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.

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.

De Nicola, “Women in Mongol Iran”

In February, the University of Edinburgh Press will release Women in Mongol Iran: The Khatuns, 1206-1335 by Bruno De Nicola (University of St. Andrews). The publisher’s description follows:

women-in-mongol-iranBruno De Nicola investigates the development of women’s status in the Mongol Empire from its original homeland in Mongolia up to the end of the Ilkhanate of Iran in 1335. Taking a thematic approach, the chapters show a coherent progression of this development and contextualise the evolution of the role of women in medieval Mongol society. The arrangement serves as a starting point from where to draw comparison with the status of Mongol women in the later period. Exploring patterns of continuity and transformation in the status of these women in different periods of the Mongol Empire as it expanded westwards into the Islamic world, the book offers a view on the transformation of a nomadic-shamanist society from its original homeland in Mongolia to its settlement in the mostly sedentary-Muslim Iran in the mid-13th century.

“Advice for Callow Jurists and Gullible Mendicants on Befriending Emirs” (Sabra, trans.)

In January, Yale University Press will release a new translation of Advice for Callow Jurists and Gullible Mendicants on Befriending Emirs by Abd al-Wahhab ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Sha‘rani, translated by Adam Sabra (University of California, Santa Barbara). The publisher’s description follows:

Yale UP.jpgThis mirror for princes sheds light on the relationship between spiritual and political authority in early modern Egypt

This guide to political behavior and expediency offers advice to Sufi shaykhs, or spiritual guides, on how to interact and negotiate with powerful secular officials, judges, and treasurers, or emirs. Translated into English for the first time, it is a unique account of the relationship between spiritual and political authority in late medieval / early modern Islamic society.

Bsoul, “Islamic History and Law”

In March, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Islamic History and Law: From the 4th to the 11th Century and Beyond,” by Labeeb Ahmed Bsoul (Khalifa University). The publisher’s description follows:

In Islamic History and Law, Labeeb Ahmed Bsoul undertakes an extensive examination of Islamic intellectual history, covering ages that witnessed different 51yztyzxuxl-_sx302_bo1204203200_movements and doctrinal trends. While political and geographical factors certainly influenced the Islamic religious sciences, internal and intellectual factors exerted a much more substantial influence. This study gives priority to jurists’ intellectual operations throughout the Muslim world, covering the historical development of Islamic jurisprudence from the middle of 4th century. Bsoul’s examination of jurisprudential advances takes into account the shifting dominance of particular centers of legal scholarship in light of competing doctrines and their adherents. This work sheds light on jurists of North Africa and the Andalus, who are rarely mentioned in general modern works, and also aims to demonstrate Muslim women’s important role in the history of jurisprudence, highlighting their participation in the Islamic sciences. Bsoul relies mainly on Arabic primary sources to give an impartial presentation of these jurists and produce an accurate memory of the past based on objective knowledge.

Heilo, “Eastern Rome and the Rise of Islam”

In December, Routledge released “Eastern Rome and the Rise of Islam: History and Prophecy,” by Olof Heilo (Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Lund).  The publisher’s description follows:

The emergence of Islam in the seventh century AD still polarises scholars who seek to separate religious truth from the historical reality with which it is associated. However, history and prophecy are not solely defined by positive evidence or apocalyptic truth, but by human subjects, who consider them to convey distinct messages and in turn make these messages meaningful to others. These messages are mutually interdependent, and analysed together provide new insights into history.

It is by way of this concept that Olof Heilo presents the decline of the Eastern Roman Empire as a key to understanding the rise of Islam; two historical processes often perceived as distinct from one another. Eastern Rome and the Rise of Islam highlights significant convergences between Early Islam and the Late Ancient world. It suggests that Islam’s rise is a feature of a common process during which tensions between imperial ambitions and apocalyptic beliefs in Europe and the Middle East cut straight across today’s theological and political definitions. The conquests of Islam, the emergence of the caliphate, and the transformation of the Roman and Christian world are approached from both prophetic anticipations in the Ancient and Late Ancient world, and from the Medieval and Modern receptions of history. In the shadow of their narratives it becomes possible to trace the outline of a shared history of Christianity and Islam. The “Dark Ages” thus emerge not merely as a tale of sound and fury, but as an era of openness, diversity and unexpected possibilities.

Approaching the rise of Islam as a historical phenomenon, this book opens new perspectives in the study of early religion and philosophy, as well as providing a valuable resource for students and scholars of Islamic Studies.

“The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law” (Duderija, ed.)

In October, Palgrave Macmillan will release “The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law: The Search for a Sound Hadith” edited by Adis Duderija (University Malaya, Malaysia). The publisher’s description follows:

The concept of Sunna, as one of the two normative fountainheads of the 9781137376459
Islamic tradition, is of fundamental importance to the understanding of nearly all of the branches of Islamic knowledge including Islamic law and politics. This volume equips readers with a comprehensive overview of the nature and the scope of the concept of Sunna both in pre-modern and modern Islamic contexts and discussions. The various contributors each examine how Sunna was understood and possibly evolved during the formative (the first three centuries Hijri) and classical periods (ending at beginning of sixth century Hijri) of Islamic religious thought. The book focuses on shedding more light on the context in which the term Sunna in the major works of Islamic law and legal theory across all of the major madhahib was employed during the first six centuries Hijri. The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law delves into and deconstructs the conceptual, epistemological, and hermeneutical relationship between the concepts of Sunna and the concept of sound (sahih) hadith as understood in various Sunni madhahib as well as in early Islamic history and theology.

Lapidus, “A History of Islamic Societies”

This September, Cambridge University Press will release a new edition of “A History of Islamic Societies” by Ira M. Lapidus (University of California, Berkeley).  The publisher’s description follows:

A History of Islamic SocietiesThis new edition of one of the most widely used course books on Islamic civilizations around the world has been substantially revised to incorporate the new scholarship and insights of the last twenty-five years. Ira Lapidus’ history explores the beginnings and transformations of Islamic civilizations in the Middle East and details Islam’s worldwide diffusion. The history is divided into four parts. Part I is a comprehensive account of pre-Islamic late antiquity; the beginnings of Islam; the early Islamic empires; and Islamic religious, artistic, legal and intellectual cultures. Part II deals with the construction in the Middle East of Islamic religious communities and states to the fifteenth century. Part III includes the history to the nineteenth century of Islamic North Africa and Spain; the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires; and other Islamic societies in Asia and Africa. Part IV accounts for the impact of European commercial and imperial domination on Islamic societies and traces the development of the modern national state system and the simultaneous Islamic revival from the early nineteenth century to the present.

Wood, “History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East”

History and ID in the LateThis month Oxford University Press has published History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East edited by Philip Wood (Cambridge University). The publisher’s description follows.

History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East gathers together the work of distinguished historians and early career scholars with a broad range of expertise to investigate the significance of newly emerged, or recently resurrected, ethnic identities on the borders of the eastern Mediterranean world. It focuses on the “long late antiquity” from the eve of the Arab conquest of the Roman East to the formation of the Abbasid caliphate. The first half of the book offers papers on the Christian Orient on the cusp of the Islamic invasions. These papers discuss how Christians negotiated the end of Roman power, whether in the selective use of the patristic past to create confessional divisions or the emphasis of the shared philosophical legacy of the Greco-Roman world. The second half of the book considers Muslim attempts to negotiate the pasts of the conquered lands of the Near East, where the Christian histories of Hira or Egypt were used to create distinctive regional identities for Arab settlers. Like the first half, this section investigates the redeployment of a shared history, this time the historical imagination of the Qu’ran and the era of the first caliphs. All the papers in the volume bring together studies of the invention of the past across traditional divides between disciplines, placing the re-assessment of the past as a central feature of the long late antiquity. As a whole, History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East represents a distinctive contribution to recent writing on late antiquity, due to its cultural breadth, its interdisciplinary focus, and its novel definition of late antiquity itself.

Kuran, “The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East”

This November, Princeton University Press will publish The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East by Timur Kuran (Duke University). The publisher’s description follows.

In the year 1000, the economy of the Middle East was at least as advanced as that of Europe. But by 1800, the region had fallen dramatically behind–in living standards, technology, and economic institutions. In short, the Middle East had failed to modernize economically as the West surged ahead. What caused this long divergence? And why does the Middle East remain drastically underdeveloped compared to the West? In The Long Divergence, one of the world’s leading experts on Islamic economic institutions and the economy of the Middle East provides a new answer to these long-debated questions.

Timur Kuran argues that what slowed the economic development of the Middle East was not colonialism or geography, still less Muslim attitudes or some incompatibility between Islam and capitalism. Rather, starting around the tenth century, Islamic legal institutions, which had benefitted the Middle Eastern economy in the early centuries of Islam, began to act as a drag on development by slowing or blocking the emergence of central features of modern economic life–including private capital accumulation, corporations, large-scale production, and impersonal exchange. By the nineteenth century, modern economic institutions began to be transplanted to the Middle East, but its economy has not caught up. And there is no quick fix today. Low trust, rampant corruption, and weak civil societies–all characteristic of the region’s economies today and all legacies of its economic history–will take generations to overcome.

The Long Divergence opens up a frank and honest debate on a crucial issue that even some of the most ardent secularists in the Muslim world have hesitated to discuss.

%d bloggers like this: