Khalil Andani
Harvard University
‘[A] valid concept of “Islam” must denote and connote all possible “Islams,” whether abstract or “real,” mental or social’ (104)... Ahmed seeks to avoid two major pitfalls: (1) making Islam into a static essence or a category within an essentialist framework – such as proscription/prescription, ‘religion’,‘civilization’, ‘culture’, ‘orthodoxy’, etc., and (2) rendering Islam into a totally incoherent concept by conceding that there are as many islams as there are communities or individuals. Ahmed’s thesis (presented in Chapter 5) is that Islam is best conceptualized as a process of meaning-making or hermeneutical engagement in which the human agent engages with the Divine Revelation granted to Muhammad in one or more of this Revelation’s hierarchical dimensions – Pre-Text, Text, and Con-Text – in order to constitute meaning for himself."
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