Conversations in Process
Conversations in Process
Ali Hussain – Mashing Sufism and Whitehead’s Process Theology

In this episode of Conversations in Process, Jay sits down with Sufi scholar and musician Ali Hussain to discuss potential points of contact between Islamic mystical theology and process thought. Ali Hussain has a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Michigan, Department of Middle East Studies. His research focuses on the image of Jesus AS in the writings of Muslim polymath Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi and later Muslim scholars. His other research interests include Islam and Sufism in America, art and creativity in Islam and the creative engagement that Sufi mystics have with Arabic through the mediation of the Quran. He has published a number of books and articles, including “The Art of Ibn Arabi,” “The Metaphysics of Creativity: From the Qur’an into Ibn al-‘Arabi,” “Ibn Al-Arabi and Joseph Campbell: The Metaphysics of Creativity and Mythology of Contemporary Art,” and most recently “A Nostalgic Remembrance: Sufism and the Breath of Creativity.”

In this conversation, Jay and Ali explore the similarities and contrasts between the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi and Whitehead’s cosmological and theological perspectives. They discuss issues of immanence and transcendence, negative theology, the problem of evil, and much more. Ali shares the intellectual roots of Islamic mysticism, which draws in part from the same Platonic traditions in which Whitehead himself finds inspiration. Jay discusses common process perspectives on the vulnerability of God and the openness of the future, which Ali thinks can fit into a Sufi perspective as well when considered in relation to particular Divine Names. In closing, they discuss the centrality of beauty in both Sufi traditions and Whitehead’s philosophy, connecting the ideas of harmony and intensity with Divine Mercy and an open future.