In May, Ashgate released “Studies on Early Arabic Philosophy” by Peter Adamson (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Germany). The publisher’s description follows:
Philosophy in the Islamic world from the 9th to 11th centuries was characterized by an engagement with Greek philosophical works in Arabic translation. This volume collects papers on both the Greek philosophers in their new Arabic guise, and on reactions to the translation movement in the period leading up to Avicenna. In a first section, Adamson provides general studies of the ‘formative’ period of philosophy in the Islamic world, discussing the Arabic reception of Aristotle and of his commentators. He also argues that this formative period was characterized not just by the use of Hellenic materials, but also by a productive exchange of ideas between Greek-inspired ‘philosophy (falsafa)’ and Islamic theology (kalām). A second section considers the underappreciated philosophical impact of Galen, using Arabic sources to understand Galen himself, and exploring the thought of the doctor and philosopher al-Rāzī, who drew on Galen as a chief inspiration. A third section looks at al-Fārābī and the so-called ‘Baghdad school’ of the 10th century, examining their reaction to Aristotle’s Metaphysics, his epistemology, and his famous deterministic ‘sea battle’ argument. A final group of papers is devoted to Avicenna’s philosophy, which marks the beginning of a new era of philosophy in the Islamic world.
In May, Oxford University Press released Terrains of Exchange: Religious Economies of Modern Islam by Nile Green (UCLA). The publisher’s description follows:
Terrains of Exchange offers a bold new paradigm for understanding the expansion of Islam in the modern world. Through the model of religious economy, it traces the competition between Muslim, Christian and Hindu religious entrepreneurs that transformed Islam into a proselytising global brand.
Drawing Indian, Arab, Iranian and Tatar Muslims together with Scottish missionaries and African-American converts, Nile Green brings to life the local sites of globalisation where Islam was repeatedly reinvented in modern times. Evoking terrains of exchange from Russia’s imperial borderlands to the factories of Detroit and the ports of Japan, he casts a microhistorian’s eye on the innovative new Islams that emerged from these sites of contact.
Drawing on a multilingual range of materials, the book challenges the idea that globalisation has given rise to a unified “global Islam.” Instead, it reveals the forces behind the fracturing of Islam in the hands of feuding and fissiparous “‘religious firms”.
Terrains of Exchange not only presents global history as Islamic history. It also reveals the forces of that history at work in the world today.
In July, Edward Elgar Publishing will release “Islam and the Law of Armed Conflict: Essential Readings” edited by Niaz A. Shah (University of Hull, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
This important collection reveals a multiplicity of perspectives on the Islamic law of war and peace. Prefaced by an original introduction, the carefully selected works demonstrate how the concept of Jihad is interpreted or misinterpreted. They also examine the rules applicable during the conduct of armed conflict and the significance of peace and security within Islamic tradition. The collection provides valuable insights into the compatibility of the Islamic law of war and peace and the law of armed conflict, demonstrating how the former could minimise unnecessary human suffering during armed conflict. This book is an essential source of reference for everyone interested in this vital relationship.
This month, Princeton University Press releases “Soft Force: Women in Egypt’s Islamic Awakening” by Ellen Anne McLarney (Duke University). This publisher’s description follows:
In the decades leading up to the Arab Spring in 2011, when Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime was swept from power in Egypt, Muslim women took a leading role in developing a robust Islamist presence in the country’s public sphere. Soft Force examines the writings and activism of these women—including scholars, preachers, journalists, critics, actors, and public intellectuals—who envisioned an Islamic awakening in which women’s rights and the family, equality, and emancipation were at the center.
Challenging Western conceptions of Muslim women as being oppressed by Islam, Ellen McLarney shows how women used “soft force”—a women’s jihad characterized by nonviolent protest—to oppose secular dictatorship and articulate a public sphere that was both Islamic and democratic. McLarney draws on memoirs, political essays, sermons, newspaper articles, and other writings to explore how these women imagined the home and the family as sites of the free practice of religion in a climate where Islamists were under siege by the secular state. While they seem to reinforce women’s traditional roles in a male-dominated society, these Islamist writers also reoriented Islamist politics in domains coded as feminine, putting women at the very forefront in imagining an Islamic polity.
Across the continent of Africa, Christianity and Islam are growing rapidly, side by side. The conventional wisdom is the two religions are destined for bloody conflict. This summer, Oxford will release a book that challenges this wisdom and argues that African religious diversity actually can encourage liberal democracy. The book is Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy, by Robert A. Dowd (Notre Dame). The publisher’s description follows:
Drawing from research conducted in Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda, Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy offers a deeper understanding of how Christian and Islamic faith communities affect the political attitudes of those who belong to them and, in turn, prospects for liberal democracy. While many analysts believe that religious diversity in developing countries is an impediment to liberal democracy, Robert A. Dowd concludes just the opposite. Dowd draws on narrative accounts, in-depth interviews, and large-scale surveys to show that Christian and Islamic religious communities are more likely to support liberal democracy in religiously diverse and integrated settings than in religiously homogeneous or segregated ones. Religious diversity and integration, in other words, are good for liberal democracy. In religiously diverse and integrated environments, religious leaders tend to be more encouraging of civic engagement, democracy, and religious liberty.
By providing a theoretical framework for understanding when and where Christian and Islamic communities in sub -Saharan Africa encourage and discourage liberal democracy, Dowd demonstrates how religious communities are important in affecting political actions and attitudes. This evidence, the book ultimately argues, should prompt policymakers interested in cultivating religiously-inspired support for liberal democracy to aid in the formation of religiously diverse neighborhoods, cities, and political organizations.
Western observers often group all Islamist parties together. But the groups often compete with one another there are subtle differences among them; it’s important to keep those differences in mind in analyzing Islamist politics. We’re a little late getting to this, but it December, the Hudson Institute published a monograph by Samuel Tadros, Islamist vs. Islamist:The Theologico-Political Questions, that analyzes the situation in Egypt. Here’s the publisher’s description:
This monograph is the second part of a two-year study on Egyptian Islamism funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation. The study is divided into two parts. The first maps the various currents, groups, and individuals that form the complex Egyptian Islamist scene. The second examines the internal dynamics of Islamism in terms of the interrelationship between its various constituent currents and their disagreements on key theological political questions. The study aims to fill two significant gaps in our knowledge of the Egyptian Islamist scene.
In July, Brill will release “Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History” edited by David Thomas (University of Birmingham) and John Chesworth (University of Birmingham). The publisher’s description follows:
Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History, volume 7 (CMR 7),
covering Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and South America in the period 1500-1600, is a continuing volume in a general history of relations between the two faiths from the seventh century to the early 20th century. It comprises introductory essays and the main body of detailed entries which treat all the works, surviving or lost, that have been recorded. These entries provide biographical details of the authors, descriptions and assessments of the works themselves, and complete accounts of manuscripts, editions, translations and studies. The result of collaboration between numerous leading scholars, CMR 7, along with the other volumes in this series, is intended as a basic tool for research in Christian-Muslim relations.
This June, SUNY Press will release “Mappila Muslim Culture: How a Historic Muslim Community in India Has Blended Tradition and Modernity” by Roland E. Miller (Emeritus Professor at Luther College, University of Regina, and Luther Seminary). The publisher’s description follows:
This book provides a comprehensive account of the distinct culture of the Mappila Muslims, a large community from the southern Indian state of Kerala. Although they were the first Muslim community in South Asia, the Mappilas are little-known in the West. Roland E. Miller explores the Mappilas’ fourteen-century-long history of social adaptation and their current status as a successful example of Muslim interaction with modernity. Once feared, now admired, Kerala’s Mappilas have produced an intellectual renaissance and renewed their ancient status as a model of social harmony. Miller provides an account of Mappila history and looks at the formation of Mappila culture, which has developed through the interaction of Islamic and Malayali influences. Descriptions of current day life cycles, religion, ritual, work life, education, and leadership are included.
This June, the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press will release “Schooling Muslims in Natal: Identity, State and the Orient Islamic Educational Institute” by Goolam Vahed (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and Thembisa Waetjen (Durban University of Technology). The publisher’s description follows:
The history of Muslim education in the east coast region of South Africa is the story of ongoing struggles by an immigrant religious minority under successive, exclusionary forms of state. Schooling Muslims in Natal traces the labours and fortunes of a set of progressive idealists who, mobilising merchant capital, transoceanic networks and informal political influence, established the Orient Islamic Educational Institute in 1943 to found schools and promote a curriculum inclusive of secular subjects and Islamic teaching. Through the story of their Durban flagship project – the Orient Islamic School – this book recounts the changing politics of religious identity, education and citizenship in South Africa.
From the late nineteenth century, Gujarati Muslim traders settling in the colony of Natal built mosques and madressas; their progeny carried on the strong traditions of community patronage and leadership. Aligned to Gandhi’s Congress initiatives for Indian civic recognition, they worked across differences of political strategy, economic class, ethnicity and religion to champion modern education for a ghettoised Indian diaspora. In common was the threat of a state that, long before the legal formation of apartheid, managed diversity in deference to white racial hysteria over ‘Indian penetration’ and an ‘Asiatic menace’.
This is the story of confrontation, cooperation and compromise by an officially marginalised but still powerful set of ‘founding fathers’ who shaped education and urban space as they integrated this region of Africa into the Indian Ocean world.
This June, Tughra Books will release “General Principles in the Risale-i Nur Collection for a True Understanding of Islam” by Ali Ünal. The publisher’s description follows:
The Risale-i Nur Collection is full of “general principles,” not only related to the Islamic Jurisprudence but also to all the fields of Islam or Islamic life and Islamic branches of knowledge. Based on or specially favored with profound wisdom having its source in the Divine Wisdom or the Divine Name of the All-Wise, the Risale-i Nur Collection contains numerous principles, precepts, or maxims which are standards or brilliant criteria enabling people to think, believe, and live according to Islam, and to evaluate and judge things and events in Islam’s light. They also provide people with the essentials or basic principles on which the branches of Islamic knowledge and Islamic science are based. Thus, we have tried to collect many of these principles in this book under certain titles, and in certain parts or sections according to the fields of thought and branches of knowledge to which they have a greater relevance.