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An intellectual journey in Islamic Studies: Navigating Islamic discourse with Faltah

Abdulkader Tayob


This essay offers a perspective on studying Islam as a complex discourse constituted by unexpected events (faltāt, pl. of faltah). The concept of faltah is developed from a close reading of statements attributed to the companions of the Prophet after his death. It is shown that the experience of faltah introduces fundamental features of Islamic discourse such as self-reflection, performance, debate and unresolvable contradictions. While faltah may be disruptive, these features have proven to be productive in the history of Islamic discourse. This essay, then, turns to religion as a discourse of colonial modernity that has impacted societies and traditions across the globe. It argues that religion in this form may be treated as a faltah, like other disruptions that Islamic discourse has encountered in the past. The discussion offers a perspective of Islam in its encounter with the discourse of religion through self-reflection, performance, debate and unresolvable contradictions.

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eISSN: 0257-7062