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Decolonizing Quranic Studies
Employing the tools of postcolonial studies, this paper examines the manner in which the legacy of colonialism continues to influence the analysis of the Quran in the Euro-American academy. While Muslim lands are no longer directly colonized, intellectual colonialism continues to prevail in the privileging of Eurocentric systems of knowledge production to the detriment and even exclusion of modes of analysis that developed in the Islamic world for over a thousand years. This form of intellectual hegemony results in a multifaceted epistemological reductionism that denies efficacy to the analytical tools developed by the classical Islamic tradition. The presumed intellectual superiority of Euro-American analytical modes has become a constitutive and persistent feature of Quranic Studies, influencing all aspects of the field. Its persistence prevents some scholars from encountering, let alone employing, the analytical tools of the classical Islamic tradition and presents obstacles to a broader discourse in the international community of Quranic Studies scholars. Acknowledging the obstacles to which the coloniality of knowledge has given rise in Quranic Studies can help us to develop more inclusive approaches in which multiple modes of analysis are incorporated and scholars from variegated intellectual backgrounds can engage in more effective dialogue
Speaker: Joseph E. B. Lumbard is Associate Professor of Arabic and Translation Studies at American University in Sharjah, and the managing General Editor for The Study Quran (HarperOne 2015), A specialist in Quranic Studies, Sufism, Islamic philosophy, and comparative theology, he is the author of Aḥmad al-Ghazālī, Remembrance and the Metaphysics of Love (2016), Submission, Faith and Beauty: The Religion of Islam (2009), and editor of Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition (2nd edition, 2010).
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