Additional Material
for Key Chapters

Approaching the subject, Chapter 1, first part

I have found the following by Marshal Hodgson on the “Science of Compassion” very helpful for my own thinking about empathy (pp. 3-5 of Introducing Islam). (The “Batinis” are also known as the Isma‘ilis and include the “Assassins”, probably the closest pre-modern parallels to today’s “suicide bombers”.) (Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, Vol. I, p. 379 fn.)

“In studying the Batini movement, more even than in most other religious studies, we need to make use of what Massignon calls the psychosociological ‘science of compassion’. The scholarly observer must render the mental and practical behavior of a group into terms available in his own mental resources, which should remain personally felt even while informed with a breadth of reference which will allow other educated persons to make sense of them. But this must not be to substitute his own and his readers’ conventions for the original, but to broaden his own perspective so that it can make a place for the other. Concretely, he must never be satisfied to cease asking ‘but why?’ until he has driven the understanding to the point where he has an immediate human grasp of what a given position meant, such that every nuance in the data is accounted for and withal, given the total of presuppositions and circumstances, he could feel himself doing the same. Such a grasp is to be checked, of course; for instance, by testing whether circumstances which must be presumed, so as to account for an attitude, can then be attested independently. Yet however risky the method is, it is less risky than any more external method.”

Some Internet Sites (cf. also Introducing Islam, p. 318)

The following sites list a large number of internet resources for the study of Islam and are largely complementary.

Academic Islamic Studies and Middle East, Central Asian, and other Area Studies Sites

Islamic Studies Digital Library

Academic Islamic Studies Resources

The following two sites present differing view about teaching religion that are relevant to the concerns for empathetic understanding and bracketing.

Stanley Fish on teaching Bible

Comment on Fish
(This site may be unavailable, however)

© William Shepard

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