A History of the Encyclopaedia of Islam


Peri Bearman


The first two editions of the Encyclopaedia of Islam remain the leading resources in the field of Arabic and Islamic Studies. In this volume, Peri Bearman—the only scholar who was both an in-house editor at Brill, the publishing house that for over a century produced the Encyclopaedia, and also a member of the editorial board—has produced a masterful and detailed account of how it went from being a mere idea to a monument of scholarship. We read about the challenges and pitfalls of conceptualizing, commissioning, vetting, editing, translating, copyediting, proofing, and delivering of articles, about the many personalities involved, and about the conflicts and concessions that had to be made. With unparalleled access to documents, in particular editorial correspondence, Bearman recounts the engaging story of one of the world’s greatest collaborative works in any discipline.

“The author had access to archives of personal papers and letters, and to documentation in the publisher’s records. This has enabled the writing of a work that brings a unique perspective to the history of an invaluable resource, and shines a fascinating light on its creation and backstory, a story that should be of interest to all who use the Encyclopaedia of Islam, for reference, research, or teaching.”
— Roberta Dougherty, Librarian for the Middle East, Yale University Library

Peri Bearman, who retired as associate director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School, is widely known as an editor of major works of scholarship on the Islamic Near East. She was senior acquisitions editor for Islamic Studies at Brill Academic Publishers from 1990 to 1997; an editor of the second edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam from 1999 to its completion in 2006; and is currently associate editor for the Islamic Near East for both the journal (JAOS) and the monograph series of the American Oriental Society. She is co-editor of The Ashgate Research Companion to Islamic Law (Ashgate, 2014), of The Law Applied: Contextualizing the Islamic Shari‘a (Tauris, 2008), and of The Islamic School of Law: Evolution, Devolution, and Progress (Harvard Law School, 2005).



April 19, 2018


Details about the available publication format: pdf ebook

pdf ebook

Date of first publication (11)


Details about the available publication format: print edition

print edition

Physical Dimensions

7in x 10in