Tag Archives: Religion and Society

Moosa, “What Is a Madrasa?”

In April, the University of North Carolina Press will release “What Is a Madrasa?” by Ebrahim Moosa (University of Notre Dame). The publisher’s description follows:

Taking us inside the world of the madrasa–the most common type of school for religious instruction in the Islamic world–Ebrahim Moosa provides an indispensable resource for anyone seeking to understand orthodox Islam in global affairs. Focusing on postsecondary-level religious institutions in the Indo-Pakistan heartlands, Moosa explains how a madrasa can simultaneously be a place of learning revered by many and an institution feared by many others, especially in a post-9/11 world.

Drawing on his own years as a madrasa student in India, Moosa describes in fascinating detail the daily routine for teachers and students today. He shows how classical theological, legal, and Qur’anic texts are taught, and he illuminates the history of ideas and politics behind the madrasa system. Addressing the contemporary political scene in a clear-eyed manner, Moosa introduces us to madrasa leaders who hold diverse and conflicting perspectives on the place of religion in society. Some admit that they face intractable problems and challenges, including militancy; others, Moosa says, hide their heads in the sand and fail to address the crucial issues of the day. Offering practical suggestions to both madrasa leaders and U.S. policymakers for reform and understanding, Moosa demonstrates how madrasas today still embody the highest aspirations and deeply felt needs of traditional Muslims.

Robinson, “Race, Religion, and the Pulpit: Rev. Robert L. Bradby and the Making of Urban Detroit”

In April, Wayne State University Press will release “Race, Religion, and the Pulpit: Rev. Robert L. Bradby and the Making of Urban Detroit”  by Julia Marie Robinson (University of North Carolina at Charlotte). The publisher’s description follows:

During the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and West, the local black church was essential in the making and reshaping of urban areas. In Detroit, there was one church and one minister in particular that demonstrated this power of the pulpit—Second Baptist Church of Detroit (“Second,” as many members called it) and its nineteenth pastor, the Reverend Robert L. Bradby. In Race, Religion, and the Pulpit: Rev. Robert L. Bradby and the Making of Urban Detroit, author Julia Marie Robinson explores how Bradby’s church became the catalyst for economic empowerment, community building, and the formation of an urban African American working class in Detroit.

Robinson begins by examining Reverend Bradby’s formative years in Ontario, Canada; his rise to prominence as a pastor and community leader at Second Baptist in Detroit; and the sociohistorical context of his work in the early years of the Great Migration. She goes on to investigate the sometimes surprising nature of relationships between Second Baptist, its members, and prominent white elites in Detroit, including Bradby’s close relationship to Ford Motor Company and Henry Ford. Finally, Robinson details Bradby’s efforts as a “race leader” and activist, roles that were tied directly to his theology. She looks at the parts the minister played in such high-profile events as the organizing of Detroit’s NAACP chapter, the Ossian Sweet trial of the mid-1920s, the Scottsboro Boys trials in the 1930s, and the controversial rise of the United Auto Workers in Detroit in the 1940s.

Race, Religion, and the Pulpit presents a full and nuanced picture of Bradby’s life that has so far been missing from the scholarly record. Readers interested in the intersections of race and religion in American history, as well as anyone with ties to Detroit’s Second Baptist Church, will appreciate this thorough volume.

“The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture” (Lyden & Mazur, eds.)

This April, Routledge Press will release “The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture” edited by John C. Lyden (Grand View University) and Eric Michael Mazur (Virginia Wesleyan College).  The publisher’s description follows:

Routledge CompanionReligion and popular culture is a fast-growing field that spans a variety of disciplines. This volume offers the first real survey of the field to date and provides a guide for the work of future scholars. It explores:

  • key issues of definition and of methodology
  • religious encounters with popular culture across media, material culture and space, ranging from videogames and social networks to cooking and kitsch, architecture and national monuments
  • representations of religious traditions in the media and popular culture, including important non-Western spheres such as Bollywood

This Companion will serve as an enjoyable and informative resource for students and a stimulus to future scholarly work.

“Identities in Crisis in Iran: Politics, Culture, and Religion” (Cohen, ed.)

In March, Lexington Books will release “Identities in Crisis in Iran: Politics, Culture, and Religion” edited by Ronen A. Cohen (Ariel University, Israel). The publisher’s description follows:

Identities in Crisis in Iran aims at finding answers to the questions about the puzzling character of the Iranian identity. The contributors acknowledge that identity, especially when it is faced with fundamental tensions as in the case of Iran, is a phenomenon that is constantly developing via factors involving the private self and common social components. This book addresses the tension many Iranian people face that lie between the Persian culture and the Shi’a religion, women versus men, and culture versus traditions.

Grillo, “Muslim Families, Politics and the Law: A Legal Industry in Multicultural Britain”

In April, Ashgate Publishing will release “Muslim Families, Politics and the Law: A Legal Industry in Multicultural Britain” by Ralph Grillo (University of Sussex, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

Contemporary European societies are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, certainly in terms of the diversity which has stemmed from the immigration of workers and refugees and their settlement. Currently, however, there is widespread, often acrimonious, debate about ‘other’ cultural and religious beliefs and practices and limits to their accommodation.

This book focuses principally on Muslim families and on the way in which gender relations and associated questions of (women’s) agency, consent and autonomy, have become the focus of political and social commentary, with followers of the religion under constant public scrutiny and criticism. Practices concerning marriage and divorce are especially controversial and the book includes a detailed overview of the public debate about the application of Islamic legal and ethical norms (Shari’a) in family law matters, and the associated role of Shari’a councils, in a British context.

In short, Islam generally and the Muslim family in particular have become highly politicized sites of contestation, and the book considers how and why and with what implications for British multiculturalism, past, present and future. The study will be of great interest to international scholars and academics researching the governance of diversity and the accommodation of other faiths including Islam.

Christman, “Pragmatic Toleration: The Politics of Religious Heterodoxy in Early Reformation Antwerp, 1515-1555″

In April, the University of Rochester Press will release “Pragmatic Toleration: The Politics of Religious Heterodoxy in Early Reformation Antwerp, 1515-1555” by Victoria Christman (Luther College). The publisher’s description follows:

In a modern world still struggling to achieve religious coexistence, there has been a recent burgeoning of scholarship aimed at examining the history of such coexistence. Most of these studies focus on developments in the seventeenth century and beyond. This book redirects attention earlier, to the first half of the sixteenth century, and argues that impulses to toleration were already at work even amid the religious upheaval of the European Reformations. In the early modern metropolis of Antwerp, the author finds a wealthy merchant city struggling to balance the competing interests of municipality and empire. While their imperial overlords attempted to impose religious uniformity via increasingly repressive anti-heresy edicts, the city fathers of Antwerp found ways to circumvent those laws in order to accommodate the religious heterodoxy of their most valued inhabitants. The result was the development of pragmatically tolerant practices that arose in the service of fundamentally nonreligious motivations.

Via a series of case studies, this book documents the development of such practices on the part of the Antwerp fathers as they defended their heterodox inhabitants. It seeks to understand the motivations underlying the councilors’ lenient treatment of heterodoxy in their city, and attempts to answer the question of how we are to understand such pragmatically tolerant behavior as part of the broader history of religious tolerance in the Christian West.

Numrich & Wedam, “Religion and Community in the New Urban America”

In March, Oxford University Press will release “Religion and Community in the New Urban America”  by Paul D. Numrich (Methodist Theological School & Trinity Lutheran Seminary) and Elfriede Wedam (Loyola University Chicago). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion and Community in the New Urban America examines the interrelated transformations of cities and urban congregations. The authors ask how the new metropolis affects local religious communities and what role those communities play in creating the new metropolis. Through an in-depth study of fifteen Chicago congregations-Catholic parishes, Protestant churches, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, and a Hindu temple, both city and suburban-this book describes congregational life and measures congregational influences on urban environments. Paul D. Numrich and Elfriede Wedam challenge the view held by many urban studies scholars that religion plays a small role-if any-in shaping postindustrial cities and that religious communities merely adapt to urban structures in a passive fashion. Taking into account the spatial distribution of constituents, internal traits, and external actions, each congregation’s urban impact is plotted on a continuum of weak, to moderate, to strong, thus providing a nuanced understanding of the significance of religion in the contemporary urban context. Presenting a thoughtful analysis that includes maps of each congregation in its social-geographic setting, the authors offer an insightful look into urban community life today, from congregations to the places in which they are embedded.

“Issues in Religion and Education” (Beaman & Van Arragon, eds.)

In March, Brill Publishing will release “Issues in Religion and Education: Whose Religion?” edited by Lori G. Beaman and Leo Van Arragon (University of Ottawa).  The publisher’s description follows:

Issues in Religion and EducationIssues in Religion and Education, Whose Religion? is a contribution to the dynamic and evolving global debates about the role of religion in public education. This volume provides a cross-section of the debates over religion, its role in public education and the theoretical and political conundrums associated with resolutions. The chapters reflect the contested nature of the role of religion in public education around the world and explore some of the issues mentioned from perspectives reflecting the diverse contexts in which the authors are situated. The differences among the chapters reflect some of the particular ways in which various jurisdictions have come to see the problem and how they have addressed religious diversity in public education in the context of their own histories and politics.

Boe, “Family Law in Contemporary Iran: Women’s Rights Activism and Shari’a”

Last month, I.B.Tauris released “Family Law in Contemporary Iran: Women’s Rights Activism and Shari’a” by Marianne Boe (University of Bergen). The publisher’s description follows:

Passed into law over a decade before the Revolution, the Family Protection Law quickly drew the ire of the conservative clergy and the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. In fact, it was one of the first laws to be rescinded following the revolution. The law was hardly a surprising target, however, since women’s status in Iran was then – and continues now to be – a central concern of Iranian political leaders, media commentators, and international observers alike. Taking up the issue of women’s status in a modern context, Marianne Boe offers a nuanced view of how women’s rights activists assert their rights within an Islamic context by weaving together religious and historical texts and narratives. Through her substantial fieldwork and novel analysis, Boe undermines both the traditional view of ‘Islamic Feminism’ as monolithic and clears a path to a new understanding of the role of women’s rights activists in shaping and synthesizing debates on the shari’a, women’s rights and family law. As such, this book is essential for anyone studying family law and the role of women in contemporary Iran.

“Magna Carta, Religion and the Rule of Law” (Griffith-Jones & Hill QC, eds.)

In April, Cambridge University Press will  release “Magna Carta, Religion and the Rule of Law” edited by Robin Griffith-Jones (Temple Church and King’s College London) and Mark Hill QC (Cardiff University). The publisher’s description follows:

Archbishop Stephen Langton hoped with Magna Carta to realise an Old Testament, covenantal kingship in England. At the Charter’s 800th anniversary, distinguished jurists, theologians and historians from five faith-traditions and three continents ask how Magna Carta’s biblical foundations have mattered and still matter now. A Lord Chief Justice, a Chief Rabbi, a Grand Mufti of Egypt, specialists in eight centuries of law, scholars and advocates committed to the rule of law and to the place of religion in public life all come together in this testimony to Magna Carta’s iconic power. We follow the Charter’s story in the religious life of the UK, America and now Continental Europe, and reflections on religio-legal traditions far from the Common Law enrich the story. Magna Carta, Religion and the Rule of Law invites all religions to ask what contribution they themselves should make to the rule of law in today’s secular, democratic polities.