Islam in the Middle East and North Africa

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Encyclopedia Entry

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Oxford Bibliographies Online: Islamic Studies


Scholarship on Islam in the Middle East and North Africa spans a range of disciplines in the humanities (e.g., religion, art history, literature) and social sciences (e.g., history, anthropology, sociology, political science). Nineteenth-century studies reflected scholarly training in Semitic languages and philology, resulting in close readings of texts. In the 20th century, closer attention to historical context added depth to the field. Since the 1970s, a revisionist school of thought deploying critical literary analysis has challenged established interpretations of early Islamic history, while insights arising from the social sciences and attention to women's roles have enriched scholarship. Due to Islam's genesis as a phenomenon embracing religious teachings, social organization, and political community, studies of Islam frequently disregard topical boundaries, such that theology and political theory, for example, may be treated together in specialized monographs, lending categorical distinctions an arbitrary quality, even if they are necessary in a bibliographic survey.


Published as:
Commins, David. "Islam in the Middle East and North Africa." In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Islamic Studies, edited by Tamara Sonn. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. doi:10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0050

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