Here’s a curious little story about a gigantic statue of Jesus (standing a gargantuan 128 feet tall, and weighing in at several tons) cast in Armenia that has been installed on top of a mountain near the Monastery of the Cherubim in the Syrian city of Saidnaya (which is itself apparently already 2,100 meters above sea level). This story reports that the project was supported by the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church. The statue is reportedly visible from Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel.
This March, Thomas Nelson will publish Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians (2013) by Paul Marshall (Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom), Lela Gilbert (Adjunct Fellow, Hudson Institute) and Nina Shea (Director, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom). The publisher’s description follows.
Christians are the world’s most widely persecuted religious group, according to studies by the Pew Research Center, Newsweek, and the Economist, among others.
A woman is caught with a Bible and publicly shot to death. An elderly priest is abducted and never seen again. Three buses full of students and teachers are struck by roadside bombs. These are not casualties of a war. These are Christian believers being persecuted for their faith in the twenty-first century.
Many Americans do not understand that Christians today are victims in many parts of the world. Even many Western Christians, who worship and pray without fear of violent repercussions, are unaware that so many followers of Christ live under governments and among people who are often openly hostile to their faith. They think martyrdom became a rarity long ago.
Persecuted soundly refutes these assumptions. This book offers a glimpse at the modern-day life of Christians worldwide, recounting the ongoing attacks that rarely make international headlines.
As Western Christians pray for the future of Christ’s church, it is vital that they understand a large part of the world’s Christian believers live in danger. Persecuted gives documented accounts of the persecution of Christians in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations. It contains vivid stories of men and women who suffer abuse because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and tells of their perseverance and courage.
Persecuted is far more than a thorough and moving study of this global pattern of violence—it is a cry for freedom and a call to action.
This month, I.B. Tauris Publishers is publishing Contracts in Islamic Law by Hussein Hassan. The publisher’s description follows.
This book introduces students to the theoretical and philosophical foundations of Islamic contractual law. Islamic law is applied in differing degrees by many countries across the world and especially in the Middle East. Considering the strategic and financial importance of these countries, taken as a whole, it is surprising how little academic writing exists in the West on either Islamic law or Middle Eastern law. Recently there have been signs of a burgeoning interest in Middle Eastern law. However, traditional Islamic law remains a neglected area of study. Hussein Hassan makes a significant contribution by presenting a detailed survey (which utilises both contemporary and classical sources) of a crucially important area of Islamic law – contract law – and by adopting an approach that gives priority to theory and to a comparative analysis with Anglo-American law theory. Contracts in Islamic Law offers an invaluable resource to academics and researchers with a specific interest in Islamic law, to postgraduate students and final year students of law, and to scholars whose main focus is Anglo-American contract law but who are interested in comparative law/theory.
This month, Ashgate Publishing will publish Religion, Education and Governance in the Middle East: Between Tradition and Modernity edited by Sai Felicia Krishna-Hensel (Auburn University at Montgomery). The publisher’s description follows.
The Middle East is a key geopolitical strategic region in the international system but its distinctive cultural and political divisions present a mosaic of states that do not lend themselves to simplistic interpretations. A thoughtful analysis of the Middle East requires an understanding of the synergism between tradition and modernity in the region as it adapts to a globalizing world. Religious education and activism continue to remain a significant factor in the modernization process and the development of modern governance in the states of the Middle East.
This interdisciplinary book explores the historical and contemporary role of religious tradition and education on political elites and governing agencies in several major states as well as generally in the region. The relationship between democracy and authority is examined to provide a better understanding of the complexity underlying the emergence of new power configurations. As the region continues to respond to the forces of change in the international system it remains an important and intriguing area for analysts.
This October, Columbia University Press will publish Conflict, Conquest, and Conversion: Two Thousand Years of Christian Missions in the Middle East by Eleanor H. Tejirian (Columbia University) and Reeva Spector Simon (Columbia University). The publisher’s description follows.
Conflict, Conquest, and Conversion describes two thousand years of the Christian missionary enterprise in the Middle East within the context of the region’s political evolution. Its broad, rich narrative follows Christian missions as they interact with imperial powers and as the momentum of religious change shifts from Christianity to Islam and back, adding new dimensions to the history of the region and the nature of the relationship between the Middle East and the West.
Historians and political scientists increasingly recognize the importance of integrating religion into political analysis, and this volume, using long-neglected sources, provides the necessary context for this effort. It surveys Christian missions from the earliest days of Christianity to the present, with particular emphasis on the role of Christian missions, both Protestant and Catholic, in the political and economic imperialism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The authors delineate the ongoing tensions between conversion and a focus on witness and “good works” within the missionary movement, which has contributed to the development and spread of nongovernmental organizations. This volume’s systematic study offers an unparalleled encounter with the social, political, and economic consequences of these trends.
This January, Stanford University Press will publish The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1880-1946 with a new introduction by Vartan Gregorian (President of Carnegie Corporation of New York). The publisher’s description follows.
Long heralded as a seminal work on the history of Afghanistan, this book traces the evolution of the modern Afghan state by studying the politics of reform and modernization that started in 1880 through World War II. This history is marked with persistent attempts by the Afghan ruling dynasty to assert and strengthen its rule—both against the great imperial powers, as well as over the various Afghan tribes within its territory.
In this reissue, Vartan Gregorian offers a new introduction that places the key themes of the book in the context of contemporary events, addressing questions of tribalism, nationalism, Islam, and modernization, as well as the legacies of the Cold War and the various exit strategies of occupying powers. The book remains as distinctive today as when it was first published. It is the only broad work on Afghan history that considers ethnicity as the defining influence over the course of the country’s history, rather than religion. In light of today’s ongoing struggle to develop a coherent national identity, the question of Afghan nationalism remains a particularly significant issue.
This November, Georgetown University Press will publish Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking edited by Timothy D. Sisk (University of Denver). The publisher’s description follows.
Civil war and conflict within countries is the most prevalent threat to peace and security in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. A pivotal factor in the escalation of tensions to open conflict is the role of elites in exacerbating tensions along identity lines by giving the ideological justification, moral reasoning, and call to violence. Between Terror and Tolerance examines the varied roles of religious leaders in societies deeply divided by ethnic, racial, or religious conflict. The chapters in this book explore cases when religious leaders have justified or catalyzed violence along identity lines, and other instances when religious elites have played a critical role in easing tensions or even laying the foundation for peace and reconciliation.
Posted in Jordan Hummel, Scholarship Roundup
Tagged Books, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Politics in the Middle East, Religion and Politics, Religious Conflict, Religious Violence, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan
In June 2013, The Indiana University Press will publish Visual Culture in the Modern Middle East: Rhetoric of the Image edited by Christiane J. Gruber (University of Michigan) and Sune Haughbolle (University of Copenhagen). The publisher’s description follows.
This timely book examines the power and role of the image in creating a rhetorical lexicon for political Islam. The essays explore the role and function of image making to highlight the ways in which the images “speak” and what visual languages mean for the construction of Islamic subjectivities, the politics of power, and the formation of identity and belonging. Visual Culture in the Modern Middle East addresses aspects of the visual in the Islamic world, including the presentation of Islam on television; the internet and other digital media; banners, posters, murals, and graffiti; and the satirical press, cartoons, and children’s books.
Here’s an interesting looking treatment of the deeply controversial political party which is now in a position of power in Lebanon and elsewhere, Hezbollah: A History of the “Party of God” (HUP 2012), by Dominique Avon and Anaïs-Trissa Khatchadourian (both of the Université du Maine). The publisher’s description follows.
For thirty years, Hezbollah has played a pivotal role in Lebanese and global politics. That visibility has invited Hezbollah’s lionization and vilification by outside observers, and at the same time has prevented a clear-eyed view of Hezbollah’s place in the history of the Middle East and its future course of action. Dominique Avon and Anaïs-Trissa Khatchadourian provide here a nonpartisan account which offers insights into Hezbollah that Western media have missed or misunderstood.
Now part of the Lebanese government, Hezbollah nevertheless remains in tension with both the transnational Shiite community and a religiously diverse Lebanon. Calling for an Islamic regime would risk losing critical allies at home, but at the same time Hezbollah’s leaders cannot say that a liberal regime is the solution for the future. Consequently, they use the ambiguous expression “civil but believer state.”
What happens when an organization founded as a voice of “revolution” and then “resistance” occupies a position of power, yet witnesses the collapse of its close ally, Syria? How will Hezbollah’s voice evolve as the party struggles to reconcile its regional obligations with its religious beliefs? The authors’ analyses of these key questions—buttressed by their clear English translations of foundational documents, including Hezbollah’s open letter of 1985 and its 2009 charter, and an in-depth glossary of key theological and political terms used by the party’s leaders—make Hezbollah an invaluable resource for all readers interested in the future of this volatile force.
This is an informative short interview that I heard yesterday on NPR concerning the rise to political power of the Alawites in Syria, of whom current President Bashar Assad is a member. The Alawites, as Steven Heydemann explains, were once a marginalized minority Shia sect, but they were recruited for military purposes by the French during the period of French occupation of Syria (1920-1946). It was during this period that the Alawites began to move from outsider group to a position of greater political and military strength.