1st Edition

Studying Islam in the Arab World The Rupture Between Religion and the Social Sciences

By Sari Hanafi Copyright 2024
    326 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Addressing the rupture between religious and social sciences in Arab universities, this book provides a critical assessment of the curricula of Shariah and Islamic Studies departments across the Arab World, arguing for increased interdisciplinary dialogue.

    Based on over 250 interviews with university students and teachers, this study is the sum of five years of field research observing the curricula and teaching styles of colleges in the Shariah sciences. The author provides critical insight into these curricula by focusing on case studies in Lebanon and Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait and Qatar, and in Malaysia. In doing so, the book aims to answer the following questions:

    • What is the aim of religious education?
    • Does it aim to create people who specialize solely in religious affairs, or does it aim to form the student according to a comprehensive human framework?
    • What is the nature of the relationship between the social sciences and the Shariah sciences?

    The book concludes by examining three pioneering institutions which have introduced alternative curricula in teaching Shariah studies.

    The book has wide geographic and ideological coverage, and will appeal to university students, academics, and policy analysts working across a range of disciplines, including the philosophy of knowledge, Islamic law and education, and sociology.

    Introduction  Part I: Theoretical Approaches and Contexts  1. Shariah Education: Its History, Crisis and Approaches  2. The Arab Religious Field  3. The Islamization of Knowledge: Appraisal and Alternative  Part II: Curricula of Shariah Programs in the Arab World  4. Curricula of Shariah Programs in Lebanon: Dominance of the Traditionalist Tendency  5. Shariah Education in Jordan: Traditionalism in a Complicated Religious Field  6. University Shariah Education in Kuwait: Dominance of the Salafi Approach  7. Curricula of Shariah Programs and Islamic Studies in Morocco: Maqasid al-Shariah Approach  Part III: Alternative Models  8. Reviving the Ethical in the Shariah Sciences: The Case of the College of Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University  9. From Streamlining to Mainstreaming "Islamization of Knowledge": The Case of the International Islamic University of Malaysia  Part IV: Reality, Rupture and Alternative  10. Problems Shared by Shariah Colleges  11. Conclusion: Towards Methodological Alternatives in Connecting the Shariah Sciences to the Social Sciences


    Sari Hanafi is Professor of Sociology, Director of the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies and Chair of the Islamic Studies program at the American University of Beirut. He is also the President of the International Sociological Association. He co-authored Knowledge Production in the Arab World: The Impossible Promise (2015).

    "Typical of Dr. Hanafi’s earlier works, this project is designed around original empirical data, fortified by solid command of religious sciences. In this volume, we find detailed studies of the curricula, theses, sermons, and approaches to religious education across several Muslim-majority countries in different parts of the world. That alone would have been a pioneering accomplishment, but Dr. Hanafi enhances the originality of his contribution by exploring the fruitfulness of a dialogue between the religious sciences he observes and the secular social sciences of which he is a world-renowned expert. There is little in the available literature that rises to the level of this significant book in terms of global scope, depth of knowledge, and cross-breeding of genres of knowledge—all carried out over many years by a key player in global social sciences."

    Mohammed Bamyeh, University of Pittsburgh, United States

    "In this book Sari Hanafi explores the state of the art of Islamic studies in different countries, comparing curricula and different learning goals and outcomes. Coming from a sociology background, he realizes the need to reform both social sciences and Islamic studies, and in this book addresses the rupture and its causes. Without necessarily using the notions of post-colonialism, this book is definitely about revisiting the map of sciences as we know it, with all its divisions and complexities. A must read for social scientists and Islamic scholars alike."

    Heba R. Ezzat, Assistant Professor of Civilization Studies, Ibn Haldun University, Turkey

    "Sari Hanafi shows how a seasoned social scientist with a personal history of acquaintance with Islamic traditional knowledge can interrogate this traditional knowledge’s current conditions, as represented by three of its globally recognized institutions of learning. Among scholars of Islam, the humanities, and the social sciences, there are instances of overlap, turf-protection, cooperation and competition. This text is an opportunity for all participants in these areas of scholarship to think through, question, and enrich their positions about their academic fields’ palpable and not-so-palpable affinities."

    Ahmad Atif Ahmad, Professor of Religious Studies, The University of California, United States

    "Sari Hanafi’s book calls us convincingly to reconsider the existing false binary between Sharia sciences and social sciences. He demonstrates why it is urgently needed and how it can happen. It is a timely call to leave behind the existing pseudo-dichotomies and move forward for a rooted revival through an inclusive multiplex epistemology and methodology which brings together ethical and empirical levels of knowledge."

    Recep Senturk, Dean of College of Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and President of Usūl Academy