A History and Its Scholarship
This chapter introduces the study of Islam in Afghanistan to readers with no previous knowledge of the region. Based on two decades of research, it provides both a survey of Afghan religious history and a summary of existing scholarship on the subject. Since the book as a whole is intended to collate existing expert knowledge on Afghan Islam into a single volume, the summary of over half a century of scholarship in English, French, German, Italian and Swedish provides the fullest overview ever attempted of expertise on this much-discussed but rarely-researched topic. The chapter renders this précis readable and intelligible by structuring it in chronological terms that follow the emergence, expansion and diversification of Afghanistan’s various versions of Islam from the eighth to the twenty-first century. In this way, the introduction both enables readers to navigate through the more specialist ‘snapshot’ chapters that follow while at the same time drawing attention to the various gaps in even expert understanding of Islam in Afghanistan. The chapter is the most comprehensive general summary of the history and anthropology of Afghan Islam yet available.
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