In August, Hurst Publishing released “Force and Fanaticism: Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and Beyond” by Simon Ross Valentine (Leeds University and Bradford University). The publisher’s description follows:
Wahhabism is an Islamic reform movement found mainly in Saudi Arabia. Closely linked to the Saudi monarchy, it enforces a strict code of morality and conduct monitored by mutawa (religious police), and governs every facet of Saudi life according to its own strict interpretation of Shariah, including gender segregation. Wahhabism also prohibits the practice of any other faith (even other forms of Islam) in Saudi Arabia, which is also the only country that forbids women from driving.
But what exactly is Wahhabism? This question had long occupied Valentine, so he lived in the Kingdom for three years, familiarizing himself with its distinct interpretation of Islam. His book defines Wahhabism and Wahhabi beliefs and considers the life and teaching of Muham-mad ibn Abd’al Wahhab and the later expansion of his sect. Also discussed are the rejection of later developments in Islam such as bid’ah; harmful innovations, among them celebrating the prophet’s birthday and visiting the tombs of saints; the destruction of holy sites due to the fear of idolatry; Wahhabi law, which imposes the death sentence for crimes as archaic as witch-craft and sorcery, and the connection of Wahhabism with militant Islam globally.
Drawing on interviews with Saudis from all walks of life, including members of the feared mutawa, this book appraises of one of the most significant movements in contemporary Islam.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
In October, the University of Exeter Press will release “Hadith, Piety, and Law: Selected Studies,” by Christopher Melchert (Oxford University). The publisher’s description follows:
The publication of The Formation of the Sunni Schools of Law, Ninth-Tenth Centuries C.E., first as a University of Pennsylvania doctoral dissertation in 1992, and subsequently as a monograph in 1997 (Studies in Islamic Law and Society, Brill), established Christopher Melchert as a pre-eminent scholar of the history of Islamic law and institutions. Through close readings of works on fiqh, meticulous unpacking of data in biographical dictionaries, and careful attention to curricular, pious, pedagogical, and scholarly practices, Melchert has subsequently illuminated the processes and procedures that undergirded the development of Islamic movements and institutions in the formative period of Islam.
The present volume brings together sixteen of his articles, including those considered his most important as well as ones that are difficult to access. Originally published between 1997 and 2014, they are arranged chronologically under three rubrics – hadith, piety and law. The material is presented in a new format, updated by Melchert where appropriate, and indexed. The appearance of these articles together in a single volume makes this book a highly significant and welcome contribution to the field of classical Islamic Studies.
In October, the University of California Press will release “Preaching Islamic Renewal: Religious Authority and Media in Contemporary Egypt,” by Jacquelene Brinton (University of Kansas). The publisher’s description follows:
Preaching Islamic Renewal examines the life and work of Muhammad Mitwalli Sha‘rawi, one of Egypt’s most beloved and successful Islamic preachers. His wildly popular TV program aired every Friday for years until his death in 1998. At the height of his career, it was estimated that up to 30 million people tuned in to his show each week. Yet despite his pervasive and continued influence in Egypt and the wider Muslim world, Sha‘rawi was for a long time neglected by academics. While much of the academic literature that focuses on Islam in modern Egypt repeats the claim that traditionally trained Muslim scholars suffered the loss of religious authority, Sha‘rawi is instead an example of a well-trained Sunni scholar who became a national media sensation. As an advisor to the rulers of Egypt as well as the first Arab television preacher, he was one of the most important and controversial religious figures in late-twentieth-century Egypt. Thanks to the repurposing of his videos on television and on the Internet, Sha‘rawi’s performances are still regularly viewed. Jacquelene Brinton uses Sha‘rawi and his work as a lens to explore how traditional Muslim authorities have used various media to put forth a unique vision of how Islam can be renewed and revived in the contemporary world. Through his weekly television appearances he popularized long held theological and ethical beliefs and became a scholar-celebrity who impacted social and political life in Egypt.
In September, the University of California Press will release “Understanding Jihad,” by David Cook (Rice University). The publisher’s description follows:
First published in 2005, Understanding Jihad unravels the tangled historical, intellectual, and political meanings of jihad within the context of Islamic life. In this revised and expanded second edition, author David Cook has included new material in light of pivotal developments such as the extraordinary events of the Arab Spring, the death of Usama b. Ladin, and the rise of new Islamic factions such as ISIS.
Jihad is one of the most loaded and misunderstood terms in the news today. Contrary to popular understanding, the term does not mean “holy war.” Nor does it simply refer to an inner spiritual struggle. This judiciously balanced, accessibly written, and highly relevant book looks closely at a range of sources from sacred Islamic texts to modern interpretations, opening a critically important perspective on the role of Islam in the contemporary world.
David Cook cites from scriptural, legal, and newly translated texts to give readers insight into the often ambiguous information that is used to construct Islamic doctrine. He sheds light on legal developments relevant to fighting and warfare and places the internal, spiritual jihad within the larger context of Islamic religion. He describes some of the conflicts that occur in radical groups and shows how the more mainstream supporters of these groups have come to understand and justify violence. He has also included a special appendix of relevant documents including materials related to the September 11 attacks and published manifestos issued by Usama b. Ladin and Palestinian suicide-martyrs.
In September, Oxford University Press will release “Locale, Everyday Islam, and Modernity: Qasbah Towns and Muslim Life in Colonial India,” by M. Raisur Rahman (Wake Forest University). The publisher’s description follows:
Scholarship has mostly privileged larger cities as the leading centres in India at the expense of belittling the role and significance of smaller entities. Villages are typically seen on the receiving end of the spectrum and qasbahs (small towns) are often clubbed with them. This book presents qasbahs as centers of intense intellectual and cultural activity in colonial India and as networks of social life, education, print culture, literary production, and intellectual dialogue. Drawing upon a wealth of untapped Urdu, English, Hindi, and Persian sources, it focuses on qasbahs as the new nuclei of Muslim social and cultural life upon the decline of the regional Indian states and their urban centers in the late nineteenth century, just as the successor-states had taken over from the Mughal Empire earlier. It also demonstrates that the emergence of modernity among the Muslims was a process during their colonial encounter in which qasbah residents were active agents and the Islam that emerged was that of everyday living. This volume looks into why locales remain major identity-markers, in addition to affiliations such as nation and religion, and what makes qasbahs still invoke memory and nostalgia among related Muslim individuals and families across the globe.
In October, Brill will release “Muslims in Interwar Europe: A Transcultural Historical Perspective,” edited by Bekim Agai (Frankfurt University), Umar Ryad (Utrecht University), and Mehdi Sajid, (Utrecht University). The publisher’s description follows:
Muslims in Interwar Europe provides a comprehensive overview of the history of Muslims in interwar Europe. Based on personal and official archives, memoirs, press writings and correspondences, the contributors analyse the multiple aspects of the global Muslim religious, political and intellectual affiliations in interwar Europe. They argue that Muslims in interwar Europe were neither simply visitors nor colonial victims, but that they constituted a group of engaged actors in the European and international space.
Contributors are Ali Al Tuma, Egdūnas Račius, Gerdien Jonker, Klaas Stutje, Naomi Davidson, Pieter Sjoerd van Koningsveld, Umar Ryad, Zaur Gasimov and Wiebke Bachmann.
In October, Springer will release “Religious Freedom at Risk: The EU, French Schools, and Why the Veil Was Banned,” by Melanie Adrian (Carleton University). The publisher’s description follows:
This book examines matters of religious freedom in Europe, considers the work of the European Court of Human Rights in this area, explores issues of multiculturalism and secularism in France, of women in Islam, and of Muslims in the West. The work presents legal analysis and ethnographic fieldwork, focusing on concepts such as laïcité, submission, equality and the role of the state in public education, amongst others. Through this book, the reader can visit inside a French public school located in a low-income neighborhood just south of Paris and learn about the complex dynamics that led up to the passing of the 2004 law banning Muslim headscarves. The chapters bring to light the actors and cultures within the school that set the stage for the passing of the law and the political philosophy that supports it. School culture and philosophy are compared and contrasted to the thoughts and opinions of the teachers, administrators and students to gage how religious freedom and identity are understood. The book goes on to explore the issue of religious freedom at the European Court of Human Rights. The author argues that the right to religious freedom has been too narrowly understood and is being fenced in by static visions of Islam. This jeopardizes the idea of religious freedom more broadly. By becoming entangled with regional and domestic politics, the Court is neglecting important nuances and is jeopardizing secularism, pluralism and democracy. This is a highly readable and accessible book that will appeal to students and scholars of law, anthropology, religious studies and philosophy of religion.