Book: Identity, Politics and the Study of Islam
Chapter: 6. The Quest for the Historical: Can Biblical Studies Lead Qur’anic Studies away from Theology?
This essay takes as its starting point the dispute between Aaron Hughes and Omid Safi on the state of Islamic Studies in North America, and the quests for historical “founding figures”, through a comparison with biblical studies. It will cover issues relating to “critics” and “caretakers”, Orientalism and metacritical approaches to scholarship, and the ongoing dominance of theology. It will provide arguments for the ways in which “critics” can promote their agendas in a way that creates some distance from “confessional” or “caretaker” approaches, including the significance of certain uses of social history. The essay will end with theses (or perhaps suggestions) for the critical historian of Jesus or Muhammad.