For Zakriya

silly jokes and some nice stories

I have been fortunate to receive tremendous support for this project. A major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the Digital Publications Initiative at the Brown University Library provided the financial resources to design and create the book in digital format. An Andrew F. Carnegie Fellowship and sabbatical leaves from Brown University and Stanford University allowed me to work full time on the book. Fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Stanford Humanities Center were instrumental in formulating the original idea. Short-term residencies at the Einstein Center Chronoi in Berlin and the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt provided opportunities to work through specific aspects of the project.

Allison Levy’s editorial eye first convinced me that publishing this project in digital format would enhance the argument beyond anything possible in print. I am grateful for her guidance, encouragement, support, and friendship. Victoria Hindley at the MIT Press saw the work’s potential in ways that had not yet occurred to me. Her appreciation and comments had a transformative effect in the final stages. Willow Rambert and Sarah Rainwater at Studio Rainwater are inspiring professionals who listened with great care, proposed fabulous possibilities for carrying the argument in digital format, and designed the book. Jake Camara and his team translated the design into code and created the excellent user interface that allowed me to convert ideas into presentations now visible. Tara Dhaliwal helped to streamline the audiovisual program in the project’s final stages.

Given the scope of this book, almost everyone with whom I have had a conversation about Islam over the course of my career has helped me to think through the ideas presented here. I am grateful to all teachers, students, professional colleagues, friends, family members, and conversation partners, both formal and informal, whose questions compelled me to articulate and think anew about materials and ideas. Special thanks are due to anonymous colleagues who reviewed the project for the Press, providing encouragement and critical feedback that has improved the book in highly consequential ways.

In an earlier project, I spent much time thinking about the human body. One lasting realization from this was that what one considers the information coming from one’s senses is a social matter, shared with those with whom one lives and interacts. Most significantly, much of what I see and hear is owed to Nancy and Zakriya, their eyes and ears melding with mine in our life together. Their love, encouragement, observations, and appreciation are woven throughout the tapestry that is the book. I hope it lives up to what Zakriya described many years ago as the gist of what I do.

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