Some interesting law & religion stories from around the web this week:
This February, I.B. Taurus will publish The Study of Shi’i Islam: History, Theology and Law edited by Farhad Daftary (The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London) and Gurdofarid Miskinzoda (The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London). The publisher’s description follows.
Shi’i Islam, with its rich and extensive history, has played a crucial role in the evolution of Islam as both a major world religion and civilization. The prolific achievements of Shi’i theologians, philosophers and others are testament to the spiritual and intellectual wealth of this community. Yet Shi’i studies has unjustly remained a long-neglected field, despite the important contribution that Shi’ism has made to Islamic traditions. Only in recent decades, partially spurred by global interest in political events of the Middle East, have scholars made some significant contributions in this area. The Study of Shi’i Islam presents papers originally delivered at the first international colloquium dedicated exclusively to Shi’i studies, held in 2010 at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. Within the book are eight sections, namely, history, the Qur’an and its Shi’i interpretations, hadith, law, authority, theology, rites and rituals, and intellectual traditions and philosophy.
Each section begins with an introduction contextualizing the aspects of studying Shi’i Islam particular to its theme, before going on to address topics such as the state of the field, methodology and tools, and the primary issues with which contemporary scholars of Shi’i studies are dealing. The scope and depth here covered makes this book of especial interest to researchers and students alike within the field of Islamic studies.
This February, Polity Press will publish Religio Duplex: How the Enlightenment Reinvented Egyptian Religion by Jan Assmann (University of Konstanz). The publisher’s description follows.
In this important new book, the distinguished Egyptologist Jan Assmann provides a masterful overview of a crucial theme in the religious history of the West – that of ‘religio duplex’, or dual religion. He begins by returning to the theology of the Ancient Egyptians, who set out to present their culture as divided between the popular and the elite. By examining their beliefs, he argues, we can distinguish the two faces of ancient religions more generally: the outer face (that of the official religion) and the inner face (encompassing the mysterious nature of religious experience).
Assmann explains that the Early Modern period witnessed the birth of the idea of dual religion with, on the one hand, the religion of reason and, on the other, that of revelation. This concept gained new significance in the Enlightenment when the dual structure of religion was transposed onto the individual. This meant that man now owed his allegiance not only to his native religion, but also to a universal ‘religion of mankind’.
In fact, argues Assmann, religion can now only hold a place in our globalized world in this way, as a religion that understands itself as one among many and has learned to see itself through the eyes of the other. This bold and wide-ranging book will be essential reading for historians, theologians and anyone interested in the nature of religion and its role in the shaping of the modern world.