“The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law” (Duderija, ed.)

In October, Palgrave Macmillan will release “The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law: The Search for a Sound Hadith” edited by Adis Duderija (University Malaya, Malaysia). The publisher’s description follows:

The concept of Sunna, as one of the two normative fountainheads of the 9781137376459
Islamic tradition, is of fundamental importance to the understanding of nearly all of the branches of Islamic knowledge including Islamic law and politics. This volume equips readers with a comprehensive overview of the nature and the scope of the concept of Sunna both in pre-modern and modern Islamic contexts and discussions. The various contributors each examine how Sunna was understood and possibly evolved during the formative (the first three centuries Hijri) and classical periods (ending at beginning of sixth century Hijri) of Islamic religious thought. The book focuses on shedding more light on the context in which the term Sunna in the major works of Islamic law and legal theory across all of the major madhahib was employed during the first six centuries Hijri. The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law delves into and deconstructs the conceptual, epistemological, and hermeneutical relationship between the concepts of Sunna and the concept of sound (sahih) hadith as understood in various Sunni madhahib as well as in early Islamic history and theology.

“The Politics and Anti-Politics of Social Movements: Religion and AIDS in Africa” (Patterson et al., eds.)

In September, Routledge will release “The Politics and Anti-Politics of Social Movements: Religion and AIDS in Africa” edited by Amy Patterson (University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee), Marian Burchardt (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany), and Louise Mubanda Rasmussen (Roskilde University, Denmark). The publisher’s description follows:

This book explores the nature, significance and consequences of the religious activism surrounding AIDS in Africa. While African religion was relatively marginal in inspiring or contributing to AIDS activism during the early days of the epidemic, this situation has changed dramatically. In order to account for these changes, contributors provide answers to pressing questions. How does the entrance of religion into public debates about AIDS affect policymaking and implementation, church-state relations, and religion itself? How do religious actors draw on and reconfigure forms of transnational connectivity? How do resource flows from development and humanitarian aid that religious actors may access then affect relationships of power and authority in African societies? How does religious mobilization on AIDS reflect contestation over identity, cultural membership, theology, political participation, and citizenship?

Addressing these questions, the authors draw on social movement theories to explore the role of religious identities, action frames, political opportunity structures, and resource mobilization in African religions’ reaction to the AIDS epidemic. The book’s findings are rooted in fieldwork conducted in Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Mozambique, among a variety of religious organizations.

Moore, “Founding Sins”

In September, the Oxford University Press will release “Founding Sins: How a Group of Antislavery Radicals Fought to Put Christ into the Constitution,” by Joseph S. Moore (Gardner-Webb University). The publisher’s description follows:

The Covenanters, now mostly forgotten, were America’s first Christian nationalists. For two centuries they decried the fact that, in their view, the United States was not a Christian nation because slavery was in the Constitution but Jesus was not. Having once ruled Scotland as a part of a Presbyterian coalition, they longed to convert America to a holy Calvinist vision in which church and state united to form a godly body politic. Their unique story has largely been submerged beneath the histories of the events in which they participated and the famous figures with whom they interacted, making them the most important religious movement in American history that no one remembers.

Despite being one of North America’s smallest religious sects, the Covenanters found their way into every major revolt. They were God’s rebels–just as likely to be Patriots against Britain as they were to be Whiskey Rebels against the federal government. As the nation’s earliest and most avowed abolitionists, they had a significant influence on the fight for emancipation. In Founding Sins, Joseph S. Moore examines this forgotten history, and explores how Covenanters profoundly shaped American’s understandings of the separation of church and state.

While modern arguments about America’s Christian founding usually come from the right, the Covenanters have a more complicated legacy. They fought for an explicitly Christian America in the midst of what they saw as a secular state that failed the test of Christian nationhood. But they did so on behalf of a cause–abolition–that is traditionally associated with the left. Though their attempts to insert God into the Constitution ultimately failed, Covenanters set the acceptable limits for religion in politics for generations to come.

Atwan, “Islamic State”

In September, the University of California Press will release “Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate,” by Abdel Bari Atwan (editor of the Rai al-Youm news website).  The publisher’s description follows: 

Islamic State stunned the world when it overran an area the size of Great Britain on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border in a matter of weeks and proclaimed the birth of a new Caliphate. In this timely and important book, Abdel Bari Atwan draws on his unrivaled knowledge of the global jihadi movement and Middle Eastern geopolitics to reveal the origins and modus operandi of Islamic State.

Based on extensive field research and exclusive interviews with IS insiders, Islamic State outlines the group’s leadership structure, as well as its strategies, tactics, and diverse methods of recruitment. Atwan traces the Salafi-jihadi lineage of IS, its ideological differences with al Qaeda and the deadly rivalry that has emerged between their leaders. He also shows how the group’s rapid growth has been facilitated by its masterful command of social media platforms, the “dark web,” Hollywood blockbuster-style videos, and even jihadi computer games, producing a powerful paradox where the ambitions of the Middle Ages have reemerged in cyberspace.

As Islamic State continues to dominate the world’s media headlines with horrific acts of ruthless violence, Atwan considers the movement’s chances of survival and expansion and offers indispensable insights on potential government responses to contain the IS threat.

Announcing the Third Biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion

The Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s Law School isCLR Logo pleased to announce its third biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion, scheduled for Spring 2016. This seminar invites leading law and religion scholars to make presentations to a small audience of students and faculty.

The following speakers have confirmed:

February 1: Brett G. Scharffs (Brigham Young University School of Law)

February 16: Robin Fretwell Wilson (University of Illinois School of Law)

February 29: Robert P. George (Princeton University)

March 14: Mark Tushnet (Harvard Law School)

April 4: Justice Samuel A. Alito (United States Supreme Court)

April 18: Elizabeth H. Prodromou (Boston University & Tufts University Fletcher School of Diplomacy)

Topics will be announced at a future date.

For more information or if you would like to attend the sessions, please contact the colloquium’s organizers, Marc DeGirolami (degirolm@stjohns.edu) and Mark Movsesian (movsesim@stjohns.edu). For information about past colloquia, please click here, Spring 2012, and here, Spring 2014 (hosted with Villanova Law School).

Lifshitz, “Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg and the Foundation of Jewish Political Thought”

In October, Cambridge University Press will release “Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg and the Foundation of Jewish Political Thought” by Joseph Isaac Lifshitz (Shalem Center, Jerusalem). The publisher’s description follows:

This book is a scholarly examination of the political thought of Rabbi Meir (Maharam) of Rothenburg, the most important thirteenth century German Rabbi who was associated with the Pietist movement of the period. From the Maharam’s responsa on community matters, a coherent political thought emerges that exercised nearly unprecedented influence on European Jewish communities up to the Jewish Emancipation. Rabbi Meir’s extremely sophisticated attempt to balance the demands of the community against those of the individual was facilitated by a characteristic three-tiered structure to his political thought: concrete legal rules supported by value-laden legal principles built upon his general religious ideology. Through a systematic analysis of the Maharam’s political thought, Isaac Lifshitz offers an original contribution to Jewish studies, political theory, and the study of legal philosophy. By considering the legal and theological underpinnings of one of Medieval Jewry’s most influential figures, it also makes a contribution to the history of ideas in the Medieval period.

Rauf, “Defining Islamic Statehood”

In October, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Defining Islamic Statehood: Measuring and Indexing Contemporary Muslim States” by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (the Cordoba Initiative). The publisher’s description follows:

What is the real definition of an Islamic state? How do the majority of 9781137446800
Muslims govern themselves? How much do Muslims and non-Muslims really understand about the elements of an Islamic state? How can a true Islamic state function in a modern world? These questions bear heavily on the international community. They dominate the news. They spawn conflict. They generate misinformation. The answers are complex, but finding them is critical. Harnessing the expertise of leading Sunni and Shia academics, Defining Islamic Statehood searches for answers through dialogue, and seeks to define how an Islamic state forms and functions. It examines how Islamic principles bear on a nation’s governance, jurisprudence, culture and policies, and measures how Muslim-majority countries meet the definition by analyzing how they deal with the aspects of modern life.
Together with a group of eminent contributors, ranging from a retired Prime Minister, a former Chief Justice, and internationally recognized academics and experts on Islamic law and governance, Imam Fesial Abdul Rauf identifies and fulfils the critical need to determine the right balance between institutions of political authority and institutions of religious authority within the context of modern day governance.

Katz, “The Burdens of Brotherhood”

In November, the Harvard University Press will release “The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France” by Ethan B. Katz (University of Cincinnati). The publisher’s description follows:

Headlines from France suggest that Muslims have renewed an age-old struggle against Jews and that the two groups are once more inevitably at odds. But the past tells a different story. The Burdens of Brotherhood is a sweeping history of Jews and Muslims in France from World War I to the present. Here Ethan Katz introduces a richer and more complex world that offers fresh perspective for understanding the opportunities and challenges in France today.

Focusing on the experiences of ordinary people, Katz shows how Jewish–Muslim relations were shaped by everyday encounters and by perceptions of deeply rooted collective similarities or differences. We meet Jews and Muslims advocating common and divergent political visions, enjoying common culinary and musical traditions, and interacting on more intimate terms as neighbors, friends, enemies, and even lovers and family members. Drawing upon dozens of archives, newspapers, and interviews, Katz tackles controversial subjects like Muslim collaboration and resistance during World War II and the Holocaust, Jewish participation in French colonialism, the international impact of the Israeli–Arab conflict, and contemporary Muslim antisemitism in France.

We see how Jews and Muslims, as ethno-religious minorities, understood and related to one another through their respective relationships to the French state and society. Through their eyes, we see colonial France as a multiethnic, multireligious society more open to public displays of difference than its postcolonial successor. This book thus dramatically reconceives the meaning and history not only of Jewish–Muslim relations but ultimately of modern France itself.

Pope, “Seeking God’s Kingdom”

In November, the University of Wales Press will release “Seeking God’s Kingdom: The Nonconformist Social Gospel in Wales 1906-1939,” by Robert Pope (University of Wales). The publisher’s description follows:

The years between 1906 and 1939 in Europe were characterized by a concern, expressed in political, economic, social and religious terms, about the social conditions which had resulted from more than a century of industrialization. Seeking God’s Kingdom examines the work of Welsh Nonconformity’s four main protagonists of social thinking: David Miall Edwards, Thomas Rees, Herbert Morgan and John Morgan Jones. It explores the ways in which they were influenced by European intellectual and philosophical ideas, showing how religion was reinterpreted by them to promote social improvement, and the book assesses the strengths and weaknesses of their approach. Archetypal theological liberals rather than specifically social gospellers, their conclusions were undermined towards the end of the period by changes and developments in the current of European religious thought. This is a comprehensive and fascinating study of liberal theology’s attempt to come to terms with the demands and challenges of an industrialized society.

Around the Web This Week

Some interesting law and religion news stories from around the web this week: