Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society

Framing Late Antique Religion

This research programme encourages the analysis of nascent Islam within the framework of religious studies.

The study of early Islam in the Euro-American academy has been predominantly conducted through the framework provided by the field of ‘area studies’ (and occasionally that of the less geographically delineated ‘Islamic studies’), thereby sequestering the study of nascent Islam from wider historical and religious studies enquiry. In recent years, scholars have been paying renewed attention to the tools developed by religionists in interrogating the rise of Islam as a world religion, but, given disciplinary boundaries and old habits, integrating emergent Islam within the broader study of late antique religion has proved far from a straightforward undertaking.

Through a lecture series, this programme intends to bring to Leiden, one of the oldest bastions of the academic study of religion and Islam in the world, an interdisciplinary group of scholars, in an attempt to encourage the long overdue treatment of formative Islam as a religious phenomenon susceptible of analysis using tools developed by scholars of religion. The invitees, including those working on Islam, are religionists who apply methods, theories, and tools developed in the age-old tradition of the study of religion to religious phenomena. Their work in Leiden is of immense value to those interested in triangulating Islam within its late antique religious context and in applying actual religious studies methods—as against mere philology and uncritical use of texts—to the study of Islam.

We hope to publish the proceedings of the lecture series as an edited volume, wherein the work of scholars of early Islam sits side-by-side with the work of other religionists specialising in said period, thus demonstrating that nascent Islam could and should be integrated in the study of pre-modern religion.

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