In February, the Cambridge University Press will release “The Unfree Exercise of Religion: A World Survey of Discrimination Against Religious Minorities,” by Jonathan Fox (Bar Ilan University). The publisher’s description follows:
Religious discrimination is the norm in many countries around the world, and the rate is rising. Nearly every country which discriminates does so unequally, singling out some religious minorities for more discrimination than others. Religious tradition does not explain this complex issue. For example, Muslim majority states include both the most discriminatory and tolerant states in the world, as is also the case with Christian majority states. Religious ideologies, nationalism, regime, culture, security issues, and political issues are also all part of the answer. In The Unfree Exercise of Religion Jonathan Fox examines how we understand concepts like religious discrimination and religious freedom, and why countries discriminate. He makes a study of religious discrimination against 597 religious minorities in 177 countries between 1990 and 2008. While 29 types of discrimination are discussed in this book, the most common include restrictions in places of worship, proselytizing, and religious education.
- Examines how we think about concepts like religious discrimination and religious freedom, which are often used but rarely examined and defined, helping readers think more systematically about these topics
- Discusses evidence that religious discrimination is the norm rather than the exception and is on the rise, even in democracies
- Seeks to help undermine incorrect stereotypes and assumptions on the topic of religious discrimination
In January, Brill will release “Muslim Tatar Minorities in the Baltic Sea Region” edited by Ingvar Svanberg (Uppsala University) and David Westerlund (Södertörn University). The publisher’s description follows:
In Muslim Tatar Minorities in the Baltic Sea Region, edited by Ingvar Svanberg and David Westerlund, the contributors introduce the history and contemporary situation of these little known groups of people that for centuries have been part of the religious and ethnic mosaic of this region. The book has a broad and multi-disciplinary scope and covers the early settlements in Lithuania and Poland, the later immigrations to Saint Petersburg, Finland, Estonia and Latvia, as well as the most recent establishments in Sweden and Germany. The authors, who hail from and are specialists on these areas, demonstrate that in several respects the Tatar Muslims have become well-integrated here.
In May, Lexington Books will release “Islamic Law and Governance in Contemporary Iran: Transcending Islam for Social, Economic, and Political Order” by Tehran Tamadonfar (University of Nevada). The publisher’s description follows:
The current rise of Islamism throughout the Muslim world, Islamists’ demand for the establishment of Islamic states, and their destabilizing impact on regional and global orders have raised important questions about the origins of Islamism and the nature of an Islamic state. Beginning with the Iranian revolution of the late 1970s and the establishment of the Islamic Republic to today’s rise of ISIS to prominence, it has become increasingly apparent that Islamism is a major global force in the twenty-first century that demands acknowledgment and answers.
As a highly-integrated belief system, the Islamic worldview rejects secularism and accounts for a prominent role for religion in the politics and laws of Muslim societies. Islam is primarily a legal framework that covers all aspects of Muslims’ individual and communal lives. In this sense, the Islamic state is a logical instrument for managing Muslim societies. Even moderate Muslims who genuinely, but not necessarily vociferously, challenge the extremists’ strategies are not dismissive of the political role of Islam and the viability of an Islamic state. However, sectarian and scholastic schisms within Islam that date back to the prophet’s demise do undermine any possibility of consensus about the legal, institutional, and policy parameters of the Islamic state.
Within its Shi’a sectarian limitations, this book attempts to offer some answers to questions about the nature of the Islamic state. Nearly four decades of experience with the Islamic Republic of Iran offers us some insights into such a state’s accomplishments, potentials, and challenges. While the Islamic worldview offers a general framework for governance, this framework is in dire need of modification to be applicable to modern societies. As Iranians have learned, in the realm of practical politics, transcending the restrictive precepts of Islam is the most viable strategy for building a functional Islamic state. Indeed, Islam does provide both doctrinal and practical instruments for transcending these restrictions. This pursuit of pragmatism could potentially offer impressive strategies for governance as long as sectarian, scholastic, and autocratic proclivities of authorities do not derail the rights of the public and their demand for an orderly management of their societies.
Last fall, Syracuse University Press published Gulf Women (2012) edited by Amira El-Azhary Sonbol (Georgetown University). The publisher’s description follows.
This groundbreaking collection of essays provides a greater understanding of the history of the Gulf and the Arab world and is of relevance to Muslim women everywhere. Featuring research never published before, Gulf Women is the result of a project aimed at finding sources and studying the history of women in the region. The chapters cover ancient history and the medieval, early modern, and contemporary periods. Presenting discourses on the life of women in early Islam, women’s work and the diversity of their economic contribution, the family—and how it changed over time—as well as the legal system and laws dealing with women and family from the pre-modern to the modern periods, this is a pioneering collection by leading scholars from Arab and international universities.
Here is an interesting story about how many Muslim female students prefer university life on Catholic campuses. Though the story somehow still manages to snicker at Catholic higher education — would it be so intolerably wrong, one wonders, to require a single course in Catholic thought or history at a Catholic university? — it conveys the comfort of devout Muslim students within a Catholic university. Though the story does not mention it, President John Garvey of Catholic University once made similar statements about the religious life of Muslim students at Catholic University in response to a cooked-up, and subsequently discredited, controversy.
Next month, Oxford University Press will publish Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Democracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies by Nader
Hashemi (University of Denver, Josef Korbel School of International Studies). The publisher’s description follows.
Islam’s relationship to liberal-democratic politics has emerged as one of the most pressing and contentious issues in international affairs. In Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Democracy, Nader Hashemi challenges the widely held belief among social scientists that religious politics and liberal-democratic development are structurally incompatible. This book argues for a rethinking of democratic theory so that it incorporates the variable of religion in the development of liberal democracy. In the process, it proves that an indigenous theory of Muslim secularism is not only possible, but is a necessary requirement for the advancement of liberal democracy in Muslim societies.
In May, Columbia University Press will publish The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, edited by Edwin Bakker, Professor of Terrorism and Counterterrorism at Leiden University in Holland, and Roel Meijer of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations. The volume collects articles presenting different views on the Muslim Brotherhood‘s activities in Europe. The articles explore the extent to which these activities mirror the Brotherhood’s activities in the Middle East and whether their presence in Europe promotes a positive rallying force for Europe’s Muslim communities or the dangerous potential of national and international destabilization by fomenting inter-communal and inter-religious conflict.
Please see the publisher’s description after the jump. Read more
In this week’s Newsweek, human rights activist and commentator Ayaan Hirsi Ali documents the persecution directed at Christians in many Muslim-majority countries, often with state support, or at least indifference. She argues that concern with appearing “Islamophobic” has caused Western governments and media to avoid covering the crisis, and that Western governments must “get their priorities straight” and tie foreign aid to recipients’ willingness to protect the rights of Christians and other religious minorities. (For reasons CLR Forum has discussed, it’s not clear that Western pressure would actually help Christians living in Muslim-majority countries, who are vulnerable to the charge of being Western agents). Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim and present atheist, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Ahmad Erfani Nasab (Mofid University Legal Clinic) and Mohammad Mahdi Meghdadi (Mofid University) have posted Muslim Clerics and Leadership in Human Rights Education in Muslim Societies. The abstract follows.
Several human rights instruments have declared that human rights education is a fundamental right for all. However, human rights education in Muslim societies is still facing serious challenges most of which arise from lack of effective educational methods. Our research shows that Muslim clerics can be considered as leaders of human rights education in Muslim societies, playing an important role in addressing and dealing with most of the challenges and enhancing universal culture of human rights. The findings indicate that in an effective human rights education method resulting in flexible, accessible, acceptable and sustainable human rights, Muslim clerics can be considered to play an active role. In addition, the results highlight that this educational method can promote, localize and institutionalize human rights in such societies and can help prevent and resolve the possible conflicts between religious and human rights discourses.