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The following is from Japanese philosopher and thinker Toshihiko Izutsu's book The Concept of Belief in Islamic Theology (1965, page 146):

But what he wants to emphasize is that shar‘a can be active and effective only when man, through the exercise of his Reason, has already acquired knowledge of God, belief in God, and the conviction of the truthfulness and absolute reliability of the Prophet.

(In Arabic, shar‘a means Divine Law.)

The main part of the sentence suits to what I want to express in my writing:

Faith can be active and effective only when man, through the exercise of his Reason, has already acquired knowledge of God, belief in God, and the conviction of the truthfulness and absolute reliability of the Prophet.

[Note that my main intention is not to quote, but to let the reader know that certain part of that sentence is lifted from some source.]

What is the official style to such paraphrased quotes? (Note that there is another worry with the original source: The author is referring to another source!)

For example, something like,

Faith can be active and effective only when man, through the exercise of his Reason, has already acquired knowledge of God, belief in God, and the conviction of the truthfulness and absolute reliability of the Prophet. [Izutsu 1965, p. 146]

seems wrong for several reasons. However, explaining the whole issue (that the original is slightly different, and the author is referring to another work, etc.) seems to distract the reader without purpose.

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If something is a quotation, you put it in quotation marks.

If you are replacing part of a quotation with a paraphrase, you put the paraphrase in square brackets.

"[Faith] can be active and effective only when man, through the exercise of his Reason, has already acquired knowledge of God, belief in God, and the conviction of the truthfulness and absolute reliability of the Prophet." [Izutsu 1965, p. 146]

However, in this case, "Faith" is not an accurate paraphrase of "divine law". You are essentially co-opting Izutsu's sentence to describe something related but not the same. This is not fair play. You should never suggest that the person you are quoting said something they didn't say, no matter how small the difference.

What you should do instead, if you really want to keep the quote, is give the whole quotation, and then say something like, "The same thing could be said of faith."

The priority here has to be to treat your source material with respect, even if that means a slightly clunkier way of expressing your own idea.

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Speaking as a college professor, If "Work A" quotes "Work B", you should verify this is true in "Work B", and then reference "Work B" directly.

If you cannot find "Work B", reference "Work A" and in the footnote or citation, put "['Ten Points', Izutsu 1965, p. 146, quoting 'The role of faith', Johnson, 1848, not available at this writing.]".

(I made up those titles and Johnson, and 1848, btw. Usually your reference includes the title).

Your references and footnotes only have to be "cookie cutter" if they fit into the mold; for unusual circumstances, accuracy of attribution is more important than fitting the mold. Usually your path to finding a work to quote is unimportant and you cite only the original, but if the path stops before you get to the original, you cite it indirectly using the oldest reference you can actually find. This is a problem shared in Mathematics; some well known results from centuries ago have no originals, or were expressed in private letters or verbal communication.

If you wish to paraphrase, I'd put the full original quote in your paper, and then your paraphrase or generalization:

The formatting here on SE isn't up to it (or I am not up to learning it), but:

We see in Johnson, discussing Islamic faith:

"But what he wants to emphasize is that shar‘a can be active and effective only when man, through the exercise of his Reason, has already acquired knowledge of God, belief in God, and the conviction of the truthfulness and absolute reliability of the Prophet." [Johnson, 1848, p 93]

We can broaden Johnson's idea to faith in general: Faith can be active and effective only when man, through the exercise of his Reason, has already acquired knowledge of God, belief in God, and the conviction of the truthfulness and absolute reliability of the Prophet.

(Although if you wish to broaden it, I'd replace 'the Prophet' with something else to indicate an infallible source; e.g. in Christianity it would be The Bible or perhaps Jesus, but in general I'd say something like "the conviction of the truthfulness and absolute reliability of the Founders of their faith".)

Unless you are continuing to write about Islam; then I'd change the final paragraph to read:

We can broaden Johnson's idea beyond just shar'a to faith in general: Faith can be ...

  • You can nest blockquotes if you want to. Just please don't overdo it. – a CVn Jul 28 '18 at 19:10

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