bruce b. lawrence

The Bruce B. Lawrence Reader

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
“Ali Altaf Mian, finding in Lawrence a brilliant mind and expansive attitude toward Islam, has collected here a remarkable selection of Lawrence’s most significant articles. . . . This collection is an impressive array of scholarship on the Muslim world, worth reading from cover to cover, even by insiders with a more than passing knowledge of Islam.”
— Janet M. Powers, Religion