In May, Cambridge University Press will release “Gender Hierarchy in the Qur’ān: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses” by Karen Bauer (Institute of Ismaili Studies, London). The publisher’s description follows:
This book explores how medieval and modern Muslim religious scholars (‘ulamā’) interpret gender roles in Qur’ānic verses on legal testimony, marriage, and human creation. Citing these verses, medieval scholars developed increasingly complex laws and interpretations upholding a male-dominated gender hierarchy; aspects of their interpretations influence religious norms and state laws in Muslim-majority countries today, yet other aspects have been discarded entirely. Karen Bauer traces the evolution of their interpretations, showing how they have been adopted, adapted, rejected, or replaced over time, by comparing the Qur’ān with a wide range of Qur’ānic commentaries and interviews with prominent religious scholars from Iran and Syria. At times, tradition is modified in unexpected ways: learned women argue against gender equality, or Grand Ayatollahs reject sayings of the Prophet, citing science instead. This innovative and engaging study highlights the effects of social and intellectual contexts on the formation of tradition, and on modern responses to it.
This month, Columbia University Press will publish Demystifying the Caliphate by Madawi Al-Rasheed (King’s College, London), Carool Kersten (King’s College, London), Marat Shterin (King’s College, London). The publisher’s description follows.
In the Western imagination, the Islamic Caliphate is often linked to acts of beheading, stoning, and discrimination against women and non-Muslim minorities. Rallies in support of resurrecting the Caliphate seem deserving of derision and are believed to be the first steps toward the dismantling of the democratic state. Yet while some Muslims may be nostalgic for the Caliphate, very few are actively making its return a reality. The Caliphate serves more as a powerful symbol and slogan, evoking an imagined past and an ideal Islamic polity. It is also a vastly unstable concept contested by a number of powerful actors within Europe, the Muslim world, and beyond.
The essays in this collection demystify the Caliphate for modern readers, clarifying the historical rumors surrounding the demise of the last Ottoman Caliphate and the contemporary controversies informing the call to resurrect it. Contributors include impartial historians and social scientists who concentrate on the fundamental aspects of the Caliphate and unpack its lingering presence in the minds of diverse Muslims. From London to the Northern Caucasus, from Jakarta to Baghdad and Istanbul, contributors explore the Caliphate within the context of global and globalized publics and against the new reality of the Muslim umma as a multifaceted community.
Next month, I.B. Tauris Publishers will publish Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law: Justice and Ethics in the Islamic Legal Process edited by Lena Larsen, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Christian Moe and Kari Vogt. The publisher’s description follows.
This book examines how male authority is sustained through law and court practice, the consequences for women and the family, and the demands made by Muslim women’s groups. Examining the construction of male guardianship (qiwama, wilaya) in the Islamic tradition, it also seeks to create an argument for women’s full equality before the law. Bringing together renowned Muslim scholars and experts, anthropologists who have carried out fieldwork in family courts, and human rights and women’s rights activists from different parts of the Muslim world, from Morocco to Egypt and Iran, this book develops a framework for rethinking Islamic Law and its traditions in ways that reflect contemporary realities and understandings of justice and gender rights.