Method in the Study of Islam

Aaron W. Hughes

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
Method in the Study of Islam


Method, broadly conceived, refers to the techniques employed in the production and dissemination of knowledge. An analysis of method, then, does not focus so much on the results of the research or even the datasets employed but on those metaquestions or metaissues that govern the questions asked (or not asked) and the answers deemed satisfactory (or not satisfactory). Since data do not always exist naturally in the world, methods are often intimately involved in the actual creation of data by, for example, determining what is worthy of analysis in the first place and subsequently separating it from cognate data. Different methodologies used to interpret the same dataset thus often produce different results. To reduce bias, the methodologies employed by scholars should be well documented, along with the data, and thus be available to the scrutiny of other scholars. This practice, often referred to in the scientific community as full disclosure, allows for the systematic study of the first principles employed within a discipline. When applied to Islam, “methods” refers more specifically to a variety of approaches, often derived from other disciplines (e.g., anthropology, religious studies, sociology), that seek to analyze, explain, and interpret Islam and Islamic datasets. Taken together, these vast methodological frameworks (which run the gamut from the apologetic to the critical) are responsible for the production of the discipline known collectively as “Islamic studies.”

Article.  7533 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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