Identity, Politics, Islam

Book coverIdentity, Politics, and the Study of Islam: Current Dilemmas in the Study of Religions
Edited by Matt Sheedy

Based partly on a series of posts coming out of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion blog, this volume includes greatly expanded essays by Ruth Mas, Sarah Imhoff and James Crossley as well as new pieces by Devin Stewart, Carlos Segovia, Alexandre Caeiro and Emmanuelle Stefanidis, Russell McCutcheon and Salman Sayyid. This volume, thus, brings together a variety of scholars both inside and outside of Islamic Studies in order to grapple with such questions as: what, if anything, is unique about Islamic Studies? How should Islamic studies as religious studies engage with postcolonial critique? What is the role of identity politics in such endeavors? What are the lines between descriptive (hermeneutic) work and theoretical explanations of Islamic texts? What can scholars in related areas, such as the study of Judaism and early Christianity, offer to this conversation by way of analogy? Can ethical, political, or theological concerns function critically to help theorize Islam?

The volume is divided into four sections: Theory and Identity Politics in the Study of Islam, which looks at the role of identity, knowledge production, and political commitments among scholars of Islam; Critique and Identity in Qur’anic Studies, which deals with challenges in applying critical-historical methods to the study of the Qur’an and how these methods relate to some of the issues raised Omid Safi and Aaron Hughes; Comparative Views from Outside Islamic Studies, which provides a comparative view of how scholars have dealt with similar concerns in the study of Judaism and Christianity; and A Critical Appraisal, which offers a direct challenge to Safi and Hughes.

Order this volume through Equinox Publishers.

Read a review of this volume on Reading Religion.


Introduction: Identity, Apologetics, and the Shapes of Critique in the Study of Islam
Matt Sheedy

Part I: Theory and Identity Politics in the Study of Islam

1. The Modesty of Theory
Ruth Mas

2. I Want My Discipline Back
Salman Sayyid

Part II: Critique and Identity in Qur’an Studies

3. Religion, History, Ethics: Rethinking the Crisis of Western Qur’anic Studies
Alexandre Caeiro and Emmanuelle Stefanidis

4. Identity Politics and the Study of Islamic Origins: The Inscriptions of the Dome of the Rock as a Test Case
Carlos A. Segovia

Part III: Comparative Views from Outside Islamic Studies

5. Jews, Jewish Studies, and the Study of Islam
Sarah Imhoff

6. The Quest for the Historical: Can Biblical Studies Lead Qur’anic Studies away from Theology?
James Crossley

Part IV: A Critical Appraisal

7. A Modest Proposal for Islamic Studies
Devin Stewart

Afterword: The Meaning and End of Scholarship on Religion
Russell T. McCutcheon