed associate professor of Arabic and
> Islamic studies at the University of Bonn (1961-64), before accepting an
> invitation in 1966 to teach at Harvard. She served first as a lecturer in
> Indo- Muslim culture (1966-70) and then, for two and a half decades, as
> professor of Indo-Muslim culture.
> On her retirement from Harvard in 1992, her lifetime of writing and teaching
> was celebrated by the publication of two volumes, published respectively in
> the United States and in Germany, of essays by 50 of her colleagues and
> In basing her knowledge on intuitive heart-savour (dhawq), Schimmel shared
> the approach of her beloved Persian Sufi poets. Her intellectual learning
> was steeped in an ocean of warm and intense feminine sensitivity and
> She had also learnt the old Sufi trick of dictating passages from the secret
> book of the heart (“And I weave ever new silken garments of words / only to
> hide you . . . ” as she says in one of her poems), so that audiences fell at
> her feet as she discoursed without notes in English, German and Turkish (and
> with notes in Arabic, French and Persian). When she lectured, she would
> close her eyes tightly, clutching her handbag lightly, and reel off the
> chronicles of kings, the verses of poets and seers, the tales of lovers, and
> the accounts of mystical theology and doctrine of Islamic mystics and
> philosophers with eloquent fluency, sometimes for hours on end.
> She composed and conversed with fluency in at least ten languages. When a
> colleague once foolishly vaunted the superiority of the computer over the
> typewriter that she used, he received the robust reply: “When you can read
> 25 languages and write letters to people in 17 of them, what does one need a
> computer for?” She made such an impression in Pakistan that a major
> boulevard was named after her in the city of Lahore. She received three
> honorary degrees from Pakistani universities, and was awarded the highest
> civil distinction of that nation (Hilal-i Pakistan). In Europe, she received
> an honorary degree from the University of Marburg.
> In 1980, she was elected president of the International Association of the
> History of Religion, becoming the first woman and the first Islamologist to
> hold this position. In 1992 she gave the Gifford lectures at Edinburgh,
> which were later published as Deciphering the Signs of God: A
> Phenomenological Approach to Islam (1994). Professor William Chittick of New
> York State University called the book “a landmark in bringing Islamic
> studies into the mainstream of religious studies”.
> At least once a year in London, Schimmel taught summer courses on Islam at
> the Institute of Ismaili Studies (she was close friend of the Aga Khan), and
> she delivered innumerable lectures at the School of Oriental and African
> Studies at London University, the Furqan Foundation and the Royal Asiatic
> Society. Large crowds, often numbering several hundreds, flocked to hear
> In addition to some 500 articles in journals, books and encyclopaedias,
> Schimmel wrote more than 150 books and pamphlets of her own. After her
> retirement in 1992, she produced no fewer than 40 works, including her
> autobiography, which was completed only last year. She also wrote prefaces
> to many books by her students and colleagues, and popular articles for
> newspapers and local journals.
> Her voluminous works on general Islamic subjects include As Through a Veil:
> Mystical Poetry in Islam (1982), Islamic Calligraphy (1970), Gabriel’s Wing:
> A Study of the Religious Ideas of Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1963), And Muhammad is
> His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety (1985) and
> Islam in India and Pakistan (1982).
> Schimmel concluded one of her very last articles (“Lyrics for the Divine
> Soul”, published in The Times on October 26, 2002, in a special supplement
> on Persian mysticism) with this classical definition of Islamic mysticism:
> “Sufism means to find joy in the heart at the time of grief.” This
> definition not only foretold her death, but encapsulated the mystical
> subtlety of her spirit, for she believed, “as there is no end to life . . .
> there is no end to learning — learning in whatever mysterious way something
> about the unfathomable mysteries of the Divine, which manifests itself under
> various signs”.
> Professor Annemarie Schimmel, Islamic scholar, was born in Erfurt, Germany,
> on April 2, 1922. She died in Bonn on January 26, 2003, aged 80.
Subj: Excerpts on Professor Schimmel?
Date: 2/27/03 4:58:25 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: <A HREF="mailto:Transcendentlaw">Transcendentlaw</A> (Bob Crane)
To: <A HREF="mailto:SHAMSIN">SHAMSIN</A>
Subj: Friday Times, Lahore, Feb. 21-27
Date: 2/25/03 1:30:34 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: email@example.com (John A. Williams)
This Pakistani journalist is probably still living in the colonial world, and
scarcely unaware of the negative connotations of "Orientalist" in academia
today. Thirty-five years ago, we were quite happy to be known that way.
--John A. Williams >>
Last of the great orientalists
Taiman Rashida Latif
explains why the late Annemarie Schimmel’s efforts to
reform Western attitudes to Islam offer a valuable lesson
to the Muslim world
[Unable to display image]he present moment in global affairs is witness to
growing tensions between Islam and the West. Strong anti-Western feelings are
rife within the Muslim world, where many see the ‘war on terror’ as a
pretext to further demonise Islam and (re)colonise various Muslim countries.
In the heat of such emotions what is frequently lost sight of is that there
are numerous individuals in the West who are not only committed to peace, but
are also actively highlighting, in different ways, the profound vision(s) of
the Islamic message.
The late Annemarie Schimmel was one of the last generation of those great
‘Orientalist’ scholars who devoted their lives to the study and
dissemination of different aspects of Islam. While many of these Orientalists
have subsequently been criticised for having a Eurocentric bias, Schimmel’s
work never lost its credibility or appeal in either the postcolonial Muslim
world or the West. Just a few months ago, before she died, she was awarded an
honorary doctorate by the Tehran Women’s University. In Pakistan, she was
decorated by the government and her books awarded many prestigious prizes.
By giving voice to the ideas of some of the best Muslim minds, particularly
through poetry and culture, Schimmel played a key role in informing the West
about Islam. Her writings on Rumi and Iqbal are infused with a genuine
passion for the subjects, but also remain firmly anchored in impeccable
research and a firm grasp of Farsi and Urdu (and a host of other languages).
Beyond the books on Iqbal and Rumi, her life works ranged from the classic
Mystical Dimensions of Islam, And Muhammad is His Messenger, Islamic
Calligraphy, to the more whimsical, but nevertheless scholarly, reflections
found in Islamic Names and Oriental Cats.These were just some of her many
books, which, along with hundreds of research articles, are testimony to her
scholarship and a life time devoted to communicating this knowledge to the
West and future generat! ions of researchers across the world. Such
scholarly gifts on Islam, given by Schimmel to the West are well known. Less
well known is her connection to another sort of gift of knowledge given to
Pakistan. The Annemarie Schimmel Scholarship (AMSS) was established by Zoe
Hersov, a close friend and admirer of Schimmel. They met during the time
Schimmel was teaching at Harvard.University. Zoe Hersov is committed to
forging stronger ties between Islam and Christianity, and for more than forty
years has tirelessly promoted Christian-Muslim dialogue in Britain and the
U.S.A. While not a professional academic with a university post, she has
nevertheless been intellectually involved in engaging the West in an attempt
to help it gain a deeper appreciation of Islam. A scholar herself, she has
degrees in history and theology. She has written articles for academic
journals, and has published translations of texts o! n theHoly Quran from
French, all stemming from her desire to bring Islam and the West closer. Zoe
Hersov donated a personal inheritance to underwrite the scholarship, inspired
by Schimmel’s work and personality and as a tribute to Schimmel and their
friendship, she graciously named it after her. Reflecting the deep affection
of both these women for Pakistan, every year AMSS sponsors one Pakistani
woman (sometimes two) for post-graduate study in Britain. Apart from its
generous, fully funded support, the AMSS is unique in two ways. First, there
is, as such, no age limit. The only provisos are a demonstrable and genuine
financial need, and a commitment of returning to Pakistan and actively
contributing towards national development. The other unique feature is, in a
way, a tribute to Schimmel’s vast erudition. Apart from a few subjects,
including journalism (with which most genuine scholars have little
patience!), the scholarship is open to virtually any discipline from the
sciences, humanities and the arts. The AMSS started in 1990 and since then
Schimmel Scholars have received advanced training, and produced research, in
fields as diverse as Islamic art, public health, linguistics, nursing,
English literature, applied psychology and social development. As the 2002
AMSS scholars set out to do post-graduate work in orthodontics and
environmental studies, the 1996 scholar received her PhD in laser physics
from Imperial College, London. The life and work of individuals such as Zoe
Hersov and Annemarie Schimmel provide a different view of what many in
Pakistan and the Muslim world see as the godless, materialistic West. In the
present state of cultural polarisation, with the Muslim community having a
sense of alienation and outrage, it is easy to lose sight of such
individuals. Their vision of religion, commitment to knowledge, and
generosity of spirit, presents a humbling contrast to the virtual absence of
similar visions in Pakistan. The fact is that there are innumerable such
individuals in the West who continue to quietly and steadily highlight the
beauty of Islam, and not just as scholars, but frequently simply as concerned
citizens trying to build bridges between their society and the Muslim world.
It is unlikely that, proportionately, Muslims can make a similar claim to
such a spirit of service to others, particularly when it comes to matters of
religion. Sadly, instead of focusing on our own shortcomings, the many
obituaries about Schimmel were content to simply list her writings, and bask
in her positive picture(s) of Islam. Even sadder, were the ones written by
certain religious scholars who, while self-righteously acknowledging her
service to Islam, took pains to repeat that she was a ‘hermit’ and a
‘non-Muslim’. The irrelevance (and contestability) of such statements aside,
they suggest a type-casting of women who engage with religion at a scholarly
level, but more importantly, they reveal the dominant, exclusionary mind-set
about Islam in Pakistan. Somehow its narrow vision only seems to look at
outward signs of what it is to be a Muslim. Such a mind is (seemingly)
incapable of understanding the subtlety and profound implications of what Zoe
Hersov states was Schimmel’s and her own view on the matter: that they “bow
to the eternal truth of Islam” yet do not see themselves as “members of the
In their own quiet ways, these two remarkable women offer a mirror in which
each of us can reflect on our impoverishment of spirit and vision of
religion. This mirror shows that what makes a Muslim is something beyond
creed and ritual, and this in turn makes us question, particularly in light
of the Holy Quran’s embrace of Moses and Jesus, what does it mean to be a
Muslim? The voices of our two friends may help in contemplating an answer.
In a letter to Zoe Hersov just a few weeks before her death, the 80-plus
Annemarie Schimmel wrote: “I am grateful that I can do so much work and
travel; the celebrations in Teheran where I was given an honorary degree by
the Women’s University, were really great! And so it goes on. I wish we could
just sit and chat over a cup of tea… Now I have to go to the airport to catch
my plane to Zurich as I have to preach (!!) in a church in Vaduz: I’ll speak
about Jesus and Mary in Islam.” And here, to conclude, is Zoe Hersov writing
about her friend and mentor: “Annemarie sets out on her final journey.
Although she will be laid to rest beside her mother, I feel sure that
spiritually she will be with her beloved Sufis. She remains an inspiration to
all of us who are at home in both worlds. We join Christians and Muslims
alike in prayer for her soul.”