Islam Obscured pp 135-162 | Cite as


Muslims Observed: The Lessons From Anthropology
  • Daniel Martin Varisco
Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)


There was a time, now almost a generation ago, when there were relatively few ethnographic data collected by trained anthropologists working in Islamic societies, when anthropological approaches to religion focused on “primitive” non-worldwide religious systems, and when those who did devote their scholarship to Islam did so almost exclusively as exegetes of texts. This was the academic setting that Islam Observed addressed, Ernest Gellner embellished, Fatima Mernissi skirted, and Akbar Ahmed derided. Edward Said, I should add, covered it and condemned it. Fortunately, there is now a sizeable presence of ethnographic analysis of Muslim societies; unfortunately, it is rarely known or cited outside of the narrow confines of specialized subfields in anthropology. Islam, mainly one geographical zone of it, appears in several summations of Middle East anthropology, but no one has yet charted the intellectual trajectory of an anthropology of Islam as such.


Legal Text Suicide Bomber Muslim Society Muslim Scholar Anthropological Approach 
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© Daniel Varisco 2005

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  • Daniel Martin Varisco

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