'The Role of Women in African Sufism'

Oludamini Ogunnaike will discuss women in Sufism during his lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall on the Luther College campus.

The lecture, "The Role of Women in African Sufism," is open to the public with no charge for admission. He will also speak in chapel at 10:30 a.m. Friday, April 6. Ogunnaike's visit is sponsored by the Luther College Religion Department, Diversity Center, Philosophy Department, College Ministries, and Center for Ethics.

Discussions about Islam and gender have tended to focus on Islamic Law and gender dynamics within contemporary Muslim societies, and relatively few attempt to put these issues in the broader context of Islamic cosmology and psychology. This talk will examine the concept of gender in the discipline of Sufism, the most popular and influential tradition of Islamic mysticism. He will then examine how these ideals play out in reality, through historical examples of female Sufis, both ancient and contemporary.

The Sufi tradition presents a distinct perspective on gender, in some ways similar to the Taoist concepts of yin and yang, from which we can better understand traditional Islamic notions and practices of gender. This perspective also offers an important critique of both Western feminism and modern Islamic reformist movements.

Ogunnaike is an assistant professor of religious studies at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. He teaches courses on topics such as Islam, spirituality, art, African and African diasporic religions. Ogunnaike received a Ph.D. in African studies and the study of religion from Harvard University. He also was a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford University's Abbasi Program in Islamic studies for a year.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.