Next month, Stanford University Press will publish The Headscarf Debates by Anna C. Korteweg (University of Toronto) and Gökçe Yurdakul (Humboldt University of Berlin). The publisher’s description follows.
The headscarf is an increasingly contentious symbol in countries across the world. Those who don the headscarf in Germany are referred to as “integration-refusers.” In Turkey, support by and for headscarf-wearing women allowed a religious party to gain political power in a strictly secular state. A niqab-wearing Muslim woman was denied French citizenship for not conforming to national values. And in the Netherlands, Muslim women responded to the hatred of popular ultra-right politicians with public appeals that mixed headscarves with in-your-face humor. In a surprising way, the headscarf—a garment that conceals—has also come to reveal the changing nature of what it means to belong to a particular nation.
All countries promote national narratives that turn historical diversities into imagined commonalities, appealing to shared language, religion, history, or political practice. The Headscarf Debates explores how the headscarf has become a symbol used to reaffirm or transform these stories of belonging. Anna Korteweg and Gökçe Yurdakul focus on France, Germany, and the Netherlands—countries with significant Muslim-immigrant populations—and Turkey, a secular Muslim state with a persistent legacy of cultural ambivilance. The authors discuss recent cultural and political events and the debates they engender, enlivening the issues with interviews with social activists, and recreating the fervor which erupts near the core of each national identity when threats are perceived and changes are proposed.
The Headscarf Debates pays unique attention to how Muslim women speak for themselves, how their actions and statements reverberate throughout national debates. Ultimately, The Headscarf Debatesbrilliantly illuminates how belonging and nationhood is imagined and reimagined in an increasingly global world.
Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish The Emergence of Islam in Late Antiquity: Allah and his People by Aziz Al-Azmeh (Central European University, Budapest). The publisher’s description follows.
Based on epigraphic and other material evidence as well as more traditional literary sources and critical review of the extensive relevant scholarship, this book presents a comprehensive and innovative reconstruction of the rise of Islam as a religion and imperial polity. It reassesses the development of the imperial monotheism of the New Rome, and considers the history of the Arabs as an integral part of Late Antiquity, including Arab ethnogenesis and the emergence of what was to become Muslim monotheism, comparable with the emergence of other monotheisms from polytheistic systems. Topics discussed include the emergence and development of the Muhammadan polity and its new cultic deity and associated ritual, the constitution of the Muslim canon, and the development of early Islam as an imperial religion. Intended principally for scholars of Late Antiquity, Islamic studies and the history of religions, the book opens up many novel directions for future research.
Next month, Ohio State University will publish Fatwas and Court Judgments: A Genre Analysis of Arabic Legal Opinion, by Ahmed Fakhri (West Virginia University). The publisher’s description follows.
Fatwas and Court Judgments: A Genre Analysis of Arabic Legal Opinion uses a genre analysis approach to investigate how Arabic legal opinion is linguistically and rhetorically constructed in two culturally significant types of texts: secular court judgments and fatwas, the Islamic edicts based on sharii’a law. Ahmed Fakhri’s analysis shows that the court judgments exhibit several Western-inspired features, particularly the complexity of syntax and the rhetorical moves utilized to construct arguments. But the fatwas maintain conventional Arabic patterns of persuasion, such as citing religious texts, relying on affective appeal, and offering moral advice. Showing how these two radically different rhetorical traditions coexist, Fatwas and Court Judgments totally re-conceptualizes Arabic legal argumentation by highlighting its diverse sources and hybridity.
The differences between the two genres stem from elements of their socio-cultural context, such as the role relations of the participants and the characteristics of the institutions to which the genres belong. Moving beyond these contexts, Fatwas and Court Judgments reveals generic practices that have broad implications for understanding various aspects of wider Arab culture, including the tension between modern secular ideologies and traditional religious beliefs, the male-dominated access to discourse, and the prevalence of utilitarian attitudes exhibited in “fatwa shopping.”
Next month, Oxford University Press will publish Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights by Abdulaziz Sachedina (George Mason University). The publisher’s description follows.
In 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the International Declaration of Human Rights, a document designed to hold both individuals and nations accountable for their treatment of fellow human beings, regardless of religious or cultural affiliations. Since then, the compatibility of Islam and human rights has emerged as a particularly thorny issue of international concern, and has been addressed by Muslim rulers, conservatives, and extremists, as well as Western analysts and policymakers; all have commonly agreed that Islamic theology and human rights cannot coexist.
Abdulaziz Sachedina rejects this informal consensus, arguing instead for the essential compatibility of Islam and human rights. He offers a balanced and incisive critique of Western experts who have ignored or underplayed the importance of religion to the development of human rights, contending that any theory of universal rights necessarily emerges out of particular cultural contexts. At the same time, he re-examines the juridical and theological traditions that form the basis of conservative Muslim objections to human rights, arguing that Islam, like any culture, is open to development and change. Finally, and most importantly, Sachedina articulates a fresh position that argues for a correspondence between Islam and secular notions of human rights.
Next month, Princeton University Press will publish Ancient Religions, Modern Politics by Michael Cook (Princeton University). The publisher’s description follows.
Why does Islam play a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions? Is there something about the Islamic heritage that makes Muslims more likely than adherents of other faiths to invoke it in their political life? If so, what is it? Ancient Religions, Modern Politics seeks to answer these questions by examining the roles of Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity in modern political life, placing special emphasis on the relevance–or irrelevance–of their heritages to today’s social and political concerns.
Michael Cook takes an in-depth, comparative look at political identity, social values, attitudes to warfare, views about the role of religion in various cultural domains, and conceptions of the polity. In all these fields he finds that the Islamic heritage offers richer resources for those engaged in current politics than either the Hindu or the Christian heritages. He uses this finding to explain the fact that, despite the existence of Hindu and Christian counterparts to some aspects of Islamism, the phenomenon as a whole is unique in the world today. The book also shows that fundamentalism–in the sense of a determination to return to the original sources of the religion–is politically more adaptive for Muslims than it is for Hindus or Christians.
A sweeping comparative analysis by one of the world’s leading scholars of premodern Islam, Ancient Religions, Modern Politics sheds important light on the relationship between the foundational texts of these three great religious traditions and the politics of their followers today.
Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism by Patricia Crone (Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton). The publisher’s description follows.
Patricia Crone’s latest book is about the Iranian response to the Muslim penetration of the Iranian countryside, the revolts subsequently triggered there, and the religious communities that these revolts revealed. The book also describes a complex of religious ideas that, however varied in space and unstable over time, has demonstrated a remarkable persistence in Iran across a period of two millennia. The central thesis is that this complex of ideas has been endemic to the mountain population of Iran and occasionally become epidemic with major consequences for the country, most strikingly in the revolts examined here, and in the rise of the Safavids who imposed Shi’ism on Iran. This learned and engaging book by one of the most influential scholars of early Islamic history casts entirely new light on the nature of religion in pre-Islamic Iran, and on the persistence of Iranian religious beliefs both outside and inside Islam after the Arab conquest.
Next month, Stanford University Press will publish Old Texts, New Practices: Islamic Reform in Modern Morocco by Etty Terem (Rhodes College). The publisher’s description follows.
In 1910, al-Mahdi al-Wazzani, a prominent Moroccan Islamic scholar completed his massive compilation of Maliki fatwas. An eleven-volume set, it is the most extensive collection of fatwas written and published in the Arab Middle East during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Al-Wazzani’s legal opinions addressed practical concerns and questions: What are the ethical and legal duties of Muslims residing under European rule? Is emigration from non-Muslim territory an absolute duty? Is it ethical for Muslim merchants to travel to Europe? Is it legal to consume European-manufactured goods? It was his expectation that these fatwas would help the Muslim community navigate the modern world.
In considering al-Wazzani’s work, this book explores the creative process of transforming Islamic law to guarantee the survival of a Muslim community in a changing world. It is the first study to treat Islamic revival and reform from discourses informed by the sociolegal concerns that shaped the daily lives of ordinary people. Etty Terem challenges conventional scholarship that presents Islamic tradition as inimical to modernity and, in so doing, provides a new framework for conceptualizing modern Islamic reform. Her innovative and insightful reorientation constructs the origins of modern Islam as firmly rooted in the messy complexity of everyday life.
Earlier this month, Palgrave Macmillan published Politics of Modern Muslim Subjectivities: Islam, Youth, and Social Activism in the Middle East by Dietrich Jung (University of Southern Denmark), Marie Petersen (Danish Institute for Human Rights), and Sara Lei Sparre (Roskilde University). The publisher’s description follows.
This book provokes a debate between social theory and Islamic studies. Drawing on theories of successive modernities, sociology of religion, and poststructuralist approaches to modern subjectivity formation, it introduces a novel analytical framework to the study of Middle Eastern societies. The authors explore ways in which Muslims have constructed meaningful modern selfhoods, providing their reader with unique insights into the ongoing social transformation of the Middle East. Making Islamic charities and youth organizations their primary site of investigation, they combine studies on Islamic reform with case studies on social activism in Egypt and Jordan. In criticizing theses about the alleged uniqueness of Western modernity, the book challenges exclusivist assumptions about both Western modernity and contemporary Islamic ways of life. In this way, it makes original contributions to conceptual discussions on modernity and our knowledge of modern Muslim societies.
In December, Palgrave Macmillan published Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies by Ahmed Souaiaia (University of Iowa). The publisher’s description follows.
The ‘Arab Spring’ that began in 2011 has placed a spotlight on the transfer of political power in Islamic societies, reviving old questions about the place of political dissent and rebellion in Islamic civilization and raising new ones about the place of religion in modern Islamic societies.
In Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, Ahmed E. Souaiaia examines the complex historical evolution of Islamic civilization in an effort to trace the roots of the paradigms and principles of Islamic political and legal theories. This study is one of the first attempts at providing a fuller picture of the place of dissent and rebellion in Islamic civilization by interpreting Sunni and Shi`i records in the context of little-known Ibadi political and legal materials. As the oldest sect, Ibadiyyah provides a record of the ways sectarianism and dissent developed and impinged on Islamic society and thought.