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Scott-Baumann, Alison and Cheruvallil-Contractor, Sariya (2016) 'An Islamic perspective: What does Islam offer to the contemporary debate?' In: Heap, Stephen, (ed.), The Universities we Need: Theological Perspectives. Abingdon; New York: Routledge, pp. 124-142.

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Islam has a long and rich intellectual tradition that is embedded in its religious texts and in its history as a world religion, and which together with confessional approaches to the study of religion encompasses a diverse range of what we today understand as modern academic disciplines, including poetry and literature studies, sociology and lived religion, philosophy and liberal critiques of dogmatic theology and indeed, the physical sciences. As we shall discuss later in this chapter, Islam has made undeniable contributions in the shaping of Western academic thought, the preservation and transmission of Greek and Roman philosophy and has played a foundational role in the development of university campuses as we know them today. Yet, and despite the enduring signifi cance of its historical intellectual tradition, contemporary debates about the role of Islam in academia are mired in two antagonistic but also interconnected debates. Firstly, there is a gradual devaluing of ‘secular’ traditions from within Islamic education and an overemphasis on confessional approaches that has emanated from within diverse Muslim communities, which started around the 18 th century. Secondly, there is, the much more recent agenda of ‘preventing violent extremism’, an anti-terror ‘lens’ through which much policy discourse seeks to examine Islam in the West. In Britain, this entire discussion is further problematized by rapidly changing understandings of what the function of universities should be – are they institutions of learning that produce scholars, thinkers, conscientious citizens and loyal dissenters, or are these institutions that produce effi cient but unquestioning employees to staff global conglomerates that satisfy our collective capitalist, materialist demands?

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East > Centre of Islamic Studies
ISBN: 9781134760015
Copyright Statement: © 2017 Alison Scott-Baumann and Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor. This is an Accepted Manuscript of a chapter published by Taylor & Francis in The Universities we Need: Theological Perspectives on 14 October 2016, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2017 09:42

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