Suffering Before God:
The Hermeneutics of Tawhid in the Act of Supplication

Sara Aziz

This paper will explore Islamic perspectives on human suffering with reference to two classic supplicatory texts in the tradition, namely Zayn al-‘Abidin’s al-Sahifat al-Sajjadiyyaand ‘Abd Allah Ansari’s Munajat. I will seek to unravel the hermeneutics of tawhid or divine unity at play in these works, paying particular attention to the prayer of the afflicted. It will be argued that the perspective of tawhid shapes the prayer of the one in affliction, which in turn shapes the reader’s response to and understanding of Islamic attitudes towards suffering.

About the Presenter

Sarah Aziz is a doctoral student in Harvard University’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department. Her fields of interest include Islamic intellectual and cultural history, devotional literature, Shi’ism and Sufism. Her research focuses on the early modern period, in which she explores religious culture and intellectual exchange across the Ottoman and Safavid Empires. She is particularly interested in the role of prayer literature as a site of scholarly reflection and debate that cuts across linguistic and confessional divides. Sarah received her Masters degree in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2019 and her BA in religious studies with honors in 2017 from Davidson College.