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.
New from Indiana University Press, Jihad and the West: Black Flag over Babylon, by Mark Silinsky (US Department of Defense). The publisher’s description follows:
U.S. Department of Defense analyst Mark Silinsky reveals the origins of the Islamic State’s sinister obsession with the Western world. Once considered a minor irritant in the international system, the Caliphate is now a dynamic and significant actor on the world’s stage, boasting more than 30,000 foreign fighters from 86 countries. Recruits consist not only of Middle-Eastern-born citizens, but also a staggering number of “Blue-Eyed Jihadists,” Westerners who leave their country to join the radical sect. Silinsky provides a detailed and chilling explanation of the appeal of the Islamic State and how those abroad become radicalized, while also analyzing the historical origins, inner workings, and horrific toll of the Caliphate. By documenting the true stories of men, women, and children whose lives have been destroyed by the radical group, Jihad and the West presents the human face of the thousands who have been kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered by the Islamic State, including Kayla Mueller, who was kidnapped, given to the Caliphate’s leader as a sex slave, and ultimately killed.
From Penguin Random House, a new book arguing that American policy contributed to the rise of the Islamic State, The Age of Jihad, by journalist Patrick Cockburn. The publisher’s description follows:
In June, the University of Chicago Press will release “Muslims Talking Politics: Framing Islam, Democracy, and Law in Northern Nigeria,” by Brandon Kendhammer (Ohio University). The publisher’s description follows:
For generations Islamic and Western intellectuals and policymakers have debated Islam’s compatibility with democratic government, usually with few solid conclusions. But where—Brandon Kendhammer asks in this book—have the voices of ordinary, working-class Muslims been in this conversation? Doesn’t the fate of democracy rest in their hands? Visiting with community members in northern Nigeria, he tells the complex story of the stunning return of democracy to a country that has also embraced Shariah law and endured the radical religious terrorism of Boko Haram.
Kendhammer argues that despite Nigeria’s struggles with jihadist insurgency, its recent history is really one of tenuous and fragile reconciliation between mass democratic aspirations and concerted popular efforts to preserve Islamic values in government and law. Combining an innovative analysis of Nigeria’s Islamic and political history with visits to the living rooms of working families, he sketches how this reconciliation has been constructed in the conversations, debates, and everyday experiences of Nigerian Muslims. In doing so, he uncovers valuable new lessons—ones rooted in the real politics of ordinary life—for how democracy might work alongside the legal recognition of Islamic values, a question that extends far beyond Nigeria and into the Muslim world at large.
This month, Penguin Random House released “United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists,” by Peter Bergen. The publisher’s description follows:
In December, I.B.Tauris will release “Voices of Jihad: New Writings on Radical Islam” by Kamran Bokhari (Howard University). The publisher’s description follows:
The 21st century has seen an unprecedented radicalisation of Muslims across the world. In some cases, this has led to terror and violence. Yet as the West pours huge military resources into the ‘war on terror’, we still know very little about the ideology which drives the terrorists. Now, for the first time, Kamran Bokhari has made it possible to hear and to digest today’s militant Islam in its own words. He presents a range of ideologues from across the globe, including Bin Laden’s own deputy, Ayman Zawahari. Bokhari’s carefully contextualised selection introduces us to radical Islamist thinking on a range of issues such as their perception of Western concepts of democracy, their scepticism towards the Middle East peace process and how to deal with the West. For anyone who wants to understand the phenomenon of contemporary militant Islam, or who wants to know what motivates terrorist thinking, this book is essential reading.
This month, Princeton University Press releases “The Sunni Tragedy in the Middle East: Northern Lebanon from al-Qaeda to ISIS” by Bernard Rougier (Sorbonne Paris III University). The publisher’s description follows:
Northern Lebanon is a land in turmoil. Long under the sway of the Assad regime in Syria, it is now a magnet for Sunni Muslim jihadists inspired by anti-Western and anti-Shi‘a worldviews. The Sunni Tragedy in the Middle East describes in harrowing detail the struggle led by an active minority of jihadist militants, some claiming allegiance to ISIS, to seize control of Islam and impose its rule over the region’s Sunni Arab population.
Bernard Rougier introduces us to men with links to the mujahidin in Afghanistan, the Sunni resistance in Iraq, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. He describes how they aspire to replace North Lebanon’s Sunni elites, who have been attacked and discredited by neighboring powers and jihadists alike, and explains how they have successfully positioned themselves as the local Sunni population’s most credible defender against powerful external enemies—such as Iran and the Shi‘a militia group Hezbollah. He sheds new light on the methods and actions of the jihadists, their internal debates, and their evolving political agenda over the past decade.
This riveting book is based on more than a decade of research, more than one hundred in-depth interviews with players at all levels, and Rougier’s extraordinary access to original source material. Written by one of the world’s leading experts on jihadism, The Sunni Tragedy in the Middle East provides timely insight into the social, political, and religious life of this dangerous and strategically critical region of the Middle East.
In August, Edinburgh University Press released “Contemporary Issues in Islam” by Asthma Afsaruddin (Indiana University). The publisher’s description follows:
Key ‘hot-button’ contemporary issues in Islam, often at the centre of public scrutiny, are the focus of this book. By placing the discussion of topics such as the Shari’a, jihad, the caliphate, women’s status and interfaith relations within a longer historical framework, Contemporary Issues in Islam reveals their multiple interpretations and contested applications over time.
Most public – and occasionally academic – discourses in the West present the Islamic tradition as unchanging and therefore unable to respond to the modern world. Such an ahistorical approach can foster the belief that Muslim-majority and Western societies are destined to clash. This book reveals instead the diversity and transformations within Islamic thought over time. Focusing on this internal diversity permits us to appreciate the scriptural and intellectual resources available within the Islamic tradition for responding to the challenges of modernity, even as this tradition interrogates and shapes modernity itself.
In February, I.B.Tauris will release “Twenty-first Century Jihad: Law, Society and Military Action” by Elisabeth Kendall (University of Oxford) and Ewan Stein (University of Edinburgh). The publisher’s description follows:
The term ‘jihad’ has come to be used as a byword for fanaticism and Islam’s allegedly implacable hostility towards the West. But, like other religious and political concepts, jihad has multiple resonances and associations, its meaning shifting over time and from place to place. Jihad has referred to movements of internal reform, spiritual struggle and self-defence as much as to ‘holy war’. And among Muslim intellectuals, the meaning and significance of jihad remain subject to debate and controversy. With this in mind, Twenty-First Century Jihad examines the ways in which the concept of jihad has changed, from its roots in the Qur’an to its usage in current debate. This book explores familiar modern political angles, and touches on far less commonly analysed instances of jihad, incorporating issues of law, society, literature and military action. As this key concept is ever-more important for international politics and security studies, Twenty-First Century Jihad contains vital analysis for those researching the role of religion in the modern world.