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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 28, 2018

Everlasting Doubt: Uncertainty in Islamic Representations of the Past

  • Shahzad Bashir


Utilizing treatments of uncertainty regarding history in four major Arabic and Persian works (Ṭabarī, Bīrūnī, Badāʾūnī, and Abū l-Fażl), this article treats Islam as an ever-changing set of arguments rather than a panoply of beliefs and practices. ‘Islamic history’ is internally varied, without necessary universality or internal cohesion. The Islamic case underscores the methodological point that the interrelationship between religion and history is a multichannel and multidirectional affair whose valences differ in treatments of history of Islam versus that of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on. Each of these histories has its distinctive history as a subject, with attendant fields of possibility and impossibility. An overarching history of religions must then be a vast, ever-expanding matrix not reducible to generalizations except in thematic treatments conceptualized with self-conscious attention to categories of analysis.


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This publication was made possible in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

Published Online: 2018-3-28

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