Mohsin Hamid on Sufi love, drones and globalisation


In this interview, Pakistani novelist Hamid discusses his works with the editors of Oxford Islamic Studies Online.

Mohsin hamidAttar, Rumi, Ghalib—the list of Sufi poets that I’ve been influenced by is probably longer than I can articulate, since in addition to those I’ve read, there are many more who have shaped the culture of Lahore in which I grew up. My first novel, Moth Smoke, was in a sense a post-modern riff on the Sufi theme of the love of a moth for a candle flame. Moth Smoke looked at what happened after such a love was consummated. What is interesting about Sufi thought is that, although it emerges from a Muslim tradition, it transcends religious groupings and can even transcend religious faith. It’s humanist in many ways. Yet it is also ancient, and has co-existed with much more orthodox forms of religion for well over a thousand years. That fascinates me. The Sufi notion that love enables transcendence fascinates me. I’m drawn to explorations that base their inquiry on what one feels, rather than on what one believes.

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