The Study of Islam Before and After September 11: A Provocation

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Aaron W. Hughes Department of Religion and Classics, University of Rochester Rochester, NY 14627-0074 USA

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In the aftermath of September 11, the academic study of Islam has been one of the most sought-after areas of academic expertise throughout North America. The result is that many departments of Religious Studies have been eager either to develop or increase existing offerings in all things Islamic and Arabic. This strikes me as a good a time as any to reflect upon the nature of the relationship between Religious Studies and Islamic Studies. This article assumes that the integration of the latter into the former has not been easy or even successful. It provocatively argues that some of the manifold reasons behind such tensions emerge from the apologetics—found among both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars—inherent to the study of Islam. This confessionalism is the result of a complex amalgam of academic and non-academic forces.

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