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As America struggles to understand Islam and Muslims on the world
stage, one concept in particular dominates public discourse:
Islamism. References to Islamism and Islamists abound in the media,
in think tanks, and in the general study of Islam, but opinions
vary on the differences of degree and kind among those labeled
"Islamists." This book debates what exactly is said when we use
this contentious term in discussing Muslim religion, tradition, and
Since the age of the Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD), Iran and the West have time and again appeared to be at odds. Iran and the West charts this contentious and complex relationship by examining the myriad ways the two have perceived each other, from antiquity to today. Across disciplines, perspectives and periods contributors consider literary, imagined, mythical, visual, filmic, political and historical representations of the 'other' and the ways in which these have been constructed in, and often in spite of, their specific historical contexts. Many of these narratives, for example, have their origin in the ancient world but have since been altered, recycled and manipulated to fit a particular agenda. Ranging from Tacitus, Leonidas and Xerxes via Shahriar Mandanipour and Azar Nafisi to Rosewater, Argo and 300, this inter-disciplinary and wide-ranging volume is essential reading for anyone working on the complex history, present and future of Iranian-Western relations.
Based on two years of ethnographic research in the southern suburbs of Beirut, "An Enchanted Modern" demonstrates that Islam and modernity are not merely compatible, but actually go hand-in-hand. This eloquent ethnographic portrayal of an Islamic community articulates how an alternative modernity, and specifically an enchanted modernity, may be constructed by Shi'I Muslims who consider themselves simultaneously deeply modern, cosmopolitan, and pious.
In this depiction of a Shi'I Muslim community in Beirut, Deeb examines the ways that individual and collective expressions and understandings of piety have been debated, contested, and reformulated.
Women take center stage in this process, a result of their visibility both within the community, and in relation to Western ideas that link the status of women to modernity. By emphasizing the ways notions of modernity and piety are lived, debated, and shaped by "everyday Islamists," this book underscores the inseparability of piety and politics in the lives of pious Muslims.
The Qur'an makes rich references to light, tying it to revelation, and light consequently permeates the culture and visual arts of the Islamic lands. God Is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth explores the integral role of light in Islamic civilization across a wide range of media, from the Qur'an and literature to buildings, paintings, performances, photography, and other works produced over the past 14 centuries. A team of international experts conveys current scholarship on Islamic art in a manner that is engaging and accessible to the general reader. The objects discussed include some of the first identifiable works of Islamic art-modest oil lamps inscribed in Arabic, which developed into elaborately decorated metal and glass lamps and chandeliers. Later, photography, which creates images with light, was readily adopted in Islamic lands, and it continues to provide inspiration for contemporary artists. Generously illustrated with specially commissioned, sumptuous color photographs, this book shows the potential of light to reveal color, form, and meaning.
Why do tribal genealogies matter in modern-day Saudi Arabia? What compels the strivers and climbers of the new Saudi Arabia to want to prove their authentic descent from one or another prestigious Arabian tribe? Of Sand or Soil looks at how genealogy and tribal belonging have informed the lives of past and present inhabitants of Saudi Arabia and how the Saudi government's tacit glorification of tribal origins has shaped the powerful development of the kingdom's genealogical culture. Nadav Samin presents the first extended biographical exploration of the major twentieth-century Saudi scholar Hamad al-Jasir, whose genealogical studies frame the story about belonging and identity in the modern kingdom. Samin examines the interplay between al-Jasir's genealogical project and his many hundreds of petitioners, mostly Saudis of nontribal or lower status origin who sought validation of their tribal roots in his genealogical texts. Investigating the Saudi relationship to this opaque, orally inscribed historical tradition, Samin considers the consequences of modern Saudi genealogical politics and how the most intimate anxieties of nontribal Saudis today are amplified by the governing strategies and kinship ideology of the Saudi state. Challenging the impression that Saudi culture is determined by puritanical religiosity or rentier economic principles, Of Sand or Soil shows how the exploration and establishment of tribal genealogies have become influential phenomena in contemporary Saudi society. Beyond Saudi Arabia, this book casts important new light on the interplay between kinship ideas, oral narrative, and state formation in rapidly changing societies.
Why has the West developed and modernized, while the Muslim world has lagged behind? Why has democracy not found a hospitable home in much of the Muslim world? And why have the opponents of innovation found their message so resonant with ordinary Muslims? Featuring essays by a multidisciplinary group of leading scholars, this volume offers in-depth analyses of the history, causes, consequences, and obstacles to innovation in Islam. Focusing on the ways and means through which the teachings of Islam have been produced and perpetuated over time, the contributors investigate such areas as the arts and letters, jurisprudence, personal status, hermeneutics and epistemology, and Muslims' perceptions of the self in the modern world. "Innovation in Islam" illuminates a debate that extends beyond semantics into everyday politics and society -and one that has ramifications around the world. Contributors: Nasr Abu-Zayd, Adonis, Mohammed Arkoun, Walter Denny, Nelly Hanna, Sherman Jackson, Patrick Laude, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Tariq Ramadan, and John Voll.
New York, Washington, Madrid, London and now Paris D the list of Western cities targeted by radical Islamic terrorists waging global jihad continues to grow. Does this extreme violence committed in the name of Islam point to a fundamental enmity between the Muslim faith and the West? In this compelling essay, leading scholar of Islam Tamara Sonn argues that whilst the West has many enemies among Muslims, it is politics not religion that informs their grievances. The longer these demands remain frustrated, the more violence has escalated and recruitment to groups like Islamic State has increased. Far from quelling the spread of Islamic extremism, Western military intervention has helped to turn nationalist movements into radical terrorist groups with international agendas. Islam, Sonn concludes, is not the problem, just as war is not the solution.
This book is an urban ethnographic study of several Muslim women's organisations in northern India. These organisations work to carve out spaces that allow for the articulation of alternative experiences and conceptions of religion and justice that challenge Islamic orthodoxy as well as the monopoly of the Indian state in the domain of family law. While most analyses on reform efforts within Muslim family law in India have focused on women's protection within the state legal system, this book offers the rare opportunity to understand how organised groups of Muslim women's rights activists contest marginalising forces present in the family and criminal courts, Shariat courts, local mosques, workplace, legislature and legal documents. It pushes against troubling assumptions that Islam is incompatible with ideas of women's rights and that the State is the only dispenser of justice, and offers new directions for studies on the dispersed nature of women's identities in Islamic family law.
Frequent reports of honor killings, disfigurement, and sensational abuse have given rise to a consensus in the West, a message propagated by human rights groups and the media: Muslim women need to be rescued. Lila Abu-Lughod boldly challenges this conclusion. An anthropologist who has been writing about Arab women for thirty years, she delves into the predicaments of Muslim women today, questioning whether generalizations about Islamic culture can explain the hardships these women face and asking what motivates particular individuals and institutions to promote their rights. In recent years Abu-Lughod has struggled to reconcile the popular image of women victimized by Islam with the complex women she has known through her research in various communities in the Muslim world. Here, she renders that divide vivid by presenting detailed vignettes of the lives of ordinary Muslim women, and showing that the problem of gender inequality cannot be laid at the feet of religion alone. Poverty and authoritarianism--conditions not unique to the Islamic world, and produced out of global interconnections that implicate the West--are often more decisive. The standard Western vocabulary of oppression, choice, and freedom is too blunt to describe these women's lives. Do Muslim Women Need Saving? is an indictment of a mindset that has justified all manner of foreign interference, including military invasion, in the name of rescuing women from Islam--as well as a moving portrait of women's actual experiences, and of the contingencies with which they live.
In The Story of Reason in Islam, leading public intellectual and political activist Sari Nusseibeh narrates a sweeping intellectual history-a quest for knowledge inspired by the Qu'ran and its language, a quest that employed Reason in the service of Faith. Eschewing the conventional separation of Faith and Reason, he takes a fresh look at why and how Islamic reasoning evolved over time. He surveys the different Islamic schools of thought and how they dealt with major philosophical issues, showing that Reason pervaded all disciplines, from philosophy and science to language, poetry, and law. Along the way, the best known Muslim philosophers are introduced in a new light. Countering received chronologies, in this story Reason reaches its zenith in the early seventeenth century; it then trails off, its demise as sudden as its appearance. Thereafter, Reason loses out to passive belief, lifeless logic, and a self-contained legalism-in other words, to a less flexible Islam. Nusseibeh's speculations as to why this occurred focus on the fortunes and misfortunes of classical Arabic in the Islamic world. Change, he suggests, may only come from the revivification of language itself.
South Asia is today the region inhabited by the largest number of Muslims--roughly 500 million. In the course of the Islamisation process begun in the eighth century, it developed a distinct Indo-Islamic civilisation that culminated in the Mughal Empire. While paying lip service to the power centres of Islam in the Gulf, including Mecca and Medina, this civilisation has cultivated its own variety of Islam, based on Sufism. Over the last fifty years, pan-Islamic ties have intensified between these two regions. Gathering together some of the best specialists on the subject, this volume explores these ideological, educational and spiritual networks, which have gained momentum due to political strategies, migration flows and increased communications. At stake are both the resilience of the civilisation that imbued South Asia with a specific identity, and the relations between Sunnis and Shias in a region where Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a cultural proxy war, as evident in the foreign ramifications of sectarianism in Pakistan. Islamic Connections investigates the nature and implications of the cultural, spiritual and socio-economic rapprochement between these two Islams.
How do Australian Muslim immigrant women understand domestic violence? How do they experience domestic violence? How do they respond to domestic violence? What role does their faith play? How do immigration-related factors intersect with culture, religion and gender to shape the women's experiences of domestic violence and responses to it? Faith in Freedom answers the above questions by analysing the Muslim immigrant women's own narratives of domestic violence. The study contributes to understandings of the intersections between factors such as gender, culture, religion and immigration, and the ways in which different social locations interact in Muslim immigrant women's experiences of abuse. Faith in Freedom examines the implications of feminist intersectional perspectives for service provision, social work education and policy.
Western Christians in the twentieth century viewed Islam through a lens of social and political concerns that would have appeared novel to their medieval and early-modern predecessors. Concerns about the predicament of secular 'modernity' infused Christian discourse with distinct assumptions that shaped engagement with Islam in fundamentally new ways. J. N. D. (Norman) Anderson (1908-94), a highly influential British Christian scholar of Islam, embodied this new orientation in his commitment to 'modernise' Islam. Anderson's engagement with Islam as a missionary, intelligence agent, scholar of Islamic law and advisor to various Muslim governments, spanned multiple decades and continents. As well as shaping Western understandings of Islamic law and its application, he was involved in debates about the end of the British Empire and the transformation of Christian missions following formal decolonisation. Because of Anderson's location at the intersection of so many different debates concerning Islam, his life provides unique insights into the ways in which Christians reconfigured their response to Islam in the last century. Given Christianity's continued influence on British and American ideas about Islam, this study provides crucial insight into the persistent focus on 'modernising' and 'secularising' Islam today.
An important work of contemporary Islamic thought argues against the programmatic use of Islamic religious texts to support fundamentalist beliefs First published in Arabic in 1994, progressive Muslim scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd's controversial essay argued that conventional fundamentalist interpretations of the Quran and other Islamic religious texts are ahistorical and misleading. Conservative religious leaders accused him of apostasy. Marking the first time a work by Abu Zayd is available in its entirety in any Western language, this English edition makes his erudite interpretation of classical Islamic thought accessible to a wider audience at a critical historical moment.
"Politics of Piety" is a groundbreaking analysis of Islamist cultural politics through the ethnography of a thriving, grassroots women's piety movement in the mosques of Cairo, Egypt. Unlike those organized Islamist activities that seek to seize or transform the state, this is a moral reform movement whose orthodox practices are commonly viewed as inconsequential to Egypt's political landscape. Saba Mahmood's compelling exposition of these practices challenges this assumption by showing how the ethical and the political are indelibly linked within the context of such movements.
Not only is this book a sensitive ethnography of a critical but largely ignored dimension of the Islamic revival, it is also an unflinching critique of the secular-liberal assumptions by which some people hold such movements to account. The book addresses three central questions: How do movements of moral reform help us rethink the normative liberal account of politics? How does the adherence of women to the patriarchal norms at the core of such movements parochialize key assumptions within feminist theory about freedom, agency, authority, and the human subject? How does a consideration of debates about embodied religious rituals among Islamists and their secular critics help us understand the conceptual relationship between bodily form and political imaginaries? "Politics of Piety" is essential reading for anyone interested in issues at the nexus of ethics and politics, embodiment and gender, and liberalism and postcolonialism.
In a substantial new preface, Mahmood addresses the controversy sparked by the original publication of her book and the scholarly discussions that have ensued.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been the subject of intense scrutiny in the West. Considered by many to be the most dangerous terrorist organisation in the world, it has become shrouded in numerous myths and narratives, many emanating from the US, which often fail to grasp its true nature. Against these narratives, Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou presents a bold new theory of ISIS. By tracing its genealogy and documenting its evolution in Iraq and Syria, he argues that ISIS has transcended Osama Bin Laden's original project of Al Qaeda, mutating into an unprecedented hybrid form that distils postcolonial violence, postmodernity and the emerging post-globalisation international order. This book analyses ISIS from a social sciences perspective and unpacks its dynamics by looking beyond superficial questions such as its terrorist nature and religious rhetoric. It transforms our understanding of ISIS and its profound impact on the very nature of contemporary political violence.
Islam in the Balance: Ideational Threats in Arab Politics is an analysis of how ideas, or political ideology, can threaten states and how states react to ideational threats. It examines the threat perception and policies of two Arab Muslim majority states, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in response to the rise and activities of two revolutionary "Islamic states," established in Iran (1979) and Sudan (1989). Using these comparative case studies, the book provides important insight about the role of religious ideology for the international and domestic politics of the Middle East and, in doing so, advances our understanding of how, why, and when ideology affects threat perception and state policy. Rubin makes clear that transnational ideologies may present a greater and more immediate national security threat than shifts in the military balance of power: first because ideology, or ideational power, triggers threat perception and affects state policy; second because states engage in ideational balancing in response to an ideological threat. The book has significant implications for international relations theory and engages important debates in comparative politics about authoritarianism and Islamic activism. Its findings about how an Islamist regime or state behaves will provide vital insight for policy creation by the US and its Middle East allies should another such regime or state emerge.
Resonating as profoundly today as when it was first published to widespread critical acclaim a decade ago, God's Crucible is a bold portrait of Islamic Spain and the birth of modern Europe from one of our greatest historians. David Levering Lewis's narrative, filled with accounts of some of the most epic battles in world history, reveals how cosmopolitan, Muslim al-Andalus flourished-a beacon of cooperation and tolerance-while proto-Europe floundered in opposition to Islam, making virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, religious intolerance, perpetual war and slavery. This masterful history begins with the fall of the Persian and Roman empires, followed by the rise of the prophet Muhammad and five centuries of engagement between the Muslim imperium and an emerging Europe. Essential and urgent, God's Crucible underscores the importance of these early, world-altering events whose influence remains as current as today's headlines.
The past 18 months have seen a radical increase in incidents of jihadist terrorism within the United Kingdom - from the Manchester Arena attack, to the Houses of Parliament, to London Bridge. As a result, there are renewed calls for a high-level national conversation about the causes of, and the responses to, this particular terrorist problem. This book identifies policy and research gaps from an evidence-based perspective - it analyses what we know, what we don't know and what we need to know in relation to understanding and countering the jihadist terrorist threat. It provides readers with a synthesis of the knowledge and evidence that exists on each of the key topic areas, representing a distinctive and valuable resource for policymakers, academics and students. The contributors to the volume are leading international and national experts, from both the scholarly and policy-making communities, who are ideally placed to comment on the question of jihadist terrorism and the future of the threat in the UK.
The past decade has seen a marked policy focus upon Bangladesh, home to nearly 150 million Muslims; it has attracted the attention of the world due to weak governance and the rising tide of Islamist violence. This book provides a broad-ranging analysis of the growth and impact of "political Islam" in Bangladesh, and reactions to it. Grounded in empirical data, experts on Bangladesh examine the changing character of Bangladeshi politics since 1971, with a particular focus on the convergence of governance, Islamism and militancy. They examine the impacts of Islamist politics on education, popular culture and civil society, and the regional and extraregional connections of the Bangladeshi Islamist groups.
Bringing together journalists and academics - all of whom have different professional and methodological backgrounds and field experiences which impact upon these issues from different vantage points - the book assesses Bangladesh's own prospects for internal stability as well as its wider impact upon South Asian security. It argues that the political environment of Bangladesh, the appeal of Islamist ideology to the general masses and the dynamic adaptability of Islamist organizations all demonstrate that Bangladesh will continue to focus the attention of policy makers and analysts alike. This is a timely, incisive and original explanation of the rise of political Islam and Islamic militancy in Bangladesh.
This work examines reformations of Islam and culture in Turkey and the successful Islamic modernist Fethullah Gulen movement.
This is an exploration of the discourse and performance, since the 1980s, of an influential Sunni Islamic scholarly and political movement in Saudi Arabia. The text shows how reformism is deeply rooted in Islamic tradition and how Sunni scholars have become acivists for change in Saudi Arabia.
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