Scholarly Responsibility

06/10/2011 § 1 Comment

From time to time I wonder to what extent it is my job to do damage control when people make claims about religious traditions that, well, lack nuance.

For example, when someone says “Well, jihad really means inner struggle to submit to the will of Allah and the Qu’ran does not suggest that making war is acceptable.”, that claim is okay if you replace the word “really” with the word “also” and eliminate the last half of the sentence.
K 33:25-27 [33.25] And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty. [33.26] And He drove down those of the followers of the Book who backed them from their fortresses and He cast awe into their hearts; some [Jews] you killed and you took captive another part. [33.27] And He made you heirs to their [Jewish] land and their dwellings and their property, and (to) a land which you have not yet trodden, and Allah has power over all things.

So, when someone says this to my students, am I obligated to correct it?


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§ One Response to Scholarly Responsibility

  • Kate says:

    I think you would be in line as a teacher to note the various interpretations (and the history of such interpretations) of said concept. My personal preference is to try to use such an instance as a ‘teachable moment’… to get students to question who should be the ones to say what a text ‘really’ means, etc. Just my two cents.

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