A Guide to Studying History

Yasir Qadhi

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Channel: Yasir Qadhi

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AI: Summary © The importance of understanding history and sources is crucial to building a narrative of the event. Researching and analyzing historical events is crucial to interpreting and building a narrative of the event. It is important to be mindful of the sources and concepts that come into play, and examining history and comparing different interpretations is crucial to help people understand the nuances of their experiences.
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three basic questions that I want everybody to think about when they come to any aspect of history. When you study history, you have to think of a number of things. First and foremost, how do you know what you know? How do you know what actually happened? And this is the branch of historical epistemology, right? How do you know the facts? How do you know exactly what happened in the year 50 hijra, right? How are you going to or if you're studying the Civil War of America, or if you're studying the Spanish Inquisition, whatever you might be, you need to know the sources and the pros and cons of every source and which source is weightier than other sources? And how you're going to

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sift through the biases of the authors of these sources. So you have a historical epistemology, right? That is a study of the sources of that particular era, that particular incident and weighing which of these sources is more authoritative? Why is it more authoritative? What is to be done in the case of a clash? So a lot of times all of those sources will agree. For example, you know, her center the Allah one was massacred at Catawba. Okay, we know what happened in the year 61 Hijra the 10th of Muharram. That is an undeniable fact. Okay. Now, how about if they don't agree? How about if the sources differ amongst themselves? So for example, one of the things we're going to discuss

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today was the head of Hussein, well, the Allahu ion transport to to, to Damascus, and displayed to you XID. And did Yazeed. Poke the head of Hussein or the Allah one? That is something that is disputed? And some sources mentioned it, some sources don't mention it, how are we going to overcome this some later authorities denied to this. So this the first major question that every researcher needs to ask himself or herself? How do I know what I know? Right? And that is a separate science altogether. And that and it varies from era to sources to, you know, whichever topic you're doing, and that is also a never ending a question. So that's the first point for after you've answered the

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first question. And you go through your sources, you as a researcher, you're going to have a skeletal line of events, this happened, this happened, this happened, you now have a set of what you consider to be facts now do understand and do realize that your set of facts are going to be different from other researchers who have a different epistemology as they reach the same sources, or as they read the same sources, right? So you're gonna have a narrative of what took place, and another researcher who's read the same books as you, but his epistemology is slightly different, he has waited, the author is different than you. And so he might have a slightly different version of

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events, right? So before you even move to level two or three, you first have to see okay, what is my understanding of history? What exactly happened? And how do I know that happens? So that is the first question historical epistemology. The second after you've done that, what you do after that, as a researcher, as an academic, as a thinker, what you do after that, is you do a historical analysis, or we can say, how do we interpret what happened? So the first question, how do we know what happened? These are a set of facts. The second question, how do we interpret what happened, okay? And this is an analysis of history, the causes, the effects, we connect the dots, we wonder

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about motives weren't wonder about influences internal or external. And these analyses are not facts. They are your or any researchers interpretation of the facts. Okay. And here's again, we have to be very honest here is that our interpretation of the facts, a lot of times it stems from where it is affected by our worldview, our paradigm. So again, let me be very simplistic, you will all understand, if a Sunni approaches the massacre of her central the hola Juan versus a Shia, approaching the master COVID has handled the hola Hawaiian, automatically, our theological inclinations are going to shape how we interpret and how we connect the dots and what we're going to

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read into, there's nothing wrong with that. It's human nature. And again, by now you should all know there is no such thing as a totally unbiased person, you have biases, I have biases, and that's human nature. My bias is that I respect the sahaba. And it is a legitimate basis, a theological bias it is now others would say that, you know, that's not something you should have. That's their opinion. And my opinion, Radi Allahu Anhu model do, I hope it is something I'm bringing to the table, right. And it is a theological point that I cannot compromise. Now others are not approaching the same incidents with that type of faith or that type of quote, unquote, bias and they have their

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own biases. So point is that the second question of how do we interpret the facts, right? This is going to depend very much on our own understandings, our own paradigm, our own worldview. And also even if worldviews are exactly the same. In the end of the day, it is a bit of an extrapolation, like how do we know the motivations? How do we know maybe a cause was there and we're not aware of it or we're making a cause that wasn't

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to cause or recreate creating an effect, that is not quite an effect. So there's going to be an element of luck and element of you know, presumptions when it comes to interpreting historical events. Okay? Now the third thing that we should all be aware of is that once you've done your interpretation or you have fallen on authority in his interpretation, which is basically the beginning student of knowledge, right, obviously should not you know, jump to stage two, even stage one or stage two, they take it from an authority. So, you will read Ibn cathedra, you will read Ibn Taymiyyah, you will read and Balau theory you will read even holding a hillicon you will read, you

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know, whoever you read a tub or whatever, it is not quite analyzing, usually, but you will read these sources, and a lot of times they'll do the analysis for you. That's fine. That's dandy, and you are now more candid, but as you rise higher and higher, and you're going to you know, maybe question maybe challenge the narrative, then you will reach level three and level three is, if you like a type of historiography, ie the history of history, ie how others have interpreted history, okay, how have you and others interpreted history, then you compare the various interpretations, you examine history through multiple lenses, you historicize history itself, you look at the

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trajectories of history, and you see how people have interpreted the same time or the same event or the same incident. And then you compare and you contrast and you read with a critical eye and what this helps you to do is to make you understand what are the areas of convergence? What are the areas of divergence Where Does everybody agree, where does everybody disagree? And this is especially helpful to understand controversies and especially if you wish to engage in constructive dialogue with the other with other trends or with other interpretations

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