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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: March 2011

15 - Modern approaches to early Islamic history

Western writing on Islam, including early Islamic history, has roots reaching back to the medieval period. As far as early Islamic history is concerned, Western scholars of the Enlightenment began to consult key texts of the Islamic tradition itself in search of information. Contemporary scholars examines Islam's origins in depth mainly tend to follow the source-critical or tradition-critical school in their handling of the Islamic sources. Scholars of early Islamic history have shown increased interest in developing new approaches and methods, and in looking at such things as social history, gender relations, identity formation and economic history. Beyond the thorny problems posed by the heritage of the polemical tradition and by the deficiencies of the sources for early Islamic history, there exist other problems of perception and conceptualisation, as well as practical obstacles, that have affected Western approaches to early Islamic history.
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