Studying the Qurʾan in the Context of Indonesian Islamic Higher Education

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Lien Iffah Nafʾatu Fina Lecturer, Qurʾanic Studies Program, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University Yogyakarta Indonesia
Ph.D. Student, Islamic Studies, The University of Chicago Divinity School Chicago, IL US

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This essay reconsiders some of Majid Daneshgar’s arguments in his Studying the Qurʾan in the Muslim Academy. The first part of the essay discusses what counts as the Muslim academy and how it is represented in this book. I examine his arguments that the Muslim academy does not do Islamic studies but rather an apologetic, descriptive, and normative study of Islam, and that the Muslim academy’s reception of Western Qurʾanic scholarship is dismissive, hostile, poor, selective, and apologetic. Its second part examines his argument that the Muslim academy does not engage in a “critical study” of the Qurʾan and Islam. Through a juxtaposition with my experience teaching at UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta and the development of Islamic higher education in Indonesia, I argue that Daneshgar’s thesis is an over-generalization of what he regards as the Muslim academy, obscuring its plural nature worldwide. I also question whether it is appropriate to talk about the Muslim academy in universal terms. I further argue that to analyze academic study of Islam and the Qurʾan in the Muslim world, one needs to consider the latter’s context and history and its dynamic in relation to secular epistemologies developed in the West.

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