Ali Z. Hussain

Doctoral student in Islamic Studies and Artist

I'm a doctoral candidate in Islamic studies in the department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan. My research focuses on the sacred body of Jesus in the thought and writings of the 12th/13th century Muslim mystic Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-ʿArabi (d. 1240). I'm also interested in sacred bodies as tools for mythic storytelling in Sufism. From this perspective, I aim to highlight how Sufis throughout history, until our present time, have forged stories revolving around sacred bodies in order to help the reader linger between the material and spiritual realms. This focus also shapes my interest in contemporary spiritual and intellectual crises facing Muslims and religious subjects in general. I'm invested in reviving the ancient spiritual heritage, known as mystical theosophy, as represented auspiciously by Ibn al-ʿArabi, Rumi and others, among Muslims living in the West; in order to help them forge new myths and stories about their search for truth in the age of globalization. I'm also very passionate about eastern music and am actively learning the Oud. I hope to combine my love for the eastern maqam with Sufism and highlight the deep spiritual legacy of music in Islam and the importance of its return to modern religiosity.