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.
In May, Cambridge University Press will release “The Western Case for Monogamy Over Polygamy” by John Witte, Jr. (Emory University). The publisher’s description follows:
For more than 2,500 years, the Western tradition has embraced monogamous marriage as an essential institution for the flourishing of men and women, parents and children, society and the state. At the same time, polygamy has been considered a serious crime that harms wives and children, correlates with sundry other crimes and abuses, and threatens good citizenship and political stability. The West has thus long punished all manner of plural marriages and denounced the polygamous teachings of selected Jews, Muslims, Anabaptists, Mormons, and others. John Witte, Jr. carefully documents the Western case for monogamy over polygamy from antiquity until today. He analyzes the historical claims that polygamy is biblical, natural, and useful alongside modern claims that anti-polygamy laws violate personal and religious freedom. While giving the arguments pro and con a full hearing, Witte concludes that the Western historical case against polygamy remains compelling and urges Western nations to hold the line on monogamy.
This April, Oxford University Press will release “Render unto the Sultan: Power, Authority, and the Greek Orthodox Church in the Early Ottoman Centuries” by Tom Papademetriou (Richard Stockton College, New Jersey). The publisher’s description follows:
The received wisdom about the nature of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire is that Sultan Mehmed II reestablished the Patriarchate of Constantinople as both a political and a religious authority to govern the post-Byzantine Greek community. However, relations between the Church hierarchy and Turkish masters extend further back in history, and closer scrutiny of these relations reveals that the Church hierarchy in Anatolia had long experience dealing with Turkish emirs by focusing on economic arrangements. Decried as scandalous, these arrangements became the modus vivendi for bishops in the Turkish emirates.
Primarily concerned with the economic arrangements between the Ottoman state and the institution of the Greek Orthodox Church from the mid-fifteenth to the sixteenth century,Render Unto the Sultan argues that the Ottoman state considered the Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical hierarchy primarily as tax farmers (multezim) for cash income derived from the church’s widespread holdings. The Ottoman state granted individuals the right to take their positions as hierarchs in return for yearly payments to the state. Relying on members of the Greek economic elite (archons) to purchase the ecclesiastical tax farm (iltizam), hierarchical positions became subject to the same forces of competition that other Ottoman administrative offices faced. This led to colorful episodes and multiple challenges to ecclesiastical authority throughout Ottoman lands.
Tom Papademetriou demonstrates that minority communities and institutions in the Ottoman Empire, up to now, have been considered either from within the community, or from outside, from the Ottoman perspective. This new approach allows us to consider internal Greek Orthodox communal concerns, but from within the larger Ottoman social and economic context.
Render Unto the Sultan challenges the long established concept of the ‘Millet System’, the historical model in which the religious leader served both a civil as well as a religious authority. From the Ottoman state’s perspective, the hierarchy was there to serve the religious and economic function rather than the political one.
This June, I.B. Tauris Press will release “Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt: Politics, Society, and Interfaith Encounters” by Henrik Lindberg Hansen (University of London). The publisher’s description follows:
The subject of Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle East and indeed in the West attracts much academic and media attention. Nowhere is this more the case than in Egypt, which has the largest Christian community in the Middle East, estimated at 6-10 per cent of the national population. Henrik Lindberg Hansen analyzes this relationship, offering an examination of the nature and role of religious dialogue in Egyptian society. Taking three main religious organizations and institutions in Egypt (namely the Azhar University, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Coptic Orthodox Church), Hansen argues that religious dialogue involves a close examination of societal relations, and how these are understood and approached. Including analysis of the occasions of violence against Christian communities in 2011 and the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013, Hansen provides a wide-ranging exploration of the importance of religion in Egyptian society and everyday encounters with a religious other . This makes his book vital for researchers of both religious minorities in the Middle East and interfaith dialogue in a wider context.”
In June, Mulholland Books will release “Not In God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence” by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth). The publisher’s description follows:
Despite predictions of continuing secularization, the twenty-first century has witnessed a surge of religious extremism and violence in the name of God. In this powerful and timely book, Jonathan Sacks explores the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, focusing on the historic tensions between the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Drawing on arguments from evolutionary psychology, game theory, history, philosophy, ethics and theology, Sacks shows how a tendency to violence can subvert even the most compassionate of religions.
Whilst dismissing the claim that religion is intrinsically a cause of violence, Sacks argues that theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem. Through a close reading of key Biblical texts at the heart of the Abrahamic faiths, Sacks challenges those who kill in the name of the God of life, wage war in the name of the God of peace, hate in the name of the God of love, and practice cruelty in the name of the God of compassion.
In June, I.B.Tauris will release “Preaching Islamic Revival: Amr Khaled, Mass Media and Social Change in Egypt” by Susanne Olsson (Stockholm University, Sweden). The publisher’s description follows:
Amr Khaled is an Egyptian Muslim activist and television preacher based in Egypt who encourages both social commitment and individual self-fulfilment. Chosen by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, his prominence in the Arabic-speaking world is unparalleled. During the Mubarak era, his message seemed for the most part apolitical, but after the events of January 2011, he started using more explicitly political language. Susanne Olsson examines the differences between Amr Khaled’s pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary messages and looking in-depth at how he deals with the concepts of Islam and modernity. By examining issues such as Amr Khaled’s use of mass media, his views on gender role and the nature of political and religious rule, Susanne Olsson offers a book which will appeal to those interested in the changes that Egypt has experienced over the last century.
This June, St. Augustine’s Press will release “Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy” by George J. Marlin (Aid to the Church in Need-USA). The publisher’s description follows:
Even before ISIS launched its ultra-violent campaign targeting Iraqi Christians in the summer of 2014, Pope Francis proclaimed that the current wave of Christian persecution in the Middle East is worse than the suffering inflicted on believers in the centuries of the early Church. Since the Arab Spring and the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011, which have thrown the region into utter chaos, Muslim extremists have killed thousands of Christians every year, while destroying and desecrating countless churches. Christian communities in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt have been hardest hit.
In his new book, author and political commentator George J. Marlin, chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA – an agency under the guidance of the Pope that supports the persecuted and suffering Church around the world – describes the sharp rise in Christian persecution in the Middle East. After brief narratives on the rise of Christianity, Islam, and terrorism in the Middle East, Marlin documents country by country, acts of twenty-first century Christian persecution that is nearing a bloody climax that could produce the unthinkable: a Middle East without Christians and the destruction of an ancient patrimony that has been a vital link to the very birth of Christianity.
This month, Harvard University Press releases “Muslim Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Empire” by Seema Alavi (University of Delhi). The publisher’s description follows:
Muslim Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Empire recovers the stories of five Indian Muslim scholars who, in the aftermath of the uprising of 1857, were hunted by British authorities, fled their homes in India for such destinations as Cairo, Mecca, and Istanbul, and became active participants in a flourishing pan-Islamic intellectual network at the cusp of the British and Ottoman empires. Seema Alavi traces this network, born in the age of empire, which became the basis of a global Muslim sensibility—a form of political and cultural affiliation that competes with ideas of nationhood today as it did in the previous century.
By demonstrating that these Muslim networks depended on European empires and that their sensibility was shaped by the West in many subtle ways, Alavi challenges the idea that all pan-Islamic configurations are anti-Western or pro-Caliphate. Indeed, Western imperial hegemony empowered the very inter-Asian Muslim connections that went on to outlive European empires. Diverging from the medieval idea of the umma, this new cosmopolitan community stressed consensus in matters of belief, ritual, and devotion and found inspiration in the liberal reforms then gaining traction in the Ottoman world. Alavi breaks new ground in the writing of nineteenth-century history by engaging equally with the South Asian and Ottoman worlds, and by telling a non-Eurocentric story of global modernity without overlooking the importance of the British Empire.
This May, Cambridge University Press will release “Imperial Russia’s Muslims: Islam, Empire and European Modernity, 1788–1914” by Mustafa Tuna (Duke University). The publisher’s description follows:
Imperial Russia’s Muslims offers an exploration of social and cultural change among the Muslim communities of Central Eurasia from the late eighteenth century through to the outbreak of the First World War. Drawing from a wealth of Russian and Turkic sources, Mustafa Tuna surveys the roles of Islam, social networks, state interventions, infrastructural changes and the globalization of European modernity in transforming imperial Russia’s oldest Muslim community: the Volga-Ural Muslims. Shifting between local, imperial and transregional frameworks, Tuna reveals how the Russian state sought to manage Muslim communities, the ways in which both the state and Muslim society were transformed by European modernity, and the extent to which the long nineteenth century either fused Russia’s Muslims and the tsarist state or drew them apart. The book raises questions about imperial governance, diversity, minorities, and Islamic reform, and in doing so proposes a new theoretical model for the study of imperial situations.