The scholarly study of Islam has become ever more insular and apologetic. Academic Islamic Studies has tried to maintain a focus on truth, authenticity, experience and meaning and has effectively avoided discussion of larger social, cultural and ideological issues. Many scholars of Islam have presented themselves to their colleagues, the media and the public as the interpreters of Islam and have done so with an interpretation which tends, almost universally, to the liberal and egalitarian. The ignorance and hostility which the Islamic faith has faced since 9/11 has partly necessitated the taking of such a position. But, as 'Theorizing Islam' argues, the issue remains that only one interpretation of Islam is generally being presented and, as with any interpretation, this has its own assumptions. The aim of 'Theorizing Islam' is to explore the potential for a fuller, more honest and more sophisticated approach to both theory and methodology in the academic study of Islam.
Aaron W. Hughes is Philip S. Bernstein Chair in the Department of Religion and Classics at the University of Rochester.
Introduction: Islam and Religious Studies Post 9/11 1. The Scholarly Dream of Following Muhammad's Footsteps 2. Another Painting on Islam's Early Canvas 3. John Esposito and the Muslim Women 4. Toward a Reconfiguration of the Category 'Muslim Women' 5. Reflections On Ernst and Martin's Rethinking Islamic Studies 6. From Islamic Religious Studies to the 'New Islamic Studies'