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Dr. Zargar authors book on Muslim poetry

May  17, 2012

University of South Carolina Press has published Dr. Cyrus Zargar’s book Sufi Aesthetics: Beauty, Love, and the Human Form in the Writings of Ibn ‘Arabi and ‘Iraqi. Dr. Zargar, an assistant professor of religion at Augustana, offers an approach to understanding Muslim mystics and perceiving divine beauty and human beauty as one reality.

Dr. Zargar specializes in Islamic studies. His new book helps readers better interpret the love poetry of classical Muslim society. In fact, he wrote this book as a response to misunderstandings of Sufi love poetry.

According to Dr. Zargar, Sufism is a mystical expression of Islam that has been far more popular and influential historically than most people think. Despite the popularity of Sufi love poets such as Rumi, the poetic expressions of Sufis have often been misunderstood as allegorical or a system of codes waiting to be translated.

“I hope that people who read this book can appreciate another way of seeing the physical world; physical beauty, including the beauty of human beings, can have divine meaning,” said Dr. Zargar. “It is not about codes. Rather, it is about seeing the divine in things themselves.”

For Dr. Zargar, the appeal of Sufi poetry stems from the fact that it never loses relevance. “If you can take pleasure in thinking deeply about God, the soul or the relationship between the two, then you will find much in Sufi writings,” he said. “Sufi writings can be like rooms filled with treasures for thought.”

Dr. Zargar received his bachelor’s from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and his doctorate from the University of California Berkeley. He has had articles published in the Journal of Arabic Literature and the Encyclopedia Iranica.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833