Institute of Oriental Philosophy Hosts Lecture Series "The Essence and Diversity of Islamic Culture"
The Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) held a lecture series titled "The Essence and Diversity of Islamic Culture" at Nihon-seinenkan Hotel in Tokyo, from September to November. The lectures focused on the core principles of Islam, the diversity of Islamic culture and its influence on global society.
The first lecture, held on September 27, was given by Kikuko Ozaki, associate professor at the National Defense Academy of Japan, on the theme of medicine and food in the medieval Islamic world. After introducing the world's oldest recipe (1600 B.C.), found in the Middle East, Dr. Ozaki spoke about the history of spices such as ginger and nutmeg which were imported to various regions of the world via the East-West trade route. She explained that these spices were also used for their medicinal properties. Dr. Ozaki also touched on the history of the fair distribution of food within Islamic cultures--a basic and necessary provision of the Islamic state.
On October 12, Karima Morooka Elsamny, a writer and TV presenter who also teaches at Keio University, gave a lecture on Islamic perspectives on the 21st century. Referring to the Tunisian Revolution (also known as the Jasmine Revolution), she spoke about the dangers of media reporting information in ways that can lead to misunderstanding and prejudice about the Arab world. In contrast to these views, she introduced the beauty of Arab literature, classical music and the many aspects of Islamic religiosity.
At the third lecture held on October 27, Yasushi Kosugi, professor at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, lectured on modern day Islamic culture and Japanese society, and at the last event held on November 7, Kaoru Aoyagi, associate professor at Niigata University, talked about the principles and practices of Sufism and explained how Sufism was popularized by the Abū Ḥāmed Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Ghazālī, who was a Persian Islamic theologian, jurist, philosopher, cosmologist and mystic. Dr. Aoyagi's presentation included video clips of Sufi dance.
[Adapted from articles in the September 28, October 14, 29 and November 9, 2011, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of IOP]