ABSTRACT

In the last two decades traditional hermeneutical concepts dealing with the understanding of texts have been fundamentally challenged. T h e new approach regards the traditional scholarly effort of putt ing one's prejudices and subjectivity aside as a futile intellectual endeavor and an unnecessary scholarly exercise. 1 According to the new approach, the reader's point of view and preconceptions play an important, indeed crucial, role in the understanding of texts, while more "traditional" scholars have seen their role as providing a neutral and objective analysis of their subject-matter's world and intentions. 2 This particular m o d e m hermeneutical, and to a certain degree historiosophical, stance is relevant in two ways. It serves as a point of departure for our understanding of Muslim texts in the near and distant past; at the same time it can be a useful analytical angle for our attempt to understand h o w Muslims interpreted the "other" - in our case the Zionist project in Palestine. W e want, therefore, to emphasise the importance attached to the historian's own context as a factor shaping his or her interpretation of texts.