compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, TIRN on APRIL 29, 2014:  

The following are the intros to Joseph Richard Preville’s seven latest “By the Book” Q & As; published from January 2014  through April 2014 on ISLAMiCommentary. Happy Reading! 

Column » ‘By the Book’ with Joseph Preville

bookcover.religionoutloudQ & A With Isaac Weiner on “Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space, and American Pluralism” (NYU Press, 2014)

The free exercise of religion is enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But, what happens when religion becomes noisy or offensive to the ear? What happens when religion sounds “out of place”? Isaac Weiner explores these issues in his splendid new book, Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space, and American Pluralism (NYU Press, 2014). Weiner’s objective is to analyze “the politics of religious pluralism in the United States by attending to disputes about religious sound in the public realm.” He states that his book “listens to Americans complain about religion as noise.”

Isaac Weiner is Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture in the Department of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University. He was educated at Yale University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Religion Out Loud is Weiner’s first book. His scholarly work has appeared in Anthropological Quarterly, Religion Compass and Material Religion.

In Religion Out Loud, Weiner takes a detailed look at three major disputes regarding religious sound and noise: 1) Harrison v. St. Mark’s Church, Philadelphia (1877), involving the ringing of church bells at a Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 2) Saia v. New York (1948) on the use of loudspeakers by Jehovah’s Witnesses to broadcast religious lectures in Lockport, New York, and 3) the petition of al-Islah Islamic Center to the city council of Hamtramck, Michigan (2004) for permission to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer. Weiner states that these three case studies “make evident how central sound has been to the ongoing project of demarcating religion’s proper place in American society.”

Isaac Weiner discusses his new book in this exclusive interview. READ INTERVIEW

bookcovershiftingsandsQ & A With Joel S. Migdal on “Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East” (Columbia University Press, 2014) 

Joel S. Migdal is one of America’s leading scholars on the Middle East, and his scholarship is on display in his new book, Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East (Columbia University Press, 2014). Shifting Sands is an exploration of “the ups and downs of the United States since World War II in what has become the most important and volatile region in the world, the Middle East.”

Migdal is the Robert F. Philip Professor of International Studies and Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Near & Middle East Studies in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. Previously, he was an Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University and Senior Lecturer at Tel-Aviv University. Migdal was educated at Rutgers University and Harvard University. He is the author of many books, including Palestinian Society and Politics (Princeton University Press, 1980); Through the Lens of Israel: Explorations in State and Society (State University of New York Press, 2001), and The Palestinian People: A History (with Baruch Kimmerling) (Harvard University Press, 2003).

In Shifting Sands, Migdal offers a fascinating historical perspective on “America’s roller-coaster ride” in the Middle East. He also considers “whether and how the United States can establish an effectual, constructive role in today’s Middle East.”

Joel S. Migdal discusses his new book in this exclusive interview. READ INTERVIEW

book-coverQ & A With Maud Mandel on “Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict” (Princeton University Press, 2014)

What are the historical roots and narratives of conflict between Muslims and Jews in postcolonial France? Historian Maud S. Mandel takes a look at this question in her significant and timely book, Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict (Princeton University Press, 2014). Mandel aims to challenge one-dimensional “narratives of Jewish-Muslim conflict” and to show “how such narratives emerged and in time helped produce the very conflicts they purported to recount.”

She states: “Muslim-Jewish relations in France were never defined solely as a bitter war over Palestine and Israel, Islam and Judaism, or any other set of binary divisions.”

Maud S. Mandel is Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and History and Director of the Program in Judaic Studies at Brown University. She was educated at Oberlin College and University of Michigan. Mandel is the author of In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in Twentieth Century France (Duke University Press, 2003).

Maud S. Mandel discusses her new book in this exclusive interview. READ INTERVIEW

bookcoverQ & A With Ranya Tabari Idliby on “Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) 

Every American Muslim has a multilayered story to tell about faith, family, and country. We can read Ranya Tabari Idliby’s story in her beautiful new book, Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, Idliby moved to the United States as a teenager and became a freshman at Georgetown University at the age of 16. “I fell in love,” she writes, “with our Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the American dream.” Idliby’s life in the American melting pot was blissful. She was living the “American Dream” as a happily married woman and as the mother of two children. Then the nightmare of September 11, 2001 happened.

The tragic events of 9/11 prompted Idliby; Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner to author The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew – Three Women Search for Understanding (2006). The book was an enormous success, and it inspired a movement of interfaith dialogue and understanding across the United States. “The Faith Club,” Idliby states, “helped me find my footing within the extended Judeo-Christian tradition; in my mind it became the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition.”

The Faith Club moved Idliby to deepen and share her Muslim faith and spirituality. This journey is at the heart of her new book. “America,” she writes, “is my family’s home too, and we have no other home. There is no overarching Muslim state that promises a right of return to its ‘promised Muslim lands.’ Islam is not a nationality, but a faith, as diverse and varied as its 1.6 billion adherents.” Ranya Tabari Idliby discusses her new book in this exclusive interview. READ INTERVIEW

Q & A With Mark R. Cohen on “A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day” (Princeton University Press, 2013) 

Jews and Muslims have been intertwined for fourteen centuries. Their long relationship is the subject of A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day (Princeton University Press, 2013). This elegant and learned new book is edited by Abdelwahab Meddeb, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Paris-X (Nanterre), and Benjamin Stora, University Professor at the University of Paris-XIII (Villetaneuse).

A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations features articles by a distinguished team of scholars of Islamic and Jewish history. Among these scholars is Mark R. Cohen, who is both Emeritus Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East, Emeritus at Princeton University. Cohen was educated at Brandeis University, Columbia University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the author of Poverty and Charity in the Jewish Community of Medieval Egypt (Princeton University Press, 2005), The Voice of the Poor in the Middle Ages: An Anthology of Documents from the Cairo Geniza (Princeton University Press, 2005), and Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton University Press, 1994; revised edition, 2008).

This book has been translated into many languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, French, German, Romanian, Czech, Russian, and soon in Spanish. In 2010, Cohen was awarded the first Goldziher Prize for scholarship promoting a better understanding between Jews and Muslims.

Mark R. Cohen discusses A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations in this exclusive interview. READ INTERVIEW

A-metahistoryQ & A With Arshin Adib-Moghaddam on “A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and Them Beyond Orientalism” (Columbia/Hurst, 2011; Oxford University Press, 2014)

Twenty years ago, Harvard Professor Samuel P. Huntington published The Clash of Civilisations? in Foreign Affairs. His essay sparked enormous debate and substantial criticism. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam takes a look at this contentious debate within its broader historical/political context in A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and Them Beyond Orientalism (Columbia/Hurst, 2011;Oxford University Press, 2014). “Why,” he asks, “do so many people in the twenty-first century continue to believe, with so much devastating passion and destructive anger, that imagined collectivisations are inevitable?”

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is a Reader in Comparative Politics and International Relations and the Chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies in The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. Cambridge-educated, he was the first Jarvis Doctorow Fellow in Peace Studies at Oxford University.

He is the author of The International Politics of the Persian Gulf: A Cultural Geneology (2006) and Iran in World Politics: The Question of the Islamic Republic (2008). His latest book is On the Arab Revolts and the Iranian Revolution: Power and Resistance Today, published by Bloomsbury (2013). His essays have appeared in The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Daily Star (Beirut), The Independent, Middle East Report, CNN, and Tehran Times. Personal Web Site:  Follow on Twitter @Adib_Moghaddam.

On the occasion of the republication by Oxford University Press and Hurst of his A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam discusses the ideas behind the book. READ INTERVIEW

Q & A With Dalya Cohen-Mor on “Fathers and Sons in the Arab Middle East” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

What is the relationship between Arab fathers and sons? How is it shaped by faith and culture? And, how is their relationship evolving in the contemporary Arab Middle East? Dalya Cohen-Mor answers these questions in her fascinating new book, Fathers and Sons in the Arab Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Dalya Cohen-Mor is a literary scholar of Middle Eastern background educated in the Netherlands and the United States. She earned her Ph.D. in Arabic Language and Literature from Georgetown University and is currently affiliated with George Washington University. Cohen-Mor is the author of A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World As Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature (2001), and Mothers and Daughters in Arab Women’s Literature: The Family Frontier (2011).

In her new book, Cohen-Mor aims to “unlock the mysteries” of the relationship between Arab fathers and sons. “The father-son relationship,” she states, “offers a rare glimpse into the ‘privileged’ world of men, highlighting the complexity of male bonding, the issue of solidarity and brotherhood, and the challenge of social change in a volatile region of vital significance in world affairs.”

Dalya Cohen-Mor discusses her book in this exclusive interview. READ INTERVIEW


Joseph Richard Preville is an American writer living in Nizwa, Oman. His work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Jerusalem Post, Muscat Daily, and Saudi Gazette. He is a regular contributor to ISLAMiCommentary. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephPreville. Read his Book Q & As (“By the Book”) on ISLAMiCommentary.


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