by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 17, 2015: 

We at the Duke Islamic Studies Center are pleased to announce that the work of the Carnegie Corporation of New York-supported Transcultural Islam Project (ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN) has been highlighted in a new report by the Social Science Research Council — “Religion, Media and the Digital Turn.” The report surveyed 160 digital projects and documents the effects that digital modes of research and publication have on the study of religion.

“While our primary goal is to chronicle emerging forms of intellectual production shaping the study of religion, we hope that a greater awareness of this new work will generate more recognition of the high quality and innovative work that already exists,” report authors Chris Cantwell (University of Missouri) and Hussein Rashid (New York University) write, explaining that “the most innovative digital projects are often those that creatively combine a number of these models or genres.”

ISLAMiCommentary was mentioned at the top of several subsections, for this reason, and a lengthy case study of ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN has been included in the report (in Appendix 1) because, as the report authors told us, they find the project “exemplary.” Other projects highlighted with lengthy case studies (in Appendix 1) include the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (MAVCOR) at Yale, the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project at the University of Loyola; and Mapping Ararat — a project of York University, the University of Toronto and Emerson College.

Appendix 2 lists the 160 projects surveyed.

The report can be downloaded HERE.

(via ResetDOC)
(via ResetDOC)

via ResetDOC, SEPTEMBER 2015: 

Three great Arab intellectuals – Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, Mohammed Abed Al-Jabri and Mohammed Arkoun – died in 2010, shortly before the outburst of the Arab Springs and in the midst of an identity crisis that is tearing apart the Muslim world, in a region beset with complex questions related to identity, religion’s place in society and politics, modernity, the democratization process, the status of minorities in Islamic societies and the concretization of a borderless Maghreb and Mashrek.

Five years later, many of the important open questions that have for so long plagued this part of the world, have not yet been resolved. However, the intellectual and moral legacy that arises from the life-long work and commitment of these three thinkers can still help us understand and imagine a way out of the darkness.

Articles: 

Death took them in 2010: let’s celebrate their legacy
by Brahim El Guabli

Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd: A Theologian Confronting Hijackers of the Quran
by Mohammed Hashas
 
Al-Jabri’s exegetic methodology and the presentation of the Qur’an
by Mariangela Laviano
 
Mohamed Arkoun: Unveiling Orthodoxy and Hegemony through Spiritual Responsibility
by Mohammed Hashas
 
The case of Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd
by Abdou Filali-Ansary
 
Opening the Doors of Ijtihad
by Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame
 
«Problems in the Islamic world cannot be blamed exclusively on Islam»
 
Nasr Abu Zayd interviewed by Nina zu Fürstenberg
 
VIDEO: The Other as Mirror of Selfunderstanding
Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

 

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN on JULY 20, 2015:

“One of the most visible public faces of the 2011 revolution in Egypt was Asmaʾ Mahfouz, a young woman who posted a video blog on Facebook calling for the January 25 protest in Tahrir Square “so that maybe we the country can become free, can become a country with justice, a country with dignity, a country in which a human can be truly human, not living like an animal.” 

She describes a stark imbalance of power: a lone girl standing against the security apparatus of the state. When she initially went out to demonstrate, only three other people came to join her. They were met with vans full of security forces, “tens of thugs” (balṭagiyyīn) that menaced the small band of protesters. Talking about her fear (ruʿb), she epitomizes the voice of righteous indignation against the Goliath of an abusive military regime.

“I am a girl,” she says, “and I went down.” The skinny, small, pale girl bundled up in her winter scarf and sweater speaks clearly and forcefully, despite a slight speech impediment, rallying a political community to action against tyrannical rule.

Mahfouz’s vlog is not necessarily famous for actually sparking the revolution, as some have claimed in the revolution’s aftermath. Rather, she visually embodies and vocally advocates what the Islamic activist Heba Raouf Ezzat calls “soft force,”al-­quwwa­ al-n­āʿima.” Raouf Ezzat uses the term to refer to nonviolent protest, or what she calls “women’s jihad,” wielded against “tyrannical government.” — beginning of the Introduction to “Soft Force: Women in Egypt’s Islamic Awakening” (Princeton University Press, May 2015)  by Ellen Anne McLarney

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In Soft Force: Women in Egypt’s Islamic Awakening Duke University professor Ellen McLarney argues against the misconception of Muslim women as “oppressed by Islam,” with her “in depth, nuanced, and careful” examination of the lives and activism of women who write about Islam as liberating them from sexual and political oppression, ignorance, exploitation, and dominance.

Focusing on writings spanning the last six decades in Egypt — and especially Egypt’s Islamic awakening — McLarney charts a genealogy of women’s writings on gender relationships in Islam. These popular religious texts have circulated widely in Egypt and reached audiences as far away as Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, and France through republication and translation.

These writers include scholars like Heba Raouf Ezzat and Bint al-Shati, preachers like Niʿmat Sidqi, television personalities like Kariman Hamza, actresses like Shams al-Barudi, activists like Zaynab al-Ghazali, cultural critics like Safinaz Kazim, and journalists like Iman Mustafa. Continue reading

by BANAFSHEH MADANINEJAD for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on MAY 16, 2015: 

Asaad al-Saleh

Asaad al-Saleh is assistant professor of Arabic, comparative literature, and cultural studies in the Department of Languages and Literature and the Middle East Center at the University of Utah. His research focuses on issues related to autobiography and displacement in Arabic literature and political culture in the Arab world.

His book Voices of the Arab Spring: Personal Stories from the Arab Revolutions (Columbia University Press, 2015) is narrated by dozens of activists and everyday individuals, documenting the unprecedented events that led to the collapse of dictatorial regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH AL-SALEH Continue reading

“One of the most important outcomes of these movements has been the return of politics to the public sphere and the return of the square as the place for it” — Nezar AlSayyad, professor of architecture, planning, urban design and urban history at the University of California at Berkeley 

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on APRIL 1, 2015: 

In the postscript to his 2011 book Cairo: Histories of a City (reproduced by The New York Times as an op-ed), and in lectures and articles since, UC Berkeley architecture professor Nezar AlSayyad has argued that Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square, finally lived up to his name with the 2011 Egyptian uprising. Four years later, however, there are questions about whether Egypt really has been “liberated.”

While AlSayyad said it may be “too early to tell” if the 2011 Egyptian uprising can ultimately be deemed a failure, and though “many wish the Arab Spring had never come” — “Are we more comfortable with our dictators?” he wondered aloud —  he seems convinced that what happened in Tahrir Square and in other public squares in the Middle East did indeed have a positive impact.

“People of all classes are now more politically active and politically aware,” he said. Continue reading