Recently, I came across a Charles Homer Haskins lecture that Dr Annemarie Schimmel delivered in 1993. Aside from the amazing events and milestones of her life, what struck me was her immersion in an infinite ‘learning’ cycle. I am reproducing some lines from the lecture and a dazzling poem of hers below. Dr Schimmel left this world in 2003 for another voyage. As an extra-ordinary scholar (over 150 publications to her credit), a Rumi disciple and an odd Sufi herself, the world is not the same place without her.
However, her erudite and passionate writings will continue to warm our hearts. Sang-i-Meel Publishers (http://www.sang-e-meel.com/) in Pakistan have done a huge favour by re-printing selected titles for the Pakistani audience.
Excerpts from the lecture
“….My entire life, lived in widening circles, as Rilke puts it, was a constant process of learning. To be sure, learning and re-learning history, as it happened several times in my life, made me somewhat weary of the constant shift of focus or of perspective in the political life of the countries I was associated with. Perhaps, looking at the Islamic (and not only Islamic!) societies in modern times, one should keep in mind the ingenious insight into the patterns of ebb and flood of the tides of history as expressed by the 14th-century North-African historian Ibn Khaldun in his muqaddima, parts of which I translated in my early days and one tends (at least I do) to look out for the unchanging power behind the fluctuating surface of the ocean of events.”