Orientalism and the study of Islam 1929
William Thomson and Islamic Intellectual History
William Thomson earned his Ph.D. in 1924 at Harvard where he wrote a dissertation entitled, “Isaac of Nineveh: A study in Syrian mysticism." He began his career at Harvard as Associate Professor of Arabic in 1929 and later became the first James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic until his retirement in 1954. Professor Thomson’s research and teaching focused on early Islam, Islamic intellectual history, and Eastern Christian mysticism. His courses spanned the departments of Semitic Languages and History, History of Religions, and History and included, “The Political and Social History of Moslems to the Decline of the Abbasid Caliphate (c. 950 A.D.),” “The History of Moslem Religious Thought from Mohammed to Al-Ghazali,” “The Development of Moslem Orthodoxy,” and “The Development of Moslem Sects.” His publications included articles on “The Early Muslim Sects” (1937), “The Concept of Human Destiny in Islam” (1945), and “An Introduction to the History of Sufism” (1945).