Tag Archives: Islam

Russell, “Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms”

In October, Basic Books released “Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into 9780465030569the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East,” by Gerard Russell (Foreign Policy Centre – London). The publisher’s description follows:

In this spellbinding journey across the past and present of the Middle East, a former diplomat takes us into the fascinating religious communities that have survived for centuries under Muslim rule.

Despite its reputation for religious intolerance, the Middle East has long sheltered many distinctive and strange faiths: one regards the Greek prophets as incarnations of God, another reveres Lucifer in the form of a peacock, and yet another believes that their followers are reincarnated beings who have existed in various forms for thousands of years. These religions represent the last vestiges of the magnificent civilizations in ancient history: Persia, Babylon, Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs. Their followers have learned how to survive foreign attacks and the perils of assimilation. But today, with the Middle East in turmoil, they face greater challenges than ever before.

In Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms, former diplomat Gerard Russell ventures to the distant, nearly impassable regions where these mysterious religions still cling to survival. He lives alongside the Mandaeans and Ezidis of Iraq, the Zoroastrians of Iran, the Copts of Egypt, and others. He learns their histories, participates in their rituals, and comes to understand the threats to their communities. Historically a tolerant faith, Islam has, since the early 20th century, witnessed the rise of militant, extremist sects. This development, along with the rippling effects of Western invasion, now pose existential threats to these minority faiths. And as more and more of their youth flee to the West in search of greater freedoms and job prospects, these religions face the dire possibility of extinction.

Drawing on his extensive travels and archival research, Russell provides an essential record of the past, present, and perilous future of these remarkable religions.

Bouasria, “Sufism and Politics in Morocco”

This January, Routledge Press will release “Sufism and Politics in Morocco: Activism and Dissent” by Abdelilah Bouasria (George Mason University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Presenting a political history and sociology of Moroccan Sufism from colonialism to the modern day, this book studies the Sufi model of Master and Disciple in relation to social and political life, comparing the different eras of acquiescent versus dissident Sufism.

This comparative fieldwork study offers new perspectives on the connection between the monarchy and mystic realms with a specific coverage of the Boutchichi order and Abdessalam Yassine’s Al Adl Wal Ihsane, examining the myth of apolitical Sufism throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Drawing on Michel Foucault and James Scott, this book fuses thinking about the political dimension of Sufism, a “hidden transcript,” involving power struggles, patronage and justice and its esoteric spiritual ethics of care.

Addressing the lacuna in English language literature on the Boutchichi Sufi order in Morocco, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Islamic Studies, Comparative Politics and the MENA region.

Dionigi, “Hezbollah, Islamist Politics, and International Society”

This month, Palgrave Macmillan releases “Hezbollah, Islamist Politics, and International Society,”  by Filippo Dionigi (Middle East Centre of the London School of Economics and Political Science). The publisher’s description follows:

How do the norms of the liberal international order influence the activity of Islamist movements? This book assesses the extent to which Islamist groups, which have traditionally attempted to shield their communities from ‘external’ moral conceptions, have been influenced by the principles that regulate international society. Through an analysis of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Filippo Dionigi concludes that international norms are significant factors changing Islamist politics. We are still far from an accomplished resolve of the tension between Islamist communitarianism and liberal normative views, but a precarious equilibrium may emerge whereby Islamists are persuaded to rethink the idea of an allegedly ‘authentic’ Islamic morality as opposed to the legitimacy of international norms.

Conference: “Muslim Minorities and Religious Freedom”

On December 15, 2014, the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University, in cooperation with Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, will host a conference entitled “Muslim Minorities and Religious Freedom:  A Public Dialogue.”

Muslim MinoritiesHow has the persecution of Muslim minorities affected their well-being in Europe and North America, the overall health of Muslim-majority nations, and the growth of violent Islamist extremism? Are Muslim minorities developing theologies that can bolster religious freedom, stable democracy, and economic growth, as well as undermine violent Islamist extremism? Join us as we explore these questions at a day-long conference featuring four panels of experts as well as a lunchtime keynote conversation between Professor Robert George of Princeton, Professor John Esposito of Georgetown, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of Zaytuna College.

Details can be found here.

Mouline, “The Clerics of Islam”

This November, Yale University Press will release “The Clerics of Islam: Religious Authority and Political Power in Saudi Arabia” by Nabil Mouline (French National Center for Scientific Research).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Clerics of IslamFollowers of Muhammad b. ’Abd al-Wahhab, often considered to be Islam’s Martin Luther, shaped the political and religious identity of the Saudi state while also enabling the significant worldwide expansion of Salafist Islam. Studies of the movement he inspired, however, have often been limited by scholars’ insufficient access to key sources within Saudi Arabia. Nabil Mouline was granted rare interviews and admittance to important Saudi archives in preparation for this groundbreaking book, the first in-depth study of the Wahhabi religious movement from its founding to the modern day. Gleaning information from both written and oral sources and employing a multidisciplinary approach that combines history, sociology, and Islamic studies, Mouline presents a new reading of this movement that transcends the usual resort to polemics.

Al-Hibri, “The Islamic Worldview”

This past October, American Bar Association Book Publishing released “The Islamic Worldview: Islamic Jurisprudence – An American Muslim Perspective, Vol. 1” by Azizah Al-Hibri (University of Richmond).  The publisher’s description follows:

This Islamic WorldviewThe Islamic Worldview is the first volume of Islamic Jurisprudence: An American Muslim Perspective, a groundbreaking series that revisits traditional Islamic jurisprudence in order to develop a modern enlightened understanding of Islam with respect to gender, marriage, family, and democratic governance.

With Quranic textual analysis and commentary, it provides both the Muslim and non-Muslim reader with a basic understanding of the legal foundations of Islam. It introduces the sources of Islamic law and their significance in the hierarchy of Islamic jurisprudence while presenting Dr. al-Hibri’s articulation of the Islamic worldview, developed in light of modern day concerns, such as those relating to gender, race and class. The Islamic Worldview introduces the Qur’an as the supreme source of Islamic law and discusses basic rules and principles that have been noted by jurists over time in understanding and interpreting it, and how these rules can and have been applied toward the evolution of a uniquely Islamic global perspective.

Massad, “Islam in Liberalism”

This January, University of Chicago Press will release “Islam in Liberalism” by Joseph A. Massad (Columbia University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Islam in LiberalismIn the popular imagination, Islam is often associated with words like oppression, totalitarianism, intolerance, cruelty, misogyny, and homophobia, while its presumed antonyms are Christianity, the West, liberalism, individualism, freedom, citizenship, and democracy. In the most alarmist views, the West’s most cherished values—freedom, equality, and tolerance—are said to be endangered by Islam worldwide.

Joseph Massad’s Islam in Liberalism explores what Islam has become in today’s world, with full attention to the multiplication of its meanings and interpretations. He seeks to understand how anxieties about tyranny, intolerance, misogyny, and homophobia, seen in the politics of the Middle East, are projected onto Islam itself. Massad shows that through this projection, Europe emerges as democratic and tolerant, feminist, and pro-LGBT rights—or, in short, Islam-free. Massad documents the Christian and liberal idea that we should missionize democracy, women’s rights, sexual rights, tolerance, equality, and even therapies to cure Muslims of their un-European, un-Christian, and illiberal ways. Along the way he sheds light on a variety of controversial topics, including the meanings of democracy—and the ideological assumption that Islam is not compatible with it while Christianity is—women in Islam, sexuality and sexual freedom, and the idea of Abrahamic religions valorizing an interfaith agenda. Islam in Liberalism is an unflinching critique of Western assumptions and of the liberalism that Europe and Euro-America blindly present as a type of salvation to an assumingly unenlightened Islam.

Kreeft, “Ecumenical Jihad”

This January, St. Augustine’s Press will release “Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War” by Peter Kreeft (Boston College).  The publisher’s description follows:

Ecumenism and JihadJuxtaposing “ecumenism” and “jihad,” two words that many would consider strange and at odds with one another, Peter Kreeft argues that we need to change our current categories and alignments. We need to realize that we are at war and that the sides have changed radically. Documenting the spiritual and moral decay that has taken hold of modern society, Kreeft issues a wake-up call to all God-fearing Christians, Jews, and Muslims to unite together in a “religious war” against the common enemy of godless secular humanism, materialism, and immorality.

Aware of the deep theological differences of these monotheistic faiths, Kreeft calls for a moratorium on our polemics against one another so that we can form an alliance to fight together to save Western civilization.

Dragovic, “Religion and Post-Conflict Statebuilding”

In January, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Religion and Post-Conflict Statebuilding: Roman Catholic and Sunni Islamic Perspectives” by Dennis Dragovic (University of Melbourne).  The publisher’s description follows:

Was religion a friend or foe in the post-conflict statebuilding endeavours of Iraq and Afghanistan? An under-explored area in academia and policy circles alike, religious institutions are important non-state actors that wield considerable influence and can draw upon extensive resources. In this book, Dragovic considers how the unique traits of religious institutions can make or break statebuilding efforts. But understanding how religious institutions can contribute does not explain why they would. Drawing from the theologies of Roman Catholicism and Sunni Islam the book diverges from traditional approaches such as rational choice theory and instead embraces a teleological view recognizing the importance of belief in understanding a religious institution’s motivations. Using the author’s extensive experience as a practitioner, it then applies theory and theology to the practical case study of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Verskin, “Islamic Law and the Crisis of the Reconquista”

In January, Brill Publishing will release Verskin, “Islamic Law and the Crisis of the Reconquista: The Debate on the Status of Muslim Communities in Christendom.” The publisher’s description follows:

 The Reconquista left unprecedentedly large numbers of Muslims living under Christian rule. Since Islamic religious and legal institutions had been developed by scholars who lived under Muslim rule and who assumed this condition as a given, how Muslims should proceed in the absence of such rule became the subject of extensive intellectual investigation. In Islamic Law and the Crisis of the Reconquista, Alan Verskin examines the way in which the Iberian school of Mālikī law developed in response to the political, theological, and practical difficulties posed by the Reconquista. He shows how religious concepts, even those very central to the Islamic religious experience, could be rethought and reinterpreted in order to respond to the changing needs of Muslims.