The Art of Ancestry

  • Carl W. Ernst
  • Bruce B. Lawrence


We talk about genealogies because Sufi authors themselves do. They do so because to reiterate and retrieve and conjure a spiritual line that links the current generation to earlier generations is central to defining identity. The key link is always through the Sufi masters, the spiritual giants, who define each generation. Genealogies serialized become biographies, and in the hands of Sufi authors, biographies often become hagiographies—the lives of holy exemplars.


Death Date Indian Cycle Islamic History Textual Exegesis Foundational Period 
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    The Persian word tazkira is used for any anthology with a biographical organization; we use it here for biographies of Sufi saints, though the term can cover literary and other anthologies. See Marcia K. Hermansen and Bruce B. Lawrence, “Indo-Persian Tazkiras as Memorative Communications,” in David Gilmartin and Bruce B. Lawrence, eds., Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), pp. 149–75.Google Scholar
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© Carl W. Ernst and Bruce B. Lawrence 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl W. Ernst
  • Bruce B. Lawrence

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