The Contribution of British Orientalists to Sufi Studies


The Western world had a special interest in the Sufis form the early days of their encounter with the Muslims. It could even be argued that it was the Orientalists, who first established Sufism as a separate field of scholarly research and hence contributed to the evolution of Sufism as a field of science. The British, in particular, reached to the furthest corners of the Islamic world as expert mariners and contributed greatly to the studies on Sufism. They translated most of the Sufi classics into English. These works, in turn, were translated into other European languages. This article will analyze the contribution of various Orientalists to this field as travelers, soldiers, merchants, scholars and missionaries with different motivations from the 12th to the 20th centuries.

Keywords: Orientalists, Sufism, British Orientalism, Sufi literature.

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