Toward Islamic Anthropology: Definition, Dogma, and Directions by Akbar S. Ahmed
This book, Toward Islamic Anthropology: Definition, Dogma and Direction, is a valuable prerequisite for the study and assessment of Western anthropology from a "universal" or Islamic perspective. Dr. Akbar Ahmed, author of this work, contends that Western Anthropology offers the Islamic scholar a body of knowledge worthy of merit, but which is, unfortunately, laden with conclusions based on cultural presumptions, misinformation and ethnocentrism. Approaching the subject from an Islamic perspective, Dr. Ahmed zeros in upon the "Methodological prejudices," which he suggests represents the greatest challenge to be overcome in the field. As the Late Dr. Isma'il R. al-Faruqi states in the introduction of the book, "regarding the cause of truth as its own, Islam prescribes that where there is valid evidence for the other point of view; the mind must bend itself to it with humility. But where the evidence is spurlous or lacking, the Islamic mind feels itself compelled to expose the incoherence." In Part I, Dr. Ahmed reviews the science of Anthropology and compares its development with that of other disciplines. He also shows how given historical and political periods, such as the "colonial era," forced erroneous methodological frameworks upon the discipline. In Part II, the author establishes the fact that Anthropology had its roots in the Islamic scientific heritage, dating back to the tenth Hijri century. He concludes that anthropologists "must transcend" themselves and their cultures, to a position where they can "speak to, and understand those around them in terms of their special humanity, irrespective of color, caste or creed."