Annemarie Schimmel was born on 7 April 1922 in Germany and became a renowned and influential Iranologist, historian and a prolific author on Islam and Sufism before she passed away on 26 January 2003.
Schimmel studied at the University of Berlin and received a doctorate in Islamic languages and civilizations at the age of nineteen. She then became a professor of Arabic at University of Marburg in 1946. While there, she earned a second doctorate in 1954, this time in the history of religions. That same year, she became the professor of history of religions at the University of Ankara in Turkey. She spent five years there, teaching Turkish and absorbing the culture and religion pervading the area. From 1967 to 1992, she served on the faculty of Harvard University and became professor emeritus of Indo-Muslim culture after retirement.
She was also an honorary professor for the University of Bonn, published more than one hundred books on Islamic literature, mysticism and culture and additionally translated a variety of Islamic poetry to English and German from languages such as Persian, Urdu, Arabic, Sindhi and Turkish. Pakistan honoured her with the highest civil order possible, known as the Hilal-e-Imtiaz or ‘Crescent of Excellence’. She received many other awards from many other countries, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1995, which proved controversial due to her defence of the Islamic world’s outrage against Salman Rushdie.
J. Douglas Mastin
University of Edinburgh