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Hallaj: Poems of a Sufi Martyr, translated by Carl W. Ernst (2018)

October 5, 2018

Hallaj:Poems of a Sufi Martyr, translated by Carl W. Ernst (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 2018). is the first authoritative translation of the Arabic poetry of Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj, an early Sufi mystic. Despite his execution in Baghdad in 922 and the subsequent suppression of his work, Hallaj left an enduring literary and spiritual legacy that continues to inspire readers around the world. In Hallaj, Carl W. Ernst offers a definitive collection of 117 of Hallaj’s poems expertly translated for contemporary readers interested in Middle Eastern and Sufi poetry and spirituality.


Marginalia / L.A. Review of Books 

Washington Independent Review of Books

New York Review of Books 

It’s not just academic: Essays on Islamic studies and Sufism (2017)

October 5, 2018

It’s not just academic: Essays on Islamic studies and Sufism (Yoda Press/Sage, 2017) is a collection of articles by Carl W Ernst. It summarizes over 30 years of research, recovering and illuminating remarkable examples of Islamic culture that have been largely overlooked, if not forgotten. It opens with reflections on teaching Islam, focusing on major themes such as Sufism, the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, and Arabic literature. The importance of public scholarship and the questionable opposition between Islam and the West are also addressed. The articles that follow explore multiple facets of Sufism, the ethical and spiritual tradition that has flourished in Muslim societies for over a thousand years. The cumulative effect is to move away from static Orientalist depictions of Sufism and Islam through a series of vivid and creative case studies.

Refractions of Islam in India: Situating Sufism and Yoga (2016)

October 3, 2016

Image result for Refractions of Islam in India: Situating Sufism and YogaThe essays in Refractions of Islam in India: situation Sufism and Yoga, explore Sufism as it developed in the Indian subcontinent, including translations of previously unavailable texts, and revealing unexpected insights into the lives, practices, and teachings  of Indian Muslims over nearly a thousand years. They also trace remarkable moments in the history of Muslim engagement with Indian religious and cultural practices. This includes not only Muslim participation in Indian art and literature, but also the extraordinary role that Sufis have played in the practice of yoga. Employing new approaches to religious studies that avoid essentialism and ideological concepts of religion, and shorn of unnecessary jargon, these compelling essays will be easily accessible to a larger audience.

Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam (2010)

October 3, 2011

Image result for Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of IslamSufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam (Shambhala, 2011)

Original Issue: The Shambhala Guide to Sufism (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1997).

The Sufis are as diverse as the countries in which they’ve flourished—from Morocco to India to China—and as varied as their distinctive forms of art, music, poetry, and dance. They are said to represent the mystical heart of Islam, yet the term Sufism is notoriously difficult to define, as it means different things to different people both within and outside the tradition. With that fact in mind, Carl Ernst in Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam, explores the broadest range of Sufi philosophies and practices to provide one of the most complete and comprehensive introductions to Sufism available in English. He traces the history of the movement from the earliest days of Islam to the present day, along the way examining its relationship to the larger world of Islam and its encounters with both fundamentalism and secularism in the modern world.








  •  Spanish translation by Joan Carles Guix Sufismo, Guías de Sabiduría Oriental, 4. Barcelona: Oniro, 1999.


  •  Italian translation by Laura Franco: Il grande libro della sapienza sufiMilan: Oscar Saggi Mondadori, 2000.


  •  Greek translation by Sophia Leibadopolou: Souphismos. Athens: Ekdoseis Archetypo, 2001.
  •  Russian translation by A. Gorkavago: Sufizm. Moscow: Fair-Press, 2002. Complete online Russian version here.
  •  Indonesian translation: Ajaran dan Amaliah Tasawuf. Pustaka Sufi, 2003

How to Read the Qur’an: A New Guide with Select Translations (2011)

October 3, 2011

Image result for How to Read the Qur'an: A New Guide with Select TranslationsFor anyone, non-Muslim or Muslim, who wants to know how to approach, read, and understand the text of the Qur’an, How to Read the Qur’an offers a compact introduction and reader’s guide. Using a chronological reading of the text according to the conclusions of modern scholarship, Carl W. Ernst offers a nontheological approach that treats the Qur’an as a historical text that unfolded over time, in dialogue with its audience, during the career of the Prophet Muhammad.

Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World (2003)

October 3, 2003

Avoiding the traps of sensational political exposes and specialized scholarly Orientalism, Carl Ernst in Following Muhammad introduces readers to the profound spiritual resources of Islam while clarifying diversity and debate within the tradition. Framing his argument in terms of religious studies, Ernst describes how Protestant definitions of religion and anti-Muslim prejudice have affected views of Islam in Europe and America. He also covers the contemporary importance of Islam in both its traditional settings and its new locations and provides a context for understanding extremist movements like fundamentalism. He concludes with an overview of critical debates on important contemporary issues such as gender and veiling, state politics, and science and religion.





Translations and foreign editions

Indonesian translation by Anna Farida et al.: Pergulatan Islam di dunia kontemporer : doktrin dan peradaban (Bandung, Indonesia: Mizan, Khazanah Ilmu-Ilmu Islam, 2016).






Russian translation by A. A. Ezhovoy, Sleduya za Muhammadom: Pereosmyslivaya v sovremennom mire. Moscow: Sadra, 2015.






 Persian translation by Ghasem Kakaie, Iqtida-yi Muhammad: Nigar-i naw bi-islam dar jahan-i mu`asir. Tehran: Hermes Press, 2011.






Arabic translation by Hamza Halayqa, `Ala Nahj Muhammad: I`adat al-tafkir fil-Islam fil-`alam al-mu`asir. Beirut: Arabic Scientific                      Press, 2008.





  German translation by Kurt Maier, Mohammed folgen: Der Islam in der modernen Welt. Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht GmbH & Co., 2007.







 Turkish translation by Cangüzel Güner Zülfikar: Hz. Muhammed’in Yolunda: Günümüz Dünyasında İslâmiyeti Yeniden Düşünmek. Istanbul: Okuyan Us, 2005.





 India edition, New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2005.






Korean translation, Seoul: Simsan Munhwa, 2005.






UK edition, Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2004.

Sufi Martyrs of Love: Chishti Sufism in South Asia and Beyond by Carl Ernst and Bruce Lawrence (2002)

October 3, 2002

Image result for Sufi Martyrs of Love: Chishti Sufism in South Asia and BeyondSufism is a religion which emphasizes direct knowledge of the divine within each person, and meditation, music, song, and dance are seen as crucial spiritual strides toward attaining unity with God. Sufi paths of mysticism and devotion, motivated by Islamic ideals, are still chosen by men and women in countries from Morocco to China, and there are nearly one hundred orders around the world, eighty of which are present and thriving in the United States. The Chishti Sufi order has been the most widespread and popular of all Sufi traditions since the twelfth-century. Sufi Martyrs of Love offers a critical perspective on Western attitudes towards Islam and Sufism, clarifying its contemporary importance, both in the West and in traditional Sufi homelands. Finally, it provides access to the voices of Sufi authorities, through the translation of texts being offered in English for the first time.

Teachings of Sufism, Translated by Carl Ernst (1999)

October 3, 1999

Image result for Teachings of SufismThe prose and verse readings in Teachings of Sufism were chosen to interest the many people who have become attracted to Sufi teachings through their exposure to popular Sufi poetry, music, and dance. The selections—mostly from the Middle East and India, ranging from the tenth to the twentieth century—provide a sampling of Sufi thought on some of the basic aspects of this spiritual path.

Most of the readings are published here in English for the first time. Brief introductory remarks place each selection into its historical and religious context, and an index of Qur’anic passages helps the reader to trace the extensive allusions to the Islamic holy scriptures.

The topics covered include: The nature of mystical love Meditation Listening to music as a spiritual practice Ethical teachings of Sufism Pitfalls on the spiritual path Spiritual companionship and the master-disciple relationship The importance of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad Biographical accounts of great mystics, including the poet Rumi as well as several female saints


Turkish translation by Cangüzel Güner Zülfikar, in preparation.

Ruzbihan Baqli: Mystical Experience and the Rhetoric of Sainthood in Persian Sufism (1996)

October 3, 1996

Image result for Ruzbihan Baqli: Mystical Experience and the Rhetoric of Sainthood in Persian SufismRuzbihan Baqli is a full-length study devoted to the life and mystical experiences of one of the outstanding figures in Persian Sufism. Although Ruzbihan Baqli (d.1209) was long recognized within the Sufi tradition, it is only within the past few decades that his works have been rediscovered and printed. This study introduces and analyzes the most important sources for the life of Ruzbihan, his own visionary diary (The Unveiling of Secrets) written in Arabic, and two Persian hagiographies written by his great-grandsons a century after his death; and extensive excerpts from these works are presented here in translation.


Persian translation by Majdoddin Keyvani, Ruzbihan Baqli: `irfan va shath-i awliya’ dar tasawwuf-i islami. Tehran: Nashr-i Markaz, 1999.

Revised Persian translation and notes by Kurus Divsalar: Ruzbihan Baqli, tajriba-i `irfani va shath-i vilayat dar tasavvuf-i irani. Tehran: Amir Kabir, 2004.

Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center (1992)

October 3, 1992

Image result for Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi CenterReveals the mystical teachings and practices of the Chishti Sufi order as taught by the ecstatic Shaykh Burhan al-Din Gharib (d. 1337) and his disciples.

“This is an extraordinary piece of scholarship. I like the constant sense of discovery that Ernst brings to his work, not only with regard to the literary archival material, which he has arrayed in painstaking detail, but also his enthusiasm about discovering new ways of seeing oral data in relationship to textual data, and textual data in relationship to ritual data.

“Reading this book has taken me far afield in my own thought, and I must end by remarking that, like the pilgrim to Khuldabad, I have come back from the experience much enriched and full of a certain spirit of renewal that I would not have imagined nor found before this trip. Eternal Garden marks a major, transformative advance in the study of institutional Sufism, especially, but not solely, in South Asia.” — Bruce B. Lawrence, Duke University

Ernst’s research, based on rare Persian manuscripts preserved in Sufi shrines in the medieval town of Khuldabad, a major center of pilgrimage in the Indian Deccan, reveals the mystical teachings and practices of the Chishti Sufi order as taught by the ecstatic Shaykh Burhan al-Din Gharib (d. 1337) and his disciples. Eternal Garden clarifies the diverse historiographical approaches found in an array of narratives. It redefines major topics in the often emotionally charged study of religion and history in South Asia, and it raises provocative theses on much-argued topics such as the basis of Islamic political power in South Asia and the alleged roles of Sufis as warriors and missionaries.


New edition, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.