Islam and Data Science Roundup

  • In “Computing Qur’ans: A Suggestion for a Digital Humanities Approach to the Question of Interrelations between English Qur’an Translations” (Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 30, no. 2, 2019), Jonas Svensson suggests the use of computer-aided text analysis as a methodological approach in Islamic studies. He analyzes a dataset of 51 lexicons created out of translations of the Qur’an into English. The analysis applies simple programming to calculate the lexical overlap between translations and uses the results in a preliminary discussion of possible influence of earlier on later translations. He compares the results with conclusions arrived at in previous research on translations and also use them to identify and suggest new areas for in-depth studies.
  • In an oldie but goodie that we wish to highlight here, Maxim Romanov writes about the importance of digital humanities for the field of Islamic studies in “A Digital Humanities for Premodern Islamic History” (Journal of Middle East Studies 50, no. 1, 2018). After examining the definition of digital humanities, he argues that much is gained when scholars of Islam use methodological tools such as computer vision, social network analysis, geographical information systems (GIS), and text analysis. Romanov explores the way these variant tools have impacted research on premodern texts and concludes with the assertion that these tools can allow scholars of Islamic studies to assess materials at a very large scale and have the possibility to significantly change understandings of the Islamic historiographical tradition.

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