Dr Saeko Yazaki

  • Lecturer in Religious Studies (Islam, Muslim-Jewish relations and Japanese traditions) (Theology & Religious Studies)

telephone: 01413306756
email: Saeko.Yazaki@glasgow.ac.uk

4 The Square, Theology and Religious Studies, Glasgow G12 8QQ

ORCID iDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-3920-0777

Research interests

Research interests

• Mystical and epistemological dimensions of religion
• Muslim-Jewish relations
• Sufism and Zen
• Clothing of Shinto deities (Kami)
• Socio-political aspects of Kimono
• Concept of purification in belief
• Doubts in faith
• Methodological issues in religious studies
• Glasgow/Scotland-Japan connections

Biography

My first degree (BA) was in History at Gakushuin University, Tokyo, where I also studied Japanese religions. Upon graduation, I took an Arabic course at Université de Tunis (funded by the Tunisian government) and then decided to pursue study at postgraduate level at Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), University of Edinburgh. After completion of an MSc, I continued my research on early Sufism at doctoral level (supported by a PhD scholarship from the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures) and graduated in 2010 with a thesis on the tenth-century Sufi preacher, Abu Talib al-Makki. After teaching at the University of St. Andrews, I held a position as Outreach and Project Manager at the Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge in 2010-12.

Since my arrival at the UK, I have taught various courses on Islam, Arabic texts and Japanese religious traditions at several institutions, and worked closely with fellow academics, clerics, civil servants and activists on a number of events and projects in the fields of both Islam and Japanese religions. My research interests have greatly expanded beyond medieval Sufi texts. At the end of 2012, in order to carry out more multidisciplinary work, I took up a position in Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow, initially as Lord Kelvin and Adam Smith Fellow (2012-15), and subsequently as Lecturer. My current interests are concerned with intra-religious relations within Islam (e.g. Sufi-Hanbali interaction), as well as cross-cultural interactions, in particular Muslim-Jewish relations and the way in which Japanese traditions have been introduced and interpreted in Western societies.

Areas of research

I am interested in the individual, social and political aspects of religion through an exploration of different phenomena and manifestations of faith, including mysticism, philosophy, language, literature, art, music, politics and public life. My areas of research include the mysticism and epistemology of religion, Sufism, the Judaeo-Islamic tradition in al-Andalus and their relevance to the present. I am also pursuing a comparative study of Sufism and Zen, and research on clothing of Shinto deities, socio-political aspects of Kimono, as well as the rich historical connections between Glasgow/Scotland and Japan. My monograph, Islamic Mysticism and Abu Talib al-Makki: The Role of the Heart addresses the complexity of the Sufi-Hanbali interaction on one hand, and the Muslim-Jewish nexus on the other, through an exploration of the religious image of the heart in the works of al-Makki, and specifically in his book on ethics, Qut al-qulub (‘The Nourishment of Hearts’). (This was later published in Turkish as Ebû Tâlib el-Mekkî’de Tasavvuf in 2016.) In the field of Japan studies, I am co-author (with Olivier Salazar-Ferrer) of La chronique japonaise de Nicolas Bouvier which analyses a work of Bouvier, a famous Swiss photographer and traveller, on Japan.

In addition, I have organised or been involved with numerous academic and public events (e.g. British Association for Islamic Studies conferences, Glasgow-Japan networking events, Kimono-related public talks) to help improve religious literacy as well as cultural awareness and preservation in both Japanese and Islamic traditions, in public, cultural/heritage and charity sectors. I regularly act as a consultant on Japanese tradition and culture for BBC, museums and art galleries in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I have advised the Consulate General of Japan in Edinburgh on various Japanese cultural events, particularly in coordination with the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-20. (Please see the ‘Additional Information’ section below.)

Main research projects

• Sufism and Zen in the West (forthcoming collected work in collaboration with Michael Conway)
• Globalisation of Zen (Research Collaborator on the project funded by Kakenhi, the Japan Society of the Promotion of Science, led by Tomoe Moriya)
• The Japanese tea ceremony (Chado/the Way of Tea) as portrayed by Tenshin Okakura and its reception and practice in contemporary Britain
• Comparative mysticism (a collected work in collaboration with Louise Nelstrop is forthcoming)
• A study of the Jerusalem-born scholar, Abraham Shalom Yahuda, in particular concerning his scholarship on al-Andalus, his collection of Islamic manuscripts and his identity as a Mizrahi Jew in the modern Zionist context
• A study of religion and politics in modern Japan as reflected in the dress of Kami (Shinto deities)
• Manga (comics) as a visual narrative of the Japanese religious landscape

Archival research experience (selection)

• National Archives, Kew, London
• New School Archives and Special Collections, New York
• Center for Jewish History, New York
• Abraham Shalom Yahuda Archive, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
• Albert Einstein Archives, Jerusalem
• Gakushuin University Museum and Archives, Tokyo
• Urasenke Tea Research Center, Kyoto

Other professional activities

Referee and editor
• Section Editor of the Journal of Open Theology (Islam; Eastern religions) (2014 – present)
• Chair of the BRAIS (British Association for Islamic Studies)-De Gruyter Prize Committee (2018 - present)
• Editorial board for the Journal for the Study of Interreligious Relations (2019 – present)

Reviewer
• Carnegie Research Assessor (2018 – present)
• For various publishers and journals including Bloomsbury, Routledge, Religions, Jewish Quarterly Review

Professional appointments
• Research Associate, Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge (2012 – 2015)
• Research Fellow, Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Organization for the Advancement of Research and Development, Kokugakuin University (國學院大學日本文化研究所、研究開発推進機構共同研究員) (2017 - present)

Research networks
• Treasurer of EURAMES (European Association for Middle Eastern Studies) (2010 – present)
• Treasurer/Membership Officer of the British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS) (2014 – 2018)

Society memberships
• Member of the Scottish Religious Cultures Network, University of Glasgow (2015 – present, invitation)
• Associate Member of the Edinburgh Buddhist Studies (2019 – present, invitation)
Jewish-Muslim Research Network
• British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS)
• British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS)
• British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR)

Publications

List by: Type | Date

Jump to: 2021 | 2020 | 2018 | 2017 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012
Number of items: 9.

2021

Yazaki, S. (2021) Classes of beings. In: Knysh, A. and Lange, C. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Islamic Mysticism/Handbook of Sufi Cosmology. Brill. (In Press)

2020

Yazaki, S. (2020) Scrupulous devotion: the influence of Ibn Hanbal on al-Makki. In: Tabandeh, R. and Lewisohn, L. (eds.) Sufis and their Opponents in the Persianate World. University of California, Irvine; Jordan Center for Persian Studies: Irvine, CA. ISBN 9781949743203

2018

Salazar-Ferrer, O. and Yazaki, S. (2018) La chronique japonaise de Nicolas Bouvier. Infolio. ISBN 9782884743181

2017

Yazaki, S. (2017) Lamp, lamps (Islam). In: Helmer, C., McKenzie, S. L. and Roemer, T. (eds.) The Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, Volume 15: Kalam – Lectio Divina. De Gruyter, pp. 780-781. ISBN 9783110313321

Yazaki, S. (2017) Muslim-Jewish relations in the Duties of Hearts: A.S. Yahuda and his study of Judaism. In: Meri, J. W. (ed.) Jewish-Muslim Relations in Past and Present: A Kaleidoscopic View. Series: Studies on the children of Abraham, 270 (5). Brill: Leiden, pp. 137-161. ISBN 9789004235809

2015

Yazaki, S. (2015) Morality in early Sufi literature. In: Ridgeon, L. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Sufism. Series: Cambridge companions to religion. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 74-97. ISBN 9781107679504

2013

Yazaki, S. (2013) Islamic Mysticism and Abu Talib al-Makki: The Role of the Heart. Series: Routledge Sufi series (13). Routledge: Abingdon. ISBN 9780415671101

2012

Yazaki, S. (2012) A pseudo-Abu Talib al-Makki?: the authenticity of 'Ilm al-qulub. Arabica, 59(6), pp. 650-684. (doi: 10.1163/15700585-12341235)

Yazaki, S. (2012) Review of: The Transformation of Muslim Mystical Thought in the Ottoman Empire: The Rise of the Halveti Order, 1350–1650, John J. Curry. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 39(3), pp. 419-421. (doi: 10.1080/13530194.2012.726494)[Book Review]

This list was generated on Wed Sep 23 05:06:57 2020 BST.
Number of items: 9.

Articles

Yazaki, S. (2012) A pseudo-Abu Talib al-Makki?: the authenticity of 'Ilm al-qulub. Arabica, 59(6), pp. 650-684. (doi: 10.1163/15700585-12341235)

Books

Salazar-Ferrer, O. and Yazaki, S. (2018) La chronique japonaise de Nicolas Bouvier. Infolio. ISBN 9782884743181

Yazaki, S. (2013) Islamic Mysticism and Abu Talib al-Makki: The Role of the Heart. Series: Routledge Sufi series (13). Routledge: Abingdon. ISBN 9780415671101

Book Sections

Yazaki, S. (2021) Classes of beings. In: Knysh, A. and Lange, C. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Islamic Mysticism/Handbook of Sufi Cosmology. Brill. (In Press)

Yazaki, S. (2020) Scrupulous devotion: the influence of Ibn Hanbal on al-Makki. In: Tabandeh, R. and Lewisohn, L. (eds.) Sufis and their Opponents in the Persianate World. University of California, Irvine; Jordan Center for Persian Studies: Irvine, CA. ISBN 9781949743203

Yazaki, S. (2017) Lamp, lamps (Islam). In: Helmer, C., McKenzie, S. L. and Roemer, T. (eds.) The Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, Volume 15: Kalam – Lectio Divina. De Gruyter, pp. 780-781. ISBN 9783110313321

Yazaki, S. (2017) Muslim-Jewish relations in the Duties of Hearts: A.S. Yahuda and his study of Judaism. In: Meri, J. W. (ed.) Jewish-Muslim Relations in Past and Present: A Kaleidoscopic View. Series: Studies on the children of Abraham, 270 (5). Brill: Leiden, pp. 137-161. ISBN 9789004235809

Yazaki, S. (2015) Morality in early Sufi literature. In: Ridgeon, L. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Sufism. Series: Cambridge companions to religion. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 74-97. ISBN 9781107679504

Book Reviews

Yazaki, S. (2012) Review of: The Transformation of Muslim Mystical Thought in the Ottoman Empire: The Rise of the Halveti Order, 1350–1650, John J. Curry. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 39(3), pp. 419-421. (doi: 10.1080/13530194.2012.726494)[Book Review]

This list was generated on Wed Sep 23 05:06:57 2020 BST.

Grants

2019: Book History, Censorship and Religion: Alexander Ross and the first English Translation of the Qur’an (1649) (in collaboration with Bob Maclean, Willy Maley and Thomas Munck, Chancellor’s Fund, ArtsLab, University of Glasgow)

2017: Sufism and Zen (Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation)

2017: Sufism and Zen (Chancellor’s Fund, University of Glasgow)

2017: Sufism and Zen (College of Arts, University of Glasgow)

2016-2017: Dismantling the East-West dichotomy? – the development of trans-traditional teaching of Sufism and Zen in Britain (Carnegie Trust)

2014-2015: Muslim-Jewish-Christian relations: A.S. Yahuda and his career (Royal Society of Edinburgh)

2013-2014: Shared heritage: the Judaeo-Islamic tradition and A.S. Yahuda (Carnegie Trust Research Grant)

2013: Shared heritage: the Judaeo-Islamic tradition and A.S. Yahuda (College of Arts, University of Glasgow)

2010: World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (University of Barcelona)

2009: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (University of Edinburgh)

Supervision

My areas of specialisation are in Sufism, Muslim-Jewish relations and Japanese traditions.
 
I am interested to supervise postgraduate students in the fields of Islamic studies especially regarding Sufism and Muslim-Jewish relations, as well as religion in Japan particularly in the post-Meiji era.

I am also interested in supervising comparative studies of monotheistic and non-monotheistic faiths (e.g. Sufism and Zen, Islam and Shinto), between monotheistic traditions (e.g. Muslim-Jewish relations) or within a single tradition (e.g. early Sufism and Western Sufism). Other topics of interest include in the relationship between morality and religion, the concept of purification in belief and doubts in faith.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss a proposal for postgraduate study relevant to these areas.

  • KHAN, AMINA
    Resurrecting the heroines of South Asian Sufi folklore as Muslim feminists
  • Malik, Adnan
    The defence of miracles from the perspective of the Azeemi Sufi order
  • McCormick, Lucy
    Buddhism in Georges Bataille's 'Somme Athéologique'
  • Mohammad, Bakir Mohammad Saleh
    The Legacy of ʿAbdullāh Al-Hararī in the Scope of Islamic-Lebanese Sectarianism; with Special Reference to The Sunnī-Wahhābi Conflict

Teaching

The Search for Meaning: 'Islam' section (Level 1)

Religions in Asia: 'Religion in Japan' section (Level 1)

Islam (Level 2)

Mysticism and Spirituality: 'Sufism and Zen' section (Level 2)

Sufism (Level 3 and Hons)

Contemporary Issues in Islam: Interpretation of the Textual Sources (Level 3 and Hons)

Reading Islam (Hons)

Religious Practice in Japan (Hons and PGR)

Religion and Violence (MTh)

Additional information

Quick links (see below for more details)

• Guest commentator: "Reincarnation", BBC Radio 4 Beyond Belief (2020)
• Academic consultancy: "Nachi Falls, Japan", BBC ONE Sacred Wonders of the World (2019) [clip via BOB (digital education service for UK institutions)]
• Event: "Religious dress in the flesh" (2018) [blog and clip]
• Symposium: "Sufism and Zen in the modern Western world" (2017) [blog]
• Event: "Narratives of conversion to Islam: female perspectives" (2013) [blog]
 

1. Selected academic activities since 2016
       1-1. Conferences and workshops (* = invited participation)
       1-2. Organisation and collaborative activities

2. Selected public engagements since 2016
Click here for a list of selected academic and public engagements before 2016: Selected academic and public engagements before 2016

1. Selected academic activities since 2016

1-1. Conferences and workshops (* = invited participation)

2019 Religion and Society Seminar, Durham* (12 November)
"Al-Andalus as the foundation of the Zionist vision: A.S. Yahuda and his work on Jewish-Muslim relations"

2019 Reinventing Modernity: Franco-Scottish Encounters with Japan, Alliance française de Glasgow* (17 September)
"More than a gaijin (‘outside person’): Nicolas Bouvier and his Chronique japonaise"

2019 Alexander Ross and the first English translation of the Qur’an (1649): Book history, censorship and religion, Glasgow (12 September)
"Translations of the Qur’an outside of a monotheistic context: the case of Japan"

2019 International Convention of Asia Scholars 11, Leiden (17 July)
"'A cup of humanity': the Japanese tea ceremony (the Way of Tea) as portrayed by Tenshin Okakura and its reception and practice in contemporary Britain"

2019 European Association for the Study of Religions Conference, Tartu (26 June)
"We are what we wear: clothing of Shinto deities in manga comics as an ongoing process of Kami definition"

2019 Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University* (29 May)
"The Zionist as an ‘Oriental Jew’: A.S. Yahuda (d. 1951) and his work on Jewish-Muslim relations"

2019 Fantasy and the Fantastic Symposium, Glasgow (10 May)
"Religion and politics in modern Japan: clothing of Kami (Shinto deities) in manga comics"

2019 British Association for Islamic Studies Annual Conference, Nottingham (16 April)
"Understanding Sufism: Dances of Universal Peace UK and its Syncretic Approach"
Organised a panel: "What is Sufism? – An exploration of Sufi studies and Sufism in the West"

2019 Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, University of St. Andrews* (4 April)
"Religion and politics in modern Japan: continuity and change in the clothing of Shinto deities"

2018 "How religion in Japan is taught at universities abroad (海外の大学で日本宗教についてどの様に教えられているか)", Kokugakuin University (Tokyo)* (1 July)
"Lectures on religion in Japan at British universities (イギリスの大学における日本宗教の授業)"

2018 British Association for Islamic Studies Annual Conference, Exeter (9-11 April)
"Is the universality of Sufism a Western creation?: Jewish Murshid Sam and Zen"

2017 Sufism and Zen in the modern Western world: Spiritual marriage of East and West or Western cultural hegemony?, Glasgow (8-9 December; please see below "Selected knowledge exchange and collaborative activities" for details)
"Has the West changed the Eastern traditions?: Jewish Sufi Sam and his transcultural approach"

2017 British Association for the Study of Religions Annual Conference, Chester (4-6 September)
"Spiritual marriage of East and West or western hegemony?: the use of narratives in the writings of Idries Shah on Sufism and of D.T. Suzuki on Zen"

2017 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Annual Conference, Edinburgh (5-7 July)
"Studying Judaism through studying Islam: A.S. Yahuda and Wissenschaft des Judentums"

2016 Arab Jews: Concepts, Histories, Definitions, Edinburgh*
“'We Jews of the East': Zionism and scholarship of A.S. Yahuda (d. 1951)” (1-2 July)

2016 Sufis and Mullahs: Sufis and their Opponents in the Persianate World, Exeter*
“Sufi-Hanbali dialogue: Abu Talib al-Makki and the meaning of piety” (14-16 April)

1-2. Organisation and collaborative activities

2019 Alexander Ross and the first English translation of the Qur’an (1649): Book history, censorship and religion, Glasgow (12 September)
Co-organised a colloquium in collaboration with Bob Maclean, Willy Maley and Thomas Munck; funded by Chancellor’s Fund and ArtsLab, University of Glasgow (programme)

2019 Thistle and Sakura: Glasgow-Japan Networking Event, Glasgow (24 April)
Organised a networking event (supported by the Dean for Global Engagement (China/East Asia) and College of Arts, University of Glasgow)

2018 British Association for Islamic Studies Conference, Exeter (9-11 April)
Co-organised a conference at the University of Exeter

2017 Sufism and Zen in the modern Western world: Spiritual marriage of East and West or Western cultural hegemony?, Glasgow (8-9 December)
Organised a symposium funded by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and the University of Glasgow (Chancellor’s Fund and College of Arts)
Sufism and Zen programme and Sufism and Zen image gallery

Razwan Ul-Haq's (a Sufi/Zen calligrapher performed at the symposium) Blog: click here

2. Selected public engagements since 2016

2020 Japan Exchange and Teaching programme Alumni Association (JETAA) UK (online) (4 Sep)
"Mottainai (What a waste!) spirit in Japanese tradition: Kimono, Kintsugi (golden joinery) and Shojin Ryori (Buddhist cuisine)"

2020 Japanese language and culture event, Nihongo Connection (online) (6 June)
"Kimono culture and 'Mottainai' spirit"

2020 Sonomama session, Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) (24 April)
"What a waste! 'Mottainai' spirit in Japanese tradition" (organised by Lars Schmidt) [cancelled due to COVID-19]

2020 BBC Radio 4 Beyond Belief (20 April)
Guest commentator for the episode "Reincarnation"

2020 Japanese cultural workshop, Glasgow
(5 March)
Helped organise the trilogy of events in commemoration of the 9th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake 3.11 (programme [N.B. screening of "Life: The Untold Story of the Fukushima Evacuation Zone", Dir. Chiaki Kasai, and talks on Fukushima were cancelled due to COVID-19])

2019 Passion in Stillness: Traditional Nohgaku Performance & Workshop "Discover Samurai culture in pre-Shakespeare era", Glasgow
(9 November)
Co-organised a Noh workshop with the Consulate General of Japan, Edinburgh

2019 Kimono Exhibition and Study Session, House for An Art Lover
(9 October)
Talk: "Kimono culture, beyond ornamental beauty"

2019 Henry Dyer Memorial Event, Glasgow
(23 September)
Talk: "Engineering the future: Glasgow and Japan in the 19th century"

2019 “Faith to Faith: Faith and Nature”, St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art
(22 September)
Talk: "Shinto and nature" (organised by Interfaith Glasgow)

2019 BBC ONE Sacred Wonders of the World
(30 August)
Academic consultancy for the episode "Nachi Falls, Japan"
Available via BOB (digital education service for UK institutions)

2019 Kimono Fashion Show, Queen Margaret University
(18 March)
Talk: "Kimono" (organised by the Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh)

2019 Lecture and workshop on Kimono, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
(12 March)
Public lecture: "Kimono and the historical connections between Glasgow and Japan" (in collaboration with the Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh)

2018 Nihongo Connection, online
(21 December)
Online lecture: "Kimono: its history and symbolism" for Japanese language learners, in collaboration with Nihongo Connection

2018 Interfaith Glasgow Family Fun Day, Glasgow
(18 November)
Organised a "Kimono try-on" stall in collaboration with Interfaith Glasgow as part of the Scottish Interfaith Week

2018 School visit, Shawlands Academy, Glasgow
(16 November)
Talk on "Kimono as religious dress" followed by an interactive session to secondary school students (S2 and 3 during RME lesson), in collaboration with Interfaith Glasgow as part of the Scottish Interfaith Week

2018 "Religious Dress in the Flesh", St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art (26 August)
Co-organised an event with Interfaith Glasgow and St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art (funded by Chancellor's Fund and College of Arts, the University of Glasgow) to explore religious clothing through interfaith encounter.

Programme is availalbe here.
Registration essential click here (now closed).

Blog and video clip from the event: click here.

2018 Unveiling Sufism: from Manhattan to Mecca by Dr Meena Sharify-Funk and Dr William Rory Dickson, Augustine United Church, Edinburgh (16 May)
Discussant to the public forum

2016 ReX 6 Applied Enlightenment, Glasgow Kelvin Hall (27 October)
Public event: "Migration, cultures, beliefs: the limits of tolerance" - Islam

2016 Japanese tradition and culture: a talk and Rakugo performance, Glasgow (17 October)
Talk: "Japanese tradition and culture"
The event was co-organised with the Consulate General of Japan in Edinburgh and the Japan Society of Scotland.
Poster - Japanese tradition and culture, Programme - Japanese tradition and culture and report (in English and in Japanese)

2016 The Burrell Collection for their Refurbishment Project Interpretation Seminar: Islam, Glasgow Burrell Collection (7 September)
"Jihad", "Is the use of violence allowed in Islam?", "Homosexuality"