The Legacy of Wilfred Cantwell Smith

Edited by Ellen Bradshaw Aitken & Arvind Sharma

Subjects: Comparative Religion, Religion, Philosophy Of Religion, Asian Religion And Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438464688, 260 pages, January 2018
Hardcover : 9781438464695, 260 pages, April 2017

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Table of contents

Ellen Bradshaw Aitken and Arvind Sharma

Diana L. Eck
Religious Studies—The Academic and Moral Challenge: Personal Reflections on the Legacy of Wilfred Cantwell Smith

John B. Carman
Wilfred Cantwell Smith: Academic Architect

Purushottama Bilimoria
The Meaningful “End” of God, Faith, and Scripture

Thomas B. Coburn
Anticipating the Emergence of “Contemplative Studies”: Reflections on the Work of Wilfred Cantwell Smith

Harvey Cox
Faith and Belief Revisited

William A. Graham
Wilfred Cantwell Smith and “Orientalism”

John Stratton Hawley
Enabling Antinomies: Tensions and Tensile Strength in Wilfred Cantwell Smith

Jonathan R. Herman
Who Cares If the Qur’an Is the Word of God? W. C. Smith’s Charge to the Aspiring Public Intellectual

Amir Hussain
Towards a Hermeneutic of Humanity: Wilfred Cantwell Smith and the Study of Muslims

Sheila McDonough
Wilfred Cantwell Smith in Lahore 1940–1951

Robert A. Segal
Diagnosis Rather than Dialogue as the Best Way to Study Religion

Peter Slater
Wilfred Smith’s Prophetic Sense of History and Proposal Regarding Verification

K. R. Sundararajan
Study of Religion as Study of Religious Persons

Donald K. Swearer
The Moral Imagination of Wilfred Cantwell Smith

Wilfred Cantwell Smith: A Bibliography


First work to address the legacy of Wilfred Cantwell Smith and his influence on the development of religious studies and Islamic studies in the twentieth century.


This is the first work to address the legacy of Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916–2000), whose intellectual and institutional contributions helped shape the field of religious studies in the latter half of the twentieth century. As a young scholar, Smith taught Indian and Islamic history in Lahore for several years and witnessed the partition of India. Upon his return to North America, he obtained his PhD at Princeton University before embarking upon a long and distinguished career. He founded the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University and served as director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University. Smith emphasized the place of the scholarly study of Islam in the Western academy long before Islam occupied its current position at the center of global politics, challenged the notion of monolithic world religions, and argued for the importance of dialogical processes and a personalist approach to the study of religion. Contributors to this volume, many of whom were Smith's students, provide a wide-ranging exploration of his influence and legacy.

Ellen Aitken (1961–2014) was the Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University. Arvind Sharma is Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University and the author of many books, including One Religion Too Many: The Religiously Comparative Reflections of a Comparatively Religious Hindu; Hinduism as a Missionary Religion; and Religious Studies and Comparative Methodology: The Case for Reciprocal Illumination, all also published by SUNY Press.