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Ibn 'Arabi Society Symposium - annual conferences in the UK and USA

Ibn 'Arabi Society Symposium - annual conferences in the UK and USA

The Symposium

Each year the Society organizes Symposia in the U.K. and the U.S.A. on an aspect of Ibn 'Arabi's work.

These international gatherings bring together people from many different fields and traditions, and include scholars, students, and anyone interested in what Ibn 'Arabi has to say. These events provide a unique opportunity for both speakers and delegates, specialists and non-specialists, to enrich their understanding of the Shaykh's teachings and their relevance today. The Society also encourages public seminars and lectures and can provide speakers on request.

"The Spiritual and the Material"
May 1-2, 2010. Oxford

The Annual Symposium of the Society in the UK will be held at Worcester College, Oxford, on May 1-2, 2010. The title of the Symposium is "The Spiritual and the Material".

Speakers and provisional titles of papers

  • Dr Samer Akkach, The Ontology of Love and the Agency of Desire in Ibn 'Arabī's Teaching
  • Jane Carroll, The Circle and the Square – Seeing the spiritual in the material world
  • Jane Clark, "He governs the world through itself" – Ibn 'Arabī on spiritual causation
  • Venerable Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Spiritual and Material: Appearance is the Unsurpassed Protection
  • Prof. George Pattison, Kierkegaard's teaching on Absolute Dependence
  • Dr Faouzi Skali, "The path of spiritual chivalry (Futuwwa) according to Ibn Arabi: wending one’s way through action and contemplation"


Three of the speakers will deliver papers on Saturday morning and three on Sunday. Each afternoon those who delivered papers in the morning will hold seminars of about 80 minutes in length. These will enable the subject of their paper to be discussed and examined in more depth. On Sunday evening a film will be shown at a nearby cinema. You can view the provisional timetable here (pdf file).

Register for the Symposium

Online registration form
Printable registration form (pdf file)

About the speakers

Samer Akkach

Dr Samer Akkach

Paper: The Ontology of Love and the Agency of Desire in Ibn 'Arabī's Teaching

Samer Akkach is Associate Professor of architecture and Founding Director of the Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA) at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He was born and educated in Damascus before moving to Australia to complete his PhD at Sydney University. As an intellectual historian Samer has devoted over twenty years to the study of Ibn 'Arabī's mystical thought and intellectual legacy, and especially to their later revival by 'Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (d. 1731). His Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam: an Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas (SUNY 2005), traces the influence of Ibn 'Arabi's thought on the spatial sensibility of premodern Muslim architects; while his 'Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī: Islam and the Enlightenment (Oneworld 2007), and Letters of a Sufi Scholar: The Correspondence of 'Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (Brill, 2009), examine the intellectual contributions of an influential and prolific Sufi master who considered Ibn 'Arabī to be his spiritual master and source of inspiration.

Jane Clark

Jane Clark

Paper: "He governs the world through itself" – Ibn 'Arabī on spiritual causation

Jane Clark B.Sc (Hons), M. Phil. (Oxon) has been engaged with the works of Ibn 'Arabī for more than 30 years. She studied at the Beshara School in Scotland and University of Oxford. She is the Librarian of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society, working particularly on the Society's project to create a digital archive of the most important Akbarian manuscripts. Originally trained in science, she has a particular interest in Ibn 'Arabī's metaphysics and their relevance to contemporary art and science; she was the editor of Beshara Magazine, a founder editor of The Journal of Consciousness Studies, and, with Willis Harman, editor of The New Metaphysics of Modern Science. She has given many lectures and seminars on Ibn 'Arabī's thought, and works as a teacher in Oxford.

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Venerable Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Subject: Spiritual and Material: Appearance is the Unsurpassed Protection

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist Master of the Kagyu Order. He was born in 1952 in Kham, East Tibet. From 1957 to 1959 he fled from Tibet with his family before the Chinese Communist occupation in India. Since then he has lived in Sikkim, India.

He has served as Professor of Tibetology in Sikkim for 17 years. His doctoral thesis was on the Ecumenical Movement in Tibet. He is now a leading scholar of Rime, the non-sectarian philosophical tradition that evolved in Tibet in the 19th century and that surmounted rivalries among the various prevailing schools and institutions. Since 1990 Ringu Tulku Rinpoche has spent many months each year traveling and teaching Buddhism and Meditation at more than 50 Universities, Institutes and Buddhist Centers in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and Asia. He is deeply involved with the exchange of knowledge between religious scholars and scientists, and has a particular concern to participate in dialogues that contribute to mutual understanding, tolerance and peace in the world.

George Pattison

Prof. George Pattison

Paper: Kierkegaard's teaching on Absolute Dependence

George Pattison is Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford University and has published a number of books on modern philosophy of religion. His two forthcoming books are God and Being: An Enquiry (OUP, September 2010) and a translation of Kierkegaard's Devotional Writings: Gift, Creation, Love (Harper, Fall 2010).

Jane Carroll

Jane Carroll

Paper: The Circle and the Square – Seeing the spiritual in the material world.

This talk will focus on the meanings Ibn 'Arabī brings forth from the visible world and his description of its underlying harmonic order. Images of the extraordinarily beautiful art and architecture of al-Andalus, the world of Ibn 'Arabī's youth, illustrate this way of seeing.

Jane Carroll first studied the works of Ibn 'Arabi at the Beshara School in the 1970s. Concurrently she studied at the Architectural Association in London with a specific interest in sacred geometry and Islamic architecture. She is on the board of the Ibn 'Arabi Society in America and currently works as an architect in Ojai, California.

Faouzi Skali

Dr Faouzi Skali

Dr. Faouzi Skali, holds a Doctorate in Anthropology, Ethnology and Sciences of Religions, from the University of Paris VII. He is the author of several books on the mystical aspect of Islam including La Voie Soufi, Traces de Lumiere, Le Face à Face des Cœurs: Le soufisme aujourd'hui, Jésus dans la tradition soufie (in collaboration with Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch), and most recently, Saints et sanctuaires de Fès. Dr. Skali has been the initiator of a number of projects such as the Mediterranean Institute for Dialogue, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, the Fès Festival of Sufi Culture, and Fes Encounters: Giving a Soul to Globalisation. This last is a meeting place for humanitarians and international leaders in the business world to work together to develop more space for spirituality in the working world. He was designated in 2001, by the UN, among seven world personalities having contributed to the Dialogue of Civilisations.

About the venue – Worcester College

Worcester College Main Quadrangle The Linbury Building

Worcester College is close to the centre of Oxford, within easy reach of coaches, trains, and many places to eat. If you knew Oxford, but had never been into the college, you would be amazed at the extent of its gardens, which provide a beautiful setting for the Linbury Building, a purpose built conference room where the symposium is held.

Worcester is one of 38 independent, self-governing colleges at Oxford University. Worcester College, in its current form, was founded only in 1714, but there has been a place of learning on the property since Gloucester College was founded for the Benedictine order in 1283. Cottages dating back to the 15th century are still in use.

Wanderers of the Desert, a film by Nacer Khemir

Wanderers of the Desert

Sunday 6.30 pm: There will be a showing at a nearby cinema of El-haimoune (Wanderers of the Desert), a film by director Nacer Khemir. It was the first film of his Desert Trilogy. Tickets can be bought on the day.

Other events

New York: Sunday 11th April

Exploring the Real Nature of the Self: Ibn 'Arabi on The Holy Spirit in the Counseling of the Soul, Stephen Hirtenstein

"The soul is an ocean without shore: there is no end to the contemplation of it in this world or the next." Ibn 'Arabi.

This half-day workshop will explore some of the teachings of Ibn 'Arabi on the real nature of the self. In particular it will look at one of Ibn 'Arabi's major works, The Holy Spirit in the Counseling of the Soul (Ruh al-quds fi munasahat al-nafs), to try to see how his remarkable insights and teachings apply directly to our own experience. For more information, www.opencenter.org.

Programme of the Fes Festival 2010
Fes Festival of Sufi Culture 2010

The Festival runs from 17-24 April and has the theme Mystery and Poetry. It runs in parallel with the Fes Forum, "A Soul For Globalization". It will feature presentations, discussions and round tables on subjects such as spirituality and social change, soul therapy, the poetry of Ibn Arabi and the ancient Sufi manuscripts held at the Qaraouiyine Library and in Timbuctu, Mali. Thursday 22 April is Earth Day, when ecology will be highlighted.

For more information see the Festival website (in French) or the Programme (in English).

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