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In a Muslim context, Islamic studies can be an umbrella term for all virtually all of academia, both originally researched and as defined by the Islamization of knowledge. It includes all the traditional forms of religious thought, such as kalam (Islamic theology) and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and also assimilates fields generally considered to be secular in the West, such as Islamic science and Islamic economics.
In a non-Muslim context, Islamic studies generally refers to the historical study of Islam, Muslim culture, Muslim history and Islamic philosophy. Academics from diverse disciplines participate and exchange ideas about predominantly Muslim societies, past and present. In spite of their non-religious approach, some non-Muslim scholars have written works which are widely read by Muslims. Before 1980, such non-Muslim scholars in this field were called "Islamicists" and the discipline was known as Oriental studies, now often Asian studies. Many universities offer academic degrees on the subject of Islamic studies.
History of the fieldEdit
Some orientalists praised the religious tolerance of Islamic countries in contrast with the Christian West, or the status of scholarship in Mandarin China. With the translation of the Avesta by Abraham Anquetil-Duperron and the discovery of the Indo-European languages by Sir William Jones complex connections between the early history of Eastern and Western cultures emerged. However, these developments occurred in the context of rivalry between France and Britain for control of India, and were associated with attempts to understand colonised cultures in order more effectively to control them. Liberal economists such as James Mill denigrated Eastern countries on the grounds that their civilizations were static and corrupt. Even Karl Marx characterised the "Asiatic mode of production" as unchanging.
Islamic history presents several instances in which foreign ideas have intruded within the world view of Muslim civilizations, ideas which have in more than one instance been secular in the sense defined above. The first set of historical circumstances in the career of Islam concerned the Arab environment where Islam was finally revealed. There were many "pagan" Arabian practices and traditions such as blood-feuds, absolute allegiance to the tribe and cults of idol worship which were banned in the universal perspective of Islam. (Chapter 4, Islamic Studies, by:Nasar S)
The field of Islamic history includes the early development of the Islamic faith, as well as its continuation into the different rulers and denominations of the Islamic civilization, and confluence of its philosophy and history where these affected each other:
- Historiography of early Islam
- Muslim historians
- Timeline of Muslim history
Islamic philosophy is a part of Islamic studies. It is a longstanding attempt to create harmony between faith, reason or philosophy, and the religious teachings of Islam. A Muslim engaged in this field is called a Muslim philosopher.
It is divided in fields like:
- Early Islamic philosophy
- Modern Islamic philosophy
- List of Muslim philosophers
- Illuminationist philosophy
- Islamic ethics
- Islamic metaphysics
Kalam (علم الكلام) is one of the "religious sciences" of Islam. In Arabic the word means "discussion", and refers to the Islamic tradition of seeking theological principles through dialectic. A scholar of kalam is referred to as a mutakallim.
It might also be referred to as Islamic mysticism. While other branches of Islam generally focus on exoteric aspects of religion, Sufism is mainly focused on the direct perception of truth or God through mystic practices based on divine love. Sufism embodies a number of cultures, philosophies, central teachings and bodies of esoteric knowledge.
Islamic jurisprudence relates to everyday and social issues in the life of Muslims. It is divided in fields like:
- the study of sharia law
- Islamic economics
- Islamic finance
- Islamic commercial law
- Islamic family law
- Qur'an and Hadith studies
This is not the same as science as conducted by any Muslim in a secular context. Certain liberal movements in Islam eschew the practice of Islamic science, arguing that science should be considered separate from religion as it is today in the West. As in Catholicism however, believers argue that the guiding role of religion in forming ethics of science cannot be ignored and must impose absolute constraints on inquiry.
Science in medieval Islam examines the full range of scientific investigation in the Muslim world, whether performed within a religious or secular context. Significant progress in science was made in the Muslim world during the Middle Ages, especially during the Islamic Golden Age, which is considered a major period in the history of science.
- Timeline of Islamic science and engineering
- Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam
- Astronomy in medieval Islam
- Inventions in medieval Islam
- Islamic sociology
- Mathematics in medieval Islam
- Medicine in medieval Islam
- Physics in medieval Islam
- Psychology in medieval Islam
Islamic art, a part of the Islamic studies, has throughout history has been mainly abstract and decorative, portraying geometric, floral, Arabesque, and calligraphic designs. Unlike the strong tradition of portraying the human figure in Christian art, Islamic art is typically distinguished as not including depictions of human beings. The lack of portraiture is due to the fact that early Islam forbade the painting of human beings, especially the Prophet, as Muslims believe this tempts followers of the Prophet to idolatry. This prohibition against human beings or icons is called aniconism. Despite such a prohibition, depictions of human beings do occur Islamic art, such as that of the Mughals, demonstrating a strong diversity in popular interpretation over the pre-modern period. Increased contact with the Western civilization may also have contributed to human depictions in Islamic art in modern times.
This field includes the study of modern and classical Arabic and the literature written in those languages. It also often includes other modern, classic or ancient languages of the Middle East and other areas that are or have been part of, or influenced by, Islamic culture, such as Hebrew, Turkish, Persian, Armenian and Uzbek.
Islamic architecture is the entire range of architecture that has evolved within Muslim culture in the course of the history of Islam. Hence the term encompasses religious buildings as well as secular ones, historic as well as modern expressions and the production of all places that have come under the varying levels of Islamic influence.
It is very common to mistake Persian Architecture for Islamic Architecture and thus advisable to read both articles.
Sociology and psychologyEdit
Islamic comparative religion is the study of religions in the view of Islam. This study may be undertaken from a conservative Muslim perspective, which often sees Judaism and Christianity as having been originally similar to Islam, and later developing away from the root monotheist religion. However, some liberal movements within Islam dispute the conservative view as being ahistorical; they claim that Islam is the end-result rather than the origin point of monotheist thought.
Islamic economics is economics in accordance with Islamic law. Because the Qur'an spoke against usury in the context of early Muslim society, it generally entails trying to remove or redefine interest rates from financial institutions. In doing so, Islamic economists hope to produce a more "Islamic society". However, liberal movements within Islam may deny the need for this field, since they generally see Islam as compatible with modern secular institutions and law.
- Die Welt des Islams (Brill)
- Islamic Law and Society (Brill Publishers|Brill)
- Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Routledge)
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies Open access (Lancaster University)
- Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford University Press)
- The Muslim World (Blackwell Publishing)
- Studia Islamica (Maisonneuve & Larose)
- Pax Islamica (Mardjani Publishing House)
- The Islamic College
- List of Islamic studies scholars
- List of Islamic terms in Arabic
- Muslim scholars
- Islamic University Jamia Arabia Ahsan-Ul-Uloom
- College of Da’wa and Usul-ud-Din at Umm Al Qura University
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies
- European Institute of Human Sciences and Islamic Sharia
- Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies
- Network for Islamic Studies
- Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies
- MA degree in Islamic Studies through distance learning
- Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University
- Article from The University of Chicago Chronicle
- Study Islamic Business in Indonesia
- A history of Islamic culture
- Islamic Civilization
- Institute of Ismaili Studies
- Muslim Philosophy
- Portal for Islamic studies according to Quran and Sunnah per Ahl as Sunnah wal Jamah - Salaf as Salih
- Reading Quran
- Digital Islam: A research project on the Middle East, Islam, and digital media.
- Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies
- Islamology site for Islamic References
- Kraus-Meyerhof Offprints of Islamic Scholarship