John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature in the Divinity School
Ph.D. (University of Chicago)
Michael Sells studies and teaches in the areas of qur'anic studies; Sufism; Arabic and Islamic love poetry; mystical literature (Greek, Islamic, Christian, and Jewish); and religion and violence. The new and expanded edition of his book Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations appeared in 2007. He has published three volumes on Arabic poetry: Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes, which focuses upon the pre-Islamic period; Stations of Desire, which focuses upon the love poetry of Ibn al-'Arabi; and The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, Al-Andalus, which he coedited and to which he contributed. His books on mysticism include Early Islamic Mysticism, translations and commentaries on influential mystical passages from the Qur'an, hadith, Arabic poetry, and early Sufi writings; and Mystical Languages of Unsaying, an examination of apophatic language, with special attention to Plotinus, John the Scot, Ibn al-'Arabi, Meister Eckhart, and Marguerite Porete. His work on religion and violence includes: The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia; and The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy, which he coedited and to which he contributed. He teaches courses on the Qur'an, Islamic love poetry, comparative mystical literature, Arabic Sufi poetry, Arabic religious texts, and Ibn al-'Arabi.
Selected Writings by Michael Sells available online
Essays on Religious Militancy
"Mark Twain's Palestine," a recent essay by Michael Sells, frequencies: a collaborative genealogy of spirituality.
"War as Worship, Worship as War," Religion and Culture Web Forum, December 2006.
Translations of Arabic love poems by Ibn al-'Arabi (d. 1240 CE):
"Day Falls Night," Ibn al-'Arabi, translated by Michael Sells, occasionalreligion.com.
"Dead on the Trail of Dhat al-Adha," Ibn al-Arabi, translated by Michael Sells, occasional religion.com.
"Baghdad Song," Poetry Magazine.
"Tigris Song," Poetry Magazine.
Translation of a Persian Ghazel by Hafez of Shiraz (d. 1390 CE)
"For You Alone," occasionalreligion.com.