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The Transformative Power of Beauty: Joseph and the Myth of Reconciliation

March 14 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

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The story of Joseph, encountered successively in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and in the Quran, represents an enduring myth whose various themes and wisdoms have had great influence on Abrahamic religious culture. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the Joseph myth retold as the “most beautiful of all stories” in the Quran. Here Joseph is understood as one of a community of prophetic figures, whose story emerges as the epic and emblematic story of divine knowledge revealed to humanity. The centrepiece here is beauty, and the focus of the presentation will be on beauty and its intimate relation to truth. Along with the timeless values, spiritual attributes and human failings highlighted in the story, there is a certain, almost uncanny, topicality “disguised” in the Quran’s story of Joseph. This presentation may be thought of as a “slow reading” of the Sura of Joseph as a renewable myth for our current collective plight. The dynamic relation, taught by the Quran, between truth and beauty and their power to transform “lead into gold” inspires hope for the planet and a peaceful global community.

Todd Lawson is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Thought at the University of Toronto where, over the past three decades, he has taught courses and supervised graduate work in Quranic Studies, Islamic Mysticism, and Islamic Philosophical Theology. He has published several books and articles and spoken on these and related topics in universities across the world. His interest in Islam is deeply connected to what might be characterized as its uncompromising “Gospel of the Oneness of Humanity,” the enduring contributions such an elevated anthropology has made and continues to make to our shared cultural and social reality, and those inexhaustible spiritual resources which continue to nourish Islam’s distinctive and compelling teaching of unity and the interconnectedness of all things. His most recent books are: Intimacy and Ecstasy in Quran Commentary and Being Human: Bahai Perspectives on Islam, Modernity and Peace. Todd lives in Montreal with his wife Barbara.



An interview with Todd is available here: https://besharamagazine.org/metaphysics-spirituality/the-unity-of-humanity/




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