“Synagogues in the Islamic World” (Gharipour, ed.)

In May, Edinburgh University Press will release Synagogues in the Islamic World:
Architecture, Design and Identity edited by Mohammad Gharipour (Morgan State University). The publisher’s description follows:

Synagogues in the Islamic WorldThis beautifully illustrated volume looks at the spaces created by and for Jews in areas under the political or religious control of Muslims. Covering regions as diverse as Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Spain, it asks how the architecture of synagogues responded to contextual issues and traditions, and how these contexts influenced the design and evolution of synagogues. As well as revealing how synagogues reflect the culture of the Jewish minority at macro and micro scales, from the city to the interior, the book also considers patterns of the development of synagogues in urban contexts and in connection with urban elements and monuments.

Key Features:

  • Uniquely explores the elements and concepts applied in the design of synagogues in the Islamic world
  • Shows connections between Jewish and Islamic architecture and the collaboration among Muslims and Jews in the design and construction of synagogues
  • Takes an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach, providing a new setting for the analysis of Islamic architecture
  • Addresses historical, social, urban, and architectural aspects of synagogues throughout the Muslim world including Iraq, Afghanistan, Morocco, Egypt, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, Iran, and India

Orwin, “Redefining the Muslim Community”

Next month, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “Redefining the Muslim Community: Ethnicity, Religion, and Politics in the Thought of Alfarabi,” by Alexander Orwin (Harvard University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Writing in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Baghdad, Alfarabi (870-950) is unique in the history of premodern political philosophy for his extensive discussion of pennpressbluelogothe nation, or Umma in Arabic. The term Umma may be traced back to the Qur’ān and signifies, then and now, both the Islamic religious community as a whole and the various ethnic nations of which that community is composed, such as the Turks, Persians, and Arabs. Examining Alfarabi’s political writings as well as parts of his logical commentaries, his book on music, and other treatises, Alexander Orwin contends that the connections and tensions between ethnic and religious Ummas explored by Alfarabi in his time persist today in the ongoing political and cultural disputes among the various nationalities within Islam.

According to Orwin, Alfarabi strove to recast the Islamic Umma as a community in both a religious and cultural sense, encompassing art and poetry as well as law and piety. By proposing to acknowledge and accommodate diverse Ummas rather than ignoring or suppressing them, Alfarabi anticipated the contemporary concept of “Islamic civilization,” which emphasizes culture at least as much as religion. Enlisting language experts, jurists, theologians, artists, and rulers in his philosophic enterprise, Alfarabi argued for a new Umma that would be less rigid and more creative than the Muslim community as it has often been understood, and therefore less inclined to force disparate ethnic and religious communities into a single mold. Redefining the Muslim Community demonstrates how Alfarabi’s judicious combination of cultural pluralism, religious flexibility, and political prudence could provide a blueprint for reducing communal strife in a region that continues to be plagued by it today.

Merati, “Muslims in Putin’s Russia”

In May, Springer Publishing will release Muslims in Putin’s Russia: Discourse on Identity, Politics, and Security by Simona E. Merati (Florida International University). The publisher’s description follows:

SpringerThis book offers a novel interpretation of Russian contemporary discourse on Islam and its influence on Russian state policies. It shifts the analytical perspective from the discussion about Russia’s Islam as a potential security threat to a more comprehensive view of the relationships of Muslims with Russia as a state and a civilization. The work demonstrates how many Muslims increasingly express a sense of belonging to Russia and are increasingly willing to contribute to state building processes.

Pratt, “Christian Engagement with Islam”

In May, Brill Publishers will release Christian Engagement with Islam: Ecumenical Journeys since 1910 by Douglas Pratt (University of Waikato). The publisher’s description follows:

brill_logoWhy did the Christian Church, in the twentieth century, engage in dialogue with Islam? What has been the ecumenical experience? What is happening now? Such questions underlie Douglas Pratt’s Christian Engagement with Islam: Ecumenical Journeys since 1910. Pratt charts recent Christian (WCC and Vatican) engagement with Islam up to the early 21st century and examines the ecumenical initiatives of Africa’s PROCMURA, ‘Building Bridges’, and the German ‘Christian-Muslim Theological Forum’, together with responses to the 2007 ‘Common Word’ letter.

Between them, Islam and Christianity represent over half the earth’s population. Their history of interaction, positive and negative, impacts widely still today. Contentious issues remain real enough, yet the story and ongoing reality of contemporary Christian-Muslim engagement is both exciting and encouraging.

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.

Panel Discussion: “Muslims and the Making of America” (March 14)

On March 14, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, in conjunction with Baylor University Press, is co-sponsoring a panel discussion of Amir Hussain’s new book Muslims and the Making of America at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. A description of the event follows:

muslims-and-the-making-of-americaAmerican Muslim identity presently hangs under a dark cloud of suspicion. Ironically, as Amir Hussain demonstrates, there has never been an America without Muslims. The American tapestry is woven, in part, with Muslim threads.
Amir Hussain, professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, will appear on a panel to discuss his recent book, Muslims and the Making of America (2016). He will be joined by Melissa Rogers, most recently known for her work as special assistant to the president and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the Obama administration, and Rebecca Samuel Shah, research professor at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and associate director of the Religious Freedom Institute’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team. The panelists will discuss Muslim American identity, Muslim contributions to America, religious freedom and other First Amendment issues, and the social and political impact of cultural stereotypes of Muslim identity. The forum will be open to questions from the audience.
Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6:00 p.m. in the National Press Club’s Holeman Lounge before the panel commences at 6:45 p.m. Immediately following the panel, Hussain will host a book signing where copies of his book will be available.
The panel is co-sponsored by Baylor University Press and the Religious Freedom Research Project of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
More information on the event can be found here.

Hasan, “Public Islam in Indonesia”

In April, University of Chicago Press will release “Public Islam in Indonesia: Piety, Politics, and Identity,” by Noorhaidi Hasan (Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University).  The publisher’s description follows:

9789462983205In recent years, ongoing democratization in Indonesia has enabled the rise of a form of Islam that is more sympathetic to the basic democratic principle of individual freedom. As a result, many Islamic symbols have lost their strictly religious meanings in favor of new pragmatic and political undertones. Combining approaches from political science and anthropology, Noorhaidi Hasan explores this phenomenon and the extent to which public Islam could represent a new future for the nation, one that moves beyond the simple opposition of state versus religion.

Joly & Wadia, “Muslim Women and Power”

In March, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Muslim Women and Power: Political and Civic Engagement in West European Societies,” by Danièle Joly (University of Warwick) and Khursheed Wadia (University of Warwick).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book provides an account of Muslim women’s political and civic engagement in Britain and France. It examines their interaction with civil society and state 9781137480613institutions to provide an understanding of their development as political actors. The authors argue that Muslim women’s participation is expressed at the intersections of the groups and society to which they belong. In Britain and France, their political attitudes and behaviour are influenced by their national/ethnic origins, religion and specific features of British and French societies. Thus three main spheres of action are identified: the ethnic group, religious group and majority society. Unequal, gendered power relations characterise the interconnection(s) between these spheres of action. Muslim women are positioned within these complex relations and find obstacles and/or facilitators governing their capacity to act politically. The authors suggest that Muslim women’s interest in politics, knowledge of it and participation in both institutional and informal politics is higher than expected. This book will appeal to students and scholars of politics, sociology, gender studies and social anthropology, and will also be of use to policy makers and practitioners in the field of gender and ethno-religious/ethno-cultural policy.

Mirsepassi, “Transnationalism in Iranian Political Thought”

In March, Cambridge University Press will release Transnationalism in Iranian Political Thought: The Life and Times of Ahmad Fardid by Ali Mirsepassi (New York University). The publisher’s description follows:

Transnationalism.jpgDuring the Iranian Revolution of 1978/9, the influence of public intellectuals was widespread. Many espoused a vision of Iran freed from the influences of ‘Westtoxification’, inspired by Heideggerian concepts of anti-Western nativism. By following the intellectual journey of the Iranian philosopher Ahmad Fardid, Ali Mirsepassi offers in this book an account of the rise of political Islam in modern Iran. Through his controversial persona and numerous public and private appearances before, during and particularly after the Revolution, Fardid popularised an Islamist vision militantly hostile to the modern world that remains a fundamental part of the political philosophy of the Islamic Republic to this day. By also bringing elements of Fardid’s post-revolutionary thought, as well as a critical analysis of Foucault’s writings on ‘the politics of spirituality’, Mirsepassi offers an essential read for all those studying the evolution of political thought and philosophy in modern Iran and beyond.

Aydin, “The Idea of the Muslim World”

In March, Harvard University Press will release The Idea of the Muslim World: A Global Intellectual History by Cemil Aydin (University of North Carolina). The publisher’s description follows:

the-muslim-worldWhen President Barack Obama visited Cairo in 2009 to deliver an address to Muslims worldwide, he followed in the footsteps of countless politicians who have taken the existence of a unified global Muslim community for granted. But as Cemil Aydin explains in this provocative history, it is a misconception to think that the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims constitute a single religio-political entity. How did this belief arise, and why is it so widespread? The Idea of the Muslim World searches for the intellectual origins of a mistaken notion and explains its enduring allure for non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

Conceived as the antithesis of Western Christian civilization, the idea of the Muslim world emerged in the late nineteenth century, when European empires ruled the majority of Muslims. It was inflected from the start by theories of white supremacy, but Muslims had a hand in shaping the idea as well. Aydin reveals the role of Muslim intellectuals in envisioning and essentializing an idealized pan-Islamic society that refuted claims of Muslims’ racial and civilizational inferiority.

After playing a key role in the politics of the Ottoman Caliphate, the idea of the Muslim world survived decolonization and the Cold War, and took on new force in the late twentieth century. Standing at the center of both Islamophobic and pan-Islamic ideologies, the idea of the Muslim world continues to hold the global imagination in a grip that will need to be loosened in order to begin a more fruitful discussion about politics in Muslim societies today.

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