Michael Sells

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Michael Anthony Sells (Born in Butte MT, on May 8, 1949) is the John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.[1] Michael Sells studies and teaches in the areas of Qur'anic studies, Sufism, Arabic and Islamic love poetry, mysticism (Greek, Islamic, Christian, and Jewish), and religion and violence.


He completed a new and expanded edition of his 1999 book Approaching the Qur'an: the Early Revelations which was the center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Summer Reading Program UNC-Qur'an Controversy in 2002.[2] He also published three volumes on Arabic poetry, Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes, Stations of Desire, and The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, Al-Andalus, which he co-edited 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, as well as 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 co-edited and to which he contributed. He teaches courses on the topics of the Qur'an, Islamic love poetry, comparative mystical literature, Arabic Sufi poetry, and Ibn al-`Arabi.[1]


Michael Sells argues that religious mythology played a crucial role in Bosnian genocide.[3]:backcover He wrote about the religious ideology of Christoslavism:[3]:36

Sells argues that the genocide in Bosnia:[3]:89–90

Sells argues that these acts were seen as ethnoreligious purification:[3]:51


  • Sells, Michael (1996). Early Islamic Mysticism. New York: Paulist Press. 
  • Sells, Michael (1998). The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21662-8. 
  • Sells, Michael (2007). Approaching the Qur'an. Ashland: White Cloud Press. 
  • Qureshi, Emran; Sells, Michael, eds. (2003). The New Crusades. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12667-0. 


  1. ^ a b Michael Sells, Divinity School at the University of Chicago, retrieved 2014-09-12 
  2. ^ Buck, Christopher (2012). Bukhari, Zahid H.; Ahmad, Mumtaz, eds. "Observing the Observer: The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities" (PDF). The International Institute of Islamic Thought.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  3. ^ a b c d Michael Sells (1998). The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21662-8. 

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