Studies on eighteenth-century Islamic intellectual history tend to highlight the Wahhabi movement or “fundamentalist” movements. Few studies offer insights into less understood—though by no means less influential—scholarly currents. One such book is Zachary Valentine Wright's Realizing Islam: The Tijaniyya in North Africa and the Eighteenth-Century Muslim World. Focusing on the knowledge production of the modern Tijani Sufi order—one of the largest Sufi orders in Africa today—and the vivacious intellectual life of its founder, Realizing Islam undermines previously held assumptions regarding theories of so-called intellectual “decline” in Islam from roughly the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries.

Wright, a specialist of North and West African Islamic intellectual history, is also a scholar of Sufism and one of the foremost prolific authors on Tijani Sufism today. Realizing Islam weaves a compelling and original narrative of the intellectual vivacity of the eighteenth century and traces its dynamic scholarly network through the lens of...

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