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, Oxford University Press will publish The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics by Peri Bearman (Harvard Law School), Sohail Hashmi (Mount Holyoke College), Khaled Keshk (DePaul University), and Joseph Kechichian (King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies), edited by Emad Shashin (American University in Cairo). The publisher’s description follows.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics provides in-depth coverage of the political dimensions of Islam and the Muslim world. Developments in Muslim societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have highlighted the need for a major reference work focusing primarily on these dimensions. The realization of internal decay and relentless quest for reform, the collapse of the Islamic caliphate, the fall of most parts of the Muslim world under western colonialism, the emergence of nation-states, the dominance of secular ideologies, the rise of Islamic revivalist movements and faith-based political, economic, and social alternatives, the confrontation between Islamic movements and secular inspired regimes have constituted major turning points in the contemporary history of Muslim societies. At no time has the understanding of the nature and implications of these developments been needed more.
Based on the highly acclaimed 2009 publication, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics brings together over 400 new and updated entries to create a single, specialized reference source on this important topic.
This January, Yale University Press published The Second Arab Awakening: And The Battle For Pluralism by Marwan Muasher. The publisher’s description follows.
This important book is not about immediate events or policies or responses to the Arab Spring. Instead, it takes a long, judicious view of political change in the Arab world, beginning with the first Awakening in the nineteenth century and extending into future decades when—if the dream is realized—a new Arab world defined by pluralism and tolerance will emerge. Marwan Muasher, former foreign minister of Jordan, asserts that all sides—the United States, Europe, Israel, and Arab governments alike—were deeply misguided in their thinking about Arab politics and society when the turmoil of the Arab Spring erupted. He explains the causes of the unrest, tracing them back to the first Arab Awakening, and warns of the forces today that threaten the success of the Second Arab Awakening, ignited in December 2010. Hope rests with the new generation and its commitment to tolerance, diversity, the peaceful rotation of power, and inclusive economic growth, Muasher maintains. He calls on the West to rethink political Islam and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and he discusses steps all parties can take to encourage positive state-building in the freshly unsettled Arab world.
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.
This February, the University of California Press will publish Islam After Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia by Adeeb Khalid (Carleton College). The publisher’s description follows.
How do Muslims relate to Islam in societies that experienced seventy years of Soviet rule? How did the utopian Bolshevik project of remaking the world by extirpating religion from it affect Central Asia? Adeeb Khalid combines insights from the study of both Islam and Soviet history to answer these questions. Arguing that the sustained Soviet assault on Islam destroyed patterns of Islamic learning and thoroughly de-Islamized public life, Khalid demonstrates that Islam became synonymous with tradition and was subordinated to powerful ethnonational identities that crystallized during the Soviet period. He shows how this legacy endures today and how, for the vast majority of the population, a return to Islam means the recovery of traditions destroyed under Communism.
Islam after Communism reasons that the fear of a rampant radical Islam that dominates both Western thought and many of Central Asia’s governments should be tempered with an understanding of the politics of antiterrorism, which allows governments to justify their own authoritarian policies by casting all opposition as extremist. Placing the Central Asian experience in the broad comparative perspective of the history of modern Islam, Khalid argues against essentialist views of Islam and Muslims and provides a nuanced and well-informed discussion of the forces at work in this crucial region.
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.
Here’s a great piece by The Week’s Michael Brendan Dougherty on the persecution of Mideast Christians. Doughtery offers an explanation for why the human rights community in the West is largely ignoring the problem:
Western activists and media have focused considerable outrage at Russia’s laws against “homosexual propaganda” in the lead-up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. It would only seem fitting that Westerners would also protest (or at the very least notice) laws that punish people with death for converting to Christianity.
And yet the Western world is largely ignorant of or untroubled by programmatic violence against Christians. Ed West, citing the French philosopher Regis Debray, distils the problem thusly: “The victims are ‘too Christian’ to excite the Left, and ‘too foreign’ to excite the Right.”
That really says it quite well.
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.
Next month, Penguin releases a paperback edition of The War Within by Yuval Elizur and Lawrence Malkin. The publisher’s description follows.
In recent years there has been a war raging within Israel — but not the interminable conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, as one might assume. For many Israelis, it is the internecine conflict with the ultra-orthodox Haredim that impacts their lives the most. The majority of Haredim — raised with an intense focus on religion at the expense of all else — are unemployable in a modern economy. Many choose to pursue religious studies, which the government subsidizes up to the age of 40.
The first book on a conflict that is fast crystallizing into a national debate, The War Within is a lively and trenchant exploration of a battle between church and state as it plays out before our eyes in Israel today. As acclaimed journalists Yuval Elizur and Lawrence Malkin expose, the situation today has reached a critical point that threatens the state of Israel from within and must certainly affect its future.
Last month, Routledge published Iran and the Global Economy: Petro Populism, Islam and Economic Sanctions edited by Parvin Alizadeh (Boston University) and Hassan Hakimian (University of London). The publisher’s description follows.
The relationship between religion and the state has entered a new phase ever since the Iranian Revolution more than three decades ago. The recent mass uprisings against autocratic rulers in the Arab world have highlighted the potency of Islamist forces in post-revolutionary societies in the region, a force arguably unlocked first by Iran’s version of the ‘spring’ three decades ago. The economic ramifications of these uprisings are of special interest at a time when the possibility of the creation of Islamic states can have implications for their economic policy and performance again. A study of the Iranian experience in itself can offer rare insights whether for its own features and characteristics or for its possible lessons and implications for recent events in the region. This book is concerned with the economic aspects and consequences of the Iranian Revolution in general and its interaction with the international economy in particular. Many studies have to date dealt with Iran’s economic challenges, policies and performance in the post-revolutionary period but its interaction with the international economy – although of growing importance – has not received sufficient attention. The contributions in this volume by experts in the field address ways in which in the span of three decades, Iran’s economy has evolved from a strong aspiration to develop an ‘independent economy’ to grappling with debilitating international economic sanctions.