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Taking a Critical Turn: Reflections on Islamic Studies and the Relevance of John Wansbrough

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Chapter Summary

The present state of Islamic studies has come under scrutiny for its heavy reliance on confessional and essentialist discourses that give credence to religious and theological claims. For many Islamicists, religious and political biases determine not only what data is selected for study, but also how that data is presented, interpreted and evaluated. Few Islamicists are willing to press for social scientific study of Islam and the body of foundational literature on which it is based. Many scholars of Islam seem unwilling to employ more theoretically and methodologically rigorous perspectives. This chapter considers Herbert Berg's important article, "The Implications of, and Opposition to, the Methods and Theories of John Wansbrough". Efforts should be made to open up new avenues for future research direction in Islamic studies. Critical consciousness of the collective discussions among scholars of religious studies, particularly those of Islamic studies must be raised.

Keywords: Herbert Berg; Islamic studies; Islamicists; John Wansbrough



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