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Islam, Christianity and Tradition

A Comparative Exploration

Ian Richard Netton

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A unique comparative exploration of the role of tradition in Islam and Christianity

The idea of 'tradition' has enjoyed a variety of senses and definitions in Islam and Christianity, but both have cleaved at certain times to a supposedly 'golden age' of tradition from the past.

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1. Preparation for a Threefold Sieve
1.1 Whose Agenda for the 21st Century?
1.2 The 20th Century Revisited: Surveys and Approaches
1.2.1 The Way of the Historian of Religion
1.2.2 The Way of the Anthropologist
1.2.3 The Way of the Traveller
1.3 Methodologies for a New Millennium
1.3.1 Phenomenology, Husserl and Heidegger: Object
1.3.2 Semiotics and Eco: Sign
1.3.3 Theology and Eliade: The Sacred The Sacred and the Profane Mircea Eliade, the Sacred and Islam
1.4.1 Case Study Ground Zero: Object
1.4.2 Case Study Ground Zero: Sign
1.4.3 Case Study Ground Zero: The Sacred
1.5 Samuel Huntington Revisited
1.6 Conclusion
2. Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: A Worn Vocabulary Explored
2.1 Rejecting the Terms: Baldick contra Popovic and Veinstein
2.2 Christianity: Sources of Authority and Right Doctrines
2.2.1 The Authority of the ekklesia (1): Arius and Arianism
2.2.2 The Authority of the ekklesia (2): Augustine, Manichaeism and the Flesh Rejected
2.3.1 Reading the Phenomena of Christianity
2.3.2 Reading the Signs of Christianity
2.3.3 Reading the Sacred in Christianity
2.4 Islam: Sources of Authority and Right Doctrines
2.4.1 The Authority of the Text (1): Ibn Hanbal and the Text Transcendent
2.4.2 The Authority of the Text (2): Al-Ghazali and the Isma'ili Imam
2.5.1 Reading the Phenomena of Islam
2.5.2 Reading the Signs of Islam
2.5.3 Reading the Sacred in Islam
2.6 Conclusion
3. The Flight to Tradition: A Paradigm of Return and Denial
3.1 Christian Tradition
3.2.1 Pre-Conciliar: Pascendi and Divino Afflante Spiritu
3.2.2 Post-Conciliar The Spirit and Practice of Marcel Lefebvre
3.3 Sunna: Definitions and Distinctions
3.4 Neo-Ijtihad and Return to the Salaf
3.5 Tradition, Purification, Kenosis and Return

About the Author

Ian Richard Netton is the Sharjah Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. He is the author or editor of eighteen other books and is an internationally acclaimed authority in the field of Islamic Studies. His particular research interests include Islamic Philosophy and theology, Islamic anthropology, Sufism, and medieval Arab travellers. This is the companion volume to Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration (Edinburgh University Press, 2006).


This book is highly recommended as an invaluable text in unfolding the place of tradition(s) in Islam and Christianity which pushes the reader to acknowledge that these faiths are not monoliths but thriving between a variety of ideologues and ideologies.
- Amanuallah De Sondy, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Promises to be a ground-breaking work… an important book that everyone interested in Islam in the modern world should know about.
- Dr David Thomas, Reader in Christianity and Islam, University of Birmingham