Friendship and Islam From Rumi to Ramy

By Peter Kitlas in World History Islam Mediterranean

January 1, 2022

Muslim Art GalaWith Students at Emory University’s annual Muslim Art Gala

Course Syllabus

Click here for the course syllabus

Course Description

What do the poet Rumi, bureaucrat Sari Mehmed Pasha, and comics author G. Willow Wilson have in common? They are all Muslim theorists of friendship. In this class we will explore the relationship between Islam and friendship across time and space. We begin with the poetry of Rumi and others to understand how Islamic mystics define friendship with God. We will then look to Islamic political theorists, past and present, to determine how friendship is deployed in international relations. Comparing Ottoman imperial handbooks and speeches from figures like Ayatollah Khomeini we will ask: how is friendship a limiting or liberating construct in international relations? We end with a focus on personal friendship(s). With an eye to anthropological theories, we will look at friendship across religious divides in Palestine, representations in graphic novels, and female kinship in historical fiction.

Sample Readings

  • Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, al-Adab al-Kabīr
  • Jalal al-Din Rumi, Mathnavi
  • Aisha al-Baʿuniyya, The Emanations of Grace and Gathering of Union
  • Attar, The Conference of the Birds
  • Ibn al-Muqqafaʿ, Kalila wa Dimna
  • Sari Mehmet Pasha, The Book of Counsel for Vezirs
  • G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel
  • Weishut, Intercultural Friendship: The Case of a Palestinian Bedouin and a Dutch Israeli Jew

Student Reviews

Professor Kitlas engages with his students and always make sure that they feel comfortable in their class. He pushes them to speak their mind as well as be open-minded to new ways of thinking. Plus, he always finds to keep his classes engaging like that one time where we had an outdoor walk talking about Islam culture and international relationships.

Professor Kitlas was extremely accessible and made a lot of time outside of class for discussion and meeting with him. He also gave each person time and advice on papers and projects, asking us to email him our ideas. He gave very in-depth responses and was very helpful in giving us ideas to work with.

I have never had a professor as compassionate, knowledgeable, and gracious as Dr. Kitlas. He was incredibly personable, and went above in beyond in teaching us, but also learning from us which was highly appreciated. He created a classroom environment where I will see my classmates and feel comfortable to catch up with them on a friendly basis, and also catch up with him. Dr. Kitlas also has a special talent in making his students feel valued in their ideas, who they are, and where they have come from by remembering small details about us and talking about things inside and outside of the content we were learning. In whatever future I have as a professional, whether it’s a teacher or lawyer, I will forever hold Dr. Kitlas as a role model for how to treat others and how to give grace. Emory is lucky to have had such an amazing individual in their community, and his impact will be longstanding.

Posted on:
January 1, 2022
3 minute read, 494 words
World History Islam Mediterranean
Past Course
See Also:
The Clash of Civilizations?
Islam in America or American Islam?