In March, the University of Chicago Press will release “The Mercenary Mediterranean: Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in The Medieval Crown of Aragon,” by Hussein Fancy (University of Michigan). The publisher’s description follows:
Sometime in April 1285, five Muslim horsemen crossed from the Islamic kingdom of Granada into the realms of the Christian Crown of Aragon to meet with the king of Aragon, who showered them with gifts, including sumptuous cloth and decorative saddles, for agreeing to enter the Crown’s service.
They were not the first or only Muslim soldiers to do so. Over the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Christian kings of Aragon recruited thousands of foreign Muslim soldiers to serve in their armies and as members of their royal courts. Based on extensive research in Arabic, Latin, and Romance sources, The Mercenary Mediterranean explores this little-known and misunderstood history. Far from marking the triumph of toleration, Hussein Fancy argues, the alliance of Christian kings and Muslim soldiers depended on and reproduced ideas of religious difference. Their shared history represents a unique opportunity to reconsider the relation of medieval religion to politics, and to demonstrate how modern assumptions about this relationship have impeded our understanding of both past and present.
In March, the Oxford University Press will release “Salafism After the Arab Awakening: Contending with People’s Power,” edited by Francesco Cavatorta (Université Laval) and Fabio Merone (Dublin City University). The publisher’s description follows:
One of the most interesting consequences of the Arab awakening has been the central role of Salafists in a number of countries. In particular, there seems to have been a move away from traditional quietism towards an increasing degree of politicization. The arrival on the political scene of Salafist parties in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, as well as the seemingly growing desire of Salafists in other Arab countries to enter institutional politics through the creation of political parties, highlights quite clearly the debates and divisions on how to react to the awakening within Salafist circles.
This book examines in detail how Salafism, both theologically and politically, is contending with the Arab uprisings across a number of countries. The focus is primarily on what kind of politicization, if any, has taken place and what forms it has adopted. As some of the contributions make clear, politicization does not necessarily diminish the role of jihad or the influence of quietism, revealing tensions and struggles within the complex world of Salafism.
In March, Oxford University Press will release “Saudi Clerics and Shi’a Islam” by Raihan Ismail (Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies). The publisher’s description follows:
The Saudi “ulama” are known for their strong opposition to Shi’a theology, Shi’a communities in Saudi Arabia, and external Shi’a influences such as Iran and Hezbollah. Their potent hostility, combined with the influence of the ‘ulama’ within the Saudi state and the Muslim world, has led some commentators to blame the Saudi ‘ulama’ for what they see as growing sectarian conflict in the Middle East. However, there is very little understanding of what reasoning lies behind the positions of the ‘ulama’ and there is a significant gap in the literature dealing with the polemics directed at the Shi’a by the Saudi religious establishment.
In Saudi Clerics and Shi’a Islam, Raihan Ismail looks at the discourse of the Saudi “ulama” regarding Shiism and Shi’a communities, analysing their sermons, lectures, publications and religious rulings. The book finds that the attitudes of the “ulama” are not only governed by their theological convictions regarding Shiism, but are motivated by political events involving the Shi’a within the Saudi state and abroad. It also discovers that political events affect the intensity and frequency of the rhetoric of the ulama at any given time.
This month, the Cambridge University Press releases “Islamic Populism in Indonesia and the Middle East,” by Vedi R. Hadiz (University of Melbourne). The publisher’s description follows:
In a novel approach to the field of Islamic politics, this provocative new study compares the evolution of Islamic populism in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, to the Middle East. Utilising approaches from historical sociology and political economy, Vedi R. Hadiz argues that competing strands of Islamic politics can be understood as the product of contemporary struggles over power, material resources and the result of conflict across a variety of social and historical contexts. Drawing from detailed case studies across the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the book engages with broader theoretical questions about political change in the context of socio-economic transformations and presents an innovative, comparative framework to shed new light on the diverse trajectories of Islamic politics in the modern world.
- Charts the evolution of Islamic populism in Indonesia, comparing it to the Middle East
- Offers a novel framework to understand the diverse trajectories of Islamic politics in the modern world
- Engages with debates on religion, politics and social change
In December, Brill Publishing released “The Khōjā of Tanzania: Discontinuities of a Postcolonial Religious Identity” by Iqbal Akhtar (Florida International University). The publisher’s description follows:
The Khōjā of Tanzania, Discontinuities of a Postcolonial Religious Identity attempts to reconstruct the development of Khōjā religious identity from their arrival to the Swahili coast in the late 18th century until the turn of the 21st century. This multidisciplinary study incorporates Gujarati, Kacchī, Swahili, and Arabic sources to examine the formation of an Afro-Asian Islamic identity (jamatī) from their initial Indic caste identity (jñāti) towards an emergent Near Eastern imaged Islamic nation (ummatī) through four disciplinary approaches: historiography, politics, linguistics, and ethnology. Over the past two centuries, rapid transitions and discontinuities have produced the profound tensions which have resulted from the willful amnesia of their pre-Islamic Indic civilizational past for an ideological and politicized ‘Islamic’ present. This study aims to document, theorize, and engage this theological transformation of modern Khōjā religious identities as expressed through dimensions of power, language, space, and the body.
In December, Routledge released “Brunei – History, Islam, Society and Contemporary Issues,” edited by Ooi Keat Gin (Universiti Sains Malaysia). The publisher’s description follows:
Brunei, although a relatively small state, is disproportionately important on account of its rich resource base. In addition, in recent years the country has endeavoured to play a greater role in regional affairs, especially through ASEAN, holding the chair of the organisation in 2013, and also beyond the region, fostering diplomatic, political, economic and educational ties with many nations. This book presents much new research and new thinking on a wide range of issues concerning Brunei largely drawn from Bruneian academics. Subjects covered include Brunei’s rich history – the sultanate formerly had much more extensive territories and was a key player in regional affairs; the country’s economy, politics, society and ethnicities; and resource issues and international relations.
This month, Palgrave Macmillan is releasing “Beyond Headscarf Culture in Turkey’s Retail Sector” by Feyda Sayan-Cengiz (Istanbul Bilgi University). The publisher’s description follows:
The headscarf issue draws a great deal of public and academic attention in Turkey, yet the debate largely unfolds within the contours of the discussions over modernization, Westernization, and the Islamic / secular divide. Rarely is there a discussion about how the connotations of the headscarf shift across cleavages of class and status among women wearing it. Instead, the headscarf is typically portrayed as a symbol of Islamic identity, a ‘cover’ that brackets social inequalities other than those based on a supposed ‘clash of identities.’ This study looks beyond these contours by contextualizing the headscarf discussion in an insecure and low-status private sector labor market – namely, retail sales. Based on in-depth interviews, focus groups with lower-middle-class saleswomen with headscarves, and ethnographic study in five cities of Turkey, this book argues that the meanings of the headscarf are continuously negotiated within the quest for social and economic security.
This month, Cambridge University Press will release “Shari’a in the Modern Era: Muslim Minorities Jurisprudence” by Iyad Zahalka (Chief Judge, Shari’a Court, Jerusalem). The publisher’s description follows:
Written by the Qadi (judge) of the Shari’a Court of Jerusalem and former director of the Shari’a Court system in Israel, this book offers a unique perspective on the religious law of Muslim minorities living in the West. Specifically, it explores the fiqh al-aqalliyyāt doctrine of religious jurisprudence developed by modern Islamic jurists to resolve the challenges of maintaining cultural and religious identity in majority non-Muslim societies. The author examines possible applications across numerous cultural and geographical contexts, answering such questions as: what are the rules for assuming political and public roles, and should one deposit money that incurs interest? Building on a growing scholarship, this book aims to resolve points of view and facets of religious law that have been neglected by previous studies. Accessibly written, Shari’a in the Modern Era is designed to promote cross-cultural understanding among readers of all faiths.
In March, the Princeton University Press will release “On British Islam: Religion, Law, and Everyday Practice in Shari’a Councils,” by John R. Bowen (Washington University in St. Louis). The publisher’s description follows:
On British Islam examines the history and everyday workings of Islamic institutions in Britain, with a focus on shari’a councils. These councils
concern themselves with religious matters, especially divorce. They have a higher profile in Britain than in other Western nations. Why? Taking a historical and ethnographic look at British Islam, John Bowen examines how Muslims have created distinctive religious institutions in Britain and how shari’a councils interpret and apply Islamic law in a secular British context.
Bowen focuses on three specific shari’a councils: the oldest and most developed, in London; a Midlands community led by a Sufi saint and barrister; and a Birmingham-based council in which women play a leading role. Bowen shows that each of these councils represents a prolonged, unique experiment in meeting Muslims’ needs in a Western country. He also discusses how the councils have become a flash point in British public debates even as they adapt to the English legal environment.
On British Islam highlights British Muslims’ efforts to create institutions that make sense in both Islamic and British terms. This balancing act is rarely acknowledged in Britain—or elsewhere—but it is urgent that we understand it if we are to build new ways of living together.
In March, the University of Chicago Press will release “The Politics of Islamic Law: Local Elites, Colonial Authority, and the Making of the Muslim State,” by Iza R. Hussin (University of Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:
In The Politics of Islamic Law, Iza Hussin compares India, Malaya, and Egypt during the British colonial period in order to trace the making and
transformation of the contemporary category of ‘Islamic law.’ She demonstrates that not only is Islamic law not the shari’ah, its present institutional forms, substantive content, symbolic vocabulary, and relationship to state and society—in short, its politics—are built upon foundations laid during the colonial encounter.
Drawing on extensive archival work in English, Arabic, and Malay—from court records to colonial and local papers to private letters and visual material—Hussin offers a view of politics in the colonial period as an iterative series of negotiations between local and colonial powers in multiple locations. She shows how this resulted in a paradox, centralizing Islamic law at the same time that it limited its reach to family and ritual matters, and produced a transformation in the Muslim state, providing the frame within which Islam is articulated today, setting the agenda for ongoing legislation and policy, and defining the limits of change. Combining a genealogy of law with a political analysis of its institutional dynamics, this book offers an up-close look at the ways in which global transformations are realized at the local level.