The Bruce B. Lawrence Reader

Islam beyond Borders

Book Pages: 480 Illustrations: 3 illustrations Published: January 2021

Author: Bruce B. Lawrence

Editor: Ali Altaf Mian

Contributor: Yasmin Saikia

History > World History, Middle East Studies, Religious Studies

Over the course of his career, Bruce B. Lawrence has explored the central elements of Islamicate civilization and Muslim networks. This reader assembles more than two dozen of Lawrence's key writings, among them analyses of premodern and modern Islamic discourses, practices, and institutions and methodological reflections on the contextual study of religion. Six methodologies serve as the organizing rubric: theorizing Islam, revaluing Muslim comparativists, translating Sufism, deconstructing religious modernity, networking Muslims, and reflecting on the Divine. Throughout, Lawrence attributes the resilience of Islam to its cosmopolitan character and Muslims' engagement in cross-cultural dialogue. Several essays also address the central role of institutional Sufism in various phases and domains of Islamic history. The volume concludes with Lawrence's reflections on Islam's spiritual and aesthetic resources in the context of global comity. Modeling what it means to study Islam beyond political and disciplinary borders as well as a commitment to linking empathetic imagination with critical reflection, this reader presents the broad arc of Lawrence's prescient contributions to the study of Islam.


“Few people can talk about God, scripture, humanity, art, and piety as Bruce B. Lawrence can: elegantly, eloquently, and effortlessly. Both general and specialist audiences will find this reader compelling for its clarity and pedagogy. Gems of the Qur'an dance alongside mystical insights, seamlessly joined to world events and to Muslim societies and beyond, over time. An exemplary scholar tells us how history shapes ideas and people, especially the manifold ways we experience the sublime.” — Ebrahim Moosa, Mirza Family Professor of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies, University of Notre Dame

“In bringing together Bruce B. Lawrence's pieces, this volume raises awareness of his original, significant, and exceptionally broad contributions to the study of religion and especially Islam.” — Marcia Hermansen, Director of Islamic World Studies at Loyola University Chicago


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Bruce B. Lawrence is Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Humanities Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion at Duke University and author of numerous books, most recently The Koran in English: A Biography.

Ali Altaf Mian is Assistant Professor of Religion and Izzat Hasan Sheikh Fellow in Islamic Studies at the University of Florida.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface / Bruce B. Lawrence  ix
Acknowledgments / Bruce B. Lawrence  xiii
Introduction / Ali Altaf Mian  1
Part I. Theorizing Islam in World History
1. Introduction to Shattering the Myth: Islam beyond Violence (1998)  29
2. Islam in Afro-Eurasia: A Bridge Civilization (2010)  54
3. Muslim Cosmopolitanism (2012)  78
4. Genius Denied and Reclaimed: Hodgson's The Venture of Islam (2014)  90
Part II. Revaluing Muslim Comparativists
5. Al-Biruni: Against the Grain (2014)  103
6. Shahrastani on Indian Idol Worship (1973)  113
7. Introduction to Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah (2005/2015)  124
8. Mystical and Rational Elements in the Early Religious Writings of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1979)  141
Part III. Translating Institutional Sufism
9. Can Sufi Texts Be Translated? Can They Be Translated from Indo-Persian to American English (1990)  165
10. "What Is a Sufi Order? 'Golden Age' and 'Decline' in the Historiography of Sufism," from Sufi Martyrs of Love: The Chishti Order in South Asia and Beyond (2002), Coauthored with Carl W. Ernst  175
11. Sufism and Neo-Sufism (2010)  191
12. "Allah Remembered: Practice of the Heart," from Who Is Allah? (2015)  218
Part IV. Deconstructing Religious Modernity
13. "Fundamentalism as a Religious Ideology in Multiple Contexts" and Conclusion, from Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt against the Modern Age (1989)  233
14. "The Shah Bano Case," from On Violence: A Reader (2007)  255
15. Introduction to Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden (2005)  262
16. Muslim Engagement with Injustice and Violence (2013)  274
Part V. Networking Muslim Citizenship
17. Preface and Conclusion, from New Faiths, Old Fears: Muslims and Other Asian Immigrants in American Religious Life (2002)  307
18. "W.D. Mohammed: Qur'an as Guide to Racial Equality," from The Qur'an: A Biography (2006)  327
19. Introduction to Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop (2005), Coauthored with miriam cooke  333
20. "AIDS Victims and Sick Women: Qur'an as Prescription for Mercy," from The Qur'an: A Biography (2006)  345
Part VI. Reflecting the Divine Other in Words and Images
21. Approximating Saj? in English Renditions of the Qur'an: A Close Reading of Sura 93 (al Duha) and the Basmala (2005)  353
22. Epilogue to The Qur'an: A Biography (2006)  370
23. A Metaphysical Secularist? Decoding M.F. Husain as a Muslim Painter in Exile (2011)  374
24. Conclusion, from Who Is Allah? (2015)  395
25. The Future of Islamic Studies: Bruce B. Lawrence, Interviewed by Ali Altaf Mian (2018)  409
Afterword / Yasmin Saikia  432
Bruce B. Lawrence's Writings  441
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1129-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1024-1