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 December, Palgrave MacMillan released Jihad in Premodern Sufi Writings by Harry S. Neale (UC Berkley). The publisher’s description follows:
This 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.
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:
This 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.
In April, Harvard University Press will release Before Orthodoxy: The Satanic Verses in Early Islam by Shahab Ahmed (Harvard University). The publisher’s description follows:
One of the most controversial episodes in the life of the Prophet Muhammad concerns an incident in which he allegedly mistook words suggested by Satan as divine revelation. Known as the Satanic verses, these praises to the pagan deities contradict the Islamic belief that Allah is one and absolute. Muslims today—of all sects—deny that the incident of the Satanic verses took place. But as Shahab Ahmed explains, Muslims did not always hold this view.
Before Orthodoxy wrestles with the question of how religions establish truth—especially religions such as Islam that lack a centralized authority to codify beliefs. Taking the now universally rejected incident of the Satanic verses as a case study in the formation of Islamic orthodoxy, Ahmed shows that early Muslims, circa 632 to 800 CE, held the exact opposite belief. For them, the Satanic verses were an established fact in the history of the Prophet. Ahmed offers a detailed account of the attitudes of Muslims to the Satanic verses in the first two centuries of Islam and traces the chains of transmission in the historical reports known as riwāyah.
Touching directly on the nature of Muhammad’s prophetic visions, the interpretation of the Satanic verses incident is a question of profound importance in Islam, one that plays a role in defining the limits of what Muslims may legitimately say and do—issues crucial to understanding the contemporary Islamic world.
In April, I.B. Tauris Publishers will release Exploring the Qur’an: Context and Impact by Muhammad Abdel Haleem (University of London). The publisher’s description follows:
The teachings, style and impact of the Qur’an have always been matters of controversy, among both Muslims and non-Muslims. But in a modern context of intercultural sensitivity, what the Qur’an says and means are perhaps more urgent questions than ever before. This major new book by one of the world’s finest Islamic scholars responds to that urgency. Building on his earlier groundbreaking work, the author challenges misinterpretations of particular Qur’anic verses from whatever quarter. He addresses the infamous ‘sword’ verse, frequently cited as a justification for jihad. He also questions the ‘tribute’ verse, associated with the Muslim state subjugating Jews and Christians; and the idea of Paradise in the Qur’an, often viewed by the West as emphasising merely physical pleasures, or used by Islamic fighters as their just reward for holy war. The author argues that wrenching the verses out of the context of the whole has led to dangerous ideologies being built on isolated phrases which have then assumed afterlives of their own. This nuanced, holistic reading has vital interfaith ramifications.
Compelling and original, this book offers a unique insight into the modern Islamic corporation, revealing how power, relationships, individual identities, gender roles, and practices – and often massive financial resources – are mobilized on behalf of Islam. Focusing on Muslims in Malaysia, Patricia Sloane-White argues that sharia principles in the region’s Islamic economy produce a version of Islam that is increasingly conservative, financially and fiscally powerful, and committed to social control over Muslim and non-Muslim public and private lives. Packed with fascinating details, the book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in Islamic politics and culture in modern life.
In March, Springer will release “A History of the Application of Islamic Law in Nigeria,” by Yushau Sodiq (Texas Christian University). The publisher’s description follows:
This work analyzes the history of the application of Islamic law (Shari`ah) in Nigeria. It analyzes how Islamic law emerged in Nigeria toward the beginning of the 19th century and remained applicable until the arrival of the British Colonial regime in Northern Nigeria in 1903. It sheds light on how the law survived colonial rule and continues until today.
Dr. Yushau Sodiq analyzes progressive elements in Islamic law over the past two centuries. He goes on to discuss many objections raised by the Nigerian Christians against the application of Islamic law, as well as how Muslims respond to such criticism. In a world that is often saturated with Islamophobia and ignorant misconceptions about Islam, this book aims to clarify and respond to many important concepts and ideas within Islamic religious tradition.
In February, Palgrave MacMillan will release Civil Disobedience in Islam by Muhammad Haniff Hassan (Nanyang Technological University). The publisher’s description follows:
This book addresses contemporary debates on civil disobedience in Islam within the rich Sunni tradition, especially during the height of the non‐violent people revolution in various Arab countries, popularly known as the Arab Spring. It illustrates the Islamic theological and jurisprudential arguments presented by those who either permit or prohibit acts of civil disobedience for the purpose of changing government, political systems or policy. The book analyses the nature of the debate and considers how a theological position on civil disobedience should be formulated in contemporary time, and makes the case for alternatives to violent political action such as jihadism, terrorism and armed rebellion.
In April, Oneworld Publications released Islamic and Jewish Legal Reasoning: Encountering Our Legal Other edited by Dr. Anver M. Emon (University of Toronto). The publisher’s description follows:
By pairing a scholar of Islamic law with a scholar of Jewish law, a unique dynamic is created, and new perspectives are made possible. These new perspectives not only enable an understanding of the other’s legal tradition, but most saliently, they offer new insights into one’s own legal tradition, shedding light on what had previously been assumed to be outside the scope of analytic vision.
In the course of this volume, scholars come together to examine such issues as judicial authority, the legal policing of female sexuality, and the status of those who stand outside one’s own tradition. Whether for the pursuit of advanced scholarship, pedagogic innovation in the classroom, or simply a greater appreciation of how to live in a multi-faith, post-secular world, these encounters are richly-stimulating, demonstrating how legal tradition can be used as a common site for developing discussions and opening up diverse approaches to questions about law, politics, and community. Islamic and Jewish Legal Reasoning offers a truly incisive model for considering the good, the right and the legal in our societies today.
Next month, Routledge will release “Islam and Women’s Income: Dowry and Law in Bangladesh,” by Farah Deeba Chowdhury (York University). The publisher’s description follows:
This book examines the interrelationship between law, culture, patriarchy and religion in the context of contemporary Bangladesh. It explores the role of Islam in society and politics generally, and its influence on gender equality in particular. The work focuses on the situation of married women. Taking a socio-legal approach, it analyses the changing nature of the dowry practice and its relation to women’s increasing paid labour force activity. Despite anti-dowry legislation, it is argued here that the dowry system continues in the form of the appropriation of wives’ income. The work calls for legal recognition of this action and the amendment of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1980 as a result of the changing social realities that are taking place in the lives of Bangladeshi women. An Islamic approach is applied to equality between men and women in addressing and analysing these issues. The book includes international comparisons on gender equality and discusses the role of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Descrimination Against Women (CEDAW), as well as the dowry system in South Asia.