Marzouki, “Islam: An American Religion”

In April, Columbia University Press will release “Islam: An American Religion,” by Nadia Marzouki (Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)). The publisher’s description follows:

Islam: An American Religion demonstrates how Islam as formed in the United States has become an American religion in a double sense—first through the strategies of 9780231176804recognition adopted by Muslims and second through the performance of Islam as a faith.

Nadia Marzouki investigates how Islam has become so contentious in American politics. Focusing on the period from 2008 to 2013, she revisits the uproar over the construction of mosques, legal disputes around the prohibition of Islamic law, and the overseas promotion of religious freedom. She argues that public controversies over Islam in the United States primarily reflect the American public’s profound divisions and ambivalence toward freedom of speech and the legitimacy of liberal secular democracy.

Murray & Feeney, “Church, state and social science in Ireland”

In December, the Manchester University Press released “Church, state and social science in Ireland:Knowledge institutions and the rebalancing of power, 1937–73,” by Peter Murray (Maynooth University) and Maria Feeney (Maynooth University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The immense power the Catholic Church once wielded in Ireland has considerably diminished over the last fifty years. During the same period the Irish state has 9781526100788pursued new economic and social development goals by wooing foreign investors and throwing the state’s lot in with an ever-widening European integration project. How a less powerful church and a more assertive state related to one another during the key third quarter of the twentieth century is the subject of this book. Drawing on newly available material, it looks at how social science, which had been a church monopoly, was taken over and bent to new purposes by politicians and civil servants. This case study casts new light on wider processes of change, and the story features a strong and somewhat surprising cast of characters ranging from Sean Lemass and T.K. Whitaker to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid and Father Denis Fahey.

 

Eltantawi, “Shari’ah on Trial”

In April, the University of California Press will release “Shari’ah on Trial: Northern Nigeria’s Islamic Revolution,” by Sarah Eltantawi (Evergreen State College).  The publisher’s description follows: 

In November of 1999, Nigerians took to the streets demanding the re-implementation of shari’ah law in their country. Two years later, 9780520293786many Nigerians supported the death sentence by stoning of a peasant woman for alleged sexual misconduct. Public outcry in the West was met with assurances to the Western public: stoning is not a part of Islam; stoning happens “only in Africa”; reports of stoning are exaggerated by Western sensationalism. However, none of these statements are true.  Shari’ah on Trial goes beyond journalistic headlines and liberal pieties to give a powerful account of how Northern Nigerians reached a point of such desperation that they demanded the return of the strictest possible shari’ah law. Sarah Eltantawi analyzes changing conceptions of Islamic theology and practice as well as Muslim and British interactions dating back to the colonial period to explain the resurgence of shari’ah, with implications for Muslim-majority countries around the world.

Schader, “Religion as a Political Resource”

In January, Springer Publishing released “Religion as a Political Resource: Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in Berlin and Paris,” by Miriam Schader (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity).  The publisher’s description follows:

Miriam Schader shows that migrants can use religion as a resource for political involvement in their (new) country of residence – but under certain circumstances 41FuxSH8bqL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgonly. The author analyses the role religious networks and symbols play for the politicization and participation of Muslim and Christian migrants from sub-Saharan Africa in Berlin and Paris. Against the widely held belief that Islam is a ’political religion’ in itself, this study demonstrates that Christian migrants draw on their religion for political action more easily than their Muslim counterparts. It also highlights that it is not religion in general which helps migrants get politically active, but particular forms of religious organisations and particular theological elements.

Coope, “The Most Noble of People”

In April, the University of Michigan Press will release The Most Noble of People: Religious, Ethnic, and Gender Identity in Muslim Spain by Jessica A. Coope (University of Nebraska). The publisher’s description follows:

noble-peopleThe Most Noble of People presents a nuanced look at questions of identity in Muslim Spain under the Umayyads, an Arab dynasty that ruled from 756 to 1031. With a social historical emphasis on relations among different religious and ethnic groups, and between men and women, Jessica A. Coope considers the ways in which personal and cultural identity in al-Andalus could be alternately fluid and contentious.

The opening chapters define Arab and Muslim identity as those categories were understood in Muslim Spain, highlighting the unique aspects of this society as well as its similarities with other parts of the medieval Islamic world.The book goes on to discuss what it meant to be a Jew or Christian in Spain under Islamic rule, and the degree to which non-Muslims were full participants in society. Following this is a consideration of gender identity as defined by Islamic law and by less normative sources like literature and mystical texts. It concludes by focusing on internal rebellions against the government of Muslim Spain, particularly the conflicts between Muslims who were ethnically Arab and those who were Berber or native Iberian, pointing to the limits of Muslim solidarity.

Drawn from an unusually broad array of sources—including legal texts, religious polemic, chronicles, mystical texts, prose literature, and poetry, in both Arabic and Latin—many of Coope’s illustrations of life in al-Andalus also reflect something of the larger medieval world. Further, some key questions about gender, ethnicity, and religious identity that concerned people in Muslim Spain—for example, women’s status under Islamic law, or what it means to be a Muslim in different contexts and societies around the world—remain relevant today.

Belloc, “Characters of the Reformation”

In April, Ignatius Press will release a new paperback edition of Characters of the Reformation by Hilaire Belloc. The publisher’s description follows:

characters-of-the-reformationOne of the most fascinating books ever written by the great Catholic historian Belloc, he presents  in bold colors the 23 principal characters of the Protestant Reformation, focusing primarily on those figures concerned with the events in England, analyzing their strengths, mistakes, motives and deeds which changed the course of history.

Among the characters he examines are Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, St. Thomas More, Mary Tudor, Thomas Cromwell, William Cecil, Mary Stuart, Cardinal Richelieu and many more. Belloc illustrates how the motives of the Protestant leaders were rarely religious in nature, but usually political or economic. He underscores the fact that European Christendom was once a single united entity, under the authority of the Catholic Church, each country viewing itself as a single “province” of the whole.

Many of Europe’s Princes resented the power that the Bishop of Rome held in their own lands. The Reformation, aided by the rise of Nationalism, was a means for the nobles of Europe to shake off Papal authority and rule their territory independently. It also gave European monarchs control over the Church and all of its property in their realm, including the taxes that would normally be sent to Rome.

The nobles grew rich by confiscating the wealth of the Church, and resisted reconciliation if that meant returning the wealth to its rightful owner. In subsequent generations, the fear of this possibility gave the noble classes an incentive to remain in the Protestant camp. Belloc warns that this breakup of Christendom may still destroy our Christian civilization.

Even those who think they do not like history will be unable to put this book down as it brings history vividly to life. As usual, Belloc’s historical perspective offers timeless wisdom and insight rarely seen in modern times.

Neale, “Jihad in Premodern Sufi Writings”

In December, Palgrave MacMillan released Jihad in Premodern Sufi Writings by Harry S. Neale (UC Berkley). The publisher’s description follows:

jihad-in-premodernThis book is the only comprehensive study in a European language that analyzes how Sufi treatises, Qur’anic commentary, letters, hagiography, and poetry define and depict jihad. Harry S. Neale analyzes Sufi jihad discourse in Arabic and Persian texts composed between the eleventh and seventeenth centuries, providing access to many writings that have hitherto been unavailable in English. Despite the diversity of practice within Sufism that existed throughout the premodern period, Sufi writings consistently promulgated a complementary understanding of jihad as both a spiritual and military endeavor. Neale discusses the disparity between contemporary academic Sufi jihad discourse in European languages, which generally presents Sufis as peaceful mystics, and contemporary academic writing in Arabic that depicts Sufis as exemplary warriors who combine spiritual discipline with martial zeal. The book concludes that historically, Sufi writings never espoused a purely spiritual interpretation of the doctrine of jihad.

Braunstein, “Prophets and Patriots”

In April, the University of California Press will release Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide by Ruth Braunstein (University of Connecticut). The publisher’s description follows:

prophets-and-patriotsProphets and Patriots takes readers inside two of the most active populist movements of the Obama era and highlights cultural convergences and contradictions at the heart of American political life. In the wake of the Great Recession and amidst rising discontent with government responsiveness to ordinary citizens, the book follows participants in two very different groups—a progressive faith-based community organization and a conservative Tea Party group—as they set out to become active and informed citizens, put their faith into action, and hold government accountable. They viewed themselves as the latest in a long line of prophetic voices and patriotic heroes who were carrying forward the promise of the American democratic project. Yet the practical ways in which they each pursued this common vision reflected subtly different understandings of American democracy and citizenship.

Rahemtulla, “Qur’an of the Oppressed”

In April, Oxford University Press will release Qur’an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam by Shadaab Rahemtulla (University of Wales). The publisher’s description follows:

Quran of the Oppressed.jpgThis study analyzes the commentaries of four Muslim intellectuals who have turned to scripture as a liberating text to confront an array of problems, from patriarchy, racism, and empire to poverty and interreligious communal violence. Shadaab Rahemtulla considers the exegeses of the South African Farid Esack (b. 1956), the Indian Asghar Ali Engineer (1939-2013), the African American Amina Wadud (b. 1952), and the Pakistani American Asma Barlas (b. 1950). Rahemtulla examines how these intellectuals have been able to expound this seventh-century Arabian text in a socially liberating way, addressing their own lived realities of oppression, and thus contexts that are worlds removed from that of the text’s immediate audience. Through a close reading of their works, he underlines the importance of both the ethico-social content of the Qur’an and their usage of new and innovative reading practices.

This work provides a rich analysis of the thought-ways of specific Muslim intellectuals, thereby substantiating a broadly framed school of thought. Rahemtulla draws out their specific and general importance without displaying an uncritical sympathy. He sheds light on the impact of modern exegetical commentary which is more self-consciously concerned with historical context and present realities. In a mutually reinforcing way, this work thus illuminates both the role of agency and hermeneutical approaches in modern Islamic thought.

“The English Province of the Franciscans” (Robson, ed.)

In April, Brill Publishers will release The English Province of the Franciscans (1224-c. 1350) edited by Michael J. P. Robson (Cambridge University). The publisher’s description follows:

english-friars-provinceThis volume explores the rich diversity of the Franciscan contribution to the life of the order and its ministry throughout England between 1224 and c. 1350. The 21 contributions examine the friars’ impact across the different strata of English society, from the parish churches, the missions, the royal courts and the universities. Friars were ubiquitous in England throughout this period and they participated in various programmes of renewal.Contributors are (in order of appearance) Amanda Power, Philippa M. Hoskin, Jens Röhrkasten, Michael F. Custato, OFM, Michael W. Blastic, OFM, Jean-François Godet-Calogeras, Peter V. Loewen, Lesley Smith, Eleonora Lombardo, Nigel Morgan, Cecilia Panti, Hubert Philipp Weber, Timothy J. Johnson, Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ, Takashi Shogimen, Susan J. Ridyard, Michael J. Haren, Christian Steer, Anna Campbell, and Michael J. P. Robson.

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