Tag Archives: Books

“Christianity and Religious Plurality” (Methuen et al., eds.)

In May, the Ecclesiastical History Society will release “Christianity and Religious Plurality” edited by Charlotte Methuen (University of Glasgow), Andrew Spicer (Oxford Brookes University), and John Wolffe (The Open University). The publisher’s description follows:

This, the fifty-first volume of Studies in Church History, takes as its theme ‘Christianity and Religious Plurality’. The focus is on exploring the practical experience of Christians, who have often existed in a world of manifold belief systems and religious practices. Under the Presidency of Professor John Wolffe, the summer conference and winter volume brought together a fascinating series of lectures and communications, a selection of which are collected in this peer-reviewed volume. Three main areas of engagement emerge: contexts where Christianity was a minority faith, whether in the earliest years of the church, in the Mongol empire of the thirteenth century or under Ottoman rule in the fifteenth, or in contemporary Iraq, Egypt and Indonesia; responses to religious minorities in predominantly Christian societies, such as early-modern Malta or nineteenth- and twentieth-century London; and finally, Christian encounters with other religions in situations where no single tradition was obviously dominant. Offering an unusual perspective on Christian encounters with other faiths, this volume will appeal to students of religious studies and those interested in the cultural contexts in which Christianity has existed – and indeed continues to exist.

Jouili, “Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe”

In May, Stanford University Press will release “Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe” by Jeanette S. Jouili (College of Charleston). The publisher’s description follows:

The visible increase in religious practice among young European-born Muslims has provoked public anxiety. New government regulations seek not only to restrict Islamic practices within the public sphere, but also to shape Muslims’, and especially women’s, personal conduct. Pious Practice and Secular Constraints chronicles the everyday ethical struggles of women active in orthodox and socially conservative Islamic revival circles as they are torn between their quest for a pious lifestyle and their aspirations to counter negative representations of Muslims within the mainstream society.

Jeanette S. Jouili conducted fieldwork in France and Germany to investigate how pious Muslim women grapple with religious expression: for example, when to wear a headscarf, where to pray throughout the day, and how to maintain modest interactions between men and women. Her analysis stresses the various ethical dilemmas the women confronted in negotiating these religious duties within a secular public sphere. In conversation with Islamic and Western thinkers, Jouili teases out the important ethical-political implications of these struggles, ultimately arguing that Muslim moral agency, surprisingly reinvigorated rather than hampered by the increasingly hostile climate in Europe, encourages us to think about the contribution of non-secular civic virtues for shaping a pluralist Europe.

 

Bhojani, “Moral Rationalism and Shari’a”

This month, Routledge Publishing will release “Moral Rationalism and Shari’a: Independent rationality in modern Shi’i usul al-Fiqh” by Ali-Reza Bhojani (Al-Mahdi Institute, Birmingham).  The publisher’s description follows:

Moral Rationalism and Shari'aMoral Rationalism and Shari’a is the first attempt at outlining the scope for a theological reading of Shari’a, based on a critical examination of why ‘Adliyya theological ethics have not significantly impacted Shi’i readings of Shari’a.

Within Shi’i works of Shari ‘a legal theory (usul al-fiqh) there is a theoretical space for reason as an independent source of normativity alongside the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition. The position holds that humans are capable of understanding moral values independently of revelation. Describing themselves as ‘Adliyya (literally the people of Justice), this allows the Shi ‘a, who describe themselves as ‘Adiliyya (literally, the People of Justice), to attribute a substantive rational conception of justice to God, both in terms of His actions and His regulative instructions. Despite the Shi’i adoption of this moral rationalism, independent judgments of rational morality play little or no role in the actual inference of Shari ‘a norms within mainstream contemporary Shi’i thought.

Through a close examination of the notion of independent rationality as a source in modern Shi’i usul al-fiqh, the obstacles preventing this moral rationalism from impacting the understanding of Shari ‘a are shown to be purely epistemic. In line with the ‘emic’ (insider) approach adopted, these epistemic obstacles are revisited identifying the scope for allowing a reading of Shari’a that is consistent with the fundamental moral rationalism of Shi’i thought. It is argued that judgments of rational morality, even when not definitively certain, cannot be ignored in the face of the apparent meaning of texts that are themselves also not certain. An‘Adliyya reading of Shari’a demands that the strength of independent rational evidence be reconciled against the strength of any other apparently conflicting evidence, such that independent judgments of rational morality act as a condition for the validity of precepts attributed to a just and moral God.

De Sanctis, “Churches, Temples, and Financial Crimes”

This May, Springer Publishing will release “Churches, Temples, and Financial Crimes: A Judicial Perspective of the Abuse of Faith” by Fausto Martin De Sanctis.  The publisher’s description follows:

This eye-opening volume examines ways in which religious institutions can be misused to mask illegal financial dealings, and steps law enforcement can take to combat these criminal activities. The chapters review legal rights and responsibilities of churches and the types of loopholes that can allow unscrupulous practices to flourish. This book offers local and global proposals for the study and practice of improving financial transparency for religious organizations, and assessing and curbing monetary crimes within their ranks. A sampling of criminal cases of financial wrongdoing by churches and temples spotlights the ingenuity involved in such scams as well as in the ongoing fight against them. Included in the coverage:

  • Religious freedom in the U.S and Brazilian constitutional orders
  • Government regulation of religious organizations
  • Criminal investigations and cases involving financial crimes practiced by and through religious institutions
  • International religious activities and legal cooperation for repatriation of assets
  • Payments through illegal and disguised means, and the misuse of churches, temples, and charitable organizations
  •  Proposals to improve the war against financial crimes within temples and churches

Its unique subject matter and depth of information make Churches, Temples, and Financial Crimes distinctly useful for professionals involved in efforts to curb this form of crime, particularly law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and judges.

Berman, “Metropolitan Jews: Politics, Race, and Religion in Postwar Detroit”

In May, the University of Chicago Press will release “Metropolitan Jews: Politics, Race, and Religion in Postwar Detroit” by Lila Corwin Berman (Temple University). The publisher’s description follows:

In this provocative and accessible urban history, Lila Corwin Berman considers the role that Detroit’s Jews played in the city’s well-known narrative of migration and decline. Taking its cue from social critics and historians who have long looked toward Detroit to understand twentieth-century urban transformations, Metropolitan Jews tells the story of Jews leaving the city while retaining a deep connection to it. Berman argues convincingly that though most Jews moved to the suburbs, urban abandonment, disinvestment, and an embrace of conservatism did not invariably accompany their moves. Instead, the Jewish postwar migration was marked by an enduring commitment to a newly fashioned urbanism with a vision of self, community, and society that persisted well beyond city limits.

Complex and subtle, Metropolitan Jews pushes urban scholarship beyond the tenacious black/white, urban/suburban dichotomy. It demands a more nuanced understanding of the process and politics of suburbanization and will reframe how we think about the American urban experiment and modern Jewish history.

“Tafsir and Islamic Intellectual History: Exploring the Boundaries of a Genre” (Görke & Pink, eds.)

In February, Oxford University Press released “Tafsir and Islamic Intellectual History: Exploring the Boundaries of a Genre”  edited by Andreas Görke (University of Edinburgh) and Johanna Pink (University of Freiburg, Germany). The publisher’s description follows:

How and when did Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir) emerge as a literary genre of its own? To what extent was it influenced by other disciplines, such as law, theology, or philosophy? How did different political or theological agendas shape works of tafsir, and in what ways did the genre develop over time and in different regions? These are some of the major questions which this book seeks to address.

This book constitutes the first comprehensive attempt at describing the genre of Qur’anic exegesis in its broader intellectual context. Its aim is to provide a framework for understanding the boundaries of tafsir and its interaction with other disciplines of learning, as well as the subgenres and internal divisions within the genre. It discusses the emergence of the genre in the beginnings of Islamic history and the changes and potential ruptures it has experienced in later times, the role of hadith, law, language, philosophy, theology, and political ideology for the interpretive process, the regional dimension, the influx of modernist ideas and the process of writing tafsir in languages other than Arabic.

Among the fifteen authors who have contributed to the volume are leading scholars in the field as well as young researchers, which makes for a unique and fresh perspective on a field that has long been reduced to its instrumental value for understanding the Qur’an. Covering the time from the formation of Qur’anic exegesis until the present, it is a valuable resource for advanced students and scholars in the field.

“The Changing Nature of Religious Rights Under International Law” (Evans et al., eds.)

This Month, Oxford University Press will release “The Changing Nature of Religious Rights Under International Law” edited by Malcolm Evans (University of Bristol), Peter Petkoff (Oxford University), and Julian Rivers (University of Bristol).  The publisher’s description follows:

Changing Nature of Religious RightsThe Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, is the only universal human rights instrument specifically focusing on religious intolerance and discrimination. However, recent years have seen increasing controversy surrounding this right, in both political and legal contexts. The European Court of Human Rights has experienced a vast expansion in the number of cases it has had brought before it concerning religious freedom, and politically the boundaries of the right have been much disputed. This book provides a systematic analysis of the different approaches to religious rights which exist in public international law.

The book explores how particular institutional perspectives emerge in the context of these differing approaches. It examines, and challenges, these institutional perspectives. It identifies new directions for approaching religious rights through international law by examining existing legal tools, and assesses their achievements and shortcomings. It studies religious organisations’ support for international human rights protection, as well as religious critique of international human rights and the development of an alternative religious ‘Bills of Rights’. It investigates whether expressions of members belonging to religious minorities can be considered under the minority right to culture, rather than the right to religion, and discusses the benefits and shortcomings of such a route. It analyses the reach and limits of the provisions in the 1981 Declaration, identifies ways in which the right is being eroded as a concept, and suggests new ways in which the right can be reinforced and protected.

Weller et al., “Religion or Belief, Discrimination and Equality”

In May, Bloomsbury Academic Publishing will release “Religion or Belief, Discrimination and Equality: Britain in Global Contexts” by Paul Weller (University of Derby), Kingsley Purdam (University of Manchester), Nazila Ghanea (University of Oxford), Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor (University of Derby).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religion Or BeliefIn recent years, controversial issues related to religion or belief, discrimination, equality and human rights have come to the fore, especially in the context of public debates around multiculturalism following the ‘social policy shock’ created by the impact of violent religious extremism. For example should there be restrictions on what people can wear in the work place based on their religious identity? Should religious organizations be exempt from aspects of equalities legislation which are not in line with their beliefs and values? How should non-religious identities be recognized?

In the context of increasing cultural and religion or belief diversity, it is vitally important for the future to understand the nature and extent of discrimination and unfair treatment on the grounds of religion or belief, and to assess the adequacy of policies, practices and laws designed to tackle this. This includes the overlap of religion or belief identities with other aspects of people’s identity including characteristics such as age, disability, race, sex and sexual orientation which can also be legally protected.

This volume is a benchmark publication on religion, discrimination and equality. It includes data and insights derived from the fieldwork, focus groups and questionnaire survey of a recent national research project in Britain. Its analysis presents a unique insight into continuity and change in people’s reported experience over a decade of equalities legislation and political and social change of unfair treatment on the basis of religion or belief. Grounded in empirical and contextualized data, its findings are placed in the context of European and international human rights law.

Its findings will be of special interest to both scholars and practitioners working in the specific fields of education, employment, the media, criminal justice and immigration, housing, health care, social services, and funding, as well as in the broader fields of religion or belief, the law and public policy.

Grzymała-Busse, “Nations under God: How Churches Use Moral Authority to Influence Policy”

In April, Princeton University Press will release “Nations under God: How Churches Use Moral Authority to Influence Policy” by Anna Grzymała-Busse (University of Michigan). The publisher’s description follows:

In some religious countries, churches have drafted constitutions, restricted abortion, and controlled education. In others, church influence on public policy is far weaker. Why? Nations under God argues that where religious and national identities have historically fused, churches gain enormous moral authority—and covert institutional access. These powerful churches then shape policy in backrooms and secret meetings instead of through open democratic channels such as political parties or the ballot box.

Through an in-depth historical analysis of six Christian democracies that share similar religious profiles yet differ in their policy outcomes—Ireland and Italy, Poland and Croatia, and the United States and Canada—Anna Grzymała-Busse examines how churches influenced education, abortion, divorce, stem cell research, and same-sex marriage. She argues that churches gain the greatest political advantage when they appear to be above politics. Because institutional access is covert, they retain their moral authority and their reputation as defenders of the national interest and the common good.

Nations under God shows how powerful church officials in Ireland, Canada, and Poland have directly written legislation, vetoed policies, and vetted high-ranking officials. It demonstrates that religiosity itself is not enough for churches to influence politics—churches in Italy and Croatia, for example, are not as influential as we might think—and that churches allied to political parties, such as in the United States, have less influence than their notoriety suggests.

“Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur’an to the Mongols” (Gleave & Kristó-Nagy, eds.)

This month, Edinburgh University Press will release “Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur’an to the Mongols” edited by Robert Gleave (University of Exeter) and István Kristó-Nagy (University of Exeter). The publisher’s description follows:

How was violence justified in early Islam? What role did violent actions play in the formation and maintenance of the Muslim political order? How did Muslim thinkers view the origins and acceptability of violence? These questions are addressed by an international range of eminent authors through both general accounts of types of violence and detailed case studies of violent acts drawn from the early Islamic sources. Violence is understood widely, to include jihad, state repressions and rebellions, and also more personally directed violence against victims (women, animals, children, slaves) and criminals. By understanding the early development of Muslim thinking around violence, our understanding of subsequent trends in Islamic thought, during the medieval period and up to the modern day, become clearer.