chapter  5
Reflections on Ernst and Martin’s Rethinking Islamic Studies
Pages 18

Previous chapters have witnessed the quest for the “authentic” Muhammad and the “real” message of an authentic Muhammadan teaching on gender equality. The methodological support for these positions emerges from the fairly simple claim that their authors are accurately reading the sources or consulting as many texts as possible. The reader, in other words, is to take comfort in the scholar’s ability to immerse him-or herself in a rather arcane and not always easily accessible body of texts written in Arabic and other Islamic languages. Expertise, and the personal and institutional authority that flows from it, is largely defined by the ability to “translate” these sources into a pleasing idiom for as large a reading audience as possible and, moreover, in such a manner that the “real” Islam is presented fairly and so that it functions as a corrective to hostile or negative portrayals.