Robinson, “Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives”

In November, the University of California Press will release Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years by Chase F. Robinson (City University of New York). The publisher’s description follows:

islamic-civilization-in-thirty-livesReligious thinkers, political leaders, lawmakers, writers, and philosophers have shaped the 1,400-year-long development of the world’s second-largest religion. But who were these people? What do we know of their lives and the ways in which they influenced their societies?

In Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives, the distinguished historian of Islam Chase F. Robinson draws on the long tradition in Muslim scholarship of commemorating in writing the biographies of notable figures, but he weaves these ambitious lives together to create a rich narrative of Islamic civilization, from the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century to the era of the world conquerer Timur and the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in the fifteenth.

Beginning in Islam’s heartland, Mecca, and ranging from North Africa and Iberia in the west to Central and East Asia, Robinson not only traces the rise and fall of Islamic states through the biographies of political and military leaders who worked to secure peace or expand their power, but also discusses those who developed Islamic law, scientific thought, and literature. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of rich and diverse Islamic societies. Alongside the famous characters who colored this landscape—including Muhammad’s cousin ’Ali; the Crusader-era hero Saladin; and the poet Rumi—are less well-known figures, such as Ibn Fadlan, whose travels in Eurasia brought fascinating first-hand accounts of the Volga Vikings to the Abbasid Caliph; the eleventh-century Karima al-Marwaziyya, a woman scholar of Prophetic traditions; and Abu al-Qasim Ramisht, a twelfth-century merchant millionaire.

An illuminating read for anyone interested in learning more about this often-misunderstood civilization, this book creates a vivid picture of life in all arenas of the pre-modern Muslim world.

Bonino, “Muslims in Scotland”

In November, Edinburgh University Press will release Muslims in Scotland: The Making of Community in a Post-9/11 World by Stefano Bonino (Northumbria University). The publisher’s description follows:

muslims-in-scotlandThe experience of being a Muslim in Scotland today is shaped by the global and national post-9/11 shift in public attitudes towards Muslims, and is infused by the particular social, cultural and political Scottish ways of dealing with minorities, diversity and integration. This book explores the settlement and development of Muslim communities in Scotland, highlighting the ongoing changes in their structure and the move towards a Scottish experience of being Muslim. This experience combines a sense of civic and social belonging to Scotland with a strong religious and ideological commitment to Islam.

Byrd, “Islam in a Post-Secular Society”

In November, Brill Publishers will release Islam in a Post-Secular Society: Religion, Secularity and the Antagonism of Recalcitrant Faith by Dustin J. Byrd (Olivet College). The publisher’s description follows:

islam-in-a-post-secular-societyIslam in the Post-Secular Society: Religion, Secularity and the Antagonism of Recalcitrant Faith critically examines the unique challenges facing Muslims in Europe and North America. From the philosophical perspective of the Frankfurt School’s Critical Theory, this book attempts not only to diagnose the current problems stemming from a marginalization of Islam in the secular West, but also to offer a proposal for a Habermasian discourse between the religious and the secular.

By highlighting historical examples of Islamic and western rapprochement, and rejecting the ‘clash of civilization’ thesis, the author attempts to find a ‘common language’ between the religious and the secular, which can serve as a vehicle for a future reconciliation.

Roberts, “Islam Under the Palestine Mandate”

In November, I.B. Tauris will release “Islam Under the Palestine Mandate: Colonialism and the Supreme Muslim Council,” by Nicholas Roberts (Sewanee-The University of the South).  The publisher’s description follows:

Concerns about the place of Islam in Palestinian politics are familiar to those studying the history of the modern Middle East. A vital part of this history is the rise of Islamicfr_logo.gif opposition to the British in Mandate Palestine during the 1920s and 30s. Colonial officials had wrestled with the question of how to rule over a Muslim-majority country and considered traditional Islamic institutions essential for maintaining order. Islam under the Palestine Mandate tells the story of the search for a viable Islamic institution in Palestine and the subsequent invention of the Supreme Muslim Council. As a body with political recognition, institutional autonomy and financial power, the council was intended to act as a counterweight to the growing popularity of nationalism among Palestinians. However, rather than diminishing the revolutionary capacity of the colonized, the council became one of the most significant of the opposition groups to British rule, especially under its highly controversial president, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni. Making extensive use of primary sources from British and Israeli archives, this book offers an account of the establishment of the Supreme Muslim Council and the policing of Arab nationalist sympathizers.

Roberts argues against the view that the council’s creation was an act of appeasement towards Muslim opinion, showing how British actions were guided by techniques of imperial administration used elsewhere in the empire.

Syed, “Coercion and Responsibility in Islam”

In November, Oxford University Press will release “Coercion and Responsibility in Islam: A Study in Ethics and Law,” by Mairaj Syed (University of California, Davis). The publisher’s description follows:

In Coercion and Responsibility in Islam, Mairaj Syed explores how classical Muslim theologians and jurists from four intellectual traditions argue about the thorny issues 9780198788775.jpegthat coercion raises about responsibility for one’s action. This is done by assessing four ethical problems: whether the absence of coercion or compulsion is a condition for moral agency; how the law ought to define what is coercive; coercion’s effect on the legal validity of speech acts; and its effects on moral and legal responsibility in the cases of rape and murder.

Through a comparative and historical examination of these ethical problems, the book demonstrates the usefulness of a new model for analyzing ethical thought produced by intellectuals working within traditions in a competitive pluralistic environment. The book compares classical Muslim thought on coercion with that of modern Western thinkers on these issues and finds significant parallels between them. The finding suggests that a fruitful starting point for comparative ethical inquiry, especially inquiry aimed at the discovery of common ground for ethical action, may be found in an examination of how ethicists from different traditions considered concrete problems.

Jalajel, “Women and Leadership in Islamic Law”

In November, Routledge will release “Women and Leadership in Islamic Law: A Critical Analysis of Classical Legal Texts,” by David Jalajel (King Saud University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Islamic law has traditionally prohibited women from being prayer leaders and heads of state. A small number of Muslims today are beginning to challenge this stance, but they face considerable opposition from the broader Muslim community.

9781138123137.jpgWomen and Leadership in Islamic Law examines the assumption within much existing feminist scholarship that the patriarchal nature of pre-Islamic and early Muslim Near Eastern Society is the primary reason for the development of Islamic legal rulings prohibiting women from leadership positions. It claims that the evolution of Islamic law was a complex process, shaped by numerous cultural, historical, political and social factors, as well as scriptural sources whose importance cannot be dismissed. Therefore, the book critically examines a broad survey of legal works from the four canonical Sunni schools of law to determine the factors that influenced the development of the legal rulings prohibiting women from assuming various leadership roles. The passages that elaborate rulings about women’s leadership are presented in translation as an appendix to the research, and are then subjected to a variety of critical analyses to identify the reasons, influences, and assumptions underlying those rulings.

This is the first time works of all four schools of law have been subjected to this kind of analysis for the express purpose of determining the extent to which gender attitudes have influenced and determined the rulings. This book will therefore be a vital resource for students and scholars of Islamic Studies, Religious Studies and Gender Studies.

Farquhar, “Circuits of Faith”

In November, the Stanford University Press will release “Circuits of Faith: Migration, Education, and the Wahhabi Mission,” by Michael Farquhar (King’s College London).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Islamic University of Medina was established by the Saudi state in 1961 to provide religious instruction primarily to foreign students. Students would come to Medina for religious education and were then expected to act as missionaries, promoting an pid_25998understanding of Islam in line with the core tenets of Wahhabism. By the early 2000s, more than 11,000 young men from across the globe had graduated from the Islamic University.

Circuits of Faith offers the first examination of the Islamic University and considers the efforts undertaken by Saudi actors and institutions to exert religious influence far beyond the kingdom’s borders. Michael Farquhar draws on Arabic sources, including biographical materials, memoirs, syllabi, and back issues of the Islamic University journal, as well as interviews with former staff and students, to explore the institution’s history and faculty, the content and style of instruction, and the trajectories and experiences of its students. Countering typical assumptions, Farquhar argues that the project undertaken through the Islamic University amounts to something more complex than just the one-way “export” of Wahhabism. Through transnational networks of students and faculty, this Saudi state-funded religious mission also relies upon, and has in turn been influenced by, far-reaching circulations of persons and ideas.

Aljunied, “Muslim Cosmopolitanism”

In November, Edinburgh University Press will release Muslim Cosmopolitanism: Southeast Asian Islam in Comparative Perspective by Khairudin Aljunied (National University of Singapore). The publisher’s description follows:

Muslim CosmoCosmopolitan ideals and pluralist tendencies have been employed creatively and adapted carefully by Muslim individuals, societies and institutions in modern Southeast Asia to produce the necessary contexts for mutual tolerance and shared respect between and within different groups in society. Organised around six key themes that interweave the connected histories of three countries in Southeast Asia – Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia – this book shows the ways in which historical actors have promoted better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims in the region. Case studies from across these countries of the Malay world take in the rise of the network society in the region in the 1970s up until the early 21st century, providing a panoramic view of Muslim cosmopolitan practices, outlook and visions in the region.

Salomon, “For Love of the Prophet”

In October, Princeton University Press will release For Love of the Prophet: An Ethnography of Sudan’s Islamic State by Noah Salomon (Carleton College). The publisher’s description follows:

For some, the idea of an Islamic state serves to fulfill aspirations for cultural sovereignty and new forms of ethical political practice. For others, it violates the properfor-love-of-the-prophet domains of both religion and politics. Yet, while there has been much discussion of the idea and ideals of the Islamic state, its possibilities and impossibilities, surprisingly little has been written about how this political formation is lived. For Love of the Prophet looks at the Republic of Sudan’s twenty-five-year experiment with Islamic statehood. Focusing not on state institutions, but rather on the daily life that goes on in their shadows, Noah Salomon’s careful ethnography examines the lasting effects of state Islamization on Sudanese society through a study of the individuals and organizations working in its midst.

Salomon investigates Sudan at a crucial moment in its history—balanced between unity and partition, secular and religious politics, peace and war—when those who desired an Islamic state were rethinking the political form under which they had lived for nearly a generation. Countering the dominant discourse, Salomon depicts contemporary Islamic politics not as a response to secularism and Westernization but as a node in a much longer conversation within Islamic thought, augmented and reappropriated, as state projects of Islamic reform became objects of debate and controversy.

Among the first books to delve into the making of the modern Islamic state, For Love of the Prophet reveals both novel political ideals and new articulations of Islam as it is rethought through the lens of the nation.

Corbett, “Making Moderate Islam”

In November, Stanford University Press will release Making Moderate Islam: Sufism, Service, and the “Ground Zero Mosque” Controversy by Rosemary R. Corbett (Bard Prison Initiative). The publisher’s description follows:

Making Moderate IslamDrawing on a decade of research into the community that proposed the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” this book refutes the idea that current demands for Muslim moderation have primarily arisen in response to the events of 9/11, or to the violence often depicted in the media as unique to Muslims. Instead, it looks at a century of pressures on religious minorities to conform to dominant American frameworks for race, gender, and political economy. These include the encouraging of community groups to provide social services to the dispossessed in compensation for the government’s lack of welfare provisions in an aggressively capitalist environment. Calls for Muslim moderation in particular are also colored by racist and orientalist stereotypes about the inherent pacifism of Sufis with respect to other groups. The first investigation of the assumptions behind moderate Islam in our country, Making Moderate Islam is also the first to look closely at the history, lives, and ambitions of the those involved in Manhattan’s contested project for an Islamic community center.

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