by AMARNATH AMARASINGAM for NEW BOOKS IN GLOBAL CONFLICT on NOVEMBER 5, 2014: 

Michael Cook
Michael Cook

[Cross-posted from New Books in Global Conflict] Michael Cook, a widely-respected historian and scholar of Islam begins his book with a question that everyone seems to be asking these days: is Islam uniquely violent or uniquely political? Why does Islam seem to play a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions? The answers that are provided for these questions, particularly in the media, range from the ludicrous to the islamophobic. Cook, on the other hand, embarks on a much more nuanced and learned attempt at answering the question.

His book, Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective (Princeton University Press, 2014), rightly begins with the assumption that if there is something unique about Islam in this regard, the uniqueness of it can only be understood through comparative study of other religions and their engagement with politics. Cook looks at Hinduism and Christianity’s involvement in modern political life and places them alongside Islam, delving deeper into issues of political identity, warfare, and social values. What he finds is interesting, and goes to the heart of almost every debate taking place in a wide variety of fields like religious studies and the sociology of religion. Listen as we talk with him about his book, about contemporary global politics, ISIS and Al-Qaeda, as well as fascinating future projects.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW

Academic publication introduces readers to the history of Islam in Nigeria, and tackles the Boko Haram insurgency; internal splits of the Salafi movement in Nigeria; dynamics generated by the mobilization for ‘political Sharia’ in the years 2000s; contemporary and varied Islamic movements and trends (Tijaniyya, Salafism, Shiism) that are the protagonists of a constant (and usually non-violent) competition for religious space; the dynamics of the ‘sacred space’ of the mosque; overviews of Islamic writings and of contemporary pop-culture, and more. 

 

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, TIRN, with CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ISLAM (UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN) and MUHAMMED HARON, NOVEMBER 2014: 

arton410The twelfth issue of ARIA - Annual Review of Islam in Africa (formerly ARISA – Annual Review of Islam in South Africa) is published as a special issue on “Islam in Nigeria.” (ANNUAL REVIEW OF ISLAM IN SOUTH AFRICA • ISSUE NO. 12/1 • 2013-2014)

The full “Islam in Nigeria” issue (hard copy), can be ordered by contacting Cathlene Dollar (DLLCAT001@myuct.ac.za). To access and download past articles in the Review see HERE or here:  https://www.cci.uct.ac.za/cci/publications/aria. Below is an editorial summary of the issue and list of contributors. 

EDITORIAL SUMMARY 

Its publication was about to be announced at the beginning of 2014, when the sudden increase in the intensity and brutality of the ‘Boko Haram’ crisis prompted us to postpone its release in order to host more contributions on the topic. Having sacrificed punctuality for scientific comprehensiveness, we hope we are now able to offer our readers a mix of articles that capture at least some of the complexity of the drama that is unfolding in front of our eyes, and for too many Nigerians, inside their very lives.

Even though this particular issue is the fruit of the collaboration of one of the editors with a number of Nigerian colleagues, this is also the occasion to announce the constitution of a new editorial board, composed of Andrea Brigaglia (University of Cape Town), Muhammed Haron (University of Botswana) and Mauro Nobili (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). This editorial board will be responsible for a second, forthcoming issue (12/2, 2013-2014), as well as — we hope—of a number of future ones. With the constitution of this new board, we believe that the transition from the South African focus of the first series of the Review, to a broader, continental one, started with the 2008-2009 volume, can now be considered as definitively accomplished. Continue reading

by KECIA ALI for FEMINISM AND RELIGION (BLOG) on NOVEMBER 18, 2014: 

Kecia Ali
Kecia Ali

Ten thousand people descend on San Diego this weekend for the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature joint Annual Meeting. We will present papers, interview and be interviewed, shop for books, and network busily. Many will feel overwhelmed, lost, and/or hungry – convention center food somehow always manages to be lousy and expensive.

I have attended nearly every AAR Annual Meeting since 1999. I have presented papers, spoken on panels, responded to sessions, led tables at pre-conference workshops, and presided at business meetings. I have served on program unit steering committees and chaired a Section. I have gone to editorial board breakfasts and AAR committee meetings.  I have had coffee with editors with whom I’ve gone on to publish books. I have served as a mentor at the Women’s Mentoring Lunch. Though I never used the Employment Center as a job candidate, I have put in cubicle time as part of two search committees.

In other words, I know something about the Annual Meeting. Continue reading

by KRISTIAN PETERSEN for NEW BOOKS IN RELIGION/NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on OCTOBER 27, 2014: 

Amanullah De Sondy
Amanullah De Sondy

[Cross-posted from New Books in Religion] What gets to count as Islam? In the current political climate this question is being repeated in a variety of contexts. The tapestry of various Islamic identities is revealed in an investigation of gender. In The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities (Bloomsbury, 2014), Amanullah De Sondy, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Miami, tackles the construction of Muslim manhood in several interpretive traditions. These forms of masculinity – both ideal & reviled – are taken across a wide spectrum of thought, from Islamist perspectives to those challenging patriarchy. Many of the discussions revolve around similar themes, most importantly family, marriage, sexuality, and veiling. Other constructions of masculinity challenge heteronormativity within Muslim identities. The Qur’an is central to many of the interpretations discussed in the book but De Sondy demonstrates that here too we are not presented with a singular and clear ideal of masculinity. Qur’anic descriptions of male prophets, including Adam, Joseph, Muhammad, and Jesus, each complicate a simple narrative of Muslim manhood. In our conversation we discuss hermeneutical strategies, feminists approaches to the Qur’an, notions of love and sexual boundaries, the Mughal poet Mirza Ghalib, gender fluidity, Sufism in South Asia, prophethood, and same-sex love.

LISTEN HERE: INTERVIEW WITH DE SONDY

In September 2014 the Duke Islamic Studies Center (which manages the Transcultural Islam Project of which TIRN is a part), announced its official institutional affiliation with New Books in Islamic Studies — a bi-weekly audio podcast featuring hour long conversations with authors of exciting new research. For an archive see HERE

ISLAMiCommentary/TIRN editor’s note: There seems to be no end to controversies and misunderstandings surrounding veiling. Here is a Q & A with Islamic studies professor Sahar Amer on her new book “What is Veiling” followed by an op-ed she wrote for the online journal “The Conversation” on debates on veiling in Australia. Amer also did an interview with NPR’s “Here and Now” which you can listen to below as well. 

Q&A with SAHAR AMER (by CAROLINE RUDOLPH) via UNC PRESS, FALL 2014: 

Sahar Amer, author of What is Veiling? (University of North Carolina Press, Fall 2014), talks with Caroline Rudolph about one of Islam’s most misunderstood and controversial practices.

Caroline Rudolph: What is Veiling? is the first in a series of books from UNC Press that will explain key aspects of Islam. Why might the topic of veiling be an appropriate starting point for such a series?

Sahar Amer
Sahar Amer

Sahar Amer: Veiling is one of the most visible signs of Islam as a religion and likely its most controversial and least understood tradition among non-Muslims, and perhaps surprisingly, among Muslims as well. Many non-Muslim and Muslim readers are often unfamiliar with the religious interpretations and debates over the Islamic prescription to wear the veil, the historical and political background to current anxieties surrounding the veil, or the range of meanings the veil continues to have for Muslim women around the world. In many ways, understanding the complex and often contradictory meanings of veiling is also understanding how Islam has come to mean so many different things to different peoples.

Continue reading