Sociology and Anthropology

Sociology and Anthropology

Toward Islamic Anthropology

t would appear from the previous section that anthropology is, if not a child, a creation of the West and more specifically Western imperialism. This is not so. The work of Ibn Khaldun is reflected-with theoretical frame and supporting data-in that of some of the most influential contemporary Western theorists including Karl Marx, Max Weber, Vilfredo Pareto, and Ernest Gellner. Weber’s typology of leadership, Pareto’s circulation of elites, and Gellner’s pendulum swing theory of Muslim society betray the influence of Ibn Khaldun. It is indeed a tragedy that the science of sociology or anthropology did not develop after Ibn Khaldun. And Ibn Khaldun was not alone. There were al Biruni, Ibn Battuta, and al Mas’udi, to name a few.

The Rescuing of Muslim Anthropological Thought


Both of these scholarly publications may be seen as statements of the need for Islamic anthropology. They contain expressions of the discontent of Muslin anthropologists with the state of the art of contemporary anthropological studies. Many Muslim anthropologists and other social scientists share in the feelings evident in these essays and well stated in the late Dr. Ali Shari'ati's Civilization and modernization:

When I feel my own religion, literature, emotion, needs and pains through my awn culture, I feel my own self, the very social and historical self (not the individual self), the source from which this culture has originated. . . .But certain artificial factors, probably of a dubious nature creep into a society which has well defined social conditions or social relations, developed through a specific historical framework, and acquaint it with pains, sufferings, emotions and sentiments which have an alien spirit and are a product of a different past, a different training and society. . . .Then when I wish to feel my own real self, I find myself conceiving another society’s culture instead of my own and bemoaning troubles not mine at all. I groan about cynicism not pertinent to cultural, philosophical and social realities of my society. I then find myself harboring aspirations, ideals and anguishes legitimately belonging to social, economic, and political conditions of societies other than mine. Nonetheless, I treat these desires, ideals, and anguish as if they were my own.. . .Another culture has alienated me. (From English translation published by Houston, TX: Free Islamic Literatures)

Sociological Realism: An Islamic Paradigm

Ever since its revelation more than fourteen hundred years ago, the Qur’an has been the object of recitation and memorization, as well as scholarly analysis by millions in every generation. During this long span of time, not only religious scholars and jurists, but also other professionals like physicists, medical doctors, historians, and orientalists have tried to scrutinize and analyze the Qur’an. It is about time that sociologists paid attention to this primary source of Islam. Sociological interest in the Qur’an, as belated as it is, is in fact natural, for, after a brief foray in the direction of what one may call Origin Theology, the basic thrust of the Qur’an remains ideological- humanity and its society in this world. Not that this is such a revealing idea. Whether one looks at it from a juristic point of view or from a historical perspective, it hardly escapes notice that the Qur’anic verses speak out loudly about the nature of plural living as fabricated by the crisscrossing episodes generated by very active, assertive, and expressive individuals over the course of history. Most of what has been going on in Islamic studies, under the rubric of law and history in particular, provides us with sufficient encouragement to cast a fresh look at the same source of knowledge.

Assimilation in American Life: An Islamic Perspective

The influx of Muslim immigrants into America has become steady in the last decade, a development which raises the need for a theoretical outlook delineating a model of an Islamic-controlled process of assimilation. Using Gordon’s model of assimilation, the paper suggests an Islamic position regarding each of his seven types and stages of assimilation.

Social Change as Seen by Malik Bennabi

Malik Bennabi (1905-1973), the noted Algerian thinker, was born in Constantine, Algeria in the midst of the French occupation of his country. Despite his education in French institutions both at home and in France itself, he was considered a second-class citizen, an indigene. During his formative years, he lived in the antithetical worlds of East-West, Africa-Europe, and Islam-Christianity. Nevertheless, Bennabi remained immune to the inferiority complex afflicting most of his Western-educated Muslim contemporaries. Although he may have suffered from what some scholars call “cultural schizophrenia,” Bennabi strongly identified with Islam, its culture, and its history. His childhood education in Arabic and the Qur‘an was an important reserve which he developed and drew upon at later age?

Conversion to Islam in South Asia: Problems in Analysis

From the earliest times, South Asia has been a scene of invasion. It is a long tale of incursion, conquest, settlement, and then assimilation. The Greek& Sakas, and Eushanas forced their way in as dominant groups and established kingdoms and dynasties, only to be assimilated by what Dr. Spear called “the Hindu sponge.” The push by Muslims into the sub-continent was by well-worn routes and to a familiar pattern of conquest and rule, first of Sind and the Punjab, then of the Gangetic Plain, and, finally, of almost the whole of South Asia.

New Claimants to Religious Tolerance and Protection: A Case Study of American and Canadian Muslims

In The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition, Arthur A. Cohen questions the notion that a ‘‘Judeo-Christian’’ tradition even exists, and suggests that it is an invention of twentieth century American politics spawned by efforts to form a cultural consensus and, in the process, homogenize religious identification and promote interfaith harmony. The conception of such a tradition is, in Cohen’s words, “. . . mythological or, rather, not precisely mythological but ideological and hence, as in all ideologies, shot through with falsification, distortion, and untruth.’

Toward Islamic Anthropology: Introduction

A. The Science of Anthropology

This study is speculatory and concerns a difficult and complex subject. Its task is made more difficult as it defends a metaphysical position, advances an ideological argument and serves a moral cause. It will, therefore, remain an incomplete part of an on-going process in the debate on key issues in contemporary Muslim society.

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Log in

Our website is protected by DMC Firewall!