In Search of the Lost Heart: Explorations in Islamic Thought
by William C. Chittick (State University of New York
Press, SUNY) In Search of the Lost Heart brings
together twenty-six essays by William C. Chittick, renowned
scholar of Sufism and Islamic philosophy. Written between
1975 and 2011, most of these essays are not readily
available in Chittick's own books. Although this is a
collection, its editors have crafted it to be a book
"sufficient unto itself, which, when taken as a whole, can
be said to explore the underlying worldview of Islam."
Chittick draws upon the writings of towering figures such as Ibn al-`Arabi, Rumi, and Mulla Sadra, as well as other important, but lesser-known thinkers, as he engages with a wide variety of topics, such as the nature of being and knowledge, the relationship between love and scriptural hermeneutics, the practical and theoretical dimensions of Islamic mysticism, the phenomenon of religious diversity, and the ecological crisis. More
The Art and Material Culture of Iranian Shi'ism: Iconography and Religious Devotion in Shi'i Islam by Pedram Khosronejad(Iran and the Persianate World: I.B. Tauris in association with the Iran Heritage Foundation) Shi'i Islam has been the official religion of Iran from the Safavids (1501-1732) to the present day. The Shi'i world experience has provided a rich artistic tradition, encompassing painting, sculpture, and the production of artifacts and performance, which has helped to embed Shi'i identity in Iran as part of its national narrative. In what areas of material culture has Iranian Shi'ism manifested itself through objects or buildings that are unique within the overall culture of Islam? To what extent is the art and architecture of Iran from the Safavid period onwards identifiably Shi'i? What does this say about the relationship of nation, state, and faith in Iran? Here, leading experts trace the material heritage of Iranian Shi'ism within each of its political, religious, and cultural dimensions. More
Ibn al-'Arabi's Barzakh: The Concept of the Limit and the Relationship between God and the World by Salman H. Bashier (SUNY: State University of New York Press) This book explores how Ibn al-'Arabi (1165-1240) used the concept of barzakh (the Limit) to deal with the philosophical problem of the relationship between God and the world, a major concept disputed in ancient and medieval Islamic thought. The term "barzakh" indicates the activity or actor that differentiates between things and that, paradoxically, then provides the context of their unity. Author Salman H. Bashier looks at early thinkers and shows how the synthetic solutions they developed provided the groundwork for Ibn al-'Arabi's unique concept of barzakh. Bashier discusses Ibn al-'Arabi's development of the concept of barzakh ontologically through the notion of the Third Thing and epistemologically through the notion of the Perfect Man, and compares Ibn al-'Arabi's vision with Plato's.
"Salmon H. Bashier has rightly identified the importance of the concept of the Limit (barzakh), a central theme in Ibn al-'Arabi's thought, and situates the concept in two new contexts: earlier Islamic thought as a whole, and the larger Western philosophic tradition. It is a worthy ambition." —John Walbridge More
The Story of Islamic Philosophy: Ibn Tufayl, Ibn Al-'Arabi, and Others on the Limit Between Naturalism and Traditionalism by Salman H. Bashier (SUNY: State University of New York Press) In this innovative work, Salman H. Bashier challenges traditional views of Islamic philosophy. While Islamic thought from the crucial medieval period is often depicted as a rationalistic elaboration on Aristotelian philosophy and an attempt to reconcile it with the Muslim religion, Bashier puts equal emphasis on the influence of Plato's philosophical mysticism. This shift encourages a new reading of Islamic intellectual tradition, one in which boundaries between philosophy, religion, mysticism, and myth are relaxed. Bashier shows the manner in which medieval Islamic philosophers reflected on the relation between philosophy and religion as a problem that is intrinsic to philosophy and shows how their deliberations had the effect of redefining the very limits of their philosophical thought. The problems of the origin of human beings, human language, and the world in Islamic philosophy are discussed. Bashier highlights the importance of Ibn Tufayl's Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, a landmark work often overlooked by scholars, and the thought of the great Sufi mystic Ibn al-Arabi to the mainstream of Islamic philosophy. More
Beshara and Ibn 'Arabi: A Movement of Sufi Spirituality in the Modern
World by Suha Taji-Farouki (Anqa Publishers) Investigating sufi-inspired spirituality in the modern world, this
interdisciplinary volume focuses on Beshara, a spiritual movement that
originated in Britain in the 1970s.
Beshara's main inspiration is the Andalusian mystic Muhyi al-Din Ibn 'Arabi (d.1240), possibly the most influential thinker of the second half of Islamic history. Ibn Arabi's teaching was brought to Britain by Bulent Rauf (d. 1987), a descendant of the Ottoman elite, and discovered there by counterculture youth searching for new spiritual ways. Beshara is their joint legacy.
The first detailed analysis of the adoption and adaptation of Ibn Arabi's heritage by non-Muslims in the West, Beshara and Ibn 'Arabi is a study of the movement's history, teachings and practices. It explores the interface between sufism and the New Age, and the broader contemporary encounter between Islam and the West. Investigating from a global perspective the impact of cultural transformations associated with modernisation and globalization on religion, this timely volume concludes by tracing possible futures of sufi spirituality both in the West and in the Muslim world.
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in religious studies and the sociology of religion, Islamic studies and Sufism, and issues of cultural and spiritual dialogue between West and East.
Suha Taji-Farouki is Senior Lecturer in Modern Islam at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, and Research Associate at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. She has published widely on modern Islamic thought, including (ed.) Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century (Institute for Ismaili Studies) and Modern Muslim Intellectuals and the Qur'an (Oxford University Press). Her most recent work is a study and translation of A Prayer for Spiritual Elevation and Protection by Ibn 'Arabi (Anqa). More
The Qur'an and Its Biblical Subtext by
Gabriel Said Reynolds (Routledge Studies in the
Qur'an: Routledge) This book challenges the dominant scholarly notion that
the Qur'an must be interpreted through the medieval
commentaries shaped by the biography of the prophet
Muhammad, proposing instead that the text is best read in
light of Christian and Jewish scripture. The Qur'an, in its
use of allusions, depends on the Biblical knowledge of its
audience. However, medieval Muslim commentators, working in
a context of religious rivalry, developed stories that
separate Qur'an and Bible, which this book brings back
In a series of studies involving the devil, Adam, Abraham, Jonah, Mary, and Muhammad among others, Reynolds shows how modern translators of the Qur'an have followed medieval Muslim commentary and demonstrates how an appreciation of the Qur'an's Biblical subtext uncovers the richness of the Qur'an's discourse. Presenting unique interpretations of thirteen different sections of the Qur'an based on studies of earlier Jewish and Christian literature, the author substantially re-evaluates Muslim exegetical literature. Thus The Qur'an and Its Biblical Subtext, a work based on a profound regard for the Qur'an's literary structure and rhetorical strategy, poses a substantial challenge to the standard scholarship of Qur'anic Studies. With an approach that bridges early Christian history and Islamic origins, the book will appeal not only to students of the Qur'an but to students of the Bible, religious studies, and Islamic history. More
The Cambridge Companion to Muhammad edited by Jonathan E. Brockopp (Cambridge
Companions to Religion: Cambridge University Press) As
the Messenger of God, Muhammad stands at the heart of
the Islamic religion, revered by Muslims throughout the
world. The Cambridge Companion to Muhammad comprises a
collection of essays by some of the most accomplished
scholars in the field exploring the life and legacy of
the Prophet. The book is divided into three sections,
the first charting his biography and the milieu into
which he was born, the revelation of the Qur'ān, and his
role within the early Muslim community. The second part
assesses his legacy as a law-maker, philosopher, and
politician and, finally, in the third part, chapters
examine how Muhammad has been remembered across history
in biography, prose, poetry, and, most recently, in film
and fiction. Essays are written to engage and inform
students, teachers, and readers coming to the subject
for the first time. They will come away with a deeper
appreciation of the breadth of the Islamic tradition, of
the centrality of the role of the Prophet in that
tradition, and, indeed, of what it means to be a Muslim
Muhammad is the world's most popular name for boys. The king of Morocco, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the president of Egypt are all named Muhammad, and when the famous boxer Cassius Clay became a Muslim, he was given the name Muhammad Ali. If there is a Muslim family in the world that does not have a brother, grandfather, or uncle named Muhammad, they almost certainly have a relative who has been given one of the Prophet's other names: Mustafa', Ahmad, or al-Amin. One also finds the names Muhammadi ("Muhammad like") and Muhammadayn ("double Muhammad"). These habits of naming are indicative of a popular devotion to the Prophet that enhances, and in some cases overwhelms, the historical limits of the man who died more than fourteen centuries ago. More
Gog and Magog in Early Eastern Christian and Islamic
Sources by Emeri van Donzel and Andrea
Schmidt. With a contribution by Claudia Ott
(Brill's Inner Asian Library: Brill Academic) Alexander's alleged Wall against Gog and Magog, often
connected with the enclosure of the apocalyptic people,
was a widespread theme among Syriac Christians in
Mesopotamia. In the ninth century Sallam the Interpreter
dictated an account of his search for the barrier to the
Arab geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih. The reliability of
Sallam's journey from Samarra to Western China and back
(842-45), however, has always been a highly contested
issue. Van Donzel and Schmidt consider the travel
account as historical.
This volume presents a translation of the source while at the same time it carefully looks into other Eastern Christian and Muslim traditions of the famous lore. A comprehensive survey reconstructs the political and topographical data. As so many other examples, also this story pays witness to the influence of the Syriac Christian tradition on Koran and Muslim Traditions. More
The Banquet: A Reading of the Fifth Sura of the Qur'an by Michel Cuypers (Rhetorica Semitica) Cuyper's work is a ground-breaking contribution to Islamic-Christian studies and is being warmly received by the Islamic academic community. He applies recent methods of rhetorical textual studies to the analysis of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, which previously has been seen by many as a fragmented text with little sense of order. He has achieved a systematic and organised reading of the Qur'an text that is in absolute accordance with the Islamic faith, a task that has never before been accomplished. Muslim and Christian theologians around the world recognise his achievement as one of the most important contributions to an understanding of Islam based on Christian scholarship. More
Logic, Rhetoric and Legal Reasoning in the Qur'an: God's
Arguments by Rosalind Ward Gwynne (Routledge)
[Hardcover] Muslims have always used verses from the Qur'an to
support opinions on law, theology, or life in general, but
almost no attention has been paid to how the Qur'an presents
its own precepts as conclusions proceeding from reasoned
arguments. Whether it is a question of God's powers of
creation, the rationale for his acts, or how people are to
think clearly about their lives and fates, Muslims have so
internalized Qur'anic patterns of reasoning that many affirm
that the Qur'an appeals first of all to the human powers of
This book provides a new key to both the Qur'an and Islamic intellectual history. Examining Qur'anic argument by form and not content helps readers to discover the significance of passages often ignored by the scholar who compares texts and the believer who focuses upon commandments, as it allows scholars of Qur'anic exegesis, Islamic theology, philosophy, and law to tie their findings in yet another way to the text that Muslims consider the speech of God. More
Narrating Islam: Interpretations of the Muslim World in European Texts edited by Gerdien Jonker, Shiraz Thobani(Library of Modern Middle East Studies: Tauris Academic) In Narrating Islam we deal with pedagogic representations of religious, cultural and ethnic groups, founded on long and embedded histories of alterity, as they have evolved in Europe and neighbouring regions. The project came into being through a series of conferences and workshops that explored the history and spread of narratives on Islam and Muslims as they are told in school textbooks and as promoted or sanctioned by policy frameworks, national historiographies and the popular media in different regions of Europe and surrounding zones. Contributors come from universities and research institutes as far apart as Kazan on the Middle Volga, Pristine in Albania, Bari, Florence, Rome, Barcelona, Rabat, London and Braunschweig, each adding a piece to the kaleidoscope that makes up the narratives on Islam in Europe and nearby regions. More
Pathways to an Inner Islam: Massignon, Corbin, Guénon, and Schuon by Patrick Laude (State University of New York Press) provides an introduction to the esoteric or spiritual "inner Islam" presented by Western thinkers Louis Massignon, Henry Corbin, René Guénon, and Frithjof Schuon. Particularly interested in Sufism--the mystical tradition of Islam--these four twentieth-century authors who wrote in French played an important role in presenting Islamic spirituality to the West and have also had an influence in parts of the Muslim world, such as Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. Patrick Laude brings them together to argue that an understanding of their inner Islam challenges reductionist views of Islam as an essentially legalistic tradition and highlights its spiritual qualities. The book discusses their thought on the definitions of spiritual Islam and Sufism, the metaphysical and mystical understanding of the Prophet and the Qur<aµn, the function of femininity in Islamic spirituality, and the inner understanding of jihaµd. In addition, the writers' Christian backgrounds and their participation in the intellectual and spiritual traditions of both Christianity and Islam offer a dynamic perspective on interfaith dialogue. More
Ibn Arabî - Time and Cosmology by Mohamed Haj Yousef (Culture and Civilization in the Middle East: Routledge) is the first comprehensive attempt to explain Ibn ‘Arabî’s distinctive view of time and its role in the process of creating the cosmos and its relation with the Creator. By comparing this original view with modern theories of physics and cosmology, Mohamed Haj Yousef constructs a new cosmological model that may deepen and extend our understanding of the world, while potentially solving some of the drawbacks in the current models such as the historical Zeno's paradoxes of motion and the recent Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox (EPR) that underlines the discrepancies between Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. More
Religion, Human Rights and International Law: A Critical Examination
of Islamic State Practices Edited by Javaid Rehman,
Susan Breau (Studies in Religion, Secular Beliefs and Human Rights:
Martinus Nijhoff [Brill])
Excerpt: The first substantive area of analysis in this study is the relationship between religion, human rights and international law and the problems arising from a universally recognised right of freedom of religion. Kevin Boyle provides an excellent beginning to the discussion by an introduction to the international legal background on the freedom of religion.' His chapter fulfils the promise to serve as a reference point for the discussion of practice on freedom of religion elsewhere in the volume, specifically Islamic state practices. The initial problem with the content of freedom of religion is that of the historical and political context in which these human rights standards were negotiated. Whilst originally established during the cold-war period, they now operate in the wholly different environment of the opening decade of the twenty-first Century. Notwithstanding the different historical roots of the standards, Boyle argues that it is imperative that the universal standards on human rights, sustained despite the cold-war are not jettisoned in the crisis generated by the 'global war on terror: International law signifies the commitment of all states to defend freedom of religion as the right of the individual to hold and to practice a faith. The critical point that Boyle makes in his chapter is that human rights law, as a part of the corpus of international law does not place itself at some higher level above religion or non-religious beliefs. Rather, he argues that the purpose of the right to freedom of religion is to accommodate the plurality of such beliefs in the world while drawing its inspiration from the principles of justice and ethics shared by all religions and humanist beliefs. To advance religious freedom and to end religious persecution in this first decade of the twenty-first century, an understanding of that freedom that is inclusive of all religions is urgently needed. The international norms of freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of religion will remain lifeless until they are invoked as a framework for much needed sustained dialogue and action by the world's religions. More
God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult And the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad by Charles Allen (Da Capo Press) An important study of the little-known history of the Wahhabi, a fundamentalist Islamic tribe whose teachings influence today's extreme Islamic terrorists, including the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. More
The Reflective Heart : Discovering Spiritual Intelligence in Ibn 'Arabi's 'Meccan Illuminations' by James Winston Morris (Fons Vitae) For centuries Ibn ‘Arabi has been considered the “Greatest Master” of Islamic spiritual teaching, but Western readers have only recently had access to his greatest writings. This introduction to Ibn ‘Arabi’s Meccan Illuminations highlights the mysticism and realization of Sufi spiritual life, providing an intellectually penetrating look without requiring specialized knowledge. The development of several key themes and modes of reflection in Ibn ‘Arabi’s spiritual teachings are explored as are the gradually unfolding meanings that distinguish this important classical text of Sufi practice. More
Islamic Philosophy from Its Origin to the Present: Philosophy in the Land of Prophecy by Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Suny Series in Islam: State University of New York Press) offers a comprehensive overview of Islamic philosophy from the ninth century to the present day. As Seyyed Hossein Nasr attests, within this tradition, philosophizing is done in a world in which prophecy is the central reality of life—a reality related not only to the realms of action and ethics but also to the realm of knowledge. Comparisons with Jewish and Christian philosophies highlight the relation between reason and revelation, that is, philosophy and religion. More
Al-Hidayah: The Guide: A Classical Manual of Hanafi Law - VOLUME 1 by Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani, translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee (Amal Press) The Hidayah represents the refined, distilled and authentic version of a legal tradition developed over many centuries. It presents the corpus of Hanafi law in its approved and preferred form and forges an organic link with the other schools of law. There is no book that can match the power of al-Hidayah as a teaching manual. Education in Islamic law is not complete without this book. More
A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages edited by Jorge J.
E. Gracia, Timothy B. Noone (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy:
Blackwell Publishers) This comprehensive reference volume features
essays by some of the most distinguished scholars in the field.
The volume is organized into two sections. In the first, essays cover the historical context within which philosophy in the Middle Ages developed. Topics include the ancient philosophical legacy, the patristic background, the School of Chartres, religious orders, scholasticism, and the condemnation of various views in Paris in the thirteenth century. Within these clear, jargon-free expositions, the authors make the latest scholarship available while also presenting their own distinctive perspectives.
The second section is composed of alphabetically arranged entries on 138 philosophically significant authors – European, Jewish, and Arabic – living between the fourth and fifteenth centuries. These essays contain biographical information, summaries of significant philosophical arguments and viewpoints, and conclude with bibliographies of both primary and secondary sources.
A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages is extensively cross-referenced and indexed, constituting a complete source of information for students and professionals alike. More
Encyclopedia of the Qur'an - Set Volumes 1-5 plus Index Volume
edited by Jane Dammen McAuliffe (Brill
Academic) The Qur'ān is the primary religious text for one-sixth
of the world’s population. Understood by Muslims to
contain God's own words, it has been an object of reverence and of
intense study for centuries. The thousands of volumes that Muslim
scholars have devoted to qur'ānic interpretation and to the
linguistic, rhetorical and narrative analysis of the text are
sufficient to create entire libraries of qur'ānic studies.
Drawing upon a rich scholarly heritage, Brill's Encyclopaedia of the Qur'ān (EQ) combines alphabetically-arranged articles about the contents of the Qur'ān. It is an encyclopaedic dictionary of qur'ānic terms, concepts, personalities, place names, cultural history and exegesis extended with essays on the most important themes and subjects within qur'ānic studies. With nearly 1000 entries in 5 volumes, the EQ is the first comprehensive, multi-volume reference work on the Qur'ān to appear in a Western language. More
Islamic Societies in Practice, 2nd Edition by Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban (University Press of Florida) Originally written in the wake of the Gulf War, this book introduced the West to everyday Arab-Islamic cultures and societies, humanizing the region and its people. It ventured behind the headlines to offer a positive, constructive view of Islam and Muslims, showing how Islam is lived and practiced in daily life. Now revised and expanded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Islamic Societies in Practice embraces the breadth of global Islam with significant new material on Islam in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States, as well as the Middle East. New maps and illustrations are included, detailing the diversity and representation of Islam and Muslims throughout the world. Additional material includes discussions of male and female relations; folk Islam, popular expressions of faith, and the five pillars; Sufism, including the Turkish Dervishes; ethnic and racial differences in the Muslim world; Islamic law and the application of harsh punishments; political Islam and the future of the state in the Islamic world; and the many voices of progressive Muslims--feminists, human rights activists, and anti-extremist writers. More
Role of Islam in the Legal System of Pakistan by Martin Lau (Martinus Nijhoff) The purpose and aim of this book is the exploration of the Islamisation of Pakistan's legal system. The focus will, however, not be on the introduction of Islamic laws during and following Lia-ul-Haq's martial law, but on the role of Islamic law in the legal system as a whole. The central thesis is that the Islamization of laws in Pakistan has been primarily a judge-led process, which was initiated to enhance the power of the judiciary and to expand the scope of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights. It will be argued that the role of judges in the Islamization of the legal system has been largely obscured by the more visible manifestations of Islamization, namely the promulgation of the infamous Hudood Ordinances' and other isolated pieces of Islamic legislation, such as, for instance, the Enforcement of Shari'ah Act 1991. More
The Unthought in Contemporary Islamic Thought by Mohammed Arkoun (Saqi Books) makes available for the first time the breadth and depth of Mohammed Arkoun’s thought to an English readership and reaffirms the significance of his contribution to Modern Islamic Studies and Religious Studies more generally.
Drawing on the tools and methodologies of history, sociology, psychology and anthropology, the work combines a critical review of modern studies dedicated to what is generally labelled ‘Islam’ with an assessment of the original texts treated in those studies as sources of genuine information. By doing so, Arkoun’s approach subjects varying belief-systems (including non-belief), traditions of exegesis, theology and jurisprudence to a critique aimed at liberating reason from dogmatic constructs.
By treating Islam as a religion as well as a time-honoured tradition of thought, Mohammed Arkoun’s work aims at overcoming the limitations of a purely descriptive, narrative and chronological treatment of history. He does so by recommending that the entire development of Muslim thought, from the Qur’anic worldview to the range of contemporary discourses, be subjected to critical analysis - an analysis that will engender a discussion as to how Islamic studies and thought can be brought to the level of the fertile criticisms witnessed in European scholarship and historical development since the 17th century.
In the work, Professor Arkoun pays as much attention to exploring the epistemological options underlying the different types of discourses, as to the development of facts, events, ideas, beliefs, performances, institutions, works of art and individual biographies based on reliable archives. He argues that writing history, without making an issue of each word, each concept, each attitude used by the social protagonists, is misleading and even dangerous for people who assimilate the representations of the past proposed by historians as the undisputable truth about the past. He asserts that this is why each social group has itself built an image of its past without having the means of differentiating the mythical or ideological image from the critical approaches provided by modern historians.
Each of the book’s eight essays addresses some of these concerns by referring to a number of larger tensions which, Mohammed Arkoun asserts, remain ‘unthought’ in contemporary Islamic discourse - topics that have been addressed, in some cases, in academic scholarship on Islam, but have been relegated into the domain of the ‘unthinkable’.
The first two chapters introduce ways of ‘problematising’ the larger category of revelation through the example of the Qur’an and proposes a programme of research aimed at constructing a new field for the comparative study of revelation as a historic, linguistic, cultural and anthropological articulation of thought, common to Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Likewise, seven other themes related to large and complex domains of modern debates are introduced in the following chapters: problems of the state, civil society, the individual and human rights; the concept of the person, the individual and the citizen; belief, non-belief and the construction of the human subject in Muslim contexts; authority and power and ‘religious imaginaire’.
Outlining the author’s life-work and thought for the first time in English, the essays in this book explore the tensions that have challenged the author since the beginning of his academic career, providing an up-to-date and acute insight into his thought and methodology. The book will be an invaluable asset for those concerned with the contemporary world as viewed through the disciplines of Islamic and Religious Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology and History.
The Great Confrontation: Europe and Islam Through the Centuries by Ilya V. Gaiduk (Ivan R Dee) A concise survey of the long and complex history of relations between Europe and Islam, from the early seventh century to the present day. The book differs from other works in its inclusion of Russia as part of European civilization and in describing Russian relations with Islam. Mr. Gaiduk argues that in today’s interrelated and interdependent world, lines of division run not between different civilizations but between civilization and the ills that threaten it.
At first glance the history of relations between Europe and Islam appears rife with conflict-a chronicle of two worlds entrenched in a permanent "holy war," the bloody consequence of hatred and hostility. The glance reveals an implacable enmity between two civilizations that has endured for centuries and today takes shape in the terrorist acts of radical Muslims and their organizations. But is this impression correct?
Ilya Gaiduk sets out to answer that question in The Great Confrontation. Here he succinctly explores the long and complex history of relations between Europe and Islam, from the early seventh century to the present day. "Civilizations are living organisms," he writes, "continuously changing under the influence of internal developments and outside events; relations between them must be considered in light of different historical periods and contexts. But history as well as religion may also become the propaganda tools of terrorists. And discussions in the West about the nature of Islam and its relationship to the outside world are often abstract, static, and ahistorical."
Mr. Gaiduk's attentive and objective study of this history reveals numerous circumstances of peaceful coexistence and cooperation. The "fault lines" between the two cultures have been not only battlefields but also marketplaces and meeting points that have fostered an exchange of goods, cultural values, and ideas. His book differs from other works in its greater regard for Russia as part of European civilization and for Russian relations with Islam.
Mr. Gaiduk argues that twentieth-century developments have made "the great confrontation" a phenomenon of the past, that in today's interrelated and interdependent world, lines of division run not between different civilizations but between civilization and the ills that threaten it—poverty, pollution, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism. Success in combating these ills depends upon the cooperation of different societies and cultures, not their antagonism. Rather than looking to history for examples of hatred, the more important guiding principles for the future will be found in history's examples of tolerance and partnership between civilizations. The Great Confrontation is an excellent brief account of a relationship that has assumed growing urgency in our time.
Irya V. Gaiduk is a senior research fellow at the Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences. Born in Turkmenistan, he studied in Moscow and has been an exchange scholar at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies and a fellow of the Cold War International History Project, both at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., and a fellow of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. He has also written The Soviet Union and the Vietnam War and Confronting Vietnam. He lives in Moscow.
Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars edited by Joseph Lumbard (World Wisdom Books) capably argues for a return to the true spirit of classical Islamic intellectualism, disregarding the distractions and obstacles created by the West. Its strongest chapter, "Recollecting the Spirit of Jihad" by Reza Shah-Kazemi, marshals the history and traditions of the noble Muslim warrior, who never killed out of revenge, protected Jews from slaughter and embodied the true spirit of jihad, which means an inner spiritual struggle. The writer contrasts heroes of Muslim history, like Saladin, with the manipulative terrorists of Al-Qaeda, who politicize and deliberately misconstrue jihad. In the following essay, "Roots of Misconception," Ibrahim Kalin contends that propaganda against Islam, from the Crusades through contemporary movies and news media, is responsible for the inaccurate Western view that Islam needs to be modernized. T.J. Winter's "The Poverty of Fanaticism" contains probably the first academic recognition of the phenomenon of "salafi burnout,'" which takes place when a college-age male follower of the literalist Wahhabi/Salafi philosophy trades his conservative views, beard and religious dress for a Western girlfriend and capitalistic outlook. Although all the authors are Western Muslims—a quality rightly admired by Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his foreword—the absence of an essay by a Muslim woman is glaring. This book is a good resource for progressive Muslims, graduate students and readers already well versed on the politics of Islamic theology.
Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition is the first book to account for the religious, historical and political dimensions of Islamic fundamentalism in a single volume. It provides analyses based upon spiritual principles, rather than conjecture based on political prejudices. This book provides the context necessary for a deeper understanding of important issues pertaining to Islam and the contemporary Middle East. It accomplishes this by explaining the traditional Islamic perspective in a contemporary language. Some essays analyze the historical background of Islamic militancy, demonstrating how the scriptures and teachings of Islam condemn religious fanaticism and gratuitous aggression. Others examine the conditions that allowed for the rise of such an aberration, while yet others address the divide between East and West, bringing into relief the pressures of modernization and globalization which have produced an internal confusion which fans the flames of religious extremism.
Written as a collaborative effort by a group of young Muslim scholars, this volume questions much of the prevailing "wisdom" regarding extremist interpretations of Islam. Contributors include Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Foreword), David Dakake, Reza Shah-Kazemi, Fuad Naeem, Waleed El-Ansary, Ibrahim Kalin, Ejaz Akram, and T.J. Winter.
Excerpt: The contributors are young Muslims from England, America, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt, representing a wide range of disciplines, from economics, sociology, and international relations to philosophy, comparative religion, and Islamic studies. In coordinating our efforts at every stage of this project, we strived to produce a volume which draws from several disciplines and perspectives while presenting a unified analysis. We have employed both traditional Islamic teachings and modern methodologies to provide in-depth analyses of Islam in the modern world. Such is the only means by which the aberrations now at large can be fully addressed, for the factors fomenting Islamic extremism arise from a meeting between East and West. Sustainable solutions must therefore draw from both civilizations.
The first part of the book, "Religious Foundations," is comprised of three essays which demonstrate that from a traditional Islamic perspective the acts of aggression which now dominate perceptions of Islam have no textual, historical, or intellectual legitimacy. David Dakake's "The Myth of a Militant Islam" counters the misunderstanding of Islam as an inherently violent faith by directly discussing Qur'ánic verses which have been misinterpreted by reporters, academics, and religious extremists of several traditions. The paper draws from the earliest and most authoritative Qur'ánic commentaries, the hadith tradition (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), and early historical works to reveal the characteristics and, in particular, the limits that the first Muslims placed upon jihad. It concludes with a detailed analysis of distortions of Qur'anic verses in the now infamous calls for "jihad" against the "Jews and Crusaders," showing the fundamentally anti-Islamic basis of such perspectives in light of the earliest sources.
Joseph Lumbard's "The Decline of Knowledge and the Rise of Ideology in the Modern Islamic World" examines the journey from the principles presented by David Dakake to the aberrations of today. This, he argues, results in part from an imbalance in the application of the Islamic sciences, which has allowed for the misinterpretations of both strident puritanical reformists and liberal secularists to persist and prevail. Lumbard maintains that the contributions of "the ihsani intellectual tradition," which combines the highest degree of intellectual and spiritual rigor, have been largely dismissed by both factions. Without the basic tools and fundamental insights of this tradition, Muslims have been unable to provide holistic solutions to the questions posed by the onset of modernism. Only when the legitimacy of the spiritual and intellectual traditions of Islam are recognized, and their teachings employed, will Muslims find sustainable solutions to the problems which now confront their societies.
To provide an historical illustration of the intellectual traditions discussed by Joseph Lumbard, Fuad Naeem's "A Traditional Islamic Response to the Rise of Modernism" examines the response of the famous Indian scholar Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (d. 1942) to the rise of modernism in India. It details how Muslims of India, such as Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Chiragh Ali, attempted to modernize and secularize Islam in response to the challenges posed by British colonization, and then presents Thanvi's poignant critique of distortions of Islam prevalent in the Indian subcontinent—a critique based upon the traditional teachings of the Islamic philosophical and spiritual traditions. Thanvi's approach stands in stark contrast to the ignorant reactionary approach of most fundamentalists, for it places thought before action and is based upon principles rather than slogans. Though his is a logical and philosophical critique of the highest order, Thanvi's aim is to address the root of all ignorance, the illness of the heart. From the perspective of traditional Islam, which Thanvi represents, it is only when the heart has been treated that political transformations can occur.
These three essays serve to familiarize the reader with the traditional teachings of Islam, which for over fourteen hundred years have established a norm that has enjoyed manifestations in many forms in both the Sunni and Shiite worlds. Some have argued that radical militancy is endemic to Islam and that Muslims must secularize in order to ameliorate these problems; but such an analysis belies a grave misunderstanding of Islam in all its many manifestations. In fact, were the teachings of Islam to be followed and a true Islamic revival to take place, militant extremists would no longer have an audience. Many analysts fail to realize that it is the very pressure to secularize which has produced the narrow interpretations characteristic of modern fundamentalism. So long as Muslim peoples continue to feel a steady and suffocating pressure to secularize and Westernize, strident puritanical reductionism will continue to be seen by many as a viable, if not the only, alternative.
Whereas Part I clears the ground of common misconceptions, Part II, "Historical Dimensions," presents the historical background, and Part III, "Political Dimensions," applies the principles of traditional Islamic teachings to the exigencies of the moment in a contemporary language. The essays in these sections demonstrate that such teachings are essential for understanding the place of religious extremism and charting a path toward resolutions. Though written from within different academic disciplines, the authors provide complementary analyses based upon common principles. Important themes such as the conflict between tradition and modernity, the need for spiritual revival, and the decrepitude of fanaticism are woven throughout.
Drawing upon historical evidence and citing such figures as Salah al-Din al-Ayyúbi (Saladin) and 'Abd al-Qadir al Jaza'iri, Reza Shah-Kazemi's "Recollecting the Spirit of jihad" provides examples of later generations of Muslims who acted in accord with the principles elucidated in Part I. It distinguishes between the stereotype of "jihadism" and the traditional Islamic understanding of jihad, demonstrating that Islamic and Western sources alike reveal a profound chivalry among Muslim warriors which derives from the precepts of the Qur'an and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad. As Shah-Kazemi writes: "The true warrior of Islam smites the neck of his own anger with the sword of forbearance; the false warrior strikes at the neck of his enemy with the sword of his own unbridled ego. For the first, the spirit of Islam determines jihad; for the second, bitter anger, masquerading as jihad, determines Islam. The contrast between the two could hardly be clearer."
Ibrahim Kahn's "Roots of Misconception: Euro-American Perceptions of Islam Before and After September 11" provides a historical framework for the analysis in Part III. He examines Western perceptions of Islam by addressing the religious, philosophical, and ideological factors that have shaped them, from medieval polemics to nineteenth-century romanticism. He then analyzes modern Euro-American perceptions of Islam, demonstrating how inherited ideologies have shaped presentations of Islam in
forums as disparate as academia and Hollywood. Kalin concludes with a discussion of the confrontationist and accommodationist views of Islam in the U. S. While the former calls for an all-out confrontation and clash between the two civilizations, the latter views Islam as a sister civilization of the West and an intricate component of a tradition which is Judeo-Christian-Islamic, not only Judeo-Christian.
Waleed El-Ansary's "The Economics of Terrorism: How bin Laden is Changing the Rules of the Game" draws upon the observations in the previous essays to examine the strategic issues which must be accounted for in combating terrorism. El-Ansary applies modern game theory in an effort to understand the recent terrorist attacks against the United States, and analyzes the effectiveness of proposed strategies against terrorism. He argues that the inability of policy-makers to understand the world-views and self-images of many "terrorists" prevents them from envisioning effective counter-terrorism policies. The self-understanding of "terrorists" and "fundamentalists" must be seen in contrast to the self-understanding of traditional Muslims, which reveals terrorism and fundamentalism to be a deviation from the established norm. Unfortunately, the presuppositions of Orientalism, which most political analysts have inherited, prevent them from effectively evaluating the self-understanding of Muslims, thus leading to unnecessary antagonisms. This leads policy-makers into egregious strategic errors which have potentially disastrous consequences for us all.
Ejaz Akram's "The Muslim World and Globalization: Modernity and the Roots of Conflict" examines Muslim views of the West. It studies the political, economic, and social consequences of globalization in the con-temporary Muslim world—particularly the Middle East—and argues that the inherently Euro-centric nature of globalization carries with it ideologies which are not conducive to the mores of local peoples. Drawing from the essays in Parts I and II, Akram illustrates why Muslims view many of the so-called "advantages" of globalization as disadvantages that challenge the principles by which they wish to live. He argues that tensions in many parts of the Islamic world can only be eased when Muslim peoples are able to choose ways of life and forms of government that rise organically from their own teachings and history. Until such time, we are condemned to patch-work reforms.
The essays in Parts II and III demonstrate that without a change of understanding in the light of common principles, all attempts to arrive at the political, intellectual, and economic solutions necessary to weed out terrorism will fail. The policy proposals that dominate the current political discourse are likely to backfire, for they are based on ideologies and do not account for realities. People of the Islamic world, people of the West, and people with roots in both worlds desire an end to all forms of conflict between the two civilizations. But to bring an end to the threats posed by radical extremists, we must recognize that they represent a deviation from a norm. When this norm is acknowledged and understood, people of both worlds will be better able to reach a common ground from which we can work together to address the negative consequences of fanaticism in all its forms. The legitimacy that the "religious authorities" of radical Muslim groups lend to their cause is, as the essays in Part I demonstrate, completely illegitimate from a traditional Islamic perspective. In order to formulate rulings they discard the principles and methodologies of Islamic scholarship, replacing them with conjecture and opinion. Select verses of scripture and sayings of the Prophet are then taken out of their context and used to justify positions which are unimaginable when such sayings are viewed in context. Awareness of this, combined respect for the right of all civilizations to maintain alternative social values and economic systems, will enable us to eradicate the pseudo-religious legitimacy that is the cornerstone of terrorism. With diligent efforts the edifice of terrorism can then be brought down.
The influence of T. J. Winter of Cambridge University is evident in several essays among this collection. For the last decade he has been among those scholars who employ the insights of traditional Islamic intellectuality to answer the distortions of "fundamentalists" and illuminate the deleterious nature of the modern world. Like Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Martin Lings, T. J. Winter is a living exemplar of the "ihsáni intellectual tradition" discussed in Joseph Lumbard's essay. He has been kind enough to let us reprint his essay "The Poverty of Fanaticism" as an epilogue to the volume. First written for Muslims after the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, this essay also provides non-Muslims with insight into the dialogue which has been taking place among Muslims for many years. Like the first four essays in this collection, "The Poverty of Fanaticism" details the completely un-Islamic nature of modern fanaticism. But unlike these essays it provides important reflections from experiences within the Islamic community, showing that just as fanaticism has eaten away at the relations between the Islamic world and the West, so too has it eaten at the very core of the Muslim community. Considering that they were written some ten years ago, his words are eerily prescient of much that has since transpired. He concludes in a tone that expresses a sentiment shared by all the contributors to this volume:
At this critical moment in our history, the umma (Islamic community) has only one realistic hope for survival, and that is to restore the "middle way," defined by that sophisticated classical consensus which was worked out over painful centuries of debate and scholarship. That consensus alone has the demonstrable ability to provide a basis for unity. But it can only be retrieved when we improve the state of our hearts, and fill them with the Islamic virtues of affection, respect, tolerance, and reconciliation. This inner reform, which is the traditional competence of Sufism, is a precondition for the restoration of unity and decency in the Islamic movement. The alternative is likely to be continued, and agonizing, failure.
The Concept of Sainthood in Early Islamic Mysticism: Two Works by Al-Hakim Al-Tirmidhi; An Annotated Translation with Introduction by Bernd Radtke (CurzonRoutledge Press) review pending
The Exoteric Ahmad Ibn Idris: A Sufi's Critique on the Madhahib
and the Wahhābīs by Bernd Radtke, John O'Kane, Knut S. Vikør and
R.S. O'Fahey (Brill Academic) The Moroccan mystic and theologian
Ahmad b. Idris (1749-1837) was one of the most dynamic personalities
in the Islamic world of the 19th century. Through his teachings and
the activity of his students important Sufi orders were founded
which exerted wide-ranging social and political influence, orders
such as the Sanūsiyya in Libya and the Khatmiyya in the Sudan. To
date, publications dealing with him have especially focused on his
biography and particular aspects of his mystical doctrines.
In the present work an Arabic edition and translation with commentary of two texts are made available which throw light on Ibn Idris' attitude towards the religious-dogmatic questions of his day and age. The first text, Risalat al-Radd ‘alh ahl al-ra’y, provides information about Ibn Idris' relation to the Islamic schools of jurisprudence, in particular his position regarding the ijtihad-taqlid debate which was so significant in the 18th and 19th centuries. Like many similarly minded scholars of his time, Ahmad b. Idris categorically rejects the authority of the established schools of jurisprudence and favors instead the application of personal methods in deriving a legal judgement.
The second text presented here is a vivid report by one of his students describing a debate which Ibn Idris, at an advanced age, entered into with a Wahhabi theologian in the Yemenite city of sabyi in 1832. The text makes clear with regard to which points Ibn Idrīs hoped to establish agreement with the Wahhabis, and where it was not possible to reach any mutual understanding.
The introduction of the present book examines the tumultuous political circumstances in which both Arabic texts were composed and sketches the larger cultural and intellectual context which shaped Ibn Idrīs' world of ideas.
'…a fine example of scholarly teamwork and shows how many hitherto neglected aspects of later Sufi history can still be discovered.'
Annemarie Schimmel, Journal of Islamic Studies, 2001
The Letters of Ahmad Ibn Idris by Ahmad Ibn Idris (Northwestern University Press Series in Islam and Society in Africa: Northwestern University Press) A collection of letters from the Moroccan Sufi mystic and teacher Ahmad Ibn Idris (1749-1837) to his students, family and others, presented in facing pages of edited Arabic and English text, and arranged by recipient. Includes textual notes, and a brief overview of his thought. No subject index.
Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism by Fritz Meier. Translated
by John O'Kane, with editorial assistance of Bernd Radtke (Brill
Academic) Fritz Meier (1912-1998) is one of the most outstanding
Orientalists of this century. His publications combine masterful
philological method and precision, profound and penetrating textual
interpretation, and a wide-ranging familiarity with primary sources
which may truly be characterized as phenomenal. Among the numerous
fields in which he has undertaken original research, Persian poetry
and Islamic mysticism (Sufism) in the widest sense stand out in
particular. His work on Sufism covers the whole of the Islamic world
and Islamic history from its beginnings up to the 20th century.
The present provides for the first time a translation of 15 of Fritz Meier's seminal articles. The selected articles deal with the history of Sufism; Sufi morals and practices such as dhikr and sama‘; the historical development of the master-disciple relationship; Ibn Taymiyya's attitude toward Sufism; pious devotional practices such as making use of the tasliya; essential sources for the history of Sufism in the Maghreb and the Almoravids.
Extensive indices facilitate the use of this epoch-making work.
The Ocean of the Soul: Men, the World and God in the Stories of Farid al-Din ‘Attar by Hellmut Ritter. Translated by John O'Kane with Editorial Assistance of Bernd Radtke (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik: Brill Academic)
The Ocean of the Soul is one of the great works of the German
Orientalist Hellmut Ritter (1892-1971). It presents a comprehensive
analysis of the writings of the mystical Persian poet Farid al-Din
‘Attar who is thought to have died at an advanced age
in April 1221 when the Mongols destroyed his home city of Nashipur
in the northeast of Iran. The book, which resulted from decades of
investigation of literary and historical sources, was first
published in 1955 and has since remained unsurpassed not only as the
definitive study of ‘Attar's world of ideas but as an
indispensable guide to understanding pre-modern Islamic literature
Quoting at length from Farid al-Din ‘Attar and other Islamic sources, Ritter sketches an extraordinarily vivid portrait of the Islamic attitude toward life, characteristic developments in pious and ascetic circles, and, in conclusion, various dominant mystical currents of thought and feeling.
Special attention is given to a wide range of views on love, love in all its manifestations, including homosexuality and the commonplace sufi adoration of good-looking youths. Ritter's approach is throughout based on precise philological interpretation of primary sources, several of which he has himself made available in critical editions. John O'Kane, B.A. (1963) in Classics, Princeton University, is an independent scholar. His translations include The Secrets of God's Mystical Oneness (Mazda, 1992), Fritz Meier, Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism (Brill, 1999) and The Feats of the Knowers of God Maniqeb al-‘irefin) by Shams al-Din Aḥmad-e Aflaki (Brill, 2002).
'Believing Women' in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal
Interpretations of the Qur’an by Asma Barlas (
Women's Rights, the Qur’an & Islam by Lisa Spray (BSM) lacking
the deconstructive and solid feminist suspicion of Barlas’s work,
Spray still deliveries an important apologetic for Islam. The
religion of Islam today continues to be one of the most
misunderstood religions. For centuries Islam has been presented to
the world by people, scholars and countries that do not actually
follow the Islam taught in the Quran.
Terrible acts of terrorism done in the name of religion are prime
examples. The attacks on
That is why Spray's work in this book is such an important
undertaking. She brings forth all the issues confronting today's
women who follow or want to follow the religion of Islam. She gives
examples from her experience and tells us how she dealt with each
issue. She also includes many real life stories of friends who went
through similar experiences.
Spray opens the door and invites in to share us in her
experiences becoming a Muslim and deepening her faith.. But it is
not just her party, there are women from the
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We specialize in most fields of the humanities, sciences and technology.
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