Akbar Ahmed: Discovering Islam Inside Out
In writing Nuer Religion, one of the classic ethnographic accounts of an indigenous religious system, E. E. Evans-Pritchard concluded that he finally reached a point where anthropology stopped and theology took over. Like most anthropologists, he looked at the other’s religion as a conscious outsider, neither intending to become Nuer in belief nor to compare it truthwise to a predefined true religion of his own. Ironically, he first encountered the animist Nuer of Sudan as a skeptic of his own religion but was so impressed by the power of their ritual that he later converted to Catholicism. Like Evans-Pritchard, most ethnographers working in Islamic societies focus on what Muslims do and say, the cultural ramifications of doctrine, rather than engaging in theological debate or apologetic polemic. No modern ethnographers have been missionaries intent on converting Muslims, but several have been Muslim themselves.
KeywordsSyria Turkey Posit Straw Defend
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