Introduction: Discourse methodology and outline
Ulrika Mårtensson [+]
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology
The Introduction chapter describes the book’s aim, focus, outline, and selected scholars. It also describes how the aim is met by applying a specific method in the presentation of academic and Islamic scholarship on the Qur’an. The method is inspired by Michel de Certeau’s concept of discourse as the production of knowledge and corresponding social practices, through the interplay between social institutions, knowledge disciplines, and individual scholars. Where contemporary researchers affiliated with e.g. the Corpus Coranicum project, postulate an institutional break between the Qur’an and the Islamic disciplines, de Certeau’s discourse concept implies that all scholarly knowledge about the Qur’an is necessarily bound to institutional disciplines and their corresponding social practices. The implications of this concept of discourse for assessments of both Islamic and academic scholarship on the Qur’an will be explained. In particular, the discourse-approach offers a methodology and analytical method for analysing how knowledge about a subject-matter is produced, in this case as expressed in concepts of the Qur’an. Finally, the Introduction will show how the discourse model brings out the academic nature of Islamic scholarship on the Qur’an. This is explained as a consequence of the Islamic disciplines’ methodological rigour, which means that the Qur’an is always interpreted through defined methods. Islamic scholarly approaches to the Qur’an are thus developed with reference to the hermeneutical premise that any explanation of the Qur’an’s meaning depends on the interpreter’s aim and method. In this respect they have a lot in common with academic research.