Trauer um Soraya Khodamoradi

Obituary: Soraya Khodamoradi (20.02.1978 – 02.12.2023)
It is with profound sadness that I share the heartbreaking news of Soraya Khodamoradi's passing on Saturday, December 2, 2023, at St. Martin Hospice, Erfurt, Germany, following a prolonged illness. She leaves behind her 14-year-old son, Soroush, and Saeed Zarrabi-Zadeh, who remained steadfast by her side until her last breath. In this time of grief, her family, numerous friends, and my family and me mourn the early departure of a cherished soul. The pain is beyond words, and all that remains are the echoes of her memory.

My connection with Soraya began in October 2007 when she reached out by mail, seeking guidance for her work on comparative mysticism. Through negotiations, we delved into the intricate world of 18th-century Indian Sufism, specifically exploring Mir Dard's concept of Tariqa Muhammadiyya and its modern nuances. Soraya brought with her a profound understanding of classical Sufism, nurtured during her Master's studies at the Imam Research Institute, Tehran.

The transition from classical Sufism to the Indo-Muslim scene in her work demanded resilience and dedication. Her efforts were recognized with a three-year stipend from the Interdisziplinäres Forum Religion (2009 – 2012) and a doctoral completion aid from the University of Erfurt. Amid academic and motherly duties, she successfully submitted her thesis, "Sufi Reform in Eighteenth Century India: Case Study of Khwaja Mir Dard," in 2014. This work, later published in 2019, thoughtfully explored the intrinsic traits of modernity in the 18th-century Islamicate world.

Soraya's academic journey took her to new heights as a post-doctoral researcher in a collaborative project between the University of Bonn and Sorbonne Nouvelle University, working alongside internationally renowned scholars such as Carl Ernst and Fabrizio Speziale. Her contributions to Perso-Indica were prolific, unveiling intriguing works like the Risāla-yi šaṭṭāriyya and the Rušd-nāma, among others. Our interactions often occurred over a cup of tea in Bonn, where she shared the progress of her work with infectious enthusiasm, always ready with a joke to lighten the academic atmosphere. I vividly remember the time she surprised us in Bonn with a big chocolate cake, turning a regular day into a delightful celebration of camaraderie.

Beyond her scholarly pursuits, Soraya presented her work at various international conferences and was an essential part of projects focused on the Prophet Muhammad. Her articles on 18th-century Indian Tariqa Muhammadiyya and the Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict (2021), and "The Prophetic Descent in Eighteenth Century Islamicate India" (2022) showcased her intellectual vigor. Despite many achievements, she remained humble, with numerous works still in the pipeline, revealing her continuous commitment to expanding knowledge.

Soraya's passion extended beyond academia. She enriched the lives of students at the University of Erfurt, teaching courses on mystical views, beauty, love, and religious reform movements. Her collaboration with Professor Christoph Bultmann included a captivating exploration of Jesus in the mirror of Sufi Islam and, more recently, the life and work of Annemarie Schimmel. A cherished memory is the planned course "Introduction to Sufism in Kurdistan" for WS 2023, which, unfortunately, could not take place due to her health. Her absence has left an irreplaceable void in the Department of Religious Studies.

In addition to her academic brilliance, Soraya was a brave soul who fought a relentless disease for the sake of her son, Soroush. Her compassion extended to her role as a wife, and our family visit to Iran in 2015 remains a highlight. We shared Persian food, visited shrines, and indulged in lavish dinners, creating lasting memories. I can't help but smile when recalling the times she playfully mixed up Persian words and pronunciations with Urdu during language courses, leading to moments of shared laughter even when the intended meaning miscarried.

Soraya's unexpected departure has left us in deep sorrow. Her joyous personality, a beautiful blend of academic brilliance and vibrant spirit, colored our lives with unparalleled vivacity. She enlivened the Chair of Muslim Cultural & Religious History, leaving an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing her. The loss is profound, and her memory will forever remain in our hearts.

She will find her final resting place in her hometown Paveh, in Hawraman, Kurdistan, amidst the sounds of Daf, Tanbur, and Sufism, next to a garden reminiscent of the one she and Saeed cultivated in Erfurt.

Ne gul ko hai thabāt, nah ham ko hai i`tibār
Kis bāt par chaman hawas-e rañg-o-bū kareñ (Khawajah Mir Dard)

The flower lacks stability, and in it, we lack trust.
Oh flourishing place, why should I covet color and fragrance?
Jamal Malik, Islamabad, 05.12.2023

Iran 2015

Iran, 2015 Soraya and Jamal
Iran, 2015 Soraya and Jamal