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Understanding Islam: Positions of Knowledge

Bryan S. Turner, in this book, argues that understanding Islam has in recent years been dominated by political events – the Iran Hostage crisis, the fall of the Iranian Shah, 9/11, Afghanistan and the foreign policy of Donald Trump – leading to western intellectuals and public figures, many of whom know nothing about Islam, suddenly becoming experts.

Can we understand a religion without believing and practicing it? Can we have knowledge about faith? Can people understand those different from themselves? Can outsiders ever understand the world of insiders? Examining insider and outsider positions of knowledge Bryan S. Turner explores what understanding Islam entails. He argues that understanding Islam has in recent years been dominated by political events – the Iran Hostage crisis, the fall of the Iranian Shah, 9/11, Afghanistan and the foreign policy of Donald Trump – leading to western intellectuals and public figures, many of whom know nothing about Islam, suddenly becoming experts. Turner asks how they, or how anyone, can have the authority to speak on this subject. He brilliantly elucidates the questions and problems involved in the challenge of understanding religion.

Examines different positions of knowledge – insider and outsider –to explore what understanding Islam means in the 21st century;

  • Explores the long-standing conflict between science and religion, starting with the early development of the sociology of religion
  • Critically examines the notion of positionality and its application in the study of contemporary Muslim religiosity
  • Focuses on the dynamics of islamophobia, insider-outsider knowledge, feminist activism, the development of the sociology of Islam, the demography of Muslim communities, Sharia, orientalism and post-orientalism
  • Key topics are explored through debates with modern philosophy, such as pragmatism, post-structuralism, postmodernism and hermeneutics

About the Author

Bryan Turner is Professor of Sociology, Australian Catholic University; Emeritus Professor the Graduate Center, CUNY; Honorary Professor, Potsdam University; and Fellow Edward Cadbury Center, University of Birmingham. He is one of the world’s leading sociologists of religion and has also devoted significant attention to sociological theory, the study of human rights and the sociology of the body. Turner has written, co-authored or edited more than 70 books and more than 200 articles and chapters, including most recently The Religious and the Political: A Comparative Sociology of Religion (2013) and Religion and Modern Society: Citizenship, Secularisation and the State (2011), both published by Cambridge University Press. He is a founding editor of the journals Body & Society, Citizenship Studies and Journal of Classical Sociology.

Table of Contents

The Changing World of Islam

Insiders and Outsiders

The Rise of the Sociology of Islam

Postmodernism, Globalisation and Religion

Orientalism and Islam

Islamophobia

Feminism, Fertility and Piety

The Problems of Positionality

The Possibility of Dialogue

Bibliographic Information

Title: Understanding Islam: Positions of Knowledge

Author(s): Bryan S. Turner

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press

Length: 176 pages

ISBN:‎ 9781474498746

Pub. Date: January 2023

Click Here to Buy the Book.

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