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Revelation through Repetition: Qur’anic Imitation and Apocalypse in the Afghan Highlands


May 11
12:00 pm - 1:20 pm
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Colloquium with Will Sherman, PhD student in Religious Studies. For Religious Studies and Islamic Studies faculty, graduate students, and Stanford-affiliated guests. RSVP from your stanford.edu email address to Sarah Brabeck.

Along the Indo-Afghan frontier in the 16th century, a Sufi movement known as the Roshaniyya (“the people of light”) encountered a problem familiar to many messianic-apocalyptic movements: how does one write apocalyptically? How can a text move beyond descriptions about the apocalypse and instead beccome the apocalypse through the written word? In working through such concerns, the Roshaniyya devoted themselves to an imitation of the Qur’an known as Khayr al-Bayan (“The Best Explanation”). This colloquium will explore the apocalyptic language of “The Best Explanation” by paying specific attention to the role played by repetition, imitation, and rhyme. In doing so, we can begin to see how the Roshaniyya understood Pashto as the apocalyptic language of God.