Tag Archives: Religion and Society

Abdel-Samad, “Islamic Fascism”

In January, Prometheus Books will release “Islamic Fascism,” by Hamed Abdel-Samad.  The publisher’s description follows:

This polemic against Islamic extremism highlights the striking parallels between contemporary Islamism — as exemplified by ISIS, islamicfasicism_coverBoko Haram, al Qaeda, and others — and the twentieth-century fascism embodied by Hitler and Mussolini. Like those infamous European ideologies, Islamism today touts imperialist dreams of world domination, belief in its inherent superiority, contempt for the rest of humanity, and often a murderous agenda. Author Hamed Abdel-Samad, born and raised in Egypt, not only explains the historical connections between early twentieth-century fascist movements in Europe and extremist factions in Islam but also traces the fascist tendencies in mainstream Islam that have existed throughout its history.

Examining key individuals and episodes from centuries past, the book shows the influence of Islam’s earliest exploits on current politics in the Islamic world. The author’s incisive analysis exposes the fascist underpinnings of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Shia regime in Iran, ISIS, Salafi and Jihadist ideologies, and more.

Forcefully argued and well-researched, this book grew out of a lecture on Islamic fascism that the author gave in Cairo, which resulted in a call for his death by three prominent Egyptian clerics. This American edition contains two new chapters, one on the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and one on the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Kondo, “Islamic Law and Society in Iran”

In January, Routledge will release “Islamic Law and Society in Iran: A Social History of Tehran” by Nobuaki Kondo (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies). The publisher’s description follows:

This book explores the legal aspects of urban society in nineteenth-century Iran. It provides the social context in which political process occurred and examines how authorities applied law in society, how people utilized the law, and how the law regulated society. The legal system was primarily derived from Islamic la

In his thorough analysis, the author focuses on two themes: the shari‘a court and vaqf (endowments). The shari‘a court was the location, where law was applied, and the author shows that the majority of courts in the country did not engage in disputes, lawsuits, and litigation, but were instead involved primarily in popular transactions such as sales, loans, leases, gifts, and other commercial contracts. This is one of the main reasons that led to the development of close ties between religious clerics as legal professionals, on the one hand, and, on the other, merchants, traders, and shopkeepers in Iranian society during this time period. The second topic, the law of vaqf, is considered to be the strongest among the contracts of Islamic law and an essential part in the development of an Islamic city. Vaqf deeds constituted one of the most common and important types of transactions dealt with by any shari’a court in Iran. Using the alterations that occurred in the legal terms of very important vaqf deeds as an example, the author argues that this traditional legal system was itself not static but had the potential for change and modification.

The relationship between Islamic law and society is still an important issue in Iran under the Islamic Republic. Despite all the debates that began from the middle of the nineteenth century and which promoted legal reform, little was changed substantively in the area of the day-to-day practice of law in Iranian courts until the present day. This book provides an understanding of this legal system and its role in society, and offers a basis for assessing the motives and results of modern reforms as well as the modernist discourse.

“Religious Responses to Violence” (ed. Wilde)

In December, the University of Notre Dame Press will release “Religious Responses to Violence: Human Rights in Latin America Past and Present,” edited by Alexander Wilde (American University).  The publisher’s description follows:

During the past half century, Latin America has evolved from a region of political instability and frequent dictatorships into one of electedp03204 governments. Although its societies and economies have undergone sweeping changes, high levels of violence have remained a persistent problem. Religious Responses to Violence: Human Rights in Latin America Past and Present offers rich resources to understand how religion has perceived and addressed different forms of violence, from the political and state violence of the 1970s and 1980s to the drug traffickers and youth gangs of today. The contributors offer many fresh insights into contemporary criminal violence and reconsider past interpretations of political violence, liberation theology, and human rights in light of new questions and evidence.

In contrast to many other studies of violence, this book explores its moral dimensions—up close in lived experience—and the real consequences of human agency. Alexander Wilde provides a thoughtful substantive introduction, followed by thematic chapters on “rights,” “violence,” and case studies of ten countries throughout the region. The book breaks new ground examining common responses as well as differences between Catholic and Evangelical pastoral accompaniment. These new studies focus on the specifically religious character of their responses—how they relate their mission and faith to violence in different contexts—to better understand how and why they have taken action.

Pupcenoks, “Western Muslims and Conflicts Abroad”

In December, Routledge will release “Western Muslims and Conflicts Abroad: Conflict Spillovers to Diasporas,” by Juris Pupcenoks (Marist College).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book explains why reactive conflict spillovers (political violence in response to conflicts abroad) occur in some migrant-background 9781138915527communities in the West. Based on survey data, statistical datasets, more than sixty interviews with Muslim community leaders and activists, ethnographic research in London and Detroit, and open-source data, this book develops a theoretical explanation for how both differences in government policies and features of migrant-background communities interact to influence the nature of foreign-policy focused activism in migrant communities. Utilizing rigorous, mixed-methods case study analysis, the author comparatively analyses the reactions of the Pakistani community in London and the Arab Muslim community in Detroit to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during the decade following 9/11. Both communities are politically mobilized and active. However, while London has experienced reactive conflict spillover, Detroit has remained largely peaceful.

The key findings show that, with regards to activism in response to foreign policy events, Western Muslim communities primarily politically mobilize on the basis of their ethnic divisions. Nevertheless, one notable exception is the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is viewed through the Islamic lenses; and the common Islamic identity is important in driving mobilization domestically in response to Islamophobia, and counterterrorism policies and practices perceived to be discriminatory. Certain organizational arrangements involving minority community leaders, law enforcement, and government officials help to effectively contain excitable youth who may otherwise engage in deviant behavior. Overall, the following factors contribute to the creation of an environment where reactive conflict spillover is more likely to occur: policies allowing immigration of violent radicals, poor economic integration without extensive civil society inter-group ties, the presence of radical groups, and connections with radical networks abroad.

“Migration and Religion” (Beckford, ed.)

In January, Edward Elgar Publishing will release “Migration and Religion: Volume I” edited by James A. Beckford (University of Warwick, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

The complex and changing relations between religion and migration are central to many urgent questions about diversity, inequality and pluralism. This wide-ranging collection of articles explores these questions in different periods of history, regions of the world and traditions of faith. There is particular emphasis on how religions inspire, manage and benefit from migration as well as how the experience of migration affects religious beliefs, identities and practices. These volumes examine the interface between religion and migration at levels of analysis ranging from the local to the global, and from the individual to the faith community.

“Living in the Ottoman Realm” (eds. Isom-Verhaaren & Schull)

In January, the Indiana University Press will release “Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th Centuries,” edited by Christine Isom-Verhaaren (Brigham Young University) and Kent F. Schull (SUNY Binghamton).  The publisher’s description follows:

Living in the Ottoman Realm brings the Ottoman Empire to life in all of its ethnic, religious, linguistic, and geographic diversity. The 9780253019431_medcontributors explore the development and transformation of identity over the long span of the empire’s existence. They offer engaging accounts of individuals, groups, and communities by drawing on a rich array of primary sources, some available in English translation for the first time. These materials are examined with new methodological approaches to gain a deeper understanding of what it meant to be Ottoman. Designed for use as a course text, each chapter includes study questions and suggestions for further reading.

Venter, “Constitutionalism and Religion”

In December, Edward Elgar Publishing will release “Constitutionalism and Religion” by Francois Venter (North-West University, South Africa). The publisher’s description follows:

This topical book examines how the goals of constitutionalism – good and fair government – are addressed at a time when the multi-religious composition of countries’ populations has never before been so pronounced. How should governments, courts and officials deal with this diversity? The widely accepted principle of treating others as you wish them to treat you and the universal recognition of human dignity speak against preferential treatment of any religion. Faced with severe challenges, this leads many authorities to seek refuge in secular neutrality. Set against the backdrop of globalized constitutionalism in a post-secular era, Francois Venter proposes engaged objectivity as an alternative to unachievable neutrality.

Bringing together the history of church and state, the emergence of contemporary constitutionalism, constitutional comparison and the realities of globalization, this book offers a fresh perspective on the direction in which solutions to difficulties brought about by religious pluralism might be sought. Its wide-ranging comparative analyses and perspectives based on materials published in various languages provide a clear exposition of the range of religious issues with which the contemporary state is increasingly being confronted.

Prothero, “Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections)”

In January, HarperCollins Publishers will release “Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage,” by Stephen Prothero (Boston University). The publisher’s description follows: 

In this timely, carefully reasoned social history of the United States, the New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and God Is Not One places today’s heated culture wars within the context of a centuries-long struggle of right versus left and religious versus secular to reveal how, ultimately, liberals always win.

Though they may seem to be dividing the country irreparably, today’s heated cultural and political battles between right and left, Progressives and Tea Party, religious and secular are far from unprecedented. In this engaging and important work, Stephen Prothero reframes the current debate, viewing it as the latest in a number of flashpoints that have shaped our national identity. Prothero takes us on a lively tour through time, bringing into focus the election of 1800, which pitted Calvinists and Federalists against Jeffersonians and “infidels;” the Protestants’ campaign against Catholics in the mid-nineteenth century; the anti-Mormon crusade of the Victorian era; the fundamentalist-modernist debates of the 1920s; the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s; and the current crusade against Islam.

As Prothero makes clear, our culture wars have always been religious wars, progressing through the same stages of conservative reaction to liberal victory that eventually benefit all Americans. Drawing on his impressive depth of knowledge and detailed research, he explains how competing religious beliefs have continually molded our political, economic, and sociological discourse and reveals how the conflicts which separate us today, like those that came before, are actually the byproduct of our struggle to come to terms with inclusiveness and ideals of “Americanness.” To explore these battles, he reminds us, is to look into the soul of America—and perhaps find essential answers to the questions that beset us.

Heilbronner, “From Popular Liberalism to National Socialism”

In January, Ashgate will release “From Popular Liberalism to National Socialism: Religion, Culture and Politics in South-Western Germany, 1860s-1930s,” by Oded Heilbronner (Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel).  The publisher’s description follows:

‘Long live liberty, equality, fraternity and dynamite’

So went the traditional slogan of the radical liberals in Greater Swabia, the south-western part of modern Germany. This book investigates the development of what the author terms ‘popular liberalism’ in this region, in order to present a more nuanced understanding of political and cultural patterns in Germany up to the early 1930s. In particular, the author offers an explanation for the success of National Socialism before 1933 in certain regions of South Germany, arguing that the radical liberal sub-culture was not subsumed by the Nazi Party, but instead changed its form of representation. Together with the famous völkish fraction and the leftist fraction within the chapters of the Nazi Party, there were radical-liberal associations, ex-members of radical-liberal parties, sympathizers with these parties, and notables with a radical orientation derived from family and regional traditions. These people and associations believed that the Nazi Party could fulfil their radical – liberal vision, rooted in the local democratic and liberal traditions which stretched from 1848 to the early 20th century. By looking afresh at the relationship between local-regional identities and national politics, this book makes a major contribution to the study of the roots of Nazism.

“Teaching Civic Engagement” (Clingerman & Locklin, eds.)

In December, the Oxford University Press will release “Teaching Civic Engagement,” edited by Forrest Clingerman (Ohio Northern University) and Reid B. Locklin (St. Michael’s College and University of Toronto).  The publisher’s description follows:

Using a new model focused on four core capacities-intellectual complexity, social location, empathetic accountability, and motivated action–Teaching Civic Engagement explores the significance of religious studies in fostering a vibrant, just, and democratic civic order.

In the first section of the book, contributors detail this theoretical model and offer an initial application to the sources and methods that already define much teaching in the disciplines of religious studies and theology. A second section offers chapters focused on specific strategies for teaching civic engagement in religion classrooms, including traditional textual studies, reflective writing, community-based learning, field trips, media analysis, ethnographic methods, direct community engagement and a reflective practice of “ascetic withdrawal.” The final section of the volume explores theoretical issues, including the delimitation of the “civic” as a category, connections between local and global in the civic project, the question of political advocacy in the classroom, and the role of normative commitments.

Collectively these chapters illustrate the real possibility of connecting the scholarly study of religion with the societies in which we, our students, and our institutions exist. The contributing authors model new ways of engaging questions of civic belonging and social activism in the religion classroom, belying the stereotype of the ivory tower intellectual.