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The Ethics of Weeping: The Case of Islam

Weeping is a way to express commitment to a community and what it holds to be sacred, but not all weeping is the same, even in a single religious tradition.

Event details

This talk considers pre-modern traditions of pious weeping in Muslim society, which long interacted with other traditions of weeping in the Mediterranean and its hinterlands. Specifically, we ask how we are to read references to weeping in historical texts—as responses to societal expectations or as expressions of spiritual states that one pursues in private and only then displays in public? The talk is intended to prompt conversation on the study of emotions in Islam, a subfield which is only at its beginnings.


Paul L. Heck, Professor of Islamic Studies in the department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University, works in the area of Islamic ethics and intellectual history. He is currently completing a monograph on political theology in Islamic history.


Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies