American Journal of Islamic Studies (AJIS) 1984-1987
Name Changed in 1987: (Co-published) American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS)
In 1984, under our former name, Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), we launched our first academic peer-reviewed journal, American Journal of Islamic Studies (AJIS), ISSN 0742-6763, copyright AJIS, published by the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS): Vol 1 No 1 Spring 1984. The journal was firmly established as an academic journal and secured its place within the Western academy during the first three years of its publication (1984-1987).
However, in 1987, due to financial difficulties in covering the journal’s publication costs, AMSS sought financial support. Two members of the AMSS Board approached the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) for funding. IIIT agreed to fund the journal if AMSS agreed to the following four conditions:
- Change journal’s name from American Journal of Islamic Studies (AJIS) to American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS),and support the idea of “Islamic social science;”
- Agree to joint publication of journal: (AMSS & IIIT listed as co-publishers on journal’s cover);
- Agree that all publishing costs will be covered by IIIT;
- Accept office space for the journal at the IIIT headquarters (Herndon, VA).
Based on an interview (November 2007) given by Prof. Sulayman S. Nyang, Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Islamic Studies (AJIS) (1984- 1987), not all of the AMSS Board members agreed to the “rationale” behind its name change. However, to address its funding shortfall, the AMSS Board (reluctantly) and ultimately agreed to accept these conditions. The interview, conducted by former AJISS Editor, Prof. Katherine Bullock, provides the backdrop to a detailed overview of the journal’s history, in her “editorial” commemorating the journal’s 25th anniversary, which also outlines how the name-change was “IIIT’s attempt to give the journal a more Islamo-centric perspective.” For a detailed overview of the journal’s history see AJISS Vol. 25 No 1 - Winter 2008.
Concerns were voiced by the AMSS Board pertaining to whether or not the concept of “Islamic Social Science” was an established fact or discipline, and whether or not changing the journal’s name would only focus on the social sciences, and discourage articles from the humanities. Since “financial viability ruled the day,” as noted in the “commemorative editorial” the AMSS Board agreed to these conditions with the following understanding: “The transition from AJIS to AJISS would contribute immeasurably to the development and articulation of the ideas propounded [promoted] by Islamic social science. This was ultimately in keeping with IIIT’s longstanding belief in the Islamization of knowledge [concept].”
Accepting these conditions obviously solved AMSS’s financial problems regarding publication costs of its journal, but its acceptance to articulate the concept behind “Islamic social science” overshadowed and blurred its image as an independent organization, run by an “elected” board of directors responsible for its own objectives and identity as an academic organization.
In 2013, AMSS officially changed its name to the North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS) because the new name reflects more accurately the organization’s true broad appeal beyond the social sciences, into the humanities. It was noted by a number of Islamic scholars (including board members) that the former name (AMSS) was “too fraternal” and therefore, deflected from the organization’s academic identity. Although the “title” of our former name (Association of Muslim Social Scientists) highlighted only the social sciences and Muslim scholars as participants, the topics and themes examined in its university cosponsored conferences included the social sciences and the humanities, and its membership, conference participants and board of directors’ members included non-Muslim scholars of Islam. To that end, the board of directors, with overwhelming support by AMSS members “elected” to change the organization’s name to reflect its broad appeal.
After our official name-change (April 2013) to North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS), our name as co-publisher of AJISS was omitted by IIIT from the masthead of the journal, without notification. NAAIMS President (2011 – 2019), Prof. Jon Mandaville, convened an in-person meeting with IIIT executives on December 6, 2013, where it was agreed that IIIT will be the sole publisher of AJISS. Beginning with AJISS Vol 30: Fall 2013 Issue No 4, NAAIMS no longer served as co-publisher of AJISS.
After his meeting, Mandaville informed the NAAIMS Board of Directors that IIIT omitted our name from the AJISS masthead because they believed we were “no longer the same organization” after changing our name. He also noted that he felt that IIIT was da’wa-oriented, while we were academic in our journey since our inception (under former name, AMSS).
The NAAIMS Board unanimously agreed to establish its own scholarly double-blind, peer-reviewed journal (with its own funding) without the influence and/or control of IIIT, or any other organization. In 2016, NAAIMS’s finally launched its own bi-annual publication, the Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies (JIMS), ISSN 2470 7066; copyrighted by NAAIMS, and published by Indiana University Press (IUP).