Katherine Schimmel: A Meeting in a Garden and a Mystic Pen

Katherine Schimmel "The ordinary pebble can turn into a ruby provided it patiently takes into itself the rays of the sun." - Annemarie Schimmel There is a line in one of my favorite books, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, by Roberto Colasso that goes like this: But how did it all begin?  It seems appropriate to ask this question as we reintroduce one of our most popular series, The Mystic Pen, Katherine Schimmel Baki's tribute to her aunt Annemarie Schimmel.

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Through Love

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THROUGH LOVE all that is bitter will be Sweet Through Love all that is copper will be Gold.

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Jalal and Jamal

lecture1-circle In my right hand I hold a small, square, black metal box, very dusty from years of non-use. It looks nothing like the sleek recorders of today, but this tape recorder and I have a shared history. It is the same voice recorder I used in Egypt almost twenty years ago while conducting graduate field research on the hot, noisy streets of Cairo. Later, it became the faithful instrument I used to playback what amounted to hours and hours of Arabic interviews once I arrived back in Cambridge to write my thesis.

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Remembering the Life of Annemarie Schimmel

Remembering Annemarie Schimmel

I walk And the blood of my feet Transforms the stones into roses. I walk And the tears of my eyes Water the desert shrubs, Everyday the same sun, scorching, merciless, white, And at nightfall the wind, cutting my heart and my hope.

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Sacred Spaces

mp-sp1-Mist_Over_Rosedale_Lake-circle “Everything is connected in some mysterious way to something else.” – Dr. Annemarie Schimmel There is a Native American legend, which beautifully illustrates the central Sufi theme: That which we often search for is within us all along. We have only to look. In this particular legend, the Creator gathers all the creatures of the world and asks the pressing question: “I have a great and mighty secret. Where should I hide it from the humans so that they may only find it when they are ready?” The eagle said, “I’ll take it to the moon and hide it there.” “No,” said the Creator, “One day they’ll travel to the moon and find it.”

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Sacred Spaces

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On a bitterly cold, windy spring day in 1992, during her final semester at Harvard, Dr. Annemarie Schimmel gave the second in a series of lectures to an audience of rapt students. It is one of my favorites, as her talk stands to be a true testament of a lifetime of scholarly wisdom brilliantly compressed into a mere hour.

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Waiting for Kutmir

schimmel-mp-MPenbook I can still see her with her eyes closed, hands clasped in front of a frail, slim frame. She is clutching a small, delicate purse and wearing a lovely necklace, no doubt picked up from one of her many travels to the Near East. Her soft, German-tinged voice fills the room with promise and the knowledge gleaned from a lifetime of learning. Eager, but respectful students sit on the edge of their wooden chairs. She has no notes because she never needs them.

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Dr. William Chittick Remembers

schimmel-chittick-SufiPath-circle Everyone has turned his face toward some direction, but the saints have turned in the direction without directions…(Rumi, Mathnavi v 350, Translation by Dr. William Chittick). Existence is all dust, its luminosity coming from that moon: turn not your back toward the moon, follow not the dust! (Rumi, Divan v. 12236, Translation by Dr. William Chittick) In a hard-driving rain, Cambridge’s streets and shops take on a glossy shine, the murky runoff creating fast-moving rivulets that flow swiftly into already over-filled gutters.

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Dr. William Graham Remembers

Annemarie-Schimmel-Image-with-Cat-circle WRR: Dr. Graham, I first want to thank you for taking time out from your very busy schedule as you agree to be interviewed on your own personal recollections of your dear friend and colleague, Dr. Annemarie Schimmel. You have not only had a very long and distinguished professional career at Harvard, spanning more than three decades, but you also know Harvard from the more intimate perspective of being a long-time graduate student as you received your Masters and PhD there as well. How did you first learn of Annemarie and the work she was doing and what were the events surrounding your first encounter with her?

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Look! This is Love

Look - this is love

Look! This is Love — to fly toward the heavens, To tear a hundred veils in ev’ry wink, To tear a hundred veils at the beginning,

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Mystical Dimensions of Islam

bkcover circle Editor's Note: On April 7, 2011 my aunt Annemarie Schimmel would have turned 89. One of her seminal works, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, has just been reissued. Copyright © 1975 by the University of North Carolina Press. Foreword © 2011 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

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Golden Lions and the Thicket of This World

Photo Credit Dr. Carol Armstrong I climb onto the long, narrow leather seat filled with the heady anticipation that comes with being a young, unrestrained child in the back seat of my father’s lean, shiny, four-door sedan. On this particular day, we are headed to Cambridge to a moderate-sized apartment geographically situated to take ideal advantage of both the Charles River and Harvard Square. It is a cheerful place…at least in the spring, which is when we tend to visit.

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